This I Believe

Hall, Edward T. (Edward Twitchell)


  • Edward T. Hall, Headmaster of the Hill School at Pottstown, describes how he came to believe in the efficacy of prayer.
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And now, This I Believe, a series of living philosophies presented in the hope they may help to strengthen and enrich your life. Here is Edward R. Murrow.
This I Believe. Edward T. Hall is a teacher and headmaster of the Hill School at Pottstown, Pennsylvania. In the Army during World War II, he served in the Pacific for four years. For many summers, he has worked with underprivileged boys as director and trustee of the Brantwood Camp in New Hampshire. Here now is Edward T. Hall.
Several years ago, I needed to find just the right man for a certain job. It was a job at a charitable camp, one which would benefit needy boys. Time was growing short. All advice failed. All leads turned to disappointment. I got down on my knees
one night and prayed to find that man. The next morning, I found him—or rather, he was revealed to me. For he was not a stranger, but a man I had been seeing every day for weeks. On this particular day, I saw him with new eyes. I had the impulse to talk with him and suddenly found that he was the person I had been seeking for months. This happy outcome I did not cause, but it would never have happened if I had not believed that it would. This was the beginning of my belief in prayer.
I believe in miracles, not necessarily the kind of miracle that strains credulity, but rather the kind of miracle that brings out the best in people. I believe that to ask something worthwhile, something spiritual, in God’s name is to receive it. But I find that the job of subordinating God’s will to mine often takes more humility than I possess. Hence, when I don’t get what I have
asked for, I later realize that I have asked, in selfishness, for the wrong thing. Or perhaps I have asked something for myself when I should have been directing my attention, and God’s, toward the greater need of someone or something more important. But whenever I have asked in God’s name for His guidance, I have received it. I have learned far too little through years of prayer, but I have learned at least to believe.
My job is teaching. Not long ago, I taught a course in which the boys were asked to read a series of essays containing conflicting beliefs about life, God, and religion. Some essays they read were, frankly, skeptical. Some argued against the existence of God. Some said, in effect, that it might be a good thing to worship God if it made people feel better. And some
quite simply argued belief. I tried to take no sides on these essays until the inevitable discussions began. Sooner or later, about the middle of the course, someone would pose the question we had all been awaiting: how can we accept a belief in God when there is no evidence for it. Rather than go into a theological discussion for which I was ill-equipped and which would have flattened the course to a secular quibble, I would merely reply, “When you can tell me what’s beyond the farthest star in the sky, and when you can tell me what happened before the beginning of time and what will happen after it, then you can dispute the existence of God.”
I know that there are scientists who claim pragmatic answers to my questions, but there are questions beyond questions which the
same scientists cannot answer. To them, also, there is still an unknown. For there will always be an unknown. I do not want to know God as I know my brother. If God walked the earth tomorrow, He would be real not to the degree that he was visible, but to the degree that you and I believed in Him. Proof is not wisdom. True wisdom is knowledge of the known, plus faith in the unknown. Without an unknown, there cannot be faith. And the more I know, or think I know, the more faith I have in the unknown and the unseen.
That was Edward T. Hall, who has described how he found his belief in miracles.