By Nathan Pfau, Army Flier Staff WriterMarch 22, 2018
FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- Prayer, for many people, is a powerful tool that helps them through difficult times, and for one Army chaplain, it helped him and his family to get through one the most frightening moments of their lives.
Soldiers and civilians came together to offer prayers during the National Prayer Breakfast March 15 at The Landing's Ballroom where retired Chaplain (Col.) Scott McChrystal, former senior chaplain at the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, New York, spoke and offered lessons on how prayer can help in times of crisis, and also reinforce one's faith.
During the event, scriptures were read and prayers were said for the nation, the U.S. military and for Fort Rucker, and according to William G. Kidd, Fort Rucker deputy to the commanding general, the prayers are a way to bring people together in something many share -- faith.
"The National Prayer Breakfast is on in its 66th year, and why has that carried on? Because there is a need for prayer," said the deputy to the commanding general. "Looking around in the room, you see people from all walks of life gathered together for a single purpose -- prayer. You understand that the only commonality is that we're uncommon, except for one thing, and that's faith.
"Faith in our creator, faith in our fellow man, our great nation, our communities and all of the things that the power of prayer brings, and so we're doing that today," he said. "Hopefully it will change your life just a little, because that's what it takes in this country -- just a little by everybody."
For McChrystal, the message that he wanted to share with people is that although prayer can help people when they're in need, it is still up to them to make sure to execute God's plan.
"There's a time to pray, there's a time to plan and there's a time to press forward," he said. "I believe that if we will do all of these things, we will strengthen our faith in God, we'll have a brighter hope for the future and we'll have a greater love for people. If we're better people, we'll have a better community, a better state, a better nation and a better world.
"Will God hear our prayers? Absolutely," said the chaplain. "Will he answer our prayers? Scriptures say he will. Will he always answer the way and with the timing that we desire? I think I have to vote no on that one. He may say, 'yes,' to what we ask … but sometimes, though, he may say, 'wait.'"
McChrystal said that although God may know what people want, more importantly he knows what they need, and what they need may not necessarily be what they're praying for. But that shouldn't deter people from praying, because in one way or another, he will answer prayers.
"I also believe in prayer because I have been a recipient many, many times to answered prayer," he said, recounting one particular incident that he said he and his wife, Judy, will never forget.
One summer while living in Fort Bragg, North Carolina, he and his family decided to visit the pool at the Officer's Club. While there, his son, Rob, asked to go with his father to jump off the high dive.
"I'm standing on the pavement and I watch little Rob climb up the ladder, and I focus my eyes on the water where I thought his skinny little frame and blonde hair would be entering the water," said the retired chaplain. "All of the sudden out of my peripheral vision, I saw my son slip under the bar of that 10-foot diving board, fall and smack onto the pavement. It was the scariest moment of my entire life -- it was a nightmare."
Although McChrystal said his immediate thought was to blame himself for not being able to catch his son, he had to do what he could to save his son and called an ambulance. On the way to the hospital, he said he and his family prayed, and while waiting in the waiting room, they continued to pray.
"We prayed. For three hours as we prayed and prayed and prayed, we had no idea (what was happening) -- no report, no feedback, nothing," he said.
Eventually they were instructed to follow a doctor to a back room where their son was lying on a bed, and the doctor said to Rob, "Son, you're fine. You can get up and go home with your dad and your mom."
"God did a miracle," said McChrystal. "How's that 6-year-old-doing today? In another month, Rob is going to surrender command of the 1-508th at Fort Bragg, and he's going to go across the country and assume command of the 2nd Ranger Battalion, so I have to say that the miracle stuck.
"If you have any questions about whether or not God answers prayer … what he's done for us, he will do for you," said the retired chaplain. "God's a planner. Start planning and plan with him - consult him.
There are going to be times when the plan may not be well executed, but God honors our efforts. God will honor your efforts. There is a season for everything under the sun."