A Thanksgiving Story: The Earnest Prayer

By Richard Mabey Jr.


One of the hardest working individuals, whom I have ever known in my life is my cousin, Robert Peter Knothe. Pete, as every one in the family knows him as, is the Manager of Knothe Farms in Randolph Township. Having stayed at the Knothe Farm for many week-long visits, I can testify to just how hard working a man, Pete is. Seven days a week, he’s up at 5:30 in the morning to conquer a mile-long to do list. A day in the life of Cousin Pete might include fixing hinging on a barn to replacing a support pole on one of his greenhouses to doing an oil change on his farm truck. Pete Knothe is one of the single most disciplined and focused individuals I have ever known. He works at his family farm, from sunrise to sunset, just about every day. 


Cousin Pete and I share a birthday, that of the fifth of September. Pete’s a few years older than I am, and over the years, he has been like an older brother to me I’ve learned a lot from Pete. From how to grow great tomatoes, to developing a deep respect for nature, to understanding that hard work is the key to success in life. 


Pete served in the United States Air Force. He saw action and was placed in harm’s way during the Vietnam War. It’s something that Pete doesn’t like to talk much about. I know that Pete was honored with commendations of heroism, but it’s something that he is very humble about. 


I’m not sure if it was the Thanksgiving of 1969 or of 1970. I remember that Grandpa and Grandma Kemmerer were still with us, on this side of Heaven’s Gate. I’m pretty sure that Pete’s grandparents, Edward and Francis Knothe, were also still with us at that memorable Thanksgiving table. I was in high school and Cousin Pete was in Vietnam.


Pete’s Dad would always say grace at the long Thanksgiving table at the old Knothe Homestead. There would usually be 30 to 40 people seated at the series of tables, that would run from the dining room all the way to the living room. I don’t know how my Aunt Alice managed it all. She would always have kitchen help from her daughters and my mom and my sister. Still, it was an amazing accomplishment, to say the least.


There was a moment of silence, before Uncle Pete began saying the blessing, upon our Thanksgiving meal, that was over five decades ago. I remember Uncle Pete quietly, unassumingly saying, “well, I guess we’ll say the blessing.” And then a deep silence followed, people reverently folded their hands and earnestly bowed their heads.


Obviously, I cannot remember Uncle Pete’s prayer, word for word. But I do remember the ending of Uncle Pete’s prayer. It went something like this, “and Lord, we ask in Jesus’ name, please do bring my son home, safe and sound.” Then Uncle Pete broke down and cried. It was one of the very few times that I ever saw Uncle Pete cry. In about a minute’s time, after concluding his prayer, Uncle Pete got himself together and shouted out gleefully, “okay everybody, let’s eat!”


Over my lifetime, I’ve heard many prayers said. Some were recited by eloquent ministers and priests. But none of those other prayers, could hold a candle to the heart-felt, earnest, sincere and deeply moving prayer that Uncle Pete gave that Thanksgiving Day. Those words, “Lord, we ask in Jesus’ name, please do bring my son home, safe and sound,” have often echoed in my heart and in my mind. 


Cousin Pete did come home from Vietnam, safe and sound. Is it possible that Uncle Pete’s words of earnest prayer provided protection for his only son, in the midst of being in harm’s way? It could never be scientifically proven. But do any of us really know the incredible positive power of prayer? 


There is an eternal truth: love knows no boundaries. It is the strongest force in the universe. It has the miraculous power to heal strife between individuals, bring wars to an end, and to form a cloak of protection for loved ones, no matter how far away they may be.         


Richard Mabey Jr. is a freelance writer. He hosts a YouTube Channel titled, “Richard Mabey Presents.” Richard most recently published a book of poetry and short stories. He can be reached at richardmabeyjr@hotmail.com


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