In the spring of 1983, I finished my Master's degree in counseling at BYU and was accepted into the Navy as an LDS Chaplain. My first assignment was with the 3rd Marine Infantry Battalion at Camp Pendleton, California. One Friday during lunch, a young black Marine knocked at my office door. I could tell from his troubled countenance that he was in trouble.
He introduced himself as Corporal Johnson. He had just come up positive for the second time on a drug test and faced demotion to the lowest rank, two months in the brig, and a dishonorable discharge. He said doctors were treating his wife for bone cancer at the base hospital. He and his wife had children to feed. With the demotion his family would lose their home on the base. With the confinement his family would lose his income for two months. And with the discharge his wife would lose medical treatment for her bone cancer.
He explained that he was innocent and that there must have been some mistake.
As I listened to his story, I began to pray. After the Marine finished, I heard Heavenly Father say, I'm the only one who can help him now.
As we talked I received spiritual impressions, as if spoken directly to me about scriptures to read together. These scriptures were about prayer and receiving miracles. After we finished reading and discussing these scriptures, I received a final spiritual prompting: Pray with him.
A few days later, he returned to my office saying, "Chaplain, you'll never believe what happened."
I never wrote this story down at the time. A few months later, I found myself on a military exercise, in a foxhole with another Marine who was angry and hurting. His mother was in Alabama and had been laid off from her job as a card punch operator and he was sending her $500 a month (nearly all of his pay check) and it left him with almost nothing to save for college. He was hoping for a meritorious promotion to full Corporal, but his platoon commander (an officer) said he would not recommend him because he was immature. We talked for a long time and I told him Corporal Johnson's story. He became interested in prayer, so we discussed the four scriptures I had shared with Corporal Johnson. Then we prayed together.
Later he came to visit me after Divine Services at the little chapel at our camp. He said, "Chaplain, you'll never believe what happened." He said he'd been praying with the small changes we'd discussed and afterward his First Sergeant had pulled him aside and told him they were recommending him for promotion in spite of his platoon commander's disapproval.
I began to reconsider the importance of the story and the scriptures. So I wrote them down. Because Corporal Johnson's story had interested Lance Corporal Wharton in prayer, I began to tell his story to other Marines who came to me with problems. I wanted to see if I could interest them in making small changes in their prayers. A number of Marines were interested and made small changes in their prayers with miraculous results. The four scriptures seemed so helpful, I began to make notes and collect stories along with other scriptures that seemed to illustrate the reality of miracles and the importance of making small changes in the way we pray.
I thought I could write a little booklet with the story and scriptures to give to Marines and Sailors so I wouldn't have to keep telling the story, but that never happened because I loved to tell the story. However, after ten years of collecting supporting stories and quotes, I finished the manuscript of a book. After I completed six major revisions and the publisher completed a final revision, Prayers That Bring Miracles was published in 1996 to help others receive divine help in their lives.
Small changes in the way you pray can change your life. These small changes, if continued, also produce significant cumulative changes in the way we think, in the way we believe, and in the way we feel. These changes in the way we think, believe, and feel bring small, but cumulative (ever increasing) positive changes that gradually, but noticeably improve our lives.
Making these small changes in our prayers requires so little effort that it may be foolish not to consider them; expecially since they make a lot of sense, and our Heavenly Father has indicated they are important to Him.