'Heaven Hears': A public petition for prayer in the face of tragedy
In 2001, Lindy Boone Michaelis' son Ryan stepped through a skylight and fell three stories. As he clung to life, Lindy agreed to an appearance on Larry King's television show with her father, music legend Pat Boone. Lindy and Pat expressed their faith and pleaded with Larry King's viewers to pray for Ryan. "Heaven Hears" tells their story. Here's an excerpt.
“Do you believe, Lindy, in prayer?”
Larry King leaned forward in his chair, elbows on the table, his gaze sympathetic but searching.
“Even though it has been two months.”
I felt as if I were in the hot seat. It was my second appearance on Larry King Live in as many months, and I knew Larry was asking me the same question millions of viewers had: Does God really hear when we cry out to him?
“You’ve been praying for two months,” Larry said.
Eight weeks before, life as I’d known it had been completely upended when my twenty-four-year-old son, Ryan, stepped through a skylight and fell three full stories. His skull was fractured, his lungs collapsed, and his heart stopped. When he broke through that roof, Ryan fell into a very different life, teetering on the edge of eternity.
For weeks my firstborn child lingered between life and death in the Intensive Care Unit at UCLA Medical Center. At first I was in shock, grieving, looking for answers. I felt so helpless; prayer was my lifeline.
Yet I wanted to do more. What I hadn’t expected was an opportunity to appear before a worldwide audience, all because Larry King was a friend of my dad, Pat Boone. Daddy had been friends with Larry since the talk-show icon had hosted a local radio show from a Miami hotel lounge back in the late 1950s. At the time, my dad was one of the most popular charting artists in the country (second only to Elvis Presley). Larry invited him to be a guest on his show, and they immediately hit it off. Over forty years later, Larry had made a name for himself as host of Larry King Live, CNN’s most-watched and longest-running program.
Given their long-standing friendship, Daddy wasn’t too surprised when he got a call from Larry’s producer shortly after Ryan’s accident. The producer said Larry had heard about Ryan’s accident and wanted Daddy and me to come on the show for a few minutes so that people would hear about Ryan’s accident and pray for him.
Even though Daddy wasn’t surprised by the call, he thought the reason for the invitation was extraordinary. “He’s giving us a platform,” he told me.
I wasn’t sure I could do it. “I feel too raw. I am a gaping wound. How do I talk about this in public? It’s all too horrible.”
But we decided to accept the invitation. Ryan needed every prayer he could get. Our first appearance on July 26, 2001, was short—a small segment at the end of one of Larry’s programs. Daddy and I had been given just enough time to let viewers know about Ryan’s accident and ask them to pray for his recovery.
The response to our first appearance was, as Larry said, “almost unbelievable”; in fact, for days afterward UCLA Medical Center had been besieged with calls from people asking about Ryan.
Larry invited us back to his show three weeks later. Now my dad and I sat across from him for a second time. I didn’t have to wait long before Larry followed up with another question.
“Why not? Why not an answer?”
“Can I read you something real quick?” I asked, reaching for the Bible I’d brought with me. Given the ups and downs of the past few weeks, I had few insights of my own.
“One thing the Lord has been trying to work in me,” I said, as I flipped to the book of Romans, “is patience. And I rely more heavily on what he says in his Word now than ever before.”
Finding the passage I’d been looking for, I began reading aloud: “We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they are good for us—they help us learn to endure. And endurance develops strength of character in us, and character strengthens our confident expectation of salvation.”
I’m not sure this was the “answer” Larry or his audience was looking for, yet it was already clear to me that God was up to something. I was still working on what that passage meant, but I knew I had a big trial (that was an understatement), and I was told to rejoice because I would gain endurance, strength of character, and a confident expectation of salvation through it. My job was to hold fast to his Word and to do so in front of millions. I knew this was a rare opportunity to let viewers witness faith in action, even if it was the size of the proverbial mustard seed.
“I’m learning patience through this,” I said. “But I still believe that my son is going to get better.”
About forty-five minutes later, Larry gave the last word of the night to my dad, who once again asked people to pray.
And boy, did they pray. Heaven Hears is the story of what happened next. It’s a story about the power of prayer. It’s about miracles. It’s about overcoming despair, persisting through suffering, and surviving against all odds.
It’s an unbelievable story, and it’s not over yet.
If you or someone you love has experienced a traumatic injury, you know that it’s like a hallucinatory roller-coaster ride operated by a madman. There are tremendous ups and downs, not to mention sharp, jerky turns and dips that make your stomach tie up in knots. There are moments of triumph and joy and excitement, but there are also tears and screams and moments where you hold on until your knuckles turn white.
I’m still on that roller coaster, although it’s slowed down a bit and the twists and turns aren’t quite as bad these days. I’ve learned a few things along the way: that we are spiritual beings, here for a reason. That good things can come from bad. And that heaven does hear—even before we have a chance to look up.
“Proceeds from sales of Heaven Hears will go to Ryan’s Reach (www.RyansReach.com), an organization that seeks to aid brain-injured individuals and their families by providing financial resources and promotional support to High Hopes Neurological Recovery Group, Inc., a public charitable organization based in Orange County, California.”
Excerpted from HEAVEN HEARS: THE TRUE STORY OF WHAT HAPPENED WHEN PAT BOONE ASKED THE WORLD TO PRAY FOR HIS GRANDSON'S SURVIVAL.Copyright © 2013Lindy Boone Michaelis. Excerpted by permission of TyndaleHouse Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher