Meet Tyson and Stefan. One strange night, they suddenly—weirdly—connect with each other in a time contortion that spans exactly a thousand years. Stefan is a young warrior in training in the Middle Ages, trapped in a tower while raiders ravage everything below. Through a long, sleepless night, the two guys help each other wrestle with responsibilities they don’t want. And Stefan shows how to link up with a source of strength that Tyson can hardly even imagine. It all has to do with a Man named Jesus, and the way He prayed. Follow their spiritual adventure, and walk into the journey Jesus wants for you. He’ll show you, as no one else can, how to pray in the way that works.
Story Behind the Book
“This book became a reality thanks to these four things: a recurring image in my fresh-from-sleep thoughts about a boy in a bell tower, extensive Bible study on Jesus’ prayers, the publisher’s request for a youth book focusing on Jesus and prayer; and then a friend’s off-hand mention of the phrase, ‘What would Jesus pray?’” —Mack Thomas
|Publisher:||The Crown Publishing Group|
|Sold by:||Random House|
|File size:||3 MB|
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
What Would Jesus Pray?A Story to Change the World
By Mack Thomas
Multnomah PublishersCopyright © 2006 Multnomah Publishers, Inc.
All right reserved.
Chapter OneBefore Midnight
A jolt of pain shot through Tyson Vasser's left ribcage as he tossed his backpack onto the rear seat of the junkpile that was Adam Kohek's car. Another jolt-even worse-stabbed again through his side as he dropped his tired body onto the seat.
He held his breath from the ache as he found a place for his feet amid the football gear and empty energy drink cans and motor oil bottles that cluttered the car's back floorboard. Tyson's pain was due to a soccer injury in this afternoon's junior varsity game-from a kick that hammered him after he tripped and fell right in front of an opposing player.
Tyson closed his eyes and gave his hurt some glory by imagining that it was a warrior's wound. From the blow of a knight's lance, he thought to himself, as he slowly leaned back his head. The enemy rider had caught his blind side while Tyson was engaged with soldiers in front of him. The hit could have been deadly, but somehow it failed to knock him from his horse. He clutched his shield tighter to his wounded side, raised his sword in his right hand, roared out a battle cry, and hurled himself into the fight with more fury than ever. Like a man possessed.
"Shut the door!"
It was Adam Kohek, yelling at him from the driver's seat.
Tyson broke off his dreaming, reached for the handle, and slammed the door, all of which did nothing for his injured ribs.
Adam, shaking his head in irritation, sped out of the parking lot. He was stiff-arming the steering wheel. Tyson noticed that the guy's huge knuckles were tight, like he was throwing a punch frozen in time. Nobody in the car could miss Adam's mood, and they all stayed quiet.
Adam Kohek's sister, Natalie, was with him up front, sitting just ahead of Tyson. And Jared Paydell was with Tyson in the back. They were all freshmen at South High, except for Adam, who was a senior and played noseguard on the football team.
In this dented-up, chocolate-brown Toyota Corolla from out of the '80s, Tyson was thinking how weird it was to be riding with these three particular people tonight. Definitely unusual being with Adam-since SHS football players tended to snub the soccer guys, and seniors ignored freshmen even more.
But for Tyson, being here with Jared and Natalie was just as surprising. They weren't close friends. They happened to be taking freshman choir together, and the choir had been singing tonight at the annual Appreciation Dessert for parents of ninth graders. That's why Tyson stayed at school after the soccer game, even though his mom and dad didn't come to the dessert. Neither did Jared's or Natalie's parents, for that matter.
When the program was finally over, Tyson and Jared were out in the school lobby and both boys asked Cody Reznik if they could borrow his cell phone and call home for a ride. Natalie and Adam were passing by right then and overheard them-Adam had come to pick up his sister. Natalie asked her brother to drive the boys home as well, but when Adam agreed, he did it with what Tyson thought was a fake smile. Or maybe a smirk. Like this was only some assignment for him to earn good behavior points in somebody's book.
Anyway, whatever hospitality Adam possessed was definitely depleted by the time they all got in the car. Maybe it was how Tyson smelled. He hadn't bothered to shower after the game, and it was sweltering where the choir was singing-on risers, and under spotlights. Tyson sniffed one of his armpits. Yeah, that could be it.
But something else was even weirder about tonight, in Tyson's view. At unusual times recently-like late at night, or in the shower in the morning - two people kept popping into Tyson's mind. Those two were Natalie Kohek and Jared Paydell. Tyson figured there were good reasons for this. Natalie first caught his attention in a health class discussion when she said her parents were going through a divorce. She said it calmly, but everybody could see through her mask.
Earlier, Tyson had concluded he would never like Natalie because she was so serious; maybe she was overwhelmed by the changes from junior high-which seemed stupid to Tyson, since he himself liked high school about a thousand times better. But after health class that day, he saw Natalie with different eyes. So he gave himself a mission to cheer her up whenever he got the opportunity.
Several times this fall, seeing her at lunch or in the hallway or after school, he'd spoken just the right little greeting or joke or crazy comment to melt her frown and bring a sparkle to her eyes, if only for a moment. She sent him a couple of e-mails to say thank you. Besides that, they never really talked. Tyson thought he'd done a lot for her, but tonight she seemed gloomier than ever.
Jared, meanwhile, had caught Tyson's attention the same way he got everybody else's-just by being the young brother of Scott Paydell, a senior on the school's state champion football team two seasons ago. Scott was remembered as the best running back ever to play for South High, and he even got a full-ride football scholarship to Penn State. But several weeks ago, late one Saturday night as he was driving home after a Penn State game, he was killed. It was foggy, and the car he was driving slammed into the back of a slow-moving semi truck climbing a hill on the interstate highway.
Tyson remembered hearing the details from his dad, who read them aloud from the newspaper. The car hit so hard that it was crushed and stuck beneath the heavily loaded truck, and got dragged along until the truck driver could stop. It gave Tyson nightmares about being in a car on a foggy night where the same thing happened. It was so horrible, and the whole town felt the tragedy.
Tyson remembered thinking how impossible it seemed that a guy as cool and strong and alive as Scott Paydell could be gone from this earth just like that.
Scott was the only brother Jared had, and after losing him, Jared missed a lot of school for a while. Tyson heard that Jared's mom had a history of mental problems, and that now they were worse.
On the day Tyson saw Jared back at school, he gave himself a mission for Jared as well. He decided to be a support. It didn't happen often, and Tyson felt he was mostly in the dark about what he could do or say to make any difference. But he tried. When Jared quit the football team-because the whole scene reminded him too much of his brother-he joined the cross-country squad, and Tyson went to a couple of his meets to cheer him at the finish line.
Now and then, in those quiet moments when Jared or Natalie came to his mind, Tyson would say a quick prayer for them. Nothing long or deep, just a special request for God to look after them and help them somehow.
On the windshield of Adam Kohek's car, there was a shatter-spot in the upper left corner, a small hole with cracks radiating down. Tyson's eyes were drawn to it. Every time they passed beneath a streetlight, it made faint rainbow colors along the cracks. He wondered if Natalie had noticed it. But she was only staring out the passenger window-maybe at the moon, three-quarters full, rising above the eastern hills.
He glanced at Jared, who also seemed deep in thought. Maybe it was their research reports due in history tomorrow. Tyson hadn't even started his yet. Good thing I do my best work under pressure, he thought. Still, it might be a long night. Maybe he and Jared could work on it together.
Tyson leaned over and asked him, "You started that paper yet for Mr. Miller?"
"Shut up," Adam snapped from up front. His words weren't that loud, but they were plenty intense. Natalie gave her brother a stormy look for a moment, then turned back to stare out her window.
Jared looked at Tyson, gave a nod toward the back of Adam's neck, then shook his head with an expression that said, "Forget that jerk."
Tyson, however, was ticked. He honestly didn't feel like talking much tonight. He was tired and sore after a long day. But now that Adam was making an issue of it, Tyson was determined to speak up.
He kept his voice controlled. "So tell me, Adam. Why did you offer us a ride if you hate having us here so much?"
Adam braked hard. Before the tires quit screeching, he'd thrown back his arm and clutched Tyson's T-shirt at the neck. Tyson smelled his breath, and felt the heat of it, and saw the fire in Adam's eyes-but something else was there too. Something more like fear. This is unbelievable.
They stayed like that for a long, silent moment. Tyson finally took a breath. He grew conscious of Natalie's presence as she stared at her brother with her hands stretched open near her face.
A car went around from behind them, and the driver laid on his horn as he passed by.
The look in Adam's eyes went somewhere else, somewhere far off. He let go of Tyson, turned back around, and stiff-armed the steering wheel again with his left hand while he shifted gears with his right. They drove off.
After a few minutes, they reached Tyson's house. A light was on above the side door, and Adam pulled into the alley that ran next to it. Nobody said anything. Tyson gave a quick nod to Jared as he grabbed his pack, opened the door, and hurried out.
Adam's car peeled out before Tyson got the door closed, but he got a glimpse of a lost expression on Natalie's face as she looked up at him through her window. The car raced down the alley, turned into the street, and disappeared.
What a weird deal, Tyson thought. He was glad that was over.
Excerpted from What Would Jesus Pray? by Mack Thomas Copyright © 2006 by Multnomah Publishers, Inc.. Excerpted by permission.
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