In a Spanish village a man’s daughter asked the local priest to come and pray with her ill father.
When the priest arrived, he found the man lying in bed with his head propped up on two pillows. There was a chair beside the bed and the priest assumed that it had been placed there for his visit.
“I guess you were expecting me,” he said.
“No, who are you?” said the bedridden man.
“I’m the priest your daughter called to pray with you. When I saw the empty chair beside the bed, I thought it was placed there for me.”
“Oh yeah, the chair,” said the man. “Would you mind closing the door?”
Puzzled, the pastor shut the door.
Then, the bedridden man said: “I’ve never told anyone this, but I have spent all of my life without knowing how to pray. At church, I used to hear the priest talking about the need of prayer and its benefit, but it always went right over my head. Finally I abandoned any attempt at prayer until one day about four years ago as I told my best friend I didn’t know how to pray and he said to me, ‘Joe, prayer is just a simple matter of having a conversation with Jesus. Here’s what I suggest: sit down on a chair, place an empty chair in front of you, and in faith, see Jesus on the chair. It’s not a dumb thing to do as He promised, ‘I’ll be with you always.’ Then, just speak to Him and listen in the same way you’re doing with me right now.”
“So, I tried it and I’ve liked it so much that I do it a couple of hours every day. I’m careful, though. If my daughter saw me talking to an empty chair, she’d send me off to the funny farm.”
The priest was deeply moved by the story and encouraged Joseph to continue with his method of praying. Then he prayed with him, gave his blessing, and returned to the church.
Two days later Joseph’s daughter called to tell the priest that her dad had died.
“Did he seem to die in peace?” he asked her.
“Yes. When I was about to leave the house around two o’clock, he called me over to his bedside, told me that he loved me, and kissed me on the cheek. When I got back an hour later, I found him dead. But there was something strange. Apparently, just before dad died, he leaned over and rested his head on the chair beside his bed. What do you think about this thing?”
The priest, moved to tears, answered: “If only we could go this way!”