How much do you suppose a prayer weighs? Strange question isn’t it? But in fact there was a certain man who thought he knew the weight of a prayer, and once upon a time actually tried to weigh one. His name was Charley, and he owned a “mom-and-pop” grocery store in a small Illinois town.
It was Christmas Eve, 1945. World War II had just ended about four months earlier. A tired looking woman came into his little store that afternoon and asked Charley for enough food to make a Christmas dinner for her children.
“How much can you spend, lady,” Charley asked?
“My husband was killed in the war”, she answered, “and I have nothing to offer but a little prayer.”
Now Charley will tell you that he was not very sentimental in those days, and after all, he wasn’t running a soup kitchen.
“Write it on paper,” he said to her rather flippantly, and started to busy himself in the meat case. To his astonishment the woman slipped a piece of paper out of her apron pocket and handed it to him over the case.
“I did that,” she said, “during the night as I watched over my sick baby.”
Stunned, Charley took the piece of paper, and wished that he had never mentioned such a thing. Now what could he say? Suddenly an idea came to him. Without even reading the paper, he placed it on the weight side of his old balance scale and announced, “We shall see how much food this is worth.” To his amazement the scale did not move when he placed a loaf of bread on the balance side. Then amazement turned to confusion and then to embarrassment when it still would not go down even though he continued adding food — in fact anything he could lay his hands on quickly — because other people were now in the store and were watching this unusual drama.
He tried to sound rough but was making a bad job of it. Red faced and totally flustered, he said, “Well, that’s all the scale will hold, here is a bag; you will have to sack it yourself; I’m busy.”
She took the bag and started packing in the food, stopping intermittently to wipe away a tear with her apron. Charley tried not to look, but he could not help but notice that he had given her a very large bag, and that it was not quite full. Trying to act nonchalant, he tossed a large chunk of cheese and several small cakes down the counter, without a word. This final act was the clincher in betraying his crusty exterior, and he could not miss the timid smile of gratefulness that glistened through her teary eyes.
When the lady departed, Charley rushed to the scale and examined it top to bottom, but he could find nothing wrong.
Charley is an elderly man now, and he still scratches his white hair in bewilderment, and slowly shakes his head with the same puzzled expression every time the incident comes to mind. He never saw the woman again; in fact he had never seen her before either. But he remembers her better than any other single person who ever visited his store, and thinks of her more often. He knows that the experience was not his imagination because he still has the slip of paper upon which the woman’s prayer was written. It reads, very simply, “Please Lord, give us this day our daily bread.”
How much does a prayer weigh? In the light of this true story, the question is not so strange after all. Because you see, Beloved, it is we who very often determine the answer to that question.
Will you let God use you to touch broken hearts, hungry stomachs, and hurting people?