The Power of Prayer


Ezra Taft Benson
(Adapted from “Scouting Builds Men,” New Era, February 1975, page 17, and talk delivered at the April 1973 general conference.)

In March 1934 Admiral Richard Byrd (explorer of the North and South Poles) isolated himself in the wastes of Antarctica in a little nine-by-thirteen-foot hut buried in the snow. There he planned to remain during the six-month-long night, making weather observations. He took this task on himself. He would not order any of his men to do it.

One day he went outside to check the instruments in the midst of a raging blizzard. When he tried to get back inside the hut, he found the trapdoor frozen. He pulled and yanked, exerting all his strength. It was like trying to pull open a locked bank vault. The door was frozen solid. He tried to scrape off some of the snow around the edges. He threw himself on the door, trying to break the ice by the pressure of his body. He pulled, tugged, pushed, and pounded until he was worn out. Then he was terribly cold, even through his heavy clothing. His fingers were numb, losing feeling. He was alone in vast Antarctica, the frozen, wild wastelands.

The wind tore at him. He was about to panic. Ten minutes more in the cold, and it would be too late! With the mighty effort of his will, he resisted panic; he prayed. He forced himself to rest quietly, to think, to concentrate. Suddenly he remembered—a shovel! The other day when he had been checking the instruments, he had left a shovel outside. He crawled around. It had snowed a great deal in the past two days. Where was the shovel? He slipped and fell, and as he crashed, he struck something hard. He seized it; he had the shovel.

Now, back to the trapdoor of the hut! Somehow he got back. Somehow he wedged the handle of the shovel under the handle of the trapdoor. His hands were almost useless by this time. He threw his body across the handle of the shovel, and, God be praised, the ice cracked and the door opened.

How wonderful it would be if people everywhere could all be found daily—night and morning—on their knees, expressing thanks for blessings already received, acknowledging their dependence upon God, and seeking His divine guidance.

The example of people praying is more awe-inspiring, more powerful, than the explosion of an atomic bomb. The force of prayer is greater than any possible combination of man-controlled powers.

[illustration] Illustrated by Jerry Thompson