Laura DeMaria joined Morning Air on a recent segment to talk about individual prayer life, why we should expand our intentions, and what people and groups are relying on our prayers to thrive.
Laura began by discussing the all-too-common perspective of having a self-contained universe when it comes to prayer. There isn’t a single person on earth who doesn’t have a laundry list of things that they need prayers for, so it’s very difficult for one to set aside their own needs and pray for someone else. Part of that struggle is a lack of personal experience or tangibility for the things that we’re asked to pray for outside of our personal intentions.
For example, at the end of the Holy Rosary, we’re asked to pray for the intentions of the Holy Father and our bishop, as well as the souls in purgatory. Do we know intimately what their intentions are? Certainly not all of them. Do we know exactly what souls are in purgatory? No. At other times, there may be things going on in the world like natural disasters, political upheaval, or wars like the one in Ukraine. How do we relate to things like that that we may not have ever experienced? Do our prayers even matter or make a difference?
We may not see the impact of God’s answer to our prayers. God may not even respond yes or no to our prayers right away.
Laura used the example of praying for the widows and orphans of Ukraine, and for the success of some organization caring for them. In some cases, it might become apparent that that organization has indeed received funding and support and they are making strides. In another case, it might not be so apparent. In either case, it was still worth praying for because God heard them and answered them, just not maybe in the way or at the pace that we expected or wanted.
Prayer is not only an exercise in patience but also in fidelity and faith. God has not subscribed to any law that requires that He answer our prayers in the way that we want. He has a grand design in mind for everything and everyone everywhere. Something that we might have a hard time chewing on sometimes is that God’s plan is better than ours.
Laura continued, saying that the first step to better prayer is beginning with what’s called an “act of presence”. In essence, it is a preliminary prayer to our conversation with God that reminds us of God’s true presence and that our words are not empty. He hears them and every effort to grow in holiness is fruitful. One of the most popular acts of presence is a prayer from St. Josemaría Escrivá:
My Lord and my God, I firmly believe that you are here; that you see me, that you hear me. I adore you with profound reverence; I ask your pardon for my sins, and the grace to make this time of prayer fruitful. My Immaculate Mother, St. Joseph my father and lord, my guardian angel, intercede for me. Amen.
“Prayer is an opportunity to learn to trust God more than you already do, and to rely on Him to give you that trust,” said Laura. “You’re not manufacturing it. It’s a matter of grace. And, as we know, grace itself is not even something that we feel. It’s something that’s real and it comes from God.”
When we pray for the Church, we aren’t praying for some faraway entity in the Vatican or just the bishops across the world. We, as laypeople, are the Church. We are a significant and vital component of the Catholic Church and our shepherds – our pastors, our confessors, our bishops, and priests – are relying on us for support. That support comes in various forms: financial support, being active in the community, living as a model Catholic, but also in the form of prayer.
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