Everyone has that story from childhood—the one their parent tells every opportunity she gets—the one the child wishes the parent would just forget because it was so long ago and no one really cares anyway. One of my mom’s favorite stories about me was the time that I prayed my way out of a whipping.
“The Lord heard her that day,” she would laugh and say.
I’m not quite sure what I had done. All I know is that after church one Sunday my mom took me to my big, big sister’s house between services so that I could collect a whipping I had earned at church. Her whippings were the worst to me because she was always so nice to me. When I got one it hurt my feelings more than anything else. My mom didn’t believe in whipping clothes or eyeballs so she would make us strip down to our underwear, get on our knees, and put our heads on the bed with our eyes covered while she spanked with freshly picked switches. The emotional pain was accentuated by the physical pain and the residual welts served as reminders to keep me in check for at least another few months.
For some reason on this particular Sunday afternoon I asked my mom to give me a moment to pray. She said ok. I went into one of my sister’s back bedrooms, where I remained for at least thirty minutes. I prayed out loud that day like the deacons during devotion at an old school Baptist church. “Heavenly Father, PLEASE sir don’t let my mom whip me today. I'm so sorry! Please, Lord!” I begged.
My mom said that each time she would step to the door of the bedroom, she could hear me wailing and calling on the Lord.
It really tickled her. She called my sister to come listen to me. They both cracked up, unbeknownst to me. I knew it was unlikely that my mom would decide against spanking me, since I had actually done wrong, but I hoped the Lord would grant me this one request.
"Please, Lord, heavenly Father!! I won't do it again. I promise. Ohhhhhhh."
As my prayer dragged on, my mother finally came in the room and told me to get off my knees. She sternly said she wouldn’t whip me this time as long as I promised not to commit the same offense again. I promised that I wouldn’t and thanked the Lord because He had spared my behind. My mom showed mercy--forgave my transgression and withheld the punishment I actually deserved.
That day I learned that prayer is powerful.