Finding God in Prayer

by Julianne McCullagh

Sometimes we have to let go of our own plans to make room for the better plans God has for us.

This Lent is going to be different, Sophia resolved as she tucked a quilted doll into Emma’s diaper bag. They were on their way to a Small Community of Faith gathering sponsored by their parish.

Emma was now a perky 20 months old. Despite the hectic demands of motherhood, Sophia had signed up for the prayer group—in hopes of joining in prayer and a little adult conversation. Emma had been going through a very loud and disruptive stage, making it difficult to stay anywhere for more than 10 minutes, and for those 10 minutes all Sophia wanted was some peace and quiet. By Eastertime last year, Sophia realized that there had not been a single day in the previous 40 during which she’d found time for quiet meditation, as she had learned to do in a Christian Spirituality class in college. As a new mother and homemaker, there was no time for inner peace. She could never focus very long—constantly anticipating her little daughter’s needs.

Driving to the meeting, Sophia felt a familiar sadness tug on her heart, a feeling that her life was not on the right track. When Sophia and her husband had discovered that Emma was on the way, Sophia was just entering the professional world. I always believed you had something special for me to do, God. I thought that you would have let me know by now what that work is.Have you forgotten me? What is the work I am to do for you, Lord?

Listening in Prayer

“Okay, sit with your back straight, hands resting comfortably on your lap. Close your eyes, breathe in, breathe out. As I read from the Gospel, picture yourself sitting with Jesus as he teaches the disciples. Picture Jesus looking at you, into your heart, as he says these words.” The prayer leader’s voice was confident. Sophia settled on the couch in the room filled with others from her parish. “Breathe slowly in, breathe slowly out. Ask, and you will receive. Seek, and you will find. Knock, and the door will be opened to you.Would one of you hand his son a stone when he asked for bread, or a snake when he asked for fish? If you know how to give your children what is good, how much more will God give good things to anyone who asks!”

In another room were several children. For mothers at the meeting, this weekly gathering was a much-needed respite in lives that could be swallowed up by too many episodes of Sesame Street.

Ask, and you will receive. Seek, and you will find. Those words repeated in Sophia’s heart on the downbeat of her own prayer: Jesus, what work would you have me do?

A familiar voice interrupted Sophia’s reverie. “Mama!” Emma rushed into the room, tearfully searching for the familiar face. Sophia was out of her seat, her prayer forgotten. Emma’s little hands and wet face collided with her mother’s neck as she found her place in Sophia’s lap.

How much more will God give good things to anyone who asks? echoed faintly in the young mother’s heart as she looked into the blue eyes of the little girl who had been telling her for nearly two years now what work God had in mind for Sophia.

 Julianne McCullagh

Julianne McCullagh

Julianne B. McCullagh is Director of Family Life Ministry at St. Philip the Apostle Church in Lewisville, Texas.

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