By Joel Oppenheign
A ship was wrecked during a storm at sea and only two of the men on it were able to swim to a small, desert-like island.
The two survivors, not knowing what else to do, agreed that they had no other recourse but to pray to God. However, to find out whose prayer was more powerful, they agreed to divide the territory between them and stay on opposite sides of the island. The first thing they prayed for was food. The next morning, the first man saw a fruit-bearing tree on his side of the land, and he was able to eat its fruit. The other man’s parcel of land remained barren.
After a week, the first man was lonely and he decided to pray for a wife. The next day, another ship wrecked nearby, and the only survivor was a woman who swam to his side of the island. On the other side of the island, there was nothing.
Eventually the first man decided to pray for clothes and more food. The next day, all of these were given to him as the belongings from yet another shipwreck were washed ashore. However, the second man still had nothing.
Finally, the first man prayed for a ship, so that he and his wife could leave the island. In the morning, he found that overnight a ship had anchored on his side of the island.
The first man was welcomed aboard the ship along with his wife and he decided to say nothing of the other man, but instead leave him on the island. He considered the other man unworthy to receive God’s blessings since obviously none of his prayers had been answered…
As the ship was about to leave, the first man heard a Voice booming, “Why are you leaving your companion on the island?”
“My blessings are mine alone, since I was the one who prayed for them,” the first man answered. “His prayers were all unanswered and so he does not deserve anything.”
“You are gravely mistaken!” the Voice rebuked him. “He had only one prayer, and I answered it. If it were not for his prayers, you would not have received any of MY blessings.”
“Tell me,” the first man asked, “what did he pray for that I should owe him anything?”
“He prayed that all your prayers would be answered.”
This article “Unanswered Prayer” By Joel Oppenheign is excerpted from The Prayer Handbook, 1983.