Love Letters to God

May 2010

William F. Haynes Jr., M.D.

William F Haynes Jr. speaks on Daily Word, daily affirmations, God's love, and Let Go, Let God

Now retired from active private practice, Dr. Williams F. Haynes Jr. continues to write, teach and lecture at medical, church and community organizations. This article was adapted from a story which appeared in A Physician’s Witness to the Power of Shared Prayer, published by Loyola University Press.

As I look back now, I see that God’s love and guidance were ever-present in my life, even in my earliest years. I was fortunate to have parents who affirmed me every step of the way.

I was 12 when my father died of a chronic liver ailment. He died at home after being ill for many weeks. To see this man who was so athletic and healthy waste away in front of my eyes devastated me. This loss left my mother, a schoolteacher, alone and with a very small salary. I had no brothers or sisters.

My mother and I read Daily Word every morning at breakfast for the next several years until I left home to join the service at age 17. I began to sense God’s presence almost daily during those trying years. The service led eventually to college, medical school, postgraduate training, more time in the service—this time as a Navy physician—and finally married life and starting a practice.

During this chain of events I always kept in close contact with my mother whether by mail, telephone or visits on weekends or holidays. We each had our own Daily Word and shared the reading when together. From these daily devotions we learned the power of affirmation prayer, which is thanking God for things not seen or events not yet witnessed.

My mother not only made use of affirmation prayers in her daily life, but she frequently went one step further and wrote down these prayers in the form of letters to God. After writing the prayer, she signed her first name, placed the prayer in a dated envelope, sealed it and placed it in the bottom drawer of her desk or in the family Bible. In other words, she turned it over to God.

These letters were really affirmations—prayers that thanked God for His perfect answer to concerns at work or at home or to financial needs before the answer actually manifested itself. She turned her life over to God, trusted in His all-providing grace, and acknowledged her blessings with daily thanksgiving.

Later in life as her career in education was closing, she was suffering from transient small strokes that caused her to fall down suddenly. She would get up and smile and dismiss it by saying that she must have tripped over something. She now lived 50 miles away from our family, and so she prayed she would be able to sell the old house and move near us. Soon, her prayers were answered and she moved next door to us, and was visited daily by her beloved 3-year-old grandson, Billy.

A few years later my mother passed away. Her life had been a series of successes, as a teacher and author, in graduate work and in school promotion from first grade teacher to elementary supervisor. Virtually each step along the way had been handed over to God through a letter.

Once the prayer was tucked between the pages of the family Bible, she let go and trusted that God would hear her concerns and answer the prayer according to His wisdom. Each letter was an act of faith. As it says in Hebrews, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Heb. 11:1).

Many years after my mother’s death, I picked up the old, large and heavy family Bible and out fell several of her letters. They were written in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s. To my joy, each prayer had been answered as she had hoped, or it had turned out better than anticipated.

I have also written letters over the past years, sealed and dated them and later, perhaps months or years, opened them. My prayers were also answered. Many times God’s answers differed from my own wishes, but when I examined the situation later on, I realized that His answers were better than my own wishes.