“Nathan’s Prayer,” Friend, July 2002, 30
“I’m ready!” six-year-old Nathan called to his nine-year-old brother, Matthew. Mom had just called them to do their dinner chores, so this would be the last shot on goal.
Matthew was bigger and faster than Nathan and a really good soccer player. But Nathan was getting to be a pretty good goalie. Only one ball had been kicked past him today, and that one barely brushed off his fingertips and rolled just inside the tree. Even Matthew said he was playing well.
Most days, Matthew scored a lot of points on him, so Nathan was happy that he was doing so well today. He knew why, too. Before leaving the house, he had prayed that he would play well. Just before Matthew fired the next shot, Nathan closed his eyes and said another quick prayer. “Heavenly Father, please let me stop this shot. Don’t let Matthew score. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.”
Matthew dribbled to the right and faked a kick. When Nathan went to his knees to block the shot, Matthew quickly turned, dribbled around Nathan, and kicked. Nathan tried to reach over, but it was too late. Matthew had scored.
“Yes! Yes! Yahoooo!” Matthew yelled.
Nathan stomped his foot and ran toward the house, crying.
Mom heard Nathan slam the front door and run downstairs to his room. Soon Matthew came strolling in. “What happened to Nathan?” Mom asked.
“I don’t know. I just kicked a goal, and he started crying.”
Mom started Matthew on his dinner chores, then went to find Nathan. He was in the corner of his room, wrapped in his sleeping bag in the little space between the wall and the bunk beds. It was a cozy place, a good place for hiding and being alone.
“What’s wrong, Nathan?”
“I asked Heavenly Father to help me, but Matthew scored anyway,” Nathan sobbed.
Mom stroked his hair. “It must be very upsetting to try so hard and still have Matthew score on you.” She tried to give Nathan a hug, but he wouldn’t let her. She squeezed his arm and let him be alone.
After a few minutes, Nathan came upstairs and started doing his dinner chores. This time he let Mom give him a hug.
“Nathan, do you think Heavenly Father wants us to be unhappy?” she asked.
“I guess not.”
“We don’t always know what will make us happy,” Mom said. “Sometimes what we want isn’t the best thing for us. Do you think Heavenly Father knows that?”
“He knows everything.”
Mom took Nathan onto her lap. “Heavenly Father has told us that He won’t always make things easy for us. There will be hard times. He lets us face them to help us learn and become better people. But He always answers our prayers. Whatever happens, we can be sure that He cares about us.”
“Maybe He was teaching me not to get faked out.”
“Maybe so, Nathan. I don’t know for sure. But I do know that it is a wonderful thing for you to talk to Heavenly Father about everything in your life. I hope you keep doing it. He will help things work out for the best—it just may not be right when you want it or what you think is best.”
Nathan and Matthew played soccer in the yard many times after that day. Matthew often scored, but Nathan often stopped his shots, too. In fact, he stopped them more and more often.
A couple of years later, Nathan tried out for a special soccer team and was accepted. The coach called the team together. “Do any of you play goalie?”
Nathan raised his hand. The coach had Nathan stand in front of the net while other players tried to kick goals. Nathan stopped shot after shot.
The coach was grinning. “I think we have our goalie!”
Nathan beamed as the other players congratulated him. Heavenly Father had heard his prayers.