August 3, 2019
One of the things I love most to do is to pray for people. In the evenings, one of the last things I do before sleep is sit with Jesus, with his Father and the Holy Spirit, and with them go through the growing list of special people and intentions. My prayers include, beyond those specific people and intentions, all who are struggling with addiction, mental illness, or physical illness and all those who have no one to pray for them by name. I ask for healing, and I also ask that all those I pray for will both feel the comfort of God’s hand in their lives and recognize the healing that he provides, whatever form it might take. I ask this last thing because there is so much comfort in understanding that our prayers are always answered with what God knows is best for us. The answer is sometimes not what we thought we wanted, but I love the knowledge that, as I heard in a homily some years ago, the answer is one of two things: what we asked for, or something better. We simply need God’s grace to see how it is better; with God’s grace, acceptance of all things with praise and thanksgiving, even when we don’t fully understand how God is working his plan, is not only possible but astoundingly full of peace and joy.
So today’s story is about prayers and answers and how God shows himself in all of it.
Sometimes I think that my prayer life is still very much in its infancy. At times when I have struggled with a balance in prayer – reciting the prayers I learned as a child, reading the prayers of the Divine Office/Liturgy of the Hours, and praying spontaneously – I’ve found myself almost trapped in doubt. Am I doing it right? How long is this supposed to take? Why don’t I feel anything?
It has been in examining my doubts and questions about prayer that I have received the most grace! I think Jesus loves a good question – after all, his followers called him Teacher, didn’t they? And he is so willing to answer, with the still, small voice we hear in the deepest part of us. And so it is that I’ve learned three things (so far) about growing and maturing in my prayer life.
First, I’ve learned that Scripture is a vital foundation for prayer. In reading Scripture – daily readings, the Psalms from the Divine Office for the day, even sometimes random selections – I encounter all of the Persons of the Trinity. There, in that encounter, I find countless ways to understand what God wants to communicate to me.
Second, I’ve learned that quiet listening is at least as important to prayer as is talking to God. Quietness of spirit is important for placing myself in God’s presence when I pray, and it is vital to hearing what he has to say to me. I need quietness of spirit so that I don’t get so wrapped up in my petitions that I fail to hear and heed his answers.
Third, I’ve learned that in addition to keeping my promises to pray for others (and as I’ve written here before, when I tell someone I will pray for them, I mean it. Their name goes into my daily prayer list, and I do not sleep until I have conversed fully with my Lord about all of it), it is important for me to ask God to teach me what to pray for.
The harmony that has come from applying these three lessons to my prayer life is nothing short of incredible. One could all too easily come to see the charism of intercessory prayer as a burden or obligation, but that would be to miss all of the grace that might come from simply being a channel of God’s healing and love – from being, if you will, a scrap of the hem of Jesus’ cloak.
And that brings me to the heart of the story I wanted to tell today. I love to meditate on the way that each of us, as Jesus’ disciples, could in some way be the hem of his garment so that when people encounter us, they would experience his healing power. What better way to be used in this sad and sinful world so full of need? This idea was on my mind a few days ago at daily Mass, and even as I was reflecting how I might make it more of a reality, I experienced a flash of what I thought was memory. I saw a young woman, entering a room from a right rear door, struggling to move forward as she managed crutches and braces. I thought I might know her, and I knew I wanted to help her. And then, just as quickly, it was gone – but not really gone. I kept trying to figure out where and when this memory originally took place, and I just couldn’t.
That’s when the still, small voice spoke up. It’s not a memory. This woman needs your prayers.
And that was quite simply one of the most beautiful moments I’ve experienced along this journey. Here was my answer to my request that God would teach me what to pray for. Here was my opportunity to be the hem of Jesus’ garment.
Dear friend, whoever you are, you are now on my daily prayer list. May God pour his healing power into your body and your soul and your life. May he surround you with the comfort of his presence, and give you the grace to know and recognize his healing, whatever form it may take.
I may never know who this woman is, and I don’t need to. The beauty and wonder of this experience is that when I asked, God taught me what and whom to pray for.
When I asked, he answered. He always does. This time, with my heart open to his grace, I listened.
And now this new link in a most wonderful chain is forged. Because I know, in faith and in grace, that through the intercessory prayer that I am called to make, healing will occur for this young woman. I don’t know what form it will take; I don’t know if she will fully recognize it or understand the form that it takes; I don’t know if our paths will ever cross, or if she will know that someone prayed for her. But deep in my soul, I know that something will change for her, be better for her or in her, because God answers all prayers; and I dare to dream and hope that whatever that something is, it will in turn have its own positive effect.
So much about this I will never know; but I do know that the Holy Spirit is at work here. And, my dear sweet Jesus, I can live with that.
Comments on: "Amazing Grace" (1)
Thank you okay I’ll check it out 😊