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Penny Prayers True Stories of Change


An inspiring story of the faith of a western Pennsylvania family in the early 1940s

Mom and Dad were struggling to keep a roof over our heads and put food on the table for their two children,” reminisced Margaret Bowser of Cleveland. “Mom was taught how to make soup from just about anything, especially red kidney beans. Beans expanded and filled the stomachs of many for just pennies. Red kidney beans back then cost seven cents a pound.”

One day, Margaret’s parents had only six cents, not enough to buy a pound of beans to quiet the growling stomachs of their hungry family. The search for the much-needed penny began—in pockets, purses, junk drawers, and down the insides of an overstuffed sofa, but to no avail.

At the time, Margaret and her family were living in a large old house that had been home to many families. The floors were covered in much-worn linoleum, its edges chipped, torn, and not tacked down. Finally, under a loose sheet of linoleum, Margaret’s parents found a lone copper penny, with the familiar “In God We Trust” stamped on the front and wheat sheaves on the back.

“My mother trusted in God to provide her family with their daily bread (beans) and he did!” said Margaret, who had heard the story of the miracle penny over and over as she was growing up and how vital a penny can be in people’s lives. “I would never pass up a penny anywhere! The story is forever burned in my head and my heart—and what the symbols on the penny mean to our family.”


Why invoking the Penny Prayer makes a lot of sense

The author writes: One day when I found a penny lying on a sidewalk, I brushed it off, then fingered the raised surfaces and studied the coin. No longer shiny, the penny was beginning to tarnish from the many hands that had touched it over the years.

I felt just like the coin: tarnished from the hand that life had dealt me. I had a leg injury that doctors said was irreversible. I was experiencing financial worries and needed to make crucial decisions about my future. Should I do this or do that? I turned the coin over and discovered a message worth more than all the riches of the world.

“In God We Trust,” proclaimed tiny capital letters above the bust of Abraham Lincoln. Prompted by an inner nudge, I prayed, “God, I trust in you.” Immediately a sense of calm and peace descended on me like a warm blanket. The next time I found a penny, I repeated the prayer.

A penny and a prayer. It sounds too simple, but the physical act of holding up a penny and declaring my trust in God lifts burdens from me. Find a penny and say the penny prayer—then watch for change in your life!

Adapted from Penny Prayers: True Stories of Change by Marion Amberg, copyright 2014 (Liguori Publications, 823923). To order, visit or call 800-325-9521.

Published inReflections