“I want a faith just like Melissa’s”, wrote a High School student in a reflection at the end of confirmation. Upon reading many such spontaneous reactions, Associate Pastor Ben Davis realized the impact of the personal witness of Melissa’s prayers on the spiritual journeys of his youth. He decided to incorporate Melissa’s Prayer Journal more centrally into the confirmation curriculum, and developed lesson plans for the book which integrated key concepts of faith with scripture and prayer. I learned about these lesson plans a year later, in casual conversation with Ben. I asked him to incorporate all that he learned and developed into a book, which is now available as the
The original paperback Melissa’s Prayer Journal had been printed primarily as a memorial to my daughter, Melissa. Although many people had whispered to me, “I keep it at my bedside”, I still failed to understand the potential for Melissa’s heart notes to God to shape and develop people’s faith. Then I started hearing the stories. College students coming home and seeing the book would ask for their own copy. Teens would read it when no one was looking, eager to see how another budding young adult thought and coped with their own life problems. Another church High School group saw the book in the Youth Minister’s office and requested to use it for a book study. Once into Melissa’s Prayer Journal, this church group almost doubled in size as word spread about the book, and increased its frequency from bimonthly to weekly during the 3 month course of study. For this group, Melissa’s words were the jumping off point for real-life discussions of their deepest needs.
After consulting with the several Ministers who had used the book with groups, I had a clearer vision of the power of Melissa’s prayers. I revised the second edition to be useful as a personal devotional as well as a group discussion, and included more of my own comments to guide the reader. My intent is to simply make this treasure of faith available to all.
Melissa was 3 weeks shy of her 18th birthday when diagnosed with Rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare pediatric cancer. Although curable in many cases, Melissa had a more advanced disease. She turned to God the night she was diagnosed and grew in faith over the next 20 months in remarkable and astounding ways. Her courage and strength stemmed from her faith and God never failed her.
Melissa’s whole purpose in the last months of her life was to bring people to God. She worked tirelessly and lovingly on her friends to convince them of God’s love and their need to make a commitment to the Lord. She wanted everyone in heaven with her. Thus, there is no question in the minds of all who loved her and knew her best, that Melissa would be thrilled to think her writing, her prayers, and her journals could be used to touch the hearts of others and bring them to God. Any content that infringed on Melissa’s or another’s privacy was deleted. Thus the book is an almost complete publication of her handwritten prayers.
Melissa would be delighted to have anyone read her prayers or give her book to someone growing in faith. Her life is a witness to the power of God and His love for each and everyone of us! May God bless you in your own faith journey.
- Melissa’s Mom