When we pray on a daily basis, we fulfill God’s intention that we be united to him in thought and affection. Prayer is the fruit of our love for the One who made us and redeemed us. Prayer is a kind of conversation with God: We speak to him using either set prayers or words of our own. But unless we receive the extraordinary blessing of God speaking directly to us that we read about in the Bible, or which some saints experienced, we will not hear his response. Rather God speaks to us in mysterious yet real ways through our thoughts and inspirations. His guidance enables us to reconfigure our lives in ways that draw us closer to him, and prompts us to greater fidelity in doing his will.
October is the month of the Holy Rosary. Catholics are, or should be, familiar with this wonderful devotion in which we recite the Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be in a series while counting on a string of beads and simultaneously mediating upon the events in the life of Christ and Our Lady. But Catholics need not be the only ones who love and pray the Rosary. The Newman Center chaplain at my college offered paperbacks for sale from Image Books. One that caught my eye was Five for Sorrow, Ten for Joy: A Consideration of the Rosary by J. Neville Ward, a Methodist minister. Ward writes movingly about the mysteries of the Rosary that we meditate upon as we pray in the rhythm of repeated prayers.
Prolifers praying the Rosary outside of abortion clinics are a familiar (and blessed) sight. The pro-life movement (like everything else in life) depends upon God’s grace. Prayer is the means to gain many graces, including the steadfastness to continue praying when the answer to our prayers seems far off. The Rosary is a powerful instrument that becomes second nature the more we pray it. My own experience is that some of the best ideas to come into my head have arrived there while I was praying the Rosary. Engaging in daily prayer encourages us to wait patiently upon God’s providence. Prayer reminds us that asking for something from God is always a petition, not a command.
I was struck by what I read in the October 10 “Meditation of the Day” in Magnificat magazine. Father Alfons Maria Wachsmann was a courageous Catholic priest who was executed by the Nazis on February 21, 1944, after several months in prison. During that time, he wrote this to his sister Maria:
My whole day consists of prayer—rosaries, the Way of the Cross, the litany. And I read Holy Scripture. Mark 11:24 (“Therefore I say unto you, all things, whatsoever you ask when ye pray, believe that you shall receive; and they shall come unto you.”) is for me a source of unshakeable confidence. How God will help I do not know, but I firmly believe he will help me.” (Emphasis added)
We all need to remind ourselves that God chooses how to respond to our prayers. He will help us in the way that is best. It is up to us to keep praying to him and trusting in his providential governance of the world he created. None of us knows how God will help us today or tomorrow or the next day. But we do know he will help us. Prayer makes it possible for us to be ever attentive to discovering his loving hand at work in our lives. Prayer keeps us ever grateful for his blessings. Let the Rosary guide you to knowing and loving him better.