Don’t Whine in Prayer: Use your words and ask!

There’s been a lot of crying and whining in our house lately. And not just from me. Mostly from the 2 and 4 year olds but even the baby has been joining in. When they are upset, they don’t say, “Mommy, I’m having a hard time opening this box. Will you please do it for me?” They simply throw themselves on the ground and start screaming. How in the world can I help them when I don’t know what it is they want? I have been trying to teach Lily to simply say the word “help” when she wants help with something instead of screaming at the top of her lungs like she is injured and needs to go to the ER. I tell her, “Use your words and ask.”

In my mom’s group recently, we were doing a bible study on prayer and I came across the bible verse that most of you I’m sure have heard before:

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives, and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” “…how much more will the heavenly Father give good things to those who ask him.” Matthew 7:7-8;11 (NAB)

There is much we can learn about God our Father through being a parent. And through being a parent, I realize how much I am like a child. What God was telling me through this verse was, “Don’t just throw a fit because I’m not giving you what you want! Use your words and ask!” He desires for us to ask for the things he wants. Through communication- through a relationship with our heavenly Father- he can give us things that are good for us.

In fact, just this morning, Timothy started screaming and punched me in the stomach because I wouldn’t let him have a brownie for breakfast. I told him he could have a brownie after dinner (pending better behavior), thereby answering his request. But I desired so much more for him to have a healthier breakfast and get the energy he needs to have a good day. So the answer to the brownie for breakfast was no, not right now. But, if he threw another fit, he was going to lose his brownie altogether. Thank goodness God has more patience and gives us many more chances than that!

Prayer is a relationship with God built on communication. There is no room for fits. Sometimes when Timothy is having a hard time not getting what he wants or with sharing, he says (usually in a pouty voice), “Mom, today’s just not my day.” And I reply, “That’s okay. Life is hard sometimes. It doesn’t have to be your day everyday.”

I think God answers the same thing to us. We are allowed to say, “God, today’s hard. I feel like quitting. I just can’t do it anymore.” And he says, “That’s okay. It doesn’t have to be your day today. But I have prepared a place in heaven for you where every day WILL be your day.” But we can’t just throw a spiritual fit and get mad at God because it’s not our day or we aren’t winning the lottery or getting our brownie for breakfast. We have to pray and ask God for the things we think we need or even want, and then wait for him to respond.

Because sometimes it's just not your day.

Because sometimes it’s just not your day.

As I look back on all the major deciding points in my life – from college, to a job, to my husband and family, and all my little jobs and decisions along the way – God has never let me down. He’s always answered my prayers and given me the desires of my heart. But in HIS time, because God the Father knows best.

So no more whining in prayer! Just use your words and ask!

Mark 11:24: “Therefore I tell you, all that you ask for in prayer, believe that you will receive it and it shall be yours.”

John 15:7 “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you.”

Psalm 145:18-19 “You, Lord, are near to all who call upon you, to all who call upon you in truth. You satisfy the desire of those who fear you; you hear their cry and save them.”

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From the Spotlight to the Hidden Life

I used to be a youth minister.  I worked in a church where I was in front of people all the time. Talking, leading, and ministering. I had to be on top of my game, spiritually speaking, if I was going to be effective.  Sometimes it was more about deepening my personal relationship, but sometimes it was that outside pressure that kept me going to the UnknownChapel and waking up for daily Mass.  And so there I was, at the Church all the time because I was the face of the youth in our church. I was in the spotlight.

And then I got married. And immediately the kids started coming and I was now at home. All the time. It was more of a hidden life now – for most of the day it was just me and babies who can’t talk. The way I was used to praying involved daily mass and frequenting the adoration chapel, and I no longer had those luxuries for my prayer time. And so my priorities became eating, dishes, and laundry, and it became difficult to find time to pray. “They don’t even know what prayer is; they wouldn’t notice the difference if I prayed or not.” Or so I thought. I convinced myself that my spiritual life wasn’t as important now that I wasn’t in the spotlight.

But I was incredibly wrong. I remember when it hit me. I was in line for confession examining my conscience. It has been a while, but I hadn’t really done anything that bad. I’m a mom now, so I don’t really have time to sin, right? And then I started to recall every time that my husband and I had fought. Every time I had lost it and yelled at the kids, every time that I had failed to discipline in love. I realized that my spiritual life was more important now than ever before because I was responsible for the souls of these tiny children who do not know any better. That I am accountable to my husband and our vows to be leading him closer to heaven.

So while the hidden life, the “interior house life” of a mom may seem inconsequential, it will impact your family and society for generations to come.

I think of Mary, who we know so little about in the Bible, but yet she was the most important person in Jesus’ life. Her role was so great, and yet so hidden. With every newborn comes an adjustment in routine and schedule. But that doesn’t diminish the importance of prayer; I think it increases it.images-2

So now it’s time to be motivated out of love for God, love for my vocation, and love for my family to be striving for sanctity and to find time to pray. Not just to say grace before meals and bedtime prayers, but to find time to be anchored in prayer and to be more like Mary.

“But when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.” Matthew 6:6

 

St. Joseph Answers Prayers!

Authors note: A few weeks ago I started to write a serious piece on prenatal testing and kids with disabilities. I had a great vision for it, but I won’t post something serious that’s not well thought out, – and these days with my mushy pregnancy brain, nothing is well thought out – so I move to some lighter topics.

St. Joseph’s feast day – solemnity, actually – was last week. I had been very much looking forward to it. One reason is we were having a big feast with all the families from my mom’s group, which was definitely fun. But as his feast approached, I had some serious requests for his intercession, and nine days before March 19th we started a novena to him.Image

Now, I have had a deeper love for St. Joseph since I read John Paul II’s “Redemptoris Custos” in college. I had prayed a novena to him after college and I got offered the job in Denver the day I finished that novena. My husband is a quiet, hardworking woodworker who took St. Joseph as his confirmation saint. He is currently in the residential remodeling business but wants to focus more on woodworking.

So, we prayed the novena for 3 things: to sell a table he had built (which we had been trying to sell for almost 2 months), to grow his business, and to find a new house for us with shop space to grow his business in. Since he is the patron saint of woodworkers, house hunters, families, and happy deaths (hopefully that last one is a ways off), we felt he was the perfect person to ask for some help!

From the time we started the novena, we found a house, put an offer on it, and on St. Joseph’s feast day we received the counter offer which a day later we accepted.  Our new house will have 4 bedrooms for our growing family and a 1200 square foot shop in the back yard for my husband to work out of. It had been on the market for several months, and I believe it was just waiting for us to find it!

Also, we had been in touch with several people over the last two months about the table he had built, but on St. Joseph’s feast day a woman contacted us who ended up buying it today, almost a week later. He now has three more tables to build, and we haven’t even put up the rest of his work on Etsy yet!

Nathan is trying to keep up with his busy workload, but we are overjoyed and thankful that God has seen it fit to answer our requests. It has given me a little insight into petitions, particularly into how they may be answered.

I know a lot of times when I pray for something, it’s more like my son Timothy who says, “I want this, and I want it NOW!” Patience is a hard thing to teach a two year old. And a twenty-eight year old, I guess. Sometimes when we think our prayers aren’t heard, it’s just because it’s not time for them to be answered. The table didn’t sell on his feast like I was hoping, but the pieces were put in place for it to sell at a later time. Sometimes things have to fall in place before we can see the results, and God can be working through people before we even know what’s happening. Like a good parent, God wants to give us things that are good for us, but only when we need them, and when it’s the right time. And sometimes it helps to have the right people asking on your behalf. I’m thankful, though, that this time I could see the prayers being answered and worked out right in front of me. To God be the glory that he provides for his children! Thank you St. Joseph for your faithful and powerful intercession!

Coloring…and Worship

Lately Timothy has been really into coloring. It’s usually spaceships and helicopters, although the other day he told me he wrote the word “unicorn” in his scribbles. Of course, everything on the paper is indecipherable to me until he tells me what it is. But I still think it is beautiful art and proudly hang it on the fridge, since it’s the best he can do and he’s doing it out of love. As his mom, I think he’s a great artist!

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And I’ve been thinking lately about a talk on praise and worship I heard when I was in youth ministry (and before I had kids), where the speaker compared us giving our worship to God to a child giving his scribbled art to his proud mom or dad. It doesn’t matter how flowy and wordy our prayers are or how beautiful we sing at Mass, it just matters that we are sincerely doing our best and are doing it out of love for God. It’s our offering that counts, and God our Father thinks it’s wonderful!

Worship, meaning adoration and honor given to God, puts us in our place to recognize that God is God and we are His creation. “Prayer of praise is entirely disinterested and rises to God, lauds him, and gives him glory for his own sake, quite beyond what he has done, but simply because HE IS. (CCC 2649) “By praise, the Spirit is joined to our spirits to bear witness that we are children of God.” (CCC 2639)

When we are able to pray and to worship as children of God, we are put back into the right relationship with Him, to see ourselves dependent upon him for our needs and desires. And God who is our Father wants to give us, his children, good things!! (Mt 7:11) Being a parent has given me a priceless gift to understand God as my Father. I want to have a childlike faith where my praise and worship of my Creator is like Timothy’s drawings – pure, simple, and the best I can do.

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