When I was little—about six, I'd say—I certainly wasn't religious, but I sure was a believer! I believed, unshakably, that when you asked God for something, and if it was for anyone's good, He listened! My father would always gather the family around the dining room table on a Sunday evening after supper, and then when he had prayed, my mother and my sister (who was 10 years older than I) would be invited to join him in prayer. Before the meal he would say the magical words, "For what we are about to receive..." the important part of it being, to me, that "C- sound" in the middle of the word "receive" because it sounded like the "sea." Little did anyone at the table know that that while they were praying, I would be crawling around the table, making it a game to get back to my place before they opened their eyes, and in time to join solemnly in the "Amen!"
I believed that it was that prayer that took us, on a regular basis, down to the South Coast of Natal, and I wanted God to know that I most definitely seconded that. I was convinced. and unshakably believed, that my "Amen" made that possible. It was a sort of "insurance."
As I recall, the water and the beaches of those resorts beside the blue, blue Indian Ocean are always gloriously warm, and in those days the sand was always clean, but what I did not know was that it was due to my father's health that we would go there. It was because of his work that we lived at such a high altitude, and because he suffered cruelly with heart disease, he would frequently almost be driven to return to sea-level for his health...
In my time spent as a lay chaplain in a hospital, I learned the truth of that. No amount of wishing could have helped to save the legs of the bitter woman who was brought in to have both of hers amputated...She went home with them still intact!