Power of Prayer

By: Modesto P. Sa-onoy

ON MONDAY, the Catholic Church celebrates the feast of St. Jude Thaddeus, popularly known as the patron saint of hopeless cases. For the Diocese of Bacolod, the church and diocesan shrine for St. Jude is in Barangay Alijis.

If there are many devotees to St. Jude it is because he must be interceding before God with such fervor that hopeless cases or things despaired of, found solutions. The saints do not answer our prayers but God. They intercede for us.

Many people think that God does not hear their prayers and they lose hope and even become so disenchanted that they cease to believe there is God.

It is a matter of faith that our prayers are answered but many times not in the way or things we wanted. As Jesus said, the father does not give a serpent to a child. What we wanted may indeed be bad for us.

But how does God reply to our prayers? Here is a quotation from the recently canonized St. John Henry Newman that Fr. Sean Coyle who is now home in Ireland, sent last October 18. It was quoted as part of Fr. Sean’s presentation of last Sunday’s Gospel.

“Therefore, I will trust Him. Whatever, wherever I am, I can never be thrown away. If I am in sickness, my sickness may serve Him; in perplexity, my perplexity may serve Him; if I am in sorrow, my sorrow may serve Him. My sickness, or perplexity, or sorrow may be necessary causes of some great end, which is quite beyond us. He does nothing in vain; He may prolong my life, He may shorten it; He knows what He is about. He may take away my friends, He may throw me among strangers, He may make me feel desolate, make my spirits sink, hide the future from me—still He knows what He is about.”

Indeed, God gives us what He wants. He knows what is now and tomorrow. The future that we are unable to divine. If we see things the way St. John Henry Newman sees them, we have the answers to our prayers.

Consider closely. Our sickness, our perplexities, our sorrow “may be necessary causes of some great end.” How, that is beyond our understanding, but if they served God, is that not enough for a person who trusts in Him?

In most instances when we find grave difficulties in our lives – loss of friends, family and fortune – we ask, why? We pray and it seems that God does not hear. But as St. John Henry said, “still He knows what He is about.” God indeed knows what He is doing but surely not against us or to send us to hell. Our frustration is not immediately getting what we wanted, but that is due to our lack of understanding of why God did not give it to us. Only faith can answer what seemingly we perceive God’s abandonment.

The words of St. John Henry tells us that we need not despair that God heard nothing. It is that God knows what is best for us, but we cannot perceive them right there and then. But when we reflect afterward, we realize that indeed he heard our prayer by giving us better than what we asked for.

St John Henry also tells us that God “does nothing in vain.” Everything has a purpose, from the beginning of time to ours. He does not act in random because He is all-knowing but all for a purpose. As the saint tells us God even takes away our friends, our families, our wealth, but He has a purpose. God may even “hide our future” and make our lives “desolate” but God knows what He is doing and surely for our good.

As the Gospel in last Sunday’s Mass tells us, we must be persevering in prayers, to pray “without ceasing”. This is something that non-Catholics do not understand – why we keep on repeating the same prayers, like the novenas or most popularly, the Holy Rosary with its repetitious “Hail Mary”.

Most Catholics have a personal patron saint; the choice is usually due to the answered prayers. Only the Catholic Church has saints for almost everybody and everything – for the sick, the dying and dead, the mariner, the teacher, the police, prisoners, for good weather, etc. Why? Because it works!