Matthew’s Prayer


(Based on a true story)
Whatsoever ye shall ask in faith, being united in prayer … ye shall receive (D&C 29:6).

Matthew awoke in the cold and knew something was wrong. Outside the car window, the night sky was black. Not a single star was visible through the stormy clouds. A layer of crisp, white snow blanketed the frozen ground.

Matthew pulled his blanket tighter around him and tried to move over, but there wasn’t enough room. “I hope we get to Grandma’s house soon,” he thought, as he nudged his little sister so she would scoot over. The car jerked forward.

“What was that?” he asked.

From the driver’s seat Mom answered, “I don’t know. The car is acting funny.” The car jerked again, choking, coughing, and lurching down the highway. Then they started to slow down. Way down.

“Why are we stopping?” Nikki asked.

“Maybe we’re out of gas,” Ryan said.

“No,” Mom said. “We still have half a tank left. Don’t stop, car. Don’t stop,” she urged. “Keep going. Come on.”

The car lurched forward, chugging and sputtering.

Matthew’s siblings started waking up, and Chandi started to cry. Matthew thought she must be cold since the heater wasn’t running anymore. He brought her under his blanket and put his arm around her.

Mom was still chanting, “Come on, car. Come on. You can do it. Let’s go.” She was rocking in her seat, as if the movement could push the car forward. “Come on, keep going.”

Matthew and his brothers and sisters started rocking too. They chanted along with Mom, “Come on, car, come on. You can do it!”

The car inched along the highway, a silver snail in the pitch-black night, until it gave one last mighty lurch and stopped. Mom sighed and laid her head on the steering wheel.

Matthew could feel the cold from outside sneaking into the car. Chandi was crying again. He pulled her closer, wishing Dad were here with them. He was afraid.

Then, Matthew remembered something the bishop told him last month at his baptism. He said that Heavenly Father would help him with anything, if he asked in faith.

“Mommy,” Matthew said.

“What, honey?”

“I think we should say a prayer,” he said.

Mom turned around in her seat and looked at him. “Yes,” she said. “I think so too. Will you say the prayer, Matthew?”

On the side of the deserted highway, in the dark, silent night, Matthew’s family folded their arms and bowed their heads while he prayed. “Heavenly Father, we are thankful that our family can be here together. We are thankful for our safety. Please help us to be able to go again. Please bless our car to start, so we can get to Grandma’s house. And please bless us so we won’t be too cold. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.”

Mom sniffled. “Thank you, Matthew.” She turned back to the wheel. “OK, here we go. Come on, car!” She turned the key. The car gave a groan. Mom pumped the gas pedal. “Come on! Come on!” She turned it again. Two groans. Again, Mom turned the key, but this time, she held it. The car gave a cough, a groan, a cough, then started.

Everyone cheered.

“I knew it!” Matthew said. “The car is going because we had faith.”

It was a long time before the car, still puttering and coughing, pulled into a service station.

“Oh no,” Mom said. “It’s closed.”

Matthew pointed to a figure standing near the door with a handful of keys. “There’s a man inside,” he said.

As Mom went inside to ask the man for help, Matthew said a silent prayer. “Heavenly Father, please help our car get fixed so we can get to Grandma’s house. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.”

Matthew and his siblings watched the man with the keys shake his head while he talked to Mom from under the hood of the car. “It’s a miracle you made it here,” the man said. “Your fuel pump was completely clogged. I don’t know how you got this car started again after it died.”

A little while later, Matthew asked, “Mommy, what’s a fuel pump?”

“It’s the thing that gets the gas to the engine so the car can go,” Mom answered.

“Our car wasn’t getting any gas?” Ryan asked.

Mom shook her head as she turned the key. The engine hummed to life.

“How were we moving then?” Nikki asked.

“Heavenly Father helped us!” Matthew explained.

Mom turned around. Tears glistened in her eyes as she said, “Matthew, thank you for reminding me that we needed to ask Heavenly Father for help.”

Then she asked Matthew to pray one more time. This time, Matthew thanked Heavenly Father for bringing his family safely to the service station.

[Fervent Prayer]

President Thomas S. Monson

“Nothing penetrates the human heart as does a personal, fervent prayer and its heaven-sent response.” President Thomas S. Monson, First Counselor in the First Presidency, “Teaching Our Children,” Ensign, Oct. 2004, 4.

[illustration] Illustration by Brian Beach