Saint Monica is one of the best examples we have of the power of consistent prayer and the way God answers those prayers. When her son, Augustine came of age, he told his mother that he had become a Manichean. Manichaeism was a pagan philosophical religion that directly contradicted Christianity.
For seventeen years Augustine pursued his career, searching for God in rhetoric and philosophy. And for every day and night of those ten years Monica prayed and wept for the return of her son to the Faith.
When Augustine left for Rome, he departed secretly to prevent his mother from following him. But she followed anyway, first to Rome and then to Milan, praying constantly for the sake of his soul. Her persistence was finally rewarded when Augustine was baptized into the Church in Milan at the age of thirty-three.
Later in his life Augustine reflected on his mother’s prayers and how God answered them. He wrote:
“That night I stole away without her; she remained praying and weeping. And what she was praying for, O my God, with all those tears, but that you should not allow me to sail! But you saw deeper and granted the essential part of her prayer; you did not do what she was at that moment asking, that you might do the thing she was always asking.”
Prayer, Doubt, Trust
We sometimes may have a tendency to doubt God. We pray night and day for a desire or need yet nothing seems to happen. And so we are tempted to doubt the effectiveness of our prayers. That shows our impatience, not God’s indifference.
We need to be confident in our prayer. We may not receive the answer we want, but we will receive an answer. It is then that our faith is tested. Do we harden our hearts wanting things our own way? Or do we accept God’s plan for us even if it is something we do not want to do?
God does not change, that is the nature of God. Prayer cannot change God’s mind. Prayer is for us to conform ourselves to the will of God. The effectiveness of prayer is actually one of the mysteries of our faith. God does not change, yet the grace He bestows upon us seems to, at least in part, depend on our prayers.
If we think that God is not answering us because we did not get what we wanted, that displays a lack of faith on our part.
There is a popular saying that reveals a great truth. “God answers all prayers, sometimes the answer is no.”
God hears every prayer we utter. He wants us to pray to Him unceasingly to prepare our hearts and minds to receive His plan for us. We pray to Him constantly and confidently in order to overcome our greatest temptation. The devil is always preying on our doubts, hoping that we will start to mistrust God.
But God’s plan for us is greater than our limited understanding. The way we pray is just as much a test of our faith as it is an appeal to God’s goodness.
Part of our problem is the culture we live in. We live in a secular world that has largely ignored God. Our advancements in science and technology have led us to an unlimited confidence in our own ability to solve our problems. As a result, our society at large may see faith as a sign of weakness. Faith depends on God for such things as forgiveness, grace, miracles, sacraments, prayer, and spiritual gifts. In our modern post-Christian world, we are not supposed to want those things.
This distorted view of God is dangerous, it can seep into our thoughts and affect our prayers in ways we do not even realize.
It is easier to pray constantly than we may realize. We are creatures of habit and it is not that difficult to change those habits. For a stronger prayer life start by spending sometime each day alone with God. Read a passage from the Bible and contemplate its meaning and application to your life. Start reciting morning or evening prayer, consecrating your entire day to His mercy and goodness.
God is always thinking of us, we should be always thinking of Him. Everyday we have a thousand little moments where we are alone with our thoughts, let God be a part of those moments.
God hears our prayers. But He answers them in His own way and in His own time. It is our part to pray persistently and accept His wisdom.
29th Sunday in Ordinary Time
crossposted at www.DeaconLawrence.org
© Lawrence Klimecki
Lawrence Klimecki, MSA, is a deacon in the Diocese of Sacramento. He is a public speaker, writer, and artist, reflecting on the intersection of art and faith and the spiritual “hero’s journey” that is part of every person’s life. He can be reached at Lawrence@deaconlawrence.com