Answered Prayers in GNP
Prayer and our relationship with God.
This summer, my son and I had the privilege to backpack in Glacier National Park. It was a sort of homecoming for me. Glacier had been the destination for my first ever backpacking trip in college. 26 years later, we drove 16 hours from northern Minnesota to Two Medicine Ranger Station.
I had high hopes for our time and wanted this to be a trip that my son remembered for the rest of his life. How do you intentionally engage your child, developing his heart and mind to think well and love God with all his heart? As with most experiences, God often shows up in unexpected ways.
Our trip ended up being marked by answered prayer, both in small ways and in specific, jaw-dropping ways. It is interesting that I didn’t set out for that to be the big lesson, but God had designs for our time.
Every morning, beginning with the morning we started driving, my son Matthew and I prayed for our day. A lot of time, it was general prayer for health and safety, but occasionally, we had very specific requests for the day. Each night we would engage in the Ignatian practice of the Examen, looking at the consolations and desolations of the day. Essentially you reflect on your day, think about how God has been present, and engage with a heart of gratitude. Practically, Matthew and I would recap the day from a millage and elevation gained/lost. We would then talk about the ways that God showed up and where things were hard. We would consider the next day and talk about any challenges we saw coming up. It was a sweet time of intentionality.
There were two significant answers to prayer that I would like to highlight.
Our first specific request began with our itinerary for the trip. We had submitted for our permit back in March and had to request 4 different itineraries. The website had a note saying they had received 4x the number of submissions compared to a normal year due to pent-up demand from the previous pandemic summer when people’s plans had been canceled. When we received our permit in June, we ended up getting our 3rd choice and a day shorter than we’d hoped. The one silver lining is that Glacier holds back half of their sites for walk-up traffic and we had the opportunity to make changes. We prayed that God would have our alternate trip available to us. When I stepped into the ranger station, it turned out that our assigned itinerary’s trailhead was closed and we had to do a complete redo. The ranger asked what our first choice had been and miraculously, we were able to get that very itinerary. Over the week, several people were surprised that we got that route as it is one of the most sought-after routes in the park.
The second specific request came on the afternoon of our 4th day. The following day we were planning to hike 14.5 miles out to a campground that would be near a gift shop and hotel. We were both tired and were not relishing the 11 mile hike out the next day. We could have done it, but it involved a huge climb and would’ve given us a late start on our long drive back to Minnesota later in the afternoon. Sitting on the edge of a glacial lake, we prayed for wisdom. We had heard rumors of shuttles to take us the 45 miles back to our car and we also thought about hitch-hiking. That night we sat around the food prep area with another couple and it turned out they worked for a hotel in the park. They told us we could take the hotel shuttle bus to the park entrance and then grab the hiker shuttle to our car. Additionally, they told us about a restaurant to go to the next evening and told us to ask the hotel front desk if they had any cancelations. The next day, we got a hotel room, ate amazing pizza and connected with that couple again, who actually drove us to our car!
That last day of hiking, Matthew kept remarking at what an amazing answer to prayer we had received. We dove into that and he admitted that it had been a long time since he had seen such a specific answer to prayer. We then spent 30 minutes on the trail talking about prayer and how we engage with our Heavenly Father. We got to go back to our consolations and desolations from the week and reflect on God’s presence. We both saw our eyes opened to how God engages with us. I pointed out that we prayed for health and safety every day and that God answer that prayer just as much as he had answered the more specific requests.
In the end after experiencing God’s creation and beauty, we were gently reminded of His goodness and his desire for relationship and communication with us. I hope Matthew remembers the trip for the rest of his life, but I desire even more that he will remember the lesson on prayer and the goodness of his Great God.
Take a moment to reflect: How has God answered your prayers lately?
Shae McCowen - Grove Core Member