Haines, My Way: A prayer for those empty seats


When Christmas comes – and it’s coming fast – have a plan and a prayer ready for your heart for the moment when you see that empty seat at your Christmas dinner table.

God’s plan for my life is quite different from my brother’s and once again this year, we are going to be apart for Christmas. We’ve lived long distances away from each other for many years now since he joined the U.S. Air Force, but for some reason Christmas has a way of deepening the sadness from that separation. 

If you are also missing someone special from your life and Christmas is starting to bring more pain than joy, here are some things I do to soften the heartache.


Love on my family. It’s OK to need a moment by yourself, and don’t feel guilty about crying, but it’s so important to come back out and love on your family that’s with you. Whatever it may look like – from snuggling a new baby to listening to a 5-year-old’s joke – make sure your family never doubts how much you love them.

Share favorite memories. One time when we were kids, my brother locked me in a rabbit hutch. Was it funny at the time? Not to me. Was he punished for the ornery act? A little. Is it one of my favorite childhood memories with my brother? Yes.

The last thing is more of a continuous process than something you can check off a list … It’s to pray and find assurance that God will bring us back together eventually. Everything works out according to the Lord’s timing – not mine. I selfishly want my brother with me on Christmas but this year he’s needed in Africa. There’s a reason, there’s a plan and it’s all going to work out because God holds it all in His hands.

Pray. Hold hands with everyone, or spend a moment alone with your Father. (Find fulfillment in knowing you’re never truly alone.) I’d be honored to share with you a prayer that I sent to the Lord recently. He hears them all – go ahead and send yours.


It’s Advent season – as the dark world waited for the Messiah we too wait for Him to come again. Please give my heart peace in knowing His return will mean no more pain and no more tears. Your Son will right all the wrongs and your glory will be seen.

I pray for your grace and ask you to heal my broken heart this Christmas season as I’m missing Andrew as well as other loved ones who have passed into Heaven. Let them all know they are loved, and wrap your loving arms around them wherever they are. Protect my brother and bring him home to us, please.

Please fill my heart with the joy that only the Holy Spirit can bring. Let me focus on your goodness in everything beautiful this time of year – from songs to pretty lights, to kisses under the mistletoe and kids opening presents – remind me that love is the greatest gift of all.

Thank you for loving us all.

In Jesus’ name I pray,


Rebecca Haines is a contributor to The Carthage Press.