A Prayer in the Parking Lot

I remember the night vividly and marvel at how far I had strayed from what I knew was right. There I was, searching through trash cans behind a supermarket for food. I was close to suicide, yet I was afraid to die. Deeply frightened, I reflected on the incredible changes I had permitted to occur in my life.

I had been born into a Latter-day Saint home, and from the time I was a youngster I had attended my Church meetings. I graduated from seminary, was active in leadership roles, and loved being an active member of the Church.

After graduating, I was offered a scholarship to Brigham Young University. Instead of accepting it, I decided to try out for the top-rated baseball team of a university in another state. I had visions of becoming a professional athlete.

In college, I was exposed to an entirely different lifestyle. People’s attitudes were different, and I discovered a maze of differing philosophies. My Church activity dwindled, and my value system soon weakened. In spite of my lifelong membership in the Church, I wasn’t a true disciple of Jesus Christ. I was fully capable of ignoring the Spirit of the Lord.

New ideas and temptations hit me head-on. I began experimenting with drugs and alcohol and started dating a girl who was not a member of the Church. I even quit the baseball team to get a job so I could buy a car to impress her. I skipped classes as I became more involved with my girlfriend and drugs.

It wasn’t long before I was addicted. Within two years I couldn’t hold a job or function in normal society. I was broke, sick, and friendless on the beaches of San Diego, California.

That night in the supermarket parking lot, I fell to my knees. With tears streaming down my face, I pleaded for help, hoping that what I had learned as a child was true and that someone was listening.

Suddenly a wonderful warmth engulfed my head, then filled my entire body. I could feel the Spirit of the Lord with an intensity I had never known. A soothing calmness came over me, and for the first time in years, I felt at peace.

When I finally stood again, I was free of fear and anguish. I knew my desperate, sincere prayer for help had been answered.

The road back was a long but rewarding one. I returned to activity in the Church and began seriously studying the scriptures. I served as director of a drug rehabilitation center in southern California for a time and saw many helped through the power of God. I also saw others, who would not heed the Lord’s teachings, sink lower into hopelessness and degradation. I ache for those people and feel ever grateful to the Lord for hearing and answering my desperate prayer.

[illustration] Illustrated by Doug Fryer