When I was a teenager, I started to doubt the existence of God. I wanted to know if there really was Someone out there in charge and if that Someone knew who I was, cared about me and loved me. It was a pretty big IF for a 14-year-old to ponder.
I had always been taught to pray, so I did. Every night I'd kneel by the side of my bed and try to communicate with Whomever was out there in the great unknown. But I wasn't sure if I was talking to anyone at all or if anyone was listening to my ramblings on the other side.
The first thing I noticed was that something felt different when I prayed—I felt different when I prayed. There was of course the feeling of my knees on the nubby carpet and my hands on the chenille bedspread. But the something different I felt was something inside me. Something slowed-down, something warm-fuzzy. I felt comfortable and secure. But that still didn't answer my IF.
Then one day, after months of all this wondering, I got an answer. The answer didn't come while I was praying, but it came when I could hear it, when I was in the right frame of mind: quiet, open-hearted, listening. I didn't see a lightning bolt, hear an earth-shaking voice or anything dramatic. What came over me was afeeling. But it was as clear as if I had heard a voice, seen a flash of light. I knew there was a Someone out there and that Someone knew me, knew I was searching, cared about me and loved me. This feeling that swept over me had that familiar slowed-down, warm-fuzzy, comfortableness; but it was bigger, richer, deeper, fuller. It tugged at corners of my soul I'd never felt before. It flooded me with joy.
Later, my young adult self started to feel disconnected again from that Being who had reached out to me as a young teenager. I was at a point in my life where I needed answers to other big questions: education, career path, marriage and so forth. The decisions seemed too big to make on my own. I needed God. I wanted some concrete, specific answers.
So, I started keeping a prayer journal.
On the left-hand page I would write down the specific question I had asked or the help I had asked for. Each time I asked about that item in prayer, I'd put a little check mark next to it. Some of these had dozens of checks next to them. On the right-hand page I'd record my answers. At first, I went through the left-hand pages rapidly, while the right-hand pages lay blank. But as I started to pay attention to all the possible ways God could be communicating with me, that pattern reversed itself.
Someone mentioned something that really struck me in a conversation—something pertinent to my question that stood out for me to take notice. I'd write that down. An event or set of circumstances took place—meeting a certain person at a significant time and place. I'd write that down too. Quiet impressions, streams of ideas, thoughts that suddenly lined up with clarity and order. I recorded these as well.
Before I knew it, the right-hand pages were completely full! There sat my question or plea on the mostly-bare left-hand page, and opposite that were dozens of answers—some so tiny I might not have noticed if I hadn't been watching for them; others that could only be explained by Divine intervention. Miracles. I was grateful and amazed. I knew with a more powerful certainty that God does listen, that prayers do work and that I was being watched-over and helped.
Fast-forward to last week. I lost my wallet. Somewhere between one errand and the next it had disappeared. I retraced my steps, made phone calls. I returned to places I had visited, spoke with managers who opened safes. No wallet. I scoured the house, turning over couch cushions, opening cupboards, dismantling clutter.
After several days had gone by, and the wallet still had not turned up, I started to panic a little. I checked my online bank accounts and credit cards for illegal activity, considering reporting the cards as lost or stolen. In a last-ditch effort (why I waited this long I have no idea) I took to my knees.
I asked God to watch over my wallet, to keep it safe. To point me towards its whereabouts. Then I stopped worrying about it.
The next day, as the sun was about to set and I was folding the last load of laundry, the doorbell rang. There stood a familiar clerk from our neighborhood grocery store, holding my wallet. "You left your wallet at the store," she said. "I thought you might need it this weekend." I didn't tell her my wallet had been missing for an entire week; that I had been back to the store several times looking for it, asking about it. I just marveled that a young person had found my wallet, looked inside for my name and address and delivered it right to my front door, the contents completely intact, including $90 in cash and a couple of gift cards. I thanked her profusely.
Then I paused. I got down on my knees and thanked God. For answering, protecting, locating and returning my wallet. I might not have considered it so miraculous had I simply stumbled upon it in the laundry room the next day. But missing it for a week, retracing every step, searching everywhere, then having it returned to me in such an amazing way, I could only give credit to Him (and to the sweet grocery checker He used as an assistant.)
God doesn't always answer my prayers so quickly and completely. I don't make a habit of bothering him with all my lost items and expecting him to laser-point them out for me. But every once in a while He sends me a miracle to remind me He's there and prayers work.
Jana Winters Parkin is an artist, writer, and adjunct faculty at UVU. She co-hosts a popular podcast for women: "The Living Room" (bit.ly/TLRSHowiTunes) and spends every day possible exploring mountain trails. Contact her at