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"Just when you think your prayers are going nowhere" by Susan Bailey (CatholicMom.com) Giovanni Battista Salvi da Sassoferrato [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons[/caption]Many people are in need of our prayers. The parish bulletin has a long list of prayer intentions from parishioners. Family and friends (even those who don’t practice their faith) ask us to pray for them or for someone they know. We see suffering around us and secretly take that person into our hearts and pray for them. Somewhere on that list are things we need for ourselves: a healing; financial difficulties; stress in our lives; depression; a dry spell in our faith lives. I have a list of petitions that I offer up each morning, entrusting them to Mary. Like God, prayers, are invisible. We send them off into the Great Unknown and trust that they will be heard and answered in some way. Months and even years go by and we think we hear nothing. Perhaps we are fixated on what we want and cannot discern His answer. And then there are those rare moments when we are blessed to witness the fruit of our intercessory prayers. Recently I had such an experience. A husband and wife were going through a turbulent time — some of the changes were good and others, devastating. The blessings were in danger of being swamped by the losses. I had been praying for this couple for some time; last week we had a chance to visit with them. During the course of the visit I saw how my prayers had been heard and answered. The wife talked freely about all that had been happening and how she had reacted to those events. Although the outcome was good, her lower lip trembled as she spoke, a clear sign of how trying the experience had been. I gave her a hug and shared that I had been praying for her and her husband and she thanked me, visibly moved. In that moment my eyes misted over with tears as I perceived our connection. God had graced me with proof of the power of prayer. It made me think of other prayers that had been answered. My sore shoulder is now healed and I am sleeping better. I am finally able to make sense of a trial I went through last winter. My husband gave up smoking and took up daily exercise (both miracles!). My son has finally settled into a career which makes the best use of his talents. It has occurred to me that along with petitioning for others, I need to take the time to be thankful — to reflect upon those answers to prayer. They are there, waiting to be claimed. Part of petitioning God must include thankfulness. Prayer is invisible; God is invisible. But He came down to earth through the incarnation and walked among His people as Jesus, addressing the needs of everyone who had faith in Him. Prayers are not visible and God understands our need to see the concrete, to be reassured that we are being heard. Such affirmation can come at any time, manifesting itself as a whisper that we will miss if we are not paying attention. Yes, our noisy, busy and chaotic world can block out that whisper but so can our single mindedness over how we think God should answer our prayers. Only a grateful heart can open us up to that whisper. Faith reassures us that God always provides the perfect answer.
Copyright 2019 Susan Bailey