A Boy’s Prayer

Retold by Patricia R. Jones

(From a story recounted by President George Albert Smith, in Sharing the Gospel with Others, 144–45)

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Thou shalt pray vocally as well as in thy heart (D&C 19:28).

“Doctor, before you begin to operate, won’t you pray for me?” The chief surgeon looked down in amazement at the boy on the operating table. “Why, I can’t pray for you,” he replied. He had agreed to this operation only because the boy was an orphan and it was an emergency. He wanted to finish quickly and move on to the next patient.

Undaunted, the eight-year-old turned to each of the other doctors in the room and asked if they would pray for him. They all refused.

Finally the boy asked, “If you won’t pray for me, won’t you please wait while I pray for myself?” Without waiting for an answer, he knelt on the operating table, folded his arms, and offered a simple prayer: “Heavenly Father, I am only a little orphan boy, but I am awful sick and these doctors are going to operate. Will you please help them that they will do it right? And now, Heavenly Father, if you will make me well, I will be a good boy. Thank you for making me well.”

When he finished, he lay back on the table and looked up at the doctors and nurses. None of them could see him clearly because they all had tears in their eyes. “Now I am ready,” he told them.

The men and women dried their eyes and proceeded to remove the boy’s inflamed appendix. By the end of the operation it was clear that the humble prayer had been answered.

When the chief surgeon was later asked to retell the experience, he first refused. “It is too sacred to talk about,” he explained. After finally sharing the story, he added, “That was the most remarkable experience of my whole life. I have operated on hundreds of men, women, and children, and I have known some of them to pray. But never until I stood in the presence of that little boy had I heard anyone talk to Heavenly Father face to face.”

That orphan boy taught the proud surgeon, and all of us, that Heavenly Father loves every child and listens to every prayer.

Illustrated by Taia Morley