The Prayer Chest: A Novel about Receiving All of Life's Riches

Overview

For the millions who loved The Five People You Meet in Heaven, a remarkable story about one family in need of a miracle.

Joseph Hutchinson is a man who knows the reality of tragedy all too well; his life has been filled with misfortune and adversity. A widowed father of two, living on a farm that is about to be taken from him, Joseph embarks on an unexpected journey that will bring him face to face with his greatest fears, and ultimately with his greatest discovery: a mysterious...

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2007 Audio CD Brand new. Librarian's Choice & Collector's Favorite. Brand new complete & unabridged audio book in an elegant case [I will ship immediately]

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Unabridged New Box Set of 5 CDs Audiobook Brand New in Excellent Condition. Factory Sealed. (Includes bonus sermnon by August Gold) Exactly Shown in Picture, and As Product ... Details. Box top has slit cut. Narrated by Jack Grrett. 5 CDs Unabridged. 'The Prayer Chest: A Novel about Receiving All of Life's Riches [Unabridged] (Audio CD)' ISBN # 9781602832992. Ship with Delivery Confirmation. Fast Shipping, Reliable Service, Customer Satisfaction and Money Back Guaranteed! ! Thank You! ! Read more Show Less

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Overview

For the millions who loved The Five People You Meet in Heaven, a remarkable story about one family in need of a miracle.

Joseph Hutchinson is a man who knows the reality of tragedy all too well; his life has been filled with misfortune and adversity. A widowed father of two, living on a farm that is about to be taken from him, Joseph embarks on an unexpected journey that will bring him face to face with his greatest fears, and ultimately with his greatest discovery: a mysterious wooden box hidden in his attic over one hundred years earlier. This box, The Prayer Chest, contains the Three Secrets of Prayer that will change his life and the lives of everyone around him. What starts out as a journey to save his children and himself turns into a quest through which he discovers the power to make every prayer come true.

Rich in romance, mystery, and spiritual insight, The Prayer Chest is a wise and warm tale that will revolutionize everything we've ever thought about prayer-and the meaning of our lives here on earth. A parable for people of all faiths-or none-it is to be read, reread, studied, and above all, lived.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Cofounders of Sacred Center New York, Gold and Fotinos offer a spiritual parable that will appeal to fans of It's a Wonderful Life. The hero is Joseph Hutchinson, a hardworking farmer in late-19th-century Long Island. Though not a "believer" like his beloved wife, Miriam, Joseph has a special relationship with his attic. He not only prays in his attic, he prays to his attic, beseeching the room, for example, to help him safely deliver his first child. When, despite Joseph's prayers, Miriam dies of pneumonia, Joseph turns away from prayer and the attic, until one day he discovers a mysterious chest filled with scraps of paper and a notebook. This is, of course, the titular prayer chest, which contains three secrets to prayer: prayer is answered through you; prayers are answered when you listen; and "prayer is answered when you welcome everything." (Hints of a fourth secret point to a sequel.) The prose can be prosaic, and Joseph's children are at times too precociously, adorably sage ("Poppa, did you find the missing piece of your heart behind that wall?" asks six-year-old Mary, as Joseph is dislodging the panels of wood that reveal the prayer chest). Still, this easy, inspirational read will warm the hearts of seekers everywhere. (Oct. 30)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Kirkus Reviews
A rote addition to the glut of inspirational allegories promising quick fixes for ontological angst through prayer. The authors, co-founders of Sacred Center New York ("one of the fastest-growing spiritual churches in America," according to the book's publicity material), bring us Joseph Hutchinson, a farmer circa 1883 who has always wanted to be a carpenter. Joseph has inherited the family farm and the family curse-all of his male ancestors going back generations have died in their 20s. Joseph expects to suffer the same fate, but finds respite in the farmhouse attic, which exudes a comforting aura. When wife Miriam dies after caring for the daughter of his neighbor (and former crush) Grace, Joseph is left with two small children, a debt-ridden farm and crushing guilt-just before Miriam's death, he had unwisely dissed a vision of the Angel of Death, who only wanted to give him a mysterious chest. Joseph uncovers a mildewed chest in the attic, containing a notebook left by Joseph's ancestor Malachi in 1780, which transcribed Grandma Mary's three secrets of prayer-unfair to divulge here, but suffice it to say that when it comes to prayer, it's all about you. Joseph replicates the chest according to his vision, and Grace provides the gold lock. The characters write prayers on slips of paper and deposit them in a slot at the top of the chest, which cannot thereafter be opened-kind of like an IRA, only forever. Their prayers are answered: The mean bank president, Charlie, who threatens Joseph with foreclosure, gives him lucrative carpentry contracts. When Charlie's carriage accidentally runs down an orphaned immigrant Jewish girl, Sarah, Charlie adopts her. Sarah rallies everyone to host aChristmas party, where the town children will receive toys designed by Grace and carved by Joseph. There's artistic fulfillment and business opportunities for all (except doomed Sarah) and even a fourth secret-whose revelation will have to await the inevitable sequel(s). Facile redemption aplenty.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781602832992
  • Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.
  • Publication date: 10/9/2007
  • Format: CD
  • Edition description: Unabridged Edition
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 6.30 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

August Gold is cofounder and spiritual director of Sacred Center New York, one of the fastest growing spiritual churches in America. She speaks to corporations and spiritual and secular organizations nationwide, and has been featured on Beliefnet.com and The Hallmark Channel. She lives in Manhattan and East Hampton, New York.

Joel Fotinos, a vice president at Penguin Group (USA) Inc., is the publisher of the Tarcher imprint, and founder and publisher of the Putnam Praise Christian publishing program. He was ordained a New Thought Minister in 2002 and is cofounder of Sacred Center New York. He lives in New Jersey.

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Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER 1
Easter Day, 1883

It was a moment filled with hope, the moment Daniel was born.

“Not one Hutchinson man has made it to middle age,” Joseph whispered into the ear of his sleeping newborn son, “—yet.”

Many Hutchinsons married, some started families, all worked the farm, but none made it further than a few years past their twenty–first birthday.

Everyone in the small Long Island town whispered under their breath that it was God’s will. Some shuddered, saying it was a curse or the evil eye. Others insisted it was simply plain, old bad luck.

No explanation made sense because the Hutchinsons were the best kind of people you’d ever want to meet. There was nothing they would not do for you, and everyone in town had a story to tell about a good deed done for them by a Hutchinson. But for all their good deeds, in the end, the Hutchinsons could not keep their boys out of harm’s way.

On the day Daniel was born, all of his ancestors’ unfulfilled dreams shifted onto him. The accumulated hopes of generations were laid upon his innocent shoulders before he had taken the first drink of his mother’s milk. Maybe with him the spell would be broken, and the Hutchinson men would live into old age. Joseph Hutchinson was counting on it.

“You have a lot to live up to, Daniel,” he said rocking his son in his arms, if indeed he was to live at all.

Joseph’s father died at twenty–five years of age. It was a straightforward fall off a horse that should have given him nothing more than some scratches and a good story to tell the children at thenoon meal.

“There’s no reason for the fall to have taken his life,” the doctor had said.

But there it was, he was a Hutchinson, and his time had come.

Ten years later, Joseph inherited the farm from his mother, who had worked so hard to keep it afloat by herself that it was probably more the cause of her fatal illness than the “weak heart” the doctor blamed. Plain and simple, she was worn out.

A week after laying his mother to a well–deserved rest, Joseph took over right where she had left off. He quickly learned that he would not be working the farm; the farm would be working him.

“You had better be strong.” Joseph addressed the baby he cradled protectively in his arms, his firstborn son whom he had helped his wife, Miriam, birth twelve hours earlier.

***

Miriam had not recognized the labor pains that grew worse over the course of the afternoon. She shrugged them off as a bellyache from a bowl of oatmeal too hastily eaten at sunrise. After all, the baby wasn’t due for a month.

Moreover, she was preoccupied with her work in the field. Farmwork was exacting; everything was precisely timed in preparation for the harvest. Neither she nor Joseph could afford to take an afternoon off as the land hardly provided enough for them to make it through the year.

It was for this reason that Miriam’s mother had pleaded with her not to marry this boy. Miriam could recite their argument by heart…

“I don’t mean to meddle, sweetheart, but if you ask me—”

“But I haven’t asked you, Momma,” Miriam sighed.

“Honey, Joseph’s prospects are dim,” she lowered her voice lest she be overheard, “and he’s cursed. All the Hutchinson men are. Everyone knows it.”

“I don’t care about everyone.” Miriam was convinced that her love was strong enough to save him from the Hutchinson fate. “Nothing matters but that I love him.”

“I’m sure you do. Joseph is a handsome young man, but marriage is for life.” She knew that death was only a concept to her daughter; Miriam was still a baby when her father died. But she pressed on anyway. “Who will take care of your children should he—” she searched with care for the next words, “pass unexpectedly?”

“The Bible says that love is stronger than death, Momma. Are you saying that the Bible isn’t true?”

“I won’t argue the Bible with you—”

“Then maybe you’ve just forgotten what it is like to be young.” Miriam tried every argument she could think of.

“Don’t put me in the grave just yet. I am not that old.”

“Joseph has dreams, Momma. One day he’s going to be more than a farmer—so much more!”

“I’m all for dreams, Daughter, but it is reality that puts food on the table.”

Miriam stopped arguing and put her whole heart into begging. “Please say yes, Mother.”

All the women in her family had minds of their own, and her daughter was no different. Yet she couldn’t help but smile. For all of Miriam’s timidity, once she set her heart on something, it was already hers. “He seems to be a good man, that Joseph Hutchinson.”

“Oh, Momma, thank you,” she squealed with relief. “From the day I set eyes on him at the county store I knew that he would ask me to marry him.” And she knew, too, that she would say yes.

“It sounds like love…,”Mother said, drifting back to the moment she had laid eyes on the dashing gentleman with the pencil-thin mustache thirty years her senior who had taken her heart. “Love at first sight.”

“Exactly,” Miriam exclaimed. Love at first sight is exactly what it was with Joseph Hutchinson…


Miriam was surprised when her water broke in the cornfield, and by the time she reached the house she did not have the strength to make it up the single flight of stairs to her bed. Other than her feather mattress, the Hutchinson farmhouse had little to offer in the way of comfort. Inside, like the outside, was a study in simplicity and efficiency. There was the front room where they sat and the kitchen (with a cellar beneath it) where they ate, with a stone fireplace covering one entire wall. On the second floor there were two bedrooms spacious enough only for sleeping and dressing, and atop that a cramped attic nestled beneath the steeply pitched roof. Miriam lay down on the cushioned bench in the front room and waited for her husband to come and wash up for the noon meal. She could do no more than wait.

She did not have to wait long. Forty minutes later Joseph sauntered into the kitchen, clenching a raggedy bunch of wildflowers in his fist.

“Miriam,” he called out, “I have a gift for you.” One day he promised himself he’d be able to afford real gifts, not ones stolen from the earth.

Miriam’s mother had tried to prepare her for the pain of childbirth, but nonetheless Miriam cried out with the intensity of it. “I’m here.”

She did not want to be doubled over in front of Joseph, but the contractions were coming faster and were harder to bear.

Though she was only in the next room, her answer sounded weak and far away. He moved toward her voice, and when he saw her chalky white complexion and her lips drained of color, he ran to her side, dropping the flowers and falling to his knees.

“It’s just labor pains, Joseph—” her words cut short by another contraction that shot through her body.

“It can’t be. It’s a full month early,” Joseph explained, as if declaring it made it so. He laid his hands on her swollen belly that felt near about to burst. But what if she was right? He shuddered with an animal fear that all men feel at such a time, when they know they are powerless to stop nature from taking its course. “Miriam, I am telling you it is too early.”

She couldn’t help but laugh—at seventeen, her husband was still a boy. “Early or not, our baby is coming.”

“But, Miriam,” he said, trying to reason with her, “you don’t understand. There is no time to get the midwife. Even if I fly, I won’t return with her in time.”

He stood up and began to pace the length of the front room. “What shall we do?” he asked, his voice cracking with emotion.

“You will have to do what has to be done, Joseph.” She said it just like that, as if birthing a baby was something Joseph had done just the other day.

He looked at her incredulously.

Miriam knew her man; he was capable of rising to the occasion.

Joseph’s panic increased, but he knew she was right.

“There’s something I must do first, and when I come back, I will be your manly midwife.” With something to do he no longer felt powerless.

She smiled at his attempt at humor, envisioning Joseph in an apron doing her bidding.


***

When Miriam first laid eyes on him in the county store, it was she who was wearing the apron, and she doing his bidding. Naturally, she had heard the gossip about the curse, but here was Joseph standing before her just as handsome as he could be. “Can I help you find what you’re looking for?” she asked.

“I think I might’ve already found it,” Joseph responded with more boldness than he knew he possessed. “I’m Joseph Hutchinson,” he said, offering his hand.

She took his hand in both of her own as if it were a prize she had just been awarded at the fair.

Her gentle touch urged him on. “Would you like to take a walk with me on Sunday afternoon?”

“I’ll have to ask permission from my mother.”

“Do you think your mother will like someone like me?” he asked with the confidence of a man twice his age. The last time Joseph was smitten by love he’d lost his senses, but with this girl he seemed to have full dominion over them. “What do you say?”

“I’ll have to let you know…”

“When?”

His forwardness scared her and thrilled her. “Tomorrow?” she stuttered.

The blush coloring her cheeks encouraged him. “That means I’ll have to come back into town tomorrow.”

“I suppose it does,” Miriam said. “I’m sorry.”

“No, you’re not! You’re not the least bit sorry.”

Miriam broke into a glorious smile. She liked him. No, she more than liked him.

Her smile expanded until Joseph felt its warmth envelop him. He, who spent his days beneath the dark Hutchinson cloud, found himself unexpectedly standing in the presence of a bright sun. And it was shining directly upon him.

They stood for a moment, face to face, silently contemplating each other.

Maybe her light was bright enough to burn away the black Hutchinson fate. “Then, I will see you tomorrow, Miss—”

“You may call me Miriam.”

“Miriam.” The soft vowels felt nice against his hard life.

“Then I’ll see you tomorrow, Miriam. And the day after that, and the day after that!”

“That’s too much,” she said, responding with words more proper than accurate. “What will people think?”

“What they think won’t keep me from coming back day after day ’til I’m sure that you won’t change your mind about me between now and Sunday.”

She sensed that Joseph saw right through to her soul–saw that she would go walking with him on Sunday no matter what her mother said…


Joseph knelt down beside Miriam and took his wife’s hands in his own. He pressed them hard, trying to transfer his strength to her. “I will come back,” he said. “Just give me a few minutes.” Then he stood up and ran out of the front room.

He hurriedly climbed the first flight of stairs, rushing past the two small bedrooms and hall storage cubby and then the final steps to the attic door. He unlocked the plain unpainted pine door with a key that only he possessed and entered the small space that was his refuge, his stronghold.

He locked the door behind him and walked the few steps to the chair in the center of the dimly lit room. He sat down, closed his eyes, and tried to concentrate. But who could concentrate at a time like this?

Without money to pay for a doctor and without time to call on the midwife, Joseph placed the fullness of his faith in this stuffy little attic that had served as his holy temple since the day it answered his first prayer years ago.

When Joseph was a boy living in a house full of Hutchinsons, he shared his small bedroom with two brothers; he had no place to call his own. No sooner had he set his sights on the cellar than his mother declared in a tone that left little room for discussion, “The cellar’s no place for a boy.”

It was his older brother, Luke, who suggested the attic. “Ma doesn’t go up there at all except to pile up stuff that nobody wants.” That very day Joseph claimed it as his own and soon he labeled it his “thinking through” place.

Despite the limited space, this attic housed all things Hutchinson—a collection of broken furniture and crates filled with clothes, toys, nonsense, and what-nots. They were all consecrated artifacts to Joseph; all imbued with the special power that ancient history accords things. It was amidst this history that he found his security in times of need.

One lonely night, on a lark, he prayed to the power of the attic for love, and a few months later he was hired to work on Grace Brown’s farm. The attic had answered his prayer. After that Joseph unquestioningly trusted in the power of this room.

“Help me to deliver my firstborn child.” His current prayer was simple and to the point.

Only two minutes of silence passed before Joseph said, under his breath, “Thank you,” and swiftly exited the room, locking the door behind him. Once outside the door, his wife’s cry quickly brought him back to the reality at hand.

Three hours and twenty–two minutes later, his baby boy with black hair and blue eyes was born. Joseph cut the umbilical cord perfectly and left the two of them alone only after they had fallen sound asleep in each other’s arms. He tiptoed out of the house to begin his search for the perfect piece of wood. Working with wood brought him happiness and a peace of mind like nothing else. Less so now with the responsibilities of manhood, but when Joseph was younger, there was always a piece of wood for carving in one of his many pockets.

By the time his son’s first cry for food and attention and love reached his ears, Joseph had carved his son a toy he knew would delight him. It was a soldier that moved its arms and legs in unison when you pulled the string at the top of his little helmet. But no matter how hard Joseph giggled at the sight of the silly, dancing soldier he dangled before Daniel, the single crease line drawn straight across his forehead, a trademark of all the Hutchinson males, never lessened.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 25, 2009

    A Deceitful Imitation of Prayer

    After reading this book, I shredded my copy so that no one else could read it. Though this book seemingly is about prayer, it is not praying as taught in the Scriptures. True prayer involves Jesus Christ and a loving Father. In this book Christ or God is never mentioned. What the authors call 'prayer', is actually some sort of plea to the cosmos (which, of couse, could be anything, everything, or nothing). It is definitely not Christianity. I have read some powerful books on prayer, and that is the topic that drew me to the book. I was sadly disappointed. I even read the entire book (even though I wanted to quit mid through) just to be certain I was mistaken about the book's ultimate outcome. I am not a better person for having read this book. In the hands of people not accustomed to praying, I think the three "secrets of prayer" could be dangerous. They even encourage one to develop the "fourth secret of prayer". How presumptious!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 22, 2011

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