This post is part of our series of Lenten reflections for 2013, focusing on ways that we can nourish ourselves as mothers so that we are better able to serve and bring light to our families, friends, and all the others we come in contact with.
"Therefore I tell you, all that you ask for in prayer, believe that you will receive it and it shall be yours."
Sometimes I, like many of us, find prayer to be a frustrating experience. I often feel like I should be doing more in the way of personal prayer. If I try to pray before bed, I usually fall asleep. If I try to converse with God at Mass, my rowdy toddler always finds some way to interrupt. Usually I manage to have the best prayer conversations when I'm out for a walk or a run. But my favorite method, which I find to be so accessible and reassuring, is to make all of life a prayer. On days when I can do nothing else, I can offer up each part of my day, asking the Lord to use it to bless someone or something else. Truly, the grace of ordinary moments can transform when we lift those moments up.
Additionally, in times of great uncertainty, I have always found peace through following a chaplet or novena. Each time I have turned to these prayers, I have received a very clear sign of prayer being granted. I first experienced this when I was in high school and my youngest brother was undergoing treatment for a life-threatening medical condition. I began a novena to St. Therese, the Little Flower, while the outcome of the treatment remained uncertain. St. Therese is often depicted holding roses, and at the time I had a fetish, if you will, for yellow roses. On the last day of the novena, I drove to a nearby chapel which offered perpetual Adoration, and was immediately drawn to my knees when I saw that the vase adorning the altar that day contained a beautiful bouquet of yellow roses! In that moment I knew and was filled with great peace that our family was being taken care of. More than eleven years have passed, and my brother remains in good health.
More recently I had a similar experience with the Divine Mercy Chaplet following Ryan's birth, when he spent just over two weeks in Intensive Care. My husband and I felt incredibly helpless throughout the experience, so we would stop at the hospital's chapel each day on our way back from lunch in the cafeteria and pray for our son. Eric would play a hymn on the piano and we would often say a decade of the Rosary together, and it was during one of these visits that we stumbled upon a booklet with the Chaplet. We felt that we were supposed to pray it and that sometime during the course of the nine days, Ryan would be discharged from the hospital (we had no indication at this point of when we would be able to bring him home). It came as little surprise to us that within the first few days, he was able to have his oxygen and feeding tube removed, and shortly thereafter, on the seventh day of the Chaplet, our sweet boy came home with us.
My heart overflows with thankfulness to recall these times. As life's challenges are real, so too is prayer real and powerful! I once heard a priest preach that in God, "nothing is ever lost". No moment of our lives needs to be wasted as we always have the opportunity to lift each day up in prayer. However and whenever we pray, we can know with certainty that our voice is heard and our needs are met.