It's about 9:30 or 10 pm. Trot, my 20-year-old special needs son, gets ready for bed. The lights go out. “Mom, it’s time to say our prayers,” he says. Anne sits on the bed with him. Sometimes I join them and kneel next to his bed.
Then Anne starts it off, but once she starts, Trot takes over. He prays for friends and relatives who are sick, the needy, people who are lonely — street people, people who live under bridges — people who are in dire straits, people who have no family and no money. People who have nobody to love them, people who have nothing.
He’ll pray for his grandad — who died 10 years ago. If Trot has seen an ambulance that day, he will ask God to protect that person and make that person well. Trot, his eyes wide, innocent and full of love, often will look at us, searching for affirmation right after he has prayed for someone who is sick or hurt. My son wants to know that the person will be okay.
Trot goes to school with a younger child whose special needs struggles are greater than his. He will pray for his friend, even if the kid just has a cold. He’ll pray for his teachers too.
He’ll pray for Anne, me and, of course, our two dogs, Sissy and Lily. “Sissy doesn’t feel well and she needs to go to the doctor and I pray the doctor can give her medicine and make her feel better,” says Trot. He even prays at times for the homeless cat that roams through our neighborhood.
Trot’s evening prayers take about 10 minutes. Sometimes we even have to cut him off because it’s time for him to fall asleep. What is most special about our prayer time is that his words and feelings are so genuine — he strongly believes his prayers will help those he has prayed for. Praying at bed-time is something that we have done all his life.
He’s also different during our prayer time than the rest of the day. Trot, who because of his special needs challenges typically functions at the level of a much younger child, seems more focused. The reason may be that he believes so strongly in the seriousness of prayer: What we are doing is going to help people. Without a doubt.
I’m a little bit more of a skeptic, to be honest. I try so hard to believe. I look around, listen to others, admire Trot, marvel at Anne and their unswerving faith — and wonder “Why can’t I be like that?”
I am a man who wants to believe desperately, especially as I get older. This is because I want to know that the physical end to my life is not the real ending. I want to believe that there is something after this; that there is an after-life.
I watch Trot and Anne, mainly Trot, and I think of the miracle and power of this young man’s faith. And then I see clearly how God is taking care of him. God cloaks my son, and envelops him with His mercy, guidance and grace; it is His presence that allows my son, so limited in so many areas, to be all that he can be.
This is the miracle; I see it so clearly as I write this. Is God speaking to me through my son? I think so. Am I ready to hear His voice? I hope so.