Do you remember the story of Heidi, the orphan girl who lived with her grandfather at the top of a mountain in the Alps? Most of us were introduced to her by watching old reruns of the Shirley Temple movie. But did you know that the original story is filled with some amazing spiritual treasures? If you want a heart-warming lesson on “unanswered” prayer, read on…
Heidi leaves her mountaintop home to be a companion to Clara, a girl in Frankfurt who is wheel-chair bound. Heidi’s innocence and outlook on life have an effect on everyone, but she eventually becomes so homesick for the mountains that she is sent back to her grandfather. Later, Clara comes to visit, and her health improves so much (because of the mountain air and rich goat’s milk) that she learns to walk.
As the children lay that night in bed looking out at the stars Heidi said, “I have been thinking all day what a happy thing it is that God does not give us what we ask for, even when we pray and pray and pray, if He knows there is something better for us; have you felt like that?”
“Why do you ask me that to-night all of a sudden?” asked Clara.
“Because I prayed so hard when I was in Frankfurt that I might go home at once, and because I was not allowed to I thought God had forgotten me. And now you see, if I had come away at first when I wanted to, you would never have come here, and would never have got well.”
Clara had in her turn become thoughtful. “But, Heidi,” she began again, “in that case we ought never to pray for anything, as God always intends something better for us than we know or wish for.”
“You must not think it is like that, Clara,” replied Heidi eagerly. “We must go on praying for everything, for everything, so that God may know we do not forget that it all comes from Him. If we forget God, then He lets us go our own way and we get into trouble; grandmamma told me so. And if He does not give us what we ask for we must not think that He has not heard us and leave off praying, but we must still pray and say, I am sure, dear God, that Thou art keeping something better for me, and I will not be unhappy, for I know that Thou wilt make everything right in the end.”
from the book “Heidi” by Johanna Spyri, 1880
(and with many thanks to my sister, Gayle, who decided that this was the summer to read through this classic book again!)