27: Pray for James

27: Pray for James

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Miracles and More

Pray for James

For He will command His angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways.

~Psalm 91:11

I’ll never forget the day I received a message from God to pray for my cousin James. It wasn’t unusual for me to get a sudden urge to pray for someone — a co-worker, a family member, or a friend. Sometimes the urge was to call that person after work, too, but this time felt different.

The first time I heard that still, small voice inside me, it was a simple command: Pray for James. I mentally said a quick prayer for him, and asked God to help him have a good day and take care of any needs he might have. I thought that was that.

A few minutes later, the feeling came again with much more urgency. PRAY for James! This time, I got a very uneasy feeling. This had only happened to me a few times — once when a friend in high school was attempting suicide across town; another time while a different friend was being rushed to the hospital with a severe case of food poisoning; and a third time when a cousin had broken her ankle and almost drowned when she fell in a pool. This time, I prayed with more fervency, and I made a note to call James after work.

Twenty minutes later, I got the urge again. But this time, it was like a voice was yelling at me. NO! STOP WHAT YOU ARE DOING! GO OUTSIDE AND PRAY FOR JAMES!

I mumbled, “I’m taking my break early,” and rushed outside. I prayed for James as long as I could and continued praying in my head when I went inside to attend a mandatory meeting.

The meeting included my eight co-workers, plus several managers. We never interrupted these meetings with senior management, but when my phone rang I did the unthinkable — I answered it. There was no caller ID, but I knew this had to be about my cousin, so I picked up the phone and said, “What happened to James?”

I wasn’t prepared for the chilling response. I heard my brother’s voice grimly saying, “Don’t you want to know about the rest of them?” Tears started streaming down my face. By now, the room was in complete silence as everyone stared at me. No one could believe I had the audacity not only to answer the phone, but to do it in such an unprofessional manner. I’m sure they were also shocked by my look of total horror as my brother told me that five of my family members (grandma, and cousins Jonathan, James, Josh, and Cheri) had been in a bad rollover accident, and my cousin Josh had been the only one who made it out of the car. In my mind, that meant everyone else was dead.

I ran outside in tears, frantic to get home and do something to help. My supervisor followed me out and drove me himself. I arrived home to find that all five of them were alive and had been sent to two separate hospitals. While Josh, Jonathan, and Cheri had survived with minor injuries, James had injured his back, broken a few bones, and shattered the growth plate in one of his feet. Grandma was in intensive care with multiple serious injuries and not expected to live through the week.

My grandmother is a very strong and stubborn woman who ended up proving everyone wrong. She is still alive today, twenty years later. But for several years, I questioned God. Many times, I asked him, “Why did you have me pray only for James, whose injuries weren’t even life-threatening? Why didn’t you have me pray for Grandma, who almost died and still doesn’t have full use of all her limbs?”

A few years after the accident, I got the answer. I was finally telling James about God having me pray for him that day. His eyes got huge, and he got the biggest goose bumps I’ve ever seen.

“Connie!” he interrupted. “You don’t know? You still haven’t heard all the details of that day?” He then told me that the SUV he and the rest of the family were in that day blew a tire and went off the road, rolling seven-and-a-half times on its way down the hill next to the freeway. I had heard this before. Then he told me something new. He told me the car suddenly stopped rolling on the middle of the slope and that the witness statements said it stopped “as if it had hit a wall,” but there was nothing there to stop it. At that moment James’s seat belt malfunctioned and he was thrown from the vehicle that surely would have crushed him if it had finished the eighth roll. Thank God for sending his angels to stop the SUV from completing the eighth revolution! I still get goose bumps recounting this years later. At the time, I couldn’t see the whole picture, but, as always, God knew exactly what he was doing.

~Connie Brown

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