by ENS Geoffrey E. Whitaker, USNR
Let me share a story about the amazing power of prayer. This is the tale of a near-death experience overseas, a subsequent incredible and statistically astronomically unlikely recovery, and a new directive from THE higher command, God.
I was born and raised in the country, in the mountains of western North Carolina. I went to college at Georgia Tech, where I wrestled, was a Naval ROTC midshipman, and graduated with a mechanical engineering degree.
After graduation and commissioning as a naval officer, I went straight to BUD/S (SEAL training) and was a SEAL (2000 – 2005). About seven months ago, I responded to God’s clear call to go to work for Him full time, specifically as a naval chaplain. I am currently a master of divinity student at Luther Rice Seminary in Lithonia, Georgia.
About two years ago, I received a massive injury while in the Middle East with my SEAL Platoon.
This injury left me unconscious for ten days and in need of brain surgery. It also left me with only a ten percent chance of making it, even after the surgery. However, despite those odds I was completely recovered and back to full duty as a SEAL Officer twelve months later.
I spent my first two months after the injury in recovery in a VA hospital. During that time I received letters from my Christian brothers and sisters from all over the world.
As I have been active in churches in six states where I have lived, I have missionary friends everywhere.
Also, of course, I have my brothers and sisters-in -arms all over the planet. Therefore, my friend network is global. I have been a Christian since I was eight years old, and I’m sure many of you reading this are Christians as well.
As Christians, we know that prayer is a vehicle through which we talk to God, our creator and Savior. We also know that God hears and answers. However, certain events in life give us a new and tangible appreciation for the power of prayer.
A noteworthy aside and statement of thanks: during my first week back in the states, President George W. Bush visited me in the hospital. My family and I were honored by his visit and immeasurably grateful for his humble and thankful demeanor.
Upon entering my room, President Bush stopped the media, photographers, and guards, and entered by himself because of the still deeply emotional state of my family.
Additionally, he made a statement of special thanks for our work as SEALs and expressed his sorrow to my family about my injury. I was so honored by this that it moved me to tears. It meant so much to my family.
Then, towards the end of my two-month hospital stay, I reopened all the letters I had received from Christians around the world.
I did some quick math, (former engineer, so I can do that) and came up with an amazing total. Approximately 60,000 people globally had committed to pray for me weekly while I was in the hospital. Wow!