Prayer changes things, most often, us
Scripture offers the assurance that prayer can move mountains. Sometimes those mountains are built of systemic problems facing the world. Other times, they are personal issues of doubt, fear, an unforgiving heart or anger.
Often, the heaviest burdens are those reflected by the experience of Venerable Dorothy Day: “I have been overcome with grief at times, and felt my heart like a stone in my breast, it was so heavy, and always I have heard, too, that voice, ‘Pray.’”
Those who find themselves in everyday prayer say the practice brings them closer to wholeness and healing – on a personal level and in the world at-large.
“Everyone is called to some kind of prayer life,” said a sister from the Monastery of St. Clare, Chesterfield, during a recent conversation. “St. Paul tells us, ‘Pray always,’” she added, expressing certainty that prayer changes things – most often through the transformation of individual hearts and minds.
For the Poor Clare sisters, prayer is the heart of their contemplative life, which finds them praying together some six times a day, with additional time set aside for private prayer.
Their prayers are said for the many issues impacting the world, but they also embrace a life of intercessory prayer, uniting their prayers with those who seek the peace and healing all people desire.
The sister explained that people often email prayer requests, call on the phone or visit. “Our life of prayer allows us to listen to others, to walk with them through their difficulties. Our prayer is joined to their prayer. They know they are not alone.”
Those for whom prayers are offered often share that they experience a sense of peace, a quieting of their spirit and new found hope, even if the results of prayer were not what were expected. Strengthened and encouraged by prayer, those same people go out into the world and pray for others. “It’s the ripple effect,” she added.
St. Maximilian Kolbe believed that prayer was “the most effective way to re-establish peace in our souls because it allows us to get ever closer to God’s love.” Such intimacy with God is what draws many people to Perpetual Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.
Adorers take seriously Jesus’ poignant question of the Apostles, “Can you not spend one hour with me?” said Joann Kaczala, main coordinator of Perpetual Adoration in St. Mary Parish, Barnegat. She recalled her own experience beginning Adoration 12 years ago. “I loved it. It was peaceful. It was a place to have your conversation with Jesus and to find peace of mind.”
Parishioner Rose Oleyar began Adoration when St. Mary’s built the Adoration chapel 22 years ago. She started with one hour of prayer, but soon realized that was not enough. “There is power in being with the Lord, in the time spent with him. The more you have, the more you want.”
Now, at age 85, she signs up for one or two hours of Adoration four times a week. Oleyar also prays for the world and the Church and the many other facets of life she sees as needing healing.
After all those years of praying, she has discovered that the power of prayer and her time with Jesus resides in her knowledge that “God is always with me. I am never alone. That is my strength, my power and my peace.”