I’ll never forget the severe ice storm that struck our Ceylon residence when I was in the third grade. First of all, it was in the first week of April and second, it put our electricity out late in the evening.

At the time, we hadn’t yet acquired a television, so family entertainment often involved my dad looking through some magazines or studying his Sunday school quarter, grandma and I putting together scrapbooks and my mother often playing hymns on the old upright piano.

Outside, the big maple trees were creaking and swaying the ice load and sleet and frozen rain continued to pellet against our windows.

Then it happened. The house was suddenly dark and so was the neighborhood. The concept of being in total darkness with only the sound of a roaring storm on the outside was fearful to a third grade boy.

Within minutes, my parents and grandma had the answer.

I heard my mother say, “get out the oil lamps,” lamps that were often used earlier during the Great Depression. Suddenly I heard my grandma strike a match and the entire room lit up. The lamps were carefully lit, bringing light to our home once again. Still, it impressed me enough that I have vivid memories of that dark, stormy night 62 years later.

Over a lifetime, this entire scene has taken a new meaning in my life, especially in relation to prayer. I have come to realize that in life’s dark hours, prayer is the key that God uses to strike the light and bring hope and illumination to the more difficult times. Prayer brings light and that light brings comfort and assurance.

These days we think of Advent, which literally means, “coming,” the coming of Christ in three ways, Christ comes to the world to be born in a manger, Christ comes into our hearts and Christ will come again.

Like the great Amen of the Church Universal, “Christ has died; Christ has risen, Christ will come again.” “You are the light of the world. A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket; it is set on a lamp stand, where it gives light to all in the house. (Matthew 5:14-16)