An Unintentional Prayer

“pray for one another”

James 5:16



Carson A. Holmquist

Randall Smith

Thomas J. Sullivan

Squire K. “Skip” Wells

David A. Wyatt


I don’t know if you know any of those names.  They are American servicemen, four Marines and a Navy sailor, killed earlier this month in Chattanooga, Tennessee.


I felt anger and sadness in the hours and days after the shootings, hurting for the families, wondering why troubled people make the choices they do…  And I saw the victims’ names and faces on TV, and prayed.


But after a matter of days, when the story disappeared from the news cycle, I could not have told you the victims’ names anymore.  Though I still prayed when the situation returned to my mind, the names had not made the transition from my short-term memory to my long-term.  With the exception of one.  Squire K. Wells.




There’s just something about that name, isn’t there?  Dignity and pride.  It’s a name with bearing.  And he looked it, too, although military folk often do.  And even though he looked like he wore his name well, I immediately thought, I wonder what his nickname was.  I knew, with a name like Squire, that he must have had a nickname.  And a second or two later, the newscaster said it.  “Skip.”


Of course.  Skip Wells.  Squire K. Wells is the name of a man.  A marine.  But a little boy, well, a little boy would be called Skip.  Skip Wells would play outside with his friends and come home filthy.  He’d test his mother’s patience by coming home with his pockets full of wet stones he had picked up at the creek.  He’d stuff his dirty clothes under the bed when he was told to clean his room.


I don’t know any of that, really.  It’s just the picture that came to me when I heard his name.  And because it was vivid, I kept thinking about him, and I kept praying for him, specifically, whenever the shootings came back into my head.  I prayed for his parents and his girlfriend, and siblings and grandparents and friends.  I prayed for those who are hurting and missing him.



A few days ago, an interesting thing happened. I found out that I know someone who knew him.  A friend of mine who lives in Georgia, where Lance Corporal Squire K. Wells grew up.  A friend of mine who not only knew Skip, but his family, too.  And all of a sudden, all those prayers I had prayed for those anonymous people didn’t feel like the desperate reaction of a woman several states away. Now, those prayers felt like a hug of sympathy for someone I care about.  Now, I felt like I had helped a little bit.



All prayers are valuable.  All prayers are treasured by our Father, those for ourselves and those for others.  But when vague, generalized (albeit heartfelt) prayers of mine suddenly had a face, and it was the face of a friend… then all at once, those prayers became just as precious to me, as they are to Him.


~ “And the smoke of the incense,

  with the prayers of the saints,

ascended before God from the angel’s hand.” ~

Revelation 8:4


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