It’s not just me is it? I mean when things are going well, I do make an effort to pray. I schedule my prayer time, my reflection time, my Rosary time . . .and I do my best to stick with it.
But when things are going really bad, I am always praying. Seriously. Suffering gives meaning to that Bible verse, Pray without ceasing (1 Thes. 5:17). I am storming Heaven, spending more time in Adoration (as much as little kids allow!), lighting candles, doing novenas, begging saints . . .and on and on. Prayer becomes a part of my fabric, almost a part of my being. And I certainly become reliant on it to get through the day. There are moments, do you know these moments, where prayer is the only thing that gets you through the day–through that minute, through that wave of pain. I pray as soon as I wake up. I lie in bed and pray. And when I have trouble sleeping because of all the painful thoughts, I say the Rosary.
And when you’re praying more, something else happens. You are listening to God more. Something about the suffering makes us open ourselves up more. I think its because we are going along our merry way and all of a sudden we have our feet knocked out from under us. And you are lying there, thinking, . .
“Did I have it all wrong?”
Well there is only One who can answer that question for you.
And so we need to start the conversation. We start by crying out, by praying. And then we ask the questions. I think when we suffer, we really want to know the answers. We have been stripped down to nothing. Sometimes it is like a starting over. You don’t want to end up back at the suffering, so you cry out. And you listen. “Tell me how to do this Lord. Tell me how to find my way through this.” And then, because we don’t want it to be in vain, “Tell me what you want me to learn from this.”
That’s the real gut response. And I think that God more than respects that. I think He says, “See? That’s what I wanted from you all along–honest feeling, honest listening.”
And that’s why prayer, probably the first step we take in our suffering on our road to sainthood, moves us. Because what happens when you talk to someone and when you listen to someone? Your relationship deepens. So here we are, finally really willing to listen, and to bring our lives more in line with God’s will, not trying to force His will to conform to our lives. It’s the suffering, the having nothing to lose, that puts us there.
What do you think? Have you ever been stripped down to that place of crying out in prayer?
Or do you have any suggestions of prayers for the suffering?
He’s our Best Friend yet He often gets the least of our time, thoughts, attention and devotion. Yes, I have had periods where I have prayed without ceasing. My tip if you want to try to pray more to is to get in the habit of praying every time you start to think of someone. This also helps if I find myself starting to think negatively of someone. I judge people A LOT less with this practice.
After my last weekend of silence while at a retreat, it has been much easier for me to slip into prayer mode for those close to me who are suffering. I can be cleaning up, changing a diaper, weeding, brushing my teeth or even typing and I just start to pray. Yes, He deserves our full attention but if I can pray while doing something else, it is better than not praying it all.
We are so prideful, want to know the future, yet when we turn it over to Him, soften our hearts, it becomes easier and easier to hear what He wants and expects of us. Easier to be the friend He so richly deserves.
Those little chores like cleaning, changing diapers, etc. can also be offered up–maybe for the person we are thinking negatively of or judging!
Thanks for contributing some thoughts on how we can pray without ceasing, Kay!
Carina, once when I was going through a period of suffering, I would gaze upon this image of the Sacred Heart that we have on our mantel. I would cry out to Jesus, “Help me!!!” And I sensed that He was asking me, “Do you trust me?” In my hurt and anger I answered, “Well, only because I have no other choice!” (I’m ashamed to think of my lack of faith, looking back!!) But I was also able to pray, “Help me trust You, because I really don’t right now!” And I would picture myself at the foot of the cross, with my arms wrapped around it, clinging to it for dear life. And He helped me, bit by bit, through the suffering, walked with me through it, and it became a time of spiritual growth for me, such that I look back with thanks to Him for His great mercy toward me.
Another image that comes to me after reading your blog is that scene from The Passion movie, where Jesus is bloodied, battered, his eye all swollen shut and he’s dragging the cross to Calvary, and He says to Mary, “See Mother, I make all things new….” And who could think, from a human perspective, that He was about to save the whole world from sin and death…but that’s what happened.
So I guess what I’ve learned through my own suffering is to pray unceasingly, “Lord, I believe in you, increase my faith…Lord, I trust in your Mercy, help me to trust you, and abandon myself to you….Lord, I love you, help me to love you….” over and over again. Not only does this turn my thoughts away from myself to my Savior, my Creator, my Redeemer, and my King, but it keeps the crushing fear at bay.
You and your family are always in my prayers.
What a beautiful image you gave of clinging to the Cross . . .Thank you so much for being willing to share what got you through your moments of suffering. It helps.