Do you believe in the power of prayer?
You've likely heard "Prayer Changes Things" and "The Family That Prays Together Stays Together." But prayer takes discipline and commitment. Prayer doesn't always come easy, but prayer is a crucial part of the Christian life.
I love the kneelers attached to the pews in Catholic Churches. I love seeing so many people kneeling before and during Mass. It brings me peace when kneeling and praying at Church. However, kneeling and prayer should be done outside of Church as well. I'm pretty good about praying outside of Church, but I need to get better at kneeling outside of Church.
I also like praying the Chaplet of Divine Mercy. One key point, among many, that I have picked up from Father Larry Richards is to insert someone's name in the place of us like this "For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us ( insert name ) and on the whole world." I've used this method multiple ways like "on my parents and on the whole world" or "on our business and on the whole world." I find it helpful to either insert a name or like I've listed here with "on my parents" or "on our business."
Whether you are non-Catholic, beginning your Catholic journey, a new Catholic or a long time Catholic, don't hesitate to embrace the Rosary which is also used to pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy. FYI, praying the Rosary is NOT a requirement of Catholicism. However, it is just one of many ways to pray. Whether prayer is structured or not, God knows the heart and the intention.
God doesn't always answer our prayers how we want him to or when we want him to. However, if you have ever had prayers answered, you have experienced the power of prayer. You have also likely experienced God answering prayers in his way and in his time.
Moving of the Holy Spirit...
I believe the Holy Spirit can and does work in our lives apart from specific prayers. However, I also believe our prayers can cause the Holy Spirit to move in our own lives and the lives of others. That's exactly what I believe happened in Brenda's ( wife ) life through my prayers and her own prayers during our Catholic journey.
In late January 2018, just over 8 weeks from the Easter Vigil, Brenda shared things with me, with a writer who is doing a featured article on us for NC Catholics Magazine and her parents, that proved to me that she has the Holy Spirit moving in her life and that she gets Catholicism more than I thought she did.
It's important to note that Brenda is different than I am. Brenda is less vocal and a far better listener. It's also important to note that our Catholic journey has not all been a holding hands, singing Kumbaya experience. There have been challenges even as recent as during the writing of this article. For most of the journey, we were not at the same place at the same time. But just weeks before the Easter Vigil, it all started to come together which I believe is a moving of the Holy Spirit because of prayer and what God wants from us.
I prayed multiple ways during our Catholic journey concerning our unity and decision. Obviously, I was hoping that we'd be one as husband and wife and enter the Church together. I prayed the Rosary, The Chaplet of Divine Mercy, on my knees at Church, during special visits to Church and other ways. It's amazing how the Holy Spirit moved just weeks before the Easter Vigil.
Brenda came to the same conclusion that I have: We are both at home in the Catholic Church. Brenda has never felt God's presence and the feeling of belonging like she does in the Catholic Church. That includes all other churches that we have attended regularly during our marriage ( Pentecostal, Free Will Baptist, Southern Baptist - Some Church of Christ ) and it includes all her years in the Church of Christ from childhood into her teens. I firmly believe for both of us that it's because something was missing in our lives that we couldn't put a finger on: The Catholic Church.
Although I wasn't around when Brenda spoke with her parents just days ago as of this article going live, Brenda shared how the conversation went. Both Brenda's parents and my parents have no issue with us attending a Catholic Church. Neither of us were raised to believe that Catholics are not Christians. That is far more important than some may realize since some Protestant Christians believe Catholics are not Christians and need to be evangelized.
Brenda and I are adults with adult daughters of our own and with parents in their 70's; however, it's still important to know that our parents are supportive. When Brenda told me how she was able to share several areas of Catholicism with her parents, I knew that her listening skills, her love for Christ and a moving of the Holy Spirit were all working into her conversation.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 "Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you."
I'm thankful that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit has been at work in our lives and the lives of our parents. It has not been an easy journey, but it would have been far more difficult without prayer.
This article may make it sound like it just all happened overnight and all fell into place, but it was about 1 year difference in Brenda getting to the place that I felt like I was headed a year before. I also got to a point several months into our Catholic journey that I was ready to give up. So, NO, it was not at all an easy journey and even as I write this article, I know that it will not be easy. However, through prayer and the moving of the Holy Spirit, I have confidence in our future.
I'm not sure where you are in your faith journey, but I would encourage you to pray often. Don't give up: Saint Monica prayed for her son Saint Augustine for 17 years. I've even heard some say 30 years. Either way, it was a long time of praying. Saint Monica's prayers did pay off in the end.
"O Holy Spirit, descend plentifully into my heart. Enlighten the dark corners of this neglected dwelling and scatter there Thy cheerful beams." Saint Augustine