On Prayer

hail mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. holy mary, mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death, amen.

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, to pray is to speak to God, especially in order to give thanks or to ask for something; to make a request in a humble manner; to address God (or a god) with adoration, confession, supplication or thanksgiving.

hey God, just wanted to say thanks for all you’re doing in my life.

I was raised in a (semi) Catholic home. We went to church on Christmas and Easter and the occasional Sunday. I started going to Catholic school in 6th grade and went to mass every Wednesday through 8th grade. I went to Catholic high school and then to a Catholic, Jesuit university. My only real understanding of faith was academic. I took classes on the history of Catholicism, the sacraments, saints and a myriad of other things. It wasn’t until my third year in college when a very dear friend invited me to mass that I started to understand more about what faith felt like. I hadn’t been to church regularly since 8th grade and, to be honest, I wasn’t all that interested. I mostly kept going because it was important to my friends.

Most nights it just felt like I was going through the motions. I said the prayers, sang the songs, stood, sat and kneeled at the appropriate times. It didn’t really feel special or valuable. Then one night at mass, after a particularly difficult week, I found myself deep in conversation with a candle on the altar. I was crying out for help in honest desperation. It was the first time I felt a personal connection with God. I continued to explore that relationship and eventually decided to get baptized and become Catholic. My decision was based on a calling to grow closer to God. And, if we’re being honest, familiarity. I knew I wanted a relationship with the Lord, and Catholicism was the only religion I knew. It was the only path to God I knew. It turns out becoming Catholic as an adult takes a lot of work. I took classes, had meetings, went on retreats and wrote letters. I studied, a lot. Somewhere along the line I lost touch with God. I never felt like I had a personal relationship with Him. I felt like I didn’t know how to pray.

I didn’t know how to talk to God.

All of my interactions with the Lord were scripted. I was constantly talking at God, but I didn’t ever feel like I was actually talking with Him. I said Hail Mary after Hail Mary, I was always mumbling the Lord’s Prayer and praying for the well-being of everyone I could think of. It all felt so forced and formal. So, I strayed.

Then, life happened. I graduated and moved to Missouri for grad school. I was struggling. So, I turned back to my Hail Mary’s. I turned back to familiarity. I turned back to God. God knew I was ready for a personal relationship with Him. He blessed me with some incredible people that showed me what life was like with a relationship with Him.

I started praying. Often. At first it was mostly just Hail Mary’s and the Lord’s Prayer. I prayed for the well-being of those around me. Then, my faith started to change. It grew and deepened in ways I didn’t know were possible. It became personal. There were prayers of thanksgiving. Confessions. Cries for help. I shared my dreams and my fears. There were prayers of adoration. I thanked Him for little things like crunchy leaves and fuzzy socks, and big things like my chosen career and my incredible boyfriend. Next thing I knew, my life became one giant, personal conversation with the Lord. I finally feel like I have a beautifully personal relationship with God. My God. My Savior.

Here’s the thing you guys, prayer can be pretty much anything you want it to be. I was watching an episode of Grey’s Anatomy tonight, and a dying patient asked one of the doctors to pray a Hail Mary with him. It was the first time I had heard the prayer in a while, and I was surprised at how beautiful it sounded. Now, I know it’s just a TV show and they were acting, but you guys, it sounded so beautiful and genuine. You see, prayer isn’t all about the words. I think prayer is about your relationship with the Lord. He loves us. He wants a relationship with us. If that relationship comes through a Hail Mary or two, that’s cool, and if it’s thanking Him for fuzzy socks, well, then that’s cool too. What matters is that we live for Him. That we are constant and faithful in prayer (Romans 12:12). That we trust Him. I think prayer is about our heart.

in those days when you pray, i will listen. if you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. “i will be found by you,” says the Lord.

Jeremiah 29:12-14a

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A Ramble of Praise

Dear Lord,

Don’t mind me as I ramble Your praise.

I was sitting in Your house Sunday morning, listening to Your word surrounded by a community of Your believers, and I have never felt more at peace. I was overcome with emotion and gratefulness for your blessings. I think back to where I was just a year ago – I didn’t know You or Your Truth. I thought I did, but it can’t even begin to compare to how I know You now. Lord, I love you more and more every day; I need you more and more every day. My life is beautiful and meaningful because I accepted Your love into my heart.

As I was sitting there reveling in the glory of Your Grace, it started to rain. It was gentle at first, with the sun shining through the clouds. Then the clouds overtook the sun, and it absolutely poured. During that time, my whole world stopped. At first, all I could think about was Your goodness and how my life has changed since I recognized You as my one true Lord and Savior. I still heard the gentle murmur of the sermon in the background. Eventually that voice began to fade away completely; mine did too. I sat there in a beautiful, quiet contentment, watching the rain fall, surrounded by a community of believers intent on Your word.

The rain stopped suddenly and the sun came back out, shining brighter than before. I couldn’t help but feel like I had been cleansed and refreshed. I don’t know, Lord. I just felt new and clean and loved. I felt like I was exactly where I was supposed to be. I believe I have been called to Brockport for a reason, and I couldn’t be more grateful.

I am so happy and content with my life. Lord thank you for taking care of me. Thank you for confidence and comfort when I started to doubt You and second guess Your plans for me. Thank you for this beautiful life. For showing me love and happiness. Thank you for continuing to surround me with people who lift me up and encourage me, show me what it means to be a Christian and ultimately bring me closer to You. I have learned and grown so much in my time here. I have developed as a person and as a professional. Most importantly, I have grown deeper in my relationship with You.

I was driving home today, looking at Your beautiful sunset, singing Your praise with my windows rolled down, and I couldn’t help but smile. Your world is absolutely beautiful, Lord. I felt your presence so strong and I was so incredibly happy. You are so good. I am so grateful to know You and to need You. I love You with all that I am. I am both honored and humbled to serve You. I know that as long as I continue to trust in You, I have nothing to fear.

Thank you, Lord.

Trust God’s Timing

1:56am
Me: God is so good.
Friend: Details lady! I mean yes He is but I assume you said that for a reason?!
Me: I’m just overwhelmed with how incredibly blessed I am. I had a good real talk today about some of my past and my mom and I’m just realizing how far I’ve come and how good I have it and knowing that none of this would be possible without The Lord. He’s the reason I survive and thrive. He’s the reason I’m able to be the difference in the lives of others. He has surrounded me with some of His best creations. I’m just happy. I’m genuinely happy from the very core of my being.
I have never experienced this pure, unadulterated joy and contentment in my entire life. I honestly didn’t know it was a thing.
Friend: Ahh!!!! I love this. I am so happy for you. Your story is heartbreaking but you have and will continue to shine through it. I am always impressed by your joy and I am thrilled The Lord is granting you this contentment!! It is DESERVED

That’s a conversation I had with a friend via text early the other morning. I’ve been really struggling lately. Through my struggles, I’ve been praying for confidence and guidance. I’ve been praying for a direct answer about what to do with my life. I’ve been really stressed about making the right decision; factoring in everything from my people to geography and making sure I’m answering the Lord’s call. I got so caught up in asking The Lord to answer my prayers in the way that best served me.

News flash: that’s not how the Lord works. The Lord answers prayers. He provides to those who ask and truly believe. However, His answers might not always come on your timeline or look exactly like what you want. I believe the Lord has a beautiful plan for each of us. We are blessed with the opportunity to walk His path with our lives. We encounter stress when we start to question or second guess that path.

That’s where I was; questioning the Lord’s plan for me. I stopped trusting and started questioning His timing.

The Lord is granting you this contentment

Even though I was praying for the wrong things, the Lord gave me exactly what I needed. This week at work was incredible. I absolutely love my job. I’m able to learn and grow personally and professionally every single day. I believe in myself and my ability to be successful in my field. I know I say this all the time, but I really am surrounded by the most amazing people, and the circle keeps growing. I feel supported, encouraged, appreciated and cared about both personally and professionally.

After the conversation with my friend the other night, I did something I haven’t done since I was a little girl; I got out of bed, knelt on my knees and prayed. I prayed like I never have before. I prayed hard and really gave myself over to the Lord. I offered desperate prayers of gratitude and appreciation. Gratitude for my past, and the experiences that made me who I am today. Gratitude for the people around me and prayers for their well-being. Gratitude for this newfound sense of joy and contentment. I eventually lost the ability to form words, and trusted that the Lord could hear the words on my heart. I was overcome with emotion and completely surrendered myself to the Lord.

I fell asleep there on the floor, next to my bed. I woke up a couple of hours later, moved back to bed and snuggled in under my blankets. I fell asleep feeling completely at peace with life, and slept straight through the night, which is quite the accomplishment for me. I have never felt closer to God than I did that night. It was such an awesome feeling. I felt so strong in my beliefs. My stress and fears were gone, I have never felt so calm and comforted in my entire life.

I’m so happy with where I am. I’m confident that the Lord has a plan for me. I refuse to lose myself in selfish or worldly struggles. Instead, I’ll invest my all into the Lord and really trust His timing.

God is good, you guys. He provides for us, we just have to trust Him.

A Desperate Prayer for my Future

This is a tough one, Lord.

I have no idea what I’m doing with my life. I’m not sure what to do next or where to put my focus. I know I need You before anything else. I trust that You will help me find my way, but I also know it’s about time I start to figure things out for myself. I pray that I may be silent enough to hear Your call and courageous enough to follow Your plan.

Lord I need some guidance on how to prioritize my future. I firmly believe You have called me to love on people, but I also know I can do that in just about any context. So where do I focus my energy? My career? My personal life?

And what about my upcoming job search? Being here in New York has shown me I have the ability to thrive anywhere, but it has also helped me realize what’s most important to me in life.

Lord, I need You. I have so many feels, and no idea what to do with most of them. How do I prioritize my life? I pray for the courage and confidence I’ll need to take that leap of faith when the time comes. I need guidance and comfort.

How do I continue to move forward with purpose and intentionality and trust?

Steady my heart, Lord. Strengthen my feet on Your path. Help me to let go of control and really trust my future to Your hands. Help me to live one day at a time and leave the big picture to You. Help me to remember that everyone walks a different path in life, and when I compare timelines and stories, I’m cheating myself out of my own unique experiences and joy. I believe You have a beautiful plan for me. Help me to live each day to the fullest, glorifying You in all that I do. Help me to shift my focus back to spreading Your light, and away from my own selfish concerns.

Help me to trust You.

Amen

A Prayer for Monday

Lord, be with me today. I’m struggling to find motivation and focus. My mind is elsewhere; caught up in my heart. Help me see the big picture. Steady my feet on Your path. Strengthen my walk with You. Help me to better understand myself so that I may better serve You in all that I do and say.

Use me, Lord. Shine Your light through me, so that others may feel Your love. Align my heart with yours, Lord. Align my mission with Your will. Remind me that I live for You, and You alone. When I feel lost, discouraged or overwhelmed, help me to remember that I am doing Your work always.

Lord, be with me. Be my strength, my light and my focus.

Amen