Category Archives: Prayer

Why Isn’t God Answering My Prayers?

I posted the Saint Andrew Christmas novena last week. I try to post it every year because it holds a special place in my heart. It reminds me of my first Christmas with my husband’s family back in 2011. It reminds me of my father-in-law (who now prays it with our family from Heaven).  Most importantly, it reminds me to focus my heart on Christ’s coming (at least three times per day) during this advent season.

So yeah, I love this prayer.

People often share novenas alongside stories of answered prayers. For example, the first time I prayed this novena I prayed for mine and Tyler’s relationship. He proposed 5 days after that Christmas. The next time I prayed the novena I prayed for us to be blessed with a baby within our first year of marriage. Our son was born ten months later.

God answers prayers.

Well, two years ago I prayed this novena for the intention that my father-in-law would be healed completely and miraculously from his cancer.

He passed away exactly 6 months after Christmas.

I feel a little bad saying that I don’t even really remember what my intention was for the St Andrew Novena last year. I do remember it was certainly harder to stay on top of praying it last year, maybe because it is such a reminder of Doug.

However, this year as well as last year I have received discouraged comments from readers (perhaps echoing my own fears) stating that God never seems to hear or answer their novena intentions. To those readers (and my discouraged self), I direct you to the first comment on the first post I ever wrote sharing this novena. It happens to be from my late father-in-law–the one who shared the novena with me in the first place:

I LOVE this “novena” even though the number nine has nothing in common with it! One year I prayed for the improvement of the financial situation of one of my adult children and their family… almost immediately after the prayer was done the husband lost his job!!! Funny (scary sometimes) how God works, that was what needed to happen to them in order to get things headed in the right direction.

God answers prayers, just not always in the way we expect.

Rest assured, dear reader, your prayers are not going unanswered, and God most certainly does hear you. His ways are not our ways.

Jesus, we trust in you!

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PSA- St. Andrew Christmas Novena Starts Today!

I know I haven’t posted in forever, but I am breaking my silence today to remind you to start your St. Andrew Christmas Novena!

I try to make a point of sharing this novena with you all every year. It is one of my favorite ways to prepare for Christ’s coming at Christmas.  A couple of years ago, I ordered a handful of 5x7s of this graphic to be printed out so I would be reminded every day to meditate on the prayer. Feel free to download the image and do the same!

(The “rules” are to pray the following 15x each day from now through Christmas Eve. Fix a specific intention to offer to our Lord each time you pray it, and trust that the same Jesus who humbled Himself to be born at midnight, in Bethlehem, in piercing cold over 2,000 years ago, will hear your prayer and answer it according to His perfect will.)


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By the way, Blessed Is She has a great devotional today reflecting on who St. Andrew was in the ministry of Jesus. Here is a brief excerpt:

Throughout his life, Saint Andrew played second fiddle to his dynamic and well-known brother Simon Peter. Peter was an incredible teacher. He was the first Pope. He resurrected Tabitha. Everyone remembers Peter, few remember Andrew—he is often only referred to as Peter’s brother. However, without Andrew, there is no way to know who would have introduced Peter to Jesus. (John 1:40)

-Emily Wilson-Hussem via BlessedIsShe.net

Happy Advent!

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An Invitation To Deeper Prayer

 

Tyler and I are re-reading Fr. Michael Gaitley’s 33 Days To Morning Glory in preparation to renew our Marian consecration on the Feast of Her Immaculate Conception (December 8th).

I wanted to share with you an excerpt from one of last week’s reflections, which comes from the writings of Blessed Mother Teresa.  It spoke to my heart, so maybe it will speak to yours as well:

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I worry some of you still have not really met Jesus – one to one – you and Jesus alone. We may spend time in chapel – but have you seen with the eyes of your soul how He looks at you with love? Do you really know the living Jesus – not from books but from being with Him in your heart? Have you heard the loving words He speaks to you? Ask for the grace, He is longing to give it…

…Never give up this daily intimate contact with Jesus as the real living person – not just the idea. How can we last even one day without hearing Jesus say, “I love you” – impossible. Our soul needs that as much as the body needs to breathe the air. If not, prayer is dead – meditation only thinking. Jesus wants you each to hear Him – speaking in the silence of your heart.

(Blessed Mother Teresa, 25 March 1993)

“Jesus wants you each to hear Him–speaking in the silence of your heart.”  Let’s draw near to God and ask Him to transform our prayer.

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What Does It Mean To Put God First?

“How can we better live our lives in such a way that we can put God first?” 

I received the above question from a reader last week and it has got me reflecting a bit on what it really means to put God first.

The easy answer (that just requires a bit of discipline) is to put into place the regular daily/weekly habits that give you frequent opportunities to grow in relationship with God. Mass every Sunday is [obviously] required. Daily prayer is, as well (preferably with the Scriptures). Regular confession is something we all really need to be in the habit of because we all are in need of God’s Mercy. Personally, I make it a habit to read the day’s mass readings each morning and pray a rosary with my family each night. Regular little practices like these are needed in the life of a Christian who wants to grow in relationship with Jesus.

I said all of that is the easy part. If you are not already in the habit, then getting used to these practices will take some time and some effort, but eventually they will become second nature.

However, I think to really answer the question of how we can put God first, Saint John Paul II said it best:

“One must arrange one’s life so that everything praises God.”

This is really the more challenging part of the answer. Once in the habit, that daily family rosary is actually pretty easy, and if we’re not attentive, it can become little more than a box on a checklist, begrudgingly prayed day after day simply because “we’re supposed to.”

It’s ok to go through times of spiritual dryness, and times like these actually strengthen our faith and deepen our devotions. But from time to time, we owe it to our relationship with Jesus to take stock of our lives and ask ourselves:

Am I living my life in a way that everything praises God?

Do I glorify God in my work—offering my best efforts, my successes and even my struggles to Him as an act of praise? Do my interactions with others reflect the Christian belief that they are created in His image and after His likeness? Do my thoughts and dealings with myself bear in mind that I am a beloved child of God? Do I recognize that everything in my life comes from Him and is ordered in His Providence for me to grow closer to Him?

All of this ought to be the driving force behind our regular devotions and our prayers.  Beyond just a sense of duty, love for the Person of Jesus Christ should drive us to put Him first in everything, to arrange our lives so that every moment and every decision is made with Him in mind.  Putting God first is the work of our whole lives as Christians!  Let’s pray that we continually draw closer to Him, and not just settle for a check list.

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Finding Jesus In An Ed Sheeran Song

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“We keep this love in a photograph
We made these memories for ourselves
Where our eyes are never closing*
Hearts are never broken
Time’s forever frozen still”

Ed Sheeran, Photograph

[*ok, technically our eyes are closed in the picture.  But everything else applies.]

I love that picture.  It was taken while Tyler and I were still dating– long before kids, household chores, and mortgage payments.  Back when we were just a couple of college kids listening to music and taking a goofy (if somewhat mushy) selfie.  It was snapped with an iPhone and stored in a “Pictures” folder, to be looked at countless times in the days, months, and years that followed.

“So you can keep me inside the pocket of your ripped jeans, holdin’ me closer ’til our eyes meet.  You won’t ever be alone.  Wait for me to come home”

Of course, when Ed Sheeran sings that his beloved can “keep him” in the form of a photograph until they meet again, it is only an analogy; and there is a bittersweetness to it. When Tyler and I were separated by a few states after we graduated from college, I probably looked at the above picture over a hundred times.  While it made me happy to see his face in the picture, it didn’t make me miss him any less—in fact it probably made me miss him even more.

At the end of the day we all know that a picture is only a picture.  And the memories a picture brings with it can only go so far.

You Won’t Ever Be Alone

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Well last week I happened to hear Photograph on the radio after leaving the adoration chapel, only this time it wasn’t so bittersweet.

As I listened to the now familiar melody, I reflected on the lyrics and on a lifetime of visits to the Blessed Sacrament Chapel— visiting Jesus present in the Eucharist in times of joy, in times of pain, and even just out of a desire to get out of the house with the kids—and the song suddenly took on a different meaning.

“The greatest love story of all time is contained in a tiny white host.” (Fulton Sheen)

“Loving can hurt.”

All the times I visited the chapel and brought Jesus the pain my heart was feeling: through teenage heartbreaks, feelings of longing, feelings of loneliness.  “You know it can get hard sometimes.”  The Love contained in that tiny white host was there even in the midst of the hurt.

“Loving can heal.”

That tiny white host has brought my life such healing through the years.  I don’t expect to know the full extent I have been healed through Jesus’ Presence in the Eucharist until I behold Him face to face in Heaven, but on this side of things, I know that “Loving can heal,” because in my visits to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament I have truly seen how “loving can mend your soul.”

“Time’s forever frozen still.”

The Eucharist that I visit in the adoration chapel on a weekday with my two small children is the same Jesus who died for me on Calvary.  It is the same Jesus the Church’s greatest saints bowed before throughout history.  He is the same Jesus who was present in the tabernacles of the Churches in the Middle Ages, the same Jesus that faithful soldiers during WWII drew their strength from, and the same Jesus my great-great grandparents received throughout their lifetime.  Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

“You won’t ever be alone.”

Back when Tyler and I had to do the long-distance thing before we got married, the pictures we had from the times we were together were just as the song says: memories frozen in time that we could visit when we missed each other.  But a picture is just a picture.

In the Eucharist, Jesus gives us so much more.  He is able to actually deliver what the song can only dream about.  His Body, His Blood, His Soul, His Divinity–they are all actually contained in the tiny white host.  There we can keep Him closer until our eyes meet in Heaven.  And we won’t ever be alone.

“Good child: see how lovers on earth kiss the flowers, the letters, the mementos of those they love…Then you, how could you ever forget that you have him always at your side–yes, Him?”

– Saint Josemaria Escriva

“Behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.”

-Jesus

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