Can you hear the Prayer of the Children?

[A heart-wrenching video combining footage from the Invisible Children documentary with David Archuleta singing “Prayer of the Children.” Credit: boptodatop11, with 8throwcenter and mcamy1 footage]

After the devastating earthquake in Haiti last week, I’ve been finding it especially heartbreaking to listen to David’s “Prayer of the Children.” I knew POTC was written by Kurt Bestor but it occurred to me that I didn’t know the history behind the song and wanted to learn more. I did some research and found Kurt to be quite an amazing person.

He served as an LDS missionary in war-ravaged Serbia in the 1970s. While there, he worked in a hospital caring for children of the town. One day, while he was away on a trip to a nearby town to get supplies, the hospital was bombed and the children all killed. Here’s how Bestor describes how those horrific events inspired him to write the song:

“Having lived in this war-torn country back in the late 1970s, I grew to love the people with whom I lived. It didn’t matter to me their ethnic origin — Serbian, Croatian, Bosnian — they were all just happy fun people to me and I counted as friends people from each region. Of course, I was always aware of the bigotry and ethnic differences that bubbled just below the surface, but I always hoped that the peace this rich country enjoyed would continue indefinitely. Obviously that didn’t happen.

“When Yugoslavian President Josip Broz Tito died, different political factions jockeyed for position and the inevitable happened — civil war. Suddenly my friends were pitted against each other. Serbian brother wouldn’t talk to Croatian sister-in-law. Bosnian mother disowned Serbian son-in-law and so it went. Meanwhile, all I could do was stay glued to the TV back in the U.S. and sink deeper in a sense of hopelessness. Finally, one night I began channeling these deep feelings into a wordless melody. Then little by little I added words….Can you hear….? Can you feel……?

“I started with these feelings — sensations that the children struggling to live in this difficult time might be feeling. Serbian, Croatian, and Bosnian children all felt the same feelings of confusion and sadness and it was for them that I was writing this song.

“Those children didn’t hate anybody,” he told Meridian magazine. “They didn’t care about who owned the land, or who had the power or the money. These are adult neuroses. They just wanted to have a mom and dad and a place to play.”



Can you hear the prayer of the children
on bended knee, in the shadow of an unknown room?
Empty eyes with no more tears to cry
turning heavenward toward the light.
Crying,” Jesus, help me
to see the morning light of one more day,
but if I should die before I wake,
I pray my soul to take.”

Can you feel the hearts of the children
aching for home, for something of their very own.
Reaching hands with nothing to hold onto
but hope for a better day, a better day.
Crying,” Jesus, help me
to feel the love again in my own land,
but if unknown roads lead away from home,
give me loving arms, ‘way from harm.”

Can you hear the voice of the children
softly pleading for silence in their shattered world?
Angry guns preach a gospel full of hate,
blood of the innocent on their hands.
Crying,” Jesus, help me
to feel the sun again upon my face?
For when darkness clears, I know you’re near,
bringing peace again.”

(For Canadians who want to find out more about how to help in the Haiti relief effort, please click HERE.)

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38 Responses to Can you hear the Prayer of the Children?

  1. Trish says:

    Beautiful post and video and what an emotional performance by David. Wow !!
    !!! :)) thanks so much for sharing this info about the song and Kurt Bestor.

    “Serbian, Croatian, and Bosnian children all felt the same feelings of confusion and sadness and it was for them that I was writing this song.” and a beautiful song it is 🙂

  2. Trish says:

    Hey wait a minute, was I really first to post a comment ???? Well then… I think it is appropriate and a must for me to say ….. 1st

    hahaha sorry just had too 🙂

  3. TOfan says:

    thanks, conditioner, I didn’t know the background of the song beyond David’s introduction at his Christmas shows.

    After reading the story of what inspired Kurt Bestor to write POTC, it’s no wonder it struck such a chord with David!

  4. TOfan says:

    LOL, Trish! um, I mean Numero Uno!


  5. awestruck says:

    Conitioner – this puts even MORE meaning into the song for me and David feels it, oh how he feels it when he is singing it.

  6. peppertara says:

    Want to say thank you for posting that incredibly heartfelt video and the information about Kurt Bestor. What better artist could there be than David to perform that song, he is the perfect vehicle for such incredibly moving and soul stirring lyrics and music. Kurt lived the experience and he certainly wrote that beautiful song from deep inspiration and the pain he witnessed. Thinking about Haiti and the terrible struggles of the people and the children definitely brings that song to mind. David is such an inspiration, he does so much good just by sharing his heart and his beautiful soul.
    Great blogs here by the way, you all seem to have a knack for great expression!

  7. TOfan says:

    peppertara, “he does so much good just by sharing his heart and his beautiful soul” … *sniff* … you seem to have the knack for great expression, yourself!

    I admit, I didn’t really know of the song POTC before David sang it … or maybe it’s that I didn’t KNOW and FEEL the song until David sang it.

    And in every version, esp. live, this part gets me every single time:
    “Crying, ‘Jesus, help me
    to feel the sun again
    upon my face'”

    … partly, I think, because when I hear David sing I do feel the sun on my face.

  8. Kizzi says:

    Conditioner – thank you for the research on POTC and on what motivated Kurt Bestor to write it.

    It is such a powerful song…not for the faint of heart to hear David’s rendition as it brings home all those emotions of Kurt’s as he expressed:

    Meanwhile, all I could do was stay glued to the TV back in the U.S. and sink deeper in a sense of hopelessness. Finally, one night I began channeling these deep feelings into a wordless melody. Then little by little I added words….Can you hear….? Can you feel……?

    The struggling. The confusion. The sadness. David conveys that and then some.

    It is a song that in its beauty of words and via David’s voice and performance gives both solace and is an invocation for action. A real Yin & Yang 360 experience.

    That’s what keeps me coming back for more even though I hear David sing this song….well any of his songs….in live performance over and over.

    I was reading recently about the healing power of music and how one needs to listen to a variety as we acclimate to the effects of a particular song…I’m thinking it is performance related, not just the song & music itself as I listen to the many performances of POTC during the Christmas Tour.

    Thanks, Conditioner, for such a poignant and powerful article.

  9. pam05 says:

    Awesome write up conditioner, now we know the story behind the song. And I could think of no other performer who could do this song justice as David 😀

  10. refnaf says:

    Conditioner (((hugs))) thanks for this great back info on K. Bestor’s POTC. David’s rendition is the first I had ever heard and I thought someone must have really experienced the pain of sufferiing children to have written it. It seems to me that David was meant to sing this song…his emotion shows that he feels it and helps us feel it as well.

    Kizzi, at our VIP in Stroudsburg, David mentioned the healing power of music when he answer a young deaf girl’s question about having hand signers at his concerts. He said that he has thought about it and that it is not just the sounds of the music but the vibration of the notes that can soothe, like what the monks use in their chants and music. He again impressed me by how much he knows and understands his artistic medium.

    Trish **waves** lol!

  11. djafan says:


    Did not know the details of this song. When I first heard David would be singing this song I youtube’d it and listened to several versions of which none prepared me for David’s heartfelt rendition. I literally felt and feel the pain of the children every time David sings it as only “He” can.

  12. refnaf says:

    Evening snowangelz… David is living up to his Mr. twitter name…. A tweeting maniac today, haircuts, song lyrics and lots of replies to fans, that boy is to good to us.

  13. SandyBeaches says:

    Conditioner…A most interesting article. It was time that we learned more about Kurt Bestor and sometimes we forget to know the writers and arrangers who work with David. David had a great stage in SLC with the orchestra, choir and Kurt on piano…moments of perfction. I hope that concert history repeats itself in the future.

    Having a huge snowy day In Nova Scotia. CNN and the CBC have reported that our ships from Halifax have arrived off shore from Haiti and smaller boats are reaching towns cut off by the quake…


  14. TOfan says:

    He is good to us, Ref!

    SB, that must have been a most special performance of POTC with both Kurt & David, the choir, orchestra and the SLC hometown crowd. Wow.

    And a big shout out to everyone “hovering” here (our stats tell us there are a lot of you quiet ones out there!) and a big thank you to all who take the time to comment, we love you all!!! {{{hugs}}}


  15. archiesfan4life says:

    Thank you conditioner for the background on Kurt Bestor and how he came to write POTC. Reading your article and having the lyrics along with that video – WOW – talk about touching our hearts!

    Trish – did you receive my package???

    • Trish says:

      OMHHHHH !!!! hahahaha Yes !!!! have a thank you card for you which I am sending this weekend !! <3<3<3 absolutely love it !! you are wonderful !!!! ahhhh memories Stroudsburg, PA was AWESOME !!!!! David was on fire :))) {{{HUGS}}}

  16. KT says:

    Hovering is so much nicer than lurking!

    Conditioner, thanks for the research and the background regarding the inspiration for this song. I have always liked this song when I first heard it here:

    I absolutely knew it was tailor made for David and couldn’t wait until I heard him sing it, which, of course, was here:

    I have always loved 3:11 of the Washington performance when he throws his hand up as a testament to his belief. When I see that hand go up it makes me long for a concert with David singing nothing but soulful gospel with a supporting choir…can you imagine?

    p.s. one of these days I will learn how to embed videos…the lovely TOfan always nicely comes by and cleans up the mess I make…haha

  17. KT says:

    Oh…by the way….Trish!!:):):)$$$ Hi! Glad to see you here!

    • Trish says:

      {{{{hugs}}}} 😮 You caught me 🙂

      I came out of hovering …. or lurking whatever it is …. hahahaha

      such a wonderful post had to comment!!! thanks again Conditioner 🙂

      <3<3<3<3 everyone !! 🙂

  18. Lisa says:

    thanks for the nice KB write up. I’ve liked his music for years, have a couple of his christmas cds and have seen him live, he is quite funny and always has great/amazing guests at his concerts. I was very happy when i heard he would be working w/ david’s Christmas album, really like his sound and can totally hear his vibe on the CD.

    David+POTC= LOVE 🙂


  19. SandyBeaches says:

    TOfan…the next time David has a concert in SLC, everyone should try to be there as they are special…a good place for a David fanvention…Put the thought out there into the universe and just maybe…!!


  20. TOfan says:

    KT clean-up crew reporting for duty! LOL

    SB, an SLC fanvention? throw in a concert & I’m there!!!

    “David + POTC = LOVE” … I like your math! 😆

    Here’s a Facebook pic posted by Dr. Blake Maxfield (David’s ortho) … he reminds me of a celebrity but I just can’t put my finger on who, hmmmm … ideas?


  21. SandyBeaches says:

    TOfan…You’ve got it…Salt Lake City + a concert with David…A fasnvention in the makings for the near future and what a place to have it…There just may be some fans in SLC who would help with the plans…Nice to think about the future when we are caught in this holding pattern…


  22. Bluebarsa says:

    Greetings Snow Angelz!
    You asked what celebrity Dr. Maxfield may remind you of. My first thought was:
    John Ritter

    But, on second look, haha, not sure if the resemblance is really to the Doc…
    or to David!!

  23. awestruck says:

    SB – TOfan put me down for the fanvention in SLC – I’m there!

    Bluebarsa – John Ritter… I see a bit of resemblance. Doc’ eyes sure are blue!

  24. Trish says:

    I came … I spammed …. and I go 😦

    Working too hard … dang it !!! hoping everyone has a lovely evening 🙂 back to work for me.

  25. YJfanofdavid says:

    Conditioner, Thank you for uncovering the story behind Bestor’s writing of POTC. Knowing the story makes the song so much more poignant and makes me appreciate it even more. I love what he said about the children:

    “They didn’t care about who owned the land, or who had the power or the money. These are adult neuroses. They just wanted to have a mom and dad and a place to play.”

    I remember David saying something similar when he talked about the Invisible Children. Bestor and David seem to be of kindred souls and I look forward to more collaboration from the two of them.

  26. refnaf says:

    Fanvention in SLC?? uuhhh, OK.

  27. SandyBeaches says:

    OK, so we have TOfan, awestruck, refnaf, myself for starters…gotcha…and I don’t kid about these matters!!

    I think that my trip to SLC and the events I took in while there maybe paved the way just a bit.

    Hey, where is ‘cb’ of SLC?

    The FOD team had a good time planned during his last concerts there so I know where to direct my calls!!

    Now for David to have a tour sometime, that is all we will need to know…


  28. refnaf says:

    lol, yes SB, all we need is tour DATES!!!!

  29. TOfan says:

    Hey, yj!! *waves*

    yes, SB, Ref & Awestruck, tour dates FTW!!!


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