On July 26th, 1944 Eldon Powley was running communication lines as a Marine in Guam when he crested a ridge and was shot through the leg, breaking it. As a hail of bullets began to descend he pulled his rifle close and began to roll over and over until he hit the dry river bed and kept rolling until he was up against the bank. As bullets continued to beat into the river bed he lay perfectly still until everything became quiet. After bandaging his leg he crawled down river hoping to find help.
Suddenly he heard movement and gripped his rifle, thinking “They might get me, but I’ll get some of them first.” Instead of the enemy, it was the rest of his gang!
They stared at him as if they’d seen a ghost. As they continued to head back there were more scrimmages on the way. It seemed they were shooting in all directions. At one point a fellow charged him with his bayonet and when Eldon shot him, this guy’s rifle slipped down beside Eldon.
Just as Eldon realized he was out of ammunition, a hand grenade bounced on the river bed, bouncing right over Eldon and went off. He remembered thinking, “So this is what it feels like to die because no one could ever live through that blast” But Eldon did! After regaining consciousness he discovered he was terribly wounded but still alive.
Remembering he was out of ammo he rolled over to pick up the Japanese rifle and discovered his whole left side was paralyzed from the hand grenade shrapnel – it was in his left leg, arm, side, back and head. When he finally got into a position that he could get hold of the rifle he discovered it had two rounds left in it. The shrapnel in his head and face resulted in so much bleeding he had to lay the rifle down to wipe the blood away so he could see.
Eventually he saw more men coming across the ridge in his direction. When they were about 100 feet away he laid the rifle down to wipe the blood out of his eyes one last time but when he lined up on them again he realized they were Marines! And there was a Navy Corpsmen with them who quickly tended his wounds! After he was finished, Eldon looked like a mummy wrapped from head to toe in white bandages.
The next day he was so sore and stiff he couldn’t move and when anyone talked to him it sounded like they were talking down a hollow tube. Because of the shrapnel in his face and jaw he couldn’t open his mouth or separate his teeth to eat. He was sent via ship to Hawaii to be put back together.
While there he received his mail from the past few months. When he opened a letter from his mother, he read, “Last night the Lord woke me and said to pray for your son as he is in very serious trouble.” The letter said she got out of bed on her knees and prayed for a long time for his safety and got no relief. Finally she prayed, “O Lord, just keep him close to you.” She said a calmness came over her and she got back into bed and went to sleep. The next morning she wrote this letter before going to work. As Eldon read the letter to his roommate they realized the 25th of July was really the 26 of July in Guam, the day they fought for their very existence.
His mother was praying for him during those hours!!!
Oh how I love this story! It reminds me how powerful prayer is – his mom was in Michigan! And they didn’t have iphones back then!!! When my son was going through training to become a Marine officer it so encouraged my heart to think the Lord could prompt me to be praying for him when he needed it – even if he was on the other side of the world!
Do you realize the impact you can have through your prayers?!!!
Being at home with a baby and young children is a unique season of life when you truly can cultivate a life of prayer. There are a lot of daily tasks that require your attention, but your mind isn’t as challenged – well, it may be frazzled!!! But I found there was a lot of time when I could pray – if I’d be intentional about it. Granted this is much easier said than done. I found for this to happen it required a lot of creativity and perseverance.
Have you heard about Susanna Wesley? Even though she had 19 children she was determined that prayer would be a part of her life. She taught her kids whenever she sat in the middle of her kitchen floor with her apron over her head she was not to be disturbed – and yes, there were serious consequences for any child who violated this unless there was an emergency. Did those prayers ever produce a ton of fruit, impacting her children and millions more through them.
What a wonderful picture this is of being intentional!
But since you don’t see quick results all the time, prayer truly is a huge act of faith – especially initially. It really is a great faith workout and brings such pleasure to the Lord. But I can’t even begin to tell you the joy I have when I do get to see answered prayer – and the more I pray the more i get glimpses of the Lord answering.
Like a few days ago I was walking in the neighborhood and a neighbor was in her driveway with her husband, distraught having discovered that afternoon while at school the diamond was missing from her wedding ring. So we prayed for her and can you believe her son found it the next day in her bedroom when he was bringing in his laundry – and the room was dark!!! Were we ever celebrating when we heard this!
Now you can pray anytime but I think certain seasons of life are extra ripe for growing in prayer. When I was nursing my son, I use to love to pray for him. As I did so, I began memorizing the prayers in Scripture so even though I couldn’t hold a Bible I could pray through those for him and others too!
Not only is it a joy now 24 years later, seeing how the Lord is answering those prayers – but as I invested that time in prayer I was changed. My perspective often changed regarding the hard things we were going through but also I became much more sensitive to the Holy Spirit bringing things to mind for me to pray for.
I think it’s important to note, Eldon Powley’s mom spent years cultivating a close walk with the Lord so when He prompted her to pray during this crisis she recognized His voice and was ready even in the middle of the night to fall to her knees in prayer.
One of my all time favorite verses in the Bible is Isaiah 40:11 – especially the last part where it says, “He gently leads those who have young.” Over and over I find the Lord so amazingly faithful to do this. But the kicker is – when you gently lead someone you don’t yank them around! In fact, if someone is gently leading, the person being led has to work to be attentive or it’s easy to miss such cues. Yet the more you seek to listen and follow, the easier it becomes to be alert to such guidance.
So one of my key prayers is to ask the Lord to help me be sensitive to His gentle leading! That’s not a passive request! But one He is honoring as I show up for His training day by day ~ to listen, to follow, to obey.
Many times I’ve been asked – why pray if the Lord already knows what’s needed? Because prayer doesn’t just change circumstances – it changes us. Especially as we experience the Lord!
He could’ve rescued Eldon without his mother’s prayers. But can you imagine the impact it had on Eldon and his roommate when they realized his mom was praying at the exact time he was under attack?! Or what an impact it had on his mom when she heard the full story?! And others too?!
Talk about powerful and effective! Over fifty years later it still brings tears to my eyes and moves my heart to worship… and does it ever motivate me to keep praying even more!
note: Eldon is now in the presence of the Lord. But before he died he wrote an autobiography entitled My Life in the United States Marine Corp. You won’t find this listed for sale on Amazon as he wrote it for his children and grandchildren ~ and graciously gave me a copy when I asked for one.
We met nearly twenty years ago when I was directing drama at our church. He would come help me set up and tear down sets sharing his story as we did so. What a special man! I was blown away by how he experienced the Lord during World War 2.
Prior to this attack he’d been on a ship when it was torpedoed and shared how he spent the night in the water praying while he waited to be rescued. First he prayed he wouldn’t be sucked down with the ship. Then he prayed he wouldn’t be burned by the spilled oil that was igniting all around him. Then he prayed he wouldn’t be eaten by the sharks drawn by the bloody wounds of many of the men. Then after many hours, he prayed his soaked life vest wouldn’t pull him under. And of course he prayed for rescue – and that it wouldn’t come from any enemies!
After spending all night bobbing in the sea he was picked up well after daylight the next day. I share this to highlight his mom wasn’t the only fervent pray-er! Isn’t it beautiful to see how she modeled and passed this on ~ and two generations later this blessing is still having a powerful and effective impact for the glory of God!