The Spectator

Have you ever had a prayer answered?

The Spectator's Christmas survey asked for answered prayers or wishes

Justin Welby

Archbishop of Canterbury

There have been lots of wonderful answers to prayer over many years, including recently. One I remember was as a 15-year-old sitting in chapel with the prospect of three frightening tests that day, for which I had done no preparation, and praying that if I got through it then I would do anything for God. I did get through and did nothing about it, except forget about God. Another was praying about whether I should ask my future wife to marry me: I was sitting alone by a canal in Holland. I felt I should, did, and she said yes. It was a wonderful decision. The most recent was when I was going to see some incredible work done by a group of young women helping trafficked sex workers. I prayed that I could find, in my complete bafflement, something hopeful and good to say to the young women with whom they worked. Some words came, and for at least one woman I know much changed. That was the best Christmas gift of that year.  

Frederick Forsyth


I had scrounged a lift on the third-from-last plane out of the dying enclave of Biafra at the end of the Nigerian civil war. Behind us on the airstrip, the last two aircraft waited in the pitch-black night. My lift was on a clapped-out old DC-4 flown by its owner, an Afrikaner really called Van Der Merwe. The destination was Libreville, Gabon. The fuselage was overloaded with dying Biafran children and Irish nuns. After takeoff, also in pitch darkness, somewhere over the Niger delta, the port outer coughed and gave up. We struggled on three engines towards the ocean. After turning east towards Gabon, the starboard outer began to cough and splutter. It was clear the old rust-bucket would never fly on two and was sinking towards the sea on three.

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