An answer to questions about prayers being answered...

Does God answer our prayers?

That's a question I'm frequently asked and the best response I can make is always made in terms of the inquirer's own prayer and circumstances. But I came across the following in the National Catholic Reporter and I think it's worth sharing with you, even if the "answer" here is fairly broad. A monk at the Monastery of the Holy Spirit in Conyers, GA, Fr. James Behrens, writes a regular short column for NCR. This piece is typical of his wisdom.

Starting Point

By James Stephen Behrens

A week or so ago I was in our retreat house. It was a hot day, and I talked with two women about the weather. “It’s been so dry,” one said. “Father, you must pray for rain. We need rain.” I said, “OK.”

The other woman said that her husband works construction. If it rains, he doesn’t work and they get no money. “No rain,” she said. “Pray for the sun.” I said, “OK.” That got me thinking a bit: If I pray for the rain and the sun to arrive concurrently, does that somehow jam the prayer frequencies between here and Paradise?

There is the woman in the Gospel who pleads with Jesus to cure her son. At first she is turned down, but her persistence wins him over. I do not know what would have happened had she prayed for rain or shine.

Petitions are as varied as the weather. We pray for many things and I do not know if prayer can change the wind or the seas, the climates and the ozone layer. But I do have a sense that persistence pays off, in one way or another. We may not get quite what we asked for but may learn to seek and find the good when the rains come and or when the sun shines. We are called to be faithful when the rains come and when the sun shines.

Jesus prayed for certain things that have yet to arrive, the peace of Jerusalem being one of them. His fidelity to God did not waver when the peace that he prayed for did not come. He learned, in a sense, to wait out the weather and even enter the storms of life. He goes before us, rising from the worst and the best that lie ahead.

Pray as we might for rain or the sun, he comes to us through both. May our prayers empower us to give comfort and shelter to each other in good weather and bad.

National Catholic Reporter, September 21, 2007

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