Ink Slingers

Deliver Us

Sometimes I wonder what the world would look like if no one prayed. And then, I thank God for all those who believe in the power of prayer and use it. Right this minute there are cloistered nuns and monks praying for you and for me. These men and women have dedicated themselves to a life of prayer and Adoration. Every hour of everyday a Mass is being celebrated somewhere in this world. Prayer, it is a beautiful wonder.

But, why and how should we pray?

Jesus prayed. And, He taught us the perfect petition, giving us the Lord’s Prayer. When we pray the Our Father we are praying with Jesus. We orient ourselves toward God, recognizing we are neither the center, nor the Creator of the universe. We beseech Him as brothers and sisters of Christ. It is our family prayer.

Our Father who art in heaven, reminds us that in this world we are in exile. We are seeking our homeland as we lift up our hearts and minds to our heavenly Father, who desires that we be united with Him in this life and life everlasting. Keeping it real, means our perspective should be eternal.

God, our Father, is mysterious and majestic. Holy is His name. (Luke 1:49) He is love and mercy, He desires our holiness and says “Be holy because I am holy” (1Peter 1:16). Let us pray that our hearts would be yearning to be made holy. Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.

Thy kingdom come reveals not only is God our King but we, as His children, are royalty. We didn’t choose God, He chose us. He calls us to follow Him. We are to live as Christ. For I was hungry, and you fed me, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was naked and you clothed me…when we meet the needs of others from the love in our hearts, we are Christ made present on earth.

My prayer life often sounds a lot like me telling God what and how to fix up my life. I begin with a litany of complaints, wringing my worries out to Him. I think my current unpleasant situation would change if only I convince God to do things my way. Regardless, God receives my petitions. Though, I am awfully shortsighted. I am usually only looking as far down the road as tomorrow or next week or year. But, God is a Father that truly knows what is best for me, for us. His plan is always more reliable, if only I would follow it. He desires our eternal salvation more than we do. He is God, we are not. Let us pray that like Jesus, we would be obedient and surrender our will, choosing thy will be done.

When was the last time I begged God to transform me? When have I pleaded with God to conform my will to His? Am I offering God, God my Father, God in heaven praise and thanksgiving? Am I glorifying God in the way that I am living this life I have been given? I am weak and I am in need of the Holy Spirit to encourage and teach me to live in such a way the love of God is present on earth as it is in Heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread. We need both material food and spiritual food to live. God generously provides us with exactly what we need, not always what we want. We need Jesus. We need to be Jesus, to make Him present on earth by being his hands and feet bringing food to the poor so that they may be filled. And, we need to seek Jesus. I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst. (John 6:35) God through his only Son, Jesus Christ, has given us the bread of life in the Eucharist. We can receive this bread daily at Mass; we can be fed daily in His Word. These are necessities for our pilgrimage. ( CCC 2837)

I am a sinner and I need to be forgiven. Daily. I must ask God to forgive me for what I have done and especially of what I have failed to do. I need to learn to hate my sins because they separate me from God. And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. I need to forgive in order to be forgiven. And, the generosity with which I forgive will be returned to me. Am I holding a grudge or praying for those with whom I’m angry or estranged? Forgive me as I have forgiven…this leaves very little room for my proud ego.

Lord, make haste to help me! I am being tempted to sin. I am wrestling with the right thing to do. Lord, I need your strength. Help me discern the right from the wrong. Lead us not into temptation.

But deliver us from evil. Literally protect us from Satan, the Evil One. The devil is that fallen angel who is seeking to ruin God’s plan and our salvation through Jesus. Deliver us, O Lord, from the evil that prowls about the world seeking the ruin of souls! Amen.

Let us pray.

Faith Formation Ink Slingers Michelle Prayer Spiritual Growth

Thy Will Be Done

thy will be done

When I was a child it never failed that people would inquire what I wanted to be when I was grown. I think it is a question every adult asks every child. As I grew, and particularly as I neared the end of my high school years, those questions intensified and people quizzed me regularly. To be honest, I had many things I wanted to be when I grew up; I had so many dreams. I could see myself being a vet, a teacher, a writer, an archeologist, a psychologist, a meteorologist, a wife, and a mother.

Some people pushed me towards one career; others pushed me in another way. Everyone thought they knew exactly what I needed to do with my life. They thought they knew what was best for me. I know they each had good intentions and they believed their advice was better than what others were offering me.

I didn’t follow their plans. My mom and stepdad were disappointed in me when I decided to go to a local Catholic college and marry my high school sweetheart instead of going to Notre Dame. When we married before my first year of college was even done, my in-laws told me I would never finish school and that they worried I wouldn’t do anything with my life. I’m pretty sure that both sets of parents worried that I was wasting my God-given talents and that I was going to let my life, and all the opportunities that awaited me, slip through my hands.

But I knew that I was being called to more than what they wanted for me. I decided to follow my heart and what I felt God was leading me to do. I never looked back.

We often talk about the things we want in life- our goals, our dreams, our hopes, and our desires. When people ask us what we want out of life we can rattle off a number of things- particular jobs, a beautiful house, a vacation, a new pair of jeans, our kids to get into the best colleges, a new car. Our daily prayers may be a list of “Dear God, I need… please give me… Amen.” It’s easy to get disappointed when the things we think we want and need aren’t delivered to us in a timely fashion or at all.

How often do we think about what God wants for us? Are we so busy making a list of demands that we fail to recognize what God thinks we need or is guiding us to do?

our-fatherThe Our Father is considered the perfect prayer. Given to us by Christ himself, the simple prayer is based solely in unselfish love. As simple and well-known as it is, I wonder how many of us have ever thought about the words of the prayer.

It’s easy to say the words of the prayer; it’s harder to mean them. While giving God praise and adoring Him is perhaps second nature, do we really mean all the words of the prayer as we speak them? As we pray, “Thy will be done”, do we truly want God’s will to guide our lives?

I would venture to say that when most of us begin to contemplate what we want or need out of life, we don’t necessarily ask God to weigh in on our decisions. We can see our situation and we can judge what we need and want, right? God doesn’t care what kind of car we buy or if this job is going to be perfect for us. We keep Him on the sidelines for the really big stuff- illnesses, despair, death, and to listen to us complain about what we don’t have. How much more wonderful would our lives be if we allowed God’s will to guide us in all our decisions? How much more peace would we experience if we gave over our worries and said, “Thy will be done”?

So why don’t we trust God more? To be honest, I think as humans we experience other human beings letting us down and we become conditioned to think that we have to rely solely upon ourselves to get ahead. We may question if God will also let us down if we put too much trust in Him.

Society tells us also that we are the masters of our own lives. What we want is all that is important. How we get there is completely up to us! But should we be the masters of our lives when we are so ill prepared for the problems that arise in life or should we rely on Someone who knows what He is doing and loves us more than we could possibly love ourselves AND wants more for us than we could possibly want for ourselves?

When nothing in life seems to be going right, when we feel lost and alone, and when we wonder how we could get it all wrong, we must look to God and trust in Him. We can’t see what He has planned for us but we can be assured that He loves us more than we could possibly know and He always wants what is best for us. His plans are better than anything we could imagine!

It is hard to be patient and to wait on God to reveal His plans. When we are knee-deep in problems or overwhelmed by disappointment it can be so difficult to see where God is in all the chaos. But He is always there. Often it is not until we have placed time and space between us and what is weighing on us now that we see the glory of His plans in our lives.

why-me-1Many times I have to remind myself that just because I want something doesn’t necessarily mean it is good for me or that it is the right time for it. The stubborn child in me likes to throw a little tantrum sometimes (“Why God?! Why won’t you let me have this?! I want it so much! Please, please, please let me have it!”). And yet, ever the loving parent, God doesn’t budge. He only gives me what I need, when I need it. Unlike me who can see only in the here and now, God sees through all time to know how each decision will ultimately affect my life. I can’t possibly know what He knows. I can’t possibly understand what is good for me in the way that He can. I know what I want and yet He knows what I need.

Lately people have been asking my teen children what they plan to do with their lives as they near the end of high school and as they have entered the “adult world”. They have ideas of what they’d like to do and yet they are still confused. The pressure is intense and they feel overwhelmed. As I look at my beautiful children so eager to do something with their lives and stressing when people hound them about colleges and careers and “adult issues”, I tell them that the first thing they should do is to ask God what He wants them to do. If they pray for His Will to be done in their lives, then the rest will work itself out. He will guide them.

I try to practice what I preach to my kids. While I have accomplished much of what my parents and in-laws thought I never would, I still have other personal goals and would love to be a Catholic speaker and published author. I also want my kids to be healthy and happy, my marriage to be strong and fulfilling, my heart to be full, and to have everything we need. However, now more than ever, before I ask for all of these things, I pray for God’s will to be done in my life. I feel if I pray for God’s will then I can find the good in anything that happens in my life. The trials, the crosses, the triumphs, the joys, the sadness and despair can all lead me into a closer relationship with God and that ultimately leads to true happiness.

Praying “Thy will be done” is abandoning our selfish wants and embracing God’s love in a way that tells Him, “I trust in You, Lord.”

Faith Formation Ink Slingers Michelle Prayer Spiritual Growth

The Power of Prayer

does prayer healThere is much debate on whether or not prayer can help a person heal from a physical malady. There have been numerous studies to test whether patients would heal faster and have fewer complications while healing if they knew that others were praying for their recovery. The results are mixed. Some find that no, there is no correlation and still others find very strong correlations. It’s hard to know what to believe in scientific terms.

But is it important to have proof that prayer can help us heal faster? Is it important to trust in scientific studies that often have the goal to disprove the power of prayer as their guiding reason to do the study? The answer is no. We don’t need scientific proofs to tell us that prayer is good for us. We only have to look at our lives with and without prayer to see the value in daily prayer.

jesus prayingPrayer is so important that Christ was regularly found deep in prayer in the Scripture readings. We read in Luke 6:12 “It was at this time that He went off to the mountain to pray, and He spent the whole night in prayer to God.” He modeled a prayerful life for us and then encouraged us to pray as well. In Matthew 6 He even gave us the perfect prayer to pray… The Lord’s Prayer.

What powers does prayer hold?

If we aren’t relying on it to heal us, what is the purpose to prayer? Prayer seeks to help us enter into a loving relationship with God. It brings us closer to Him and to His love. Prayer unites us with the Lord in a very tangible and heartfelt way. When we seek out God in prayer, He listens and responds.

Prayer has the power to calm us in the face of uncertainty. When our lives are upside-down and we just don’t know what to do, prayer gives us a moment of peace and reassurance. It reminds us that we are not alone in our struggles and that we are cherished and loved.

Prayer unites us with each other. When we pray for and with each other we become one voice and one heart united in purpose. We can uplift and guide each other, encouraging one another in faith and hope. We make Christ present when we gather together to pray. We know this is true since Christ told us, “When two or more are gathered in my name, I am there in their midst.”

Prayer brings hope into our lives. We know that God hears all and sees all. He knows our needs before we ever say a word. When we allow God’s hope to come to us through prayer we are uplifted, encouraged, and motivated to continue on even if things seem difficult.

love one anotherPrayer moves us to love others as Christ loved them. When we uplift others in prayer we become more like Christ. We can experience a change in our heart and souls when we pray for others. The words we speak to our heavenly Father have the power to change who we are inside. Prayer can lead our hearts to be unified with Christ’s heart; to see others as Christ sees them.

Prayer, in its simplest form, can do so much in our lives. Can it help us heal faster, have fewer complications from a disease or surgery, or help us stay healthy? I don’t know that the scientific community will ever agree. There are too many variables that come into play when we consider scientific research, especially on a religious topic. However, we do know that even if studies were to show that prayer doesn’t heal us faster physically, it still has the power to change us within and heal us spiritually. Perhaps this kind of healing is much more valuable than physical healing.

There is power in prayer. There is power in turning over your life to Christ through prayer. Many of us are afraid to touch this power and some of us feel we are just too busy to pray. We allow day after day to pass by without talking with our Lord. I challenge you today to begin a prayer life that seeks to have a deep, lasting, and very intimate relationship with Christ. I challenge you to harness the power of prayer. You will be amazed at how your life will change and how your heart and soul can be healed through the simple act of praying.

For those who already have a prayer life, what advice can you give to those who are just beginning their prayer life?

pray mother teresa

BirgitJ Crafts Domestic Church Faith Formation Holy Days of Obligation Ink Slingers Lent Liturgical Year Mary Offering your suffering Prayer Rosary

EGG-straordinary Lenten Rosary Project for your Family

I’ve been reflecting on Lent for the past week and how I am going to observe this time of penance, alms giving, and prayer. My thoughts then brought to mind the little souls with whom we are entrusted as parents, grandparents, and God-parents.

Since my babies are all so young (2 – 6) I thought it would be best to help them in the ‘doing’ and ‘praying’ categories. The resulting project reinforces/teaches all of the prayers of the Rosary (most know the Sign of the Cross, Our Father and Hail Mary). This can be a transitional addition to their customary nighttime prayers – reciting a decade of the Rosary, while concentrating on a particular mystery each night.

This simple, inexpensive and effective craft combines reciting a nightly decade of the Rosary with some good actions and creativity thrown in for good measure:

Lenten Rosary Project Materials List:

  • Plastic Easter Eggs (1 larger egg for the Our Father and 10 smaller eggs for the Hail Mary)
  • Colorful curling ribbon or pipe cleaners
  • Paper and markers/crayons
  • Tongue depressors or Popsicle sticks
  • Glitter glue, puff paint, stickers or other embellishments
  • Hot glue gun and glue sticks
Lenten Rosary Project construction:

    • Thread pre-cut sections of pipe cleaner or small strips of ribbon through the holes on both ends of the small plastic Easter eggs, until you have a chain of 10.
    • Tie a knot in the ribbon or bend a ‘knot’ into the pipe cleaner and hot glue inside each egg to secure.
    • Add one larger Easter egg to your chain for the Our Father to complete the decade.
    • For the cross, shorten one of the tongue depressors and then form into a cross shape. Secure with hot glue and embellish with a sticker, if desired.

Lenten Rosary Project instructions:

Say one decade of the Rosary each evening using your Easter Egg Rosary and add your offerings (good deeds, petitions, or coins) for that day. This is a good time to discuss behavior, sharing and giving.

  • Chose a petition, good dead, or prayer for each member of the family and write/draw on a piece of paper.
  • You could also have your little ones earn pennies to share with the poor.
  • Place these papers or coins inside a plastic Easter egg.
  • On the weekend you may choose to draw or color pictures depicting the mysteries you have prayed during the week and make a booklet to go along with your newly completed Rosary.
At the end of a 5 day week you will have said all five of the respective mysteries and by the end of 4 full weeks you will have said all 4 sets of mysteries…and the COMPLETE Rosary. You should now have corresponding booklets with pictures of the all  20 mysteries.

You may now move on to coloring pages of the Stations of the Cross as your activity. Continue to use the Rosary you have made for praying a decade every evening as a family, as is now your practice. Last year, 3-year old Simon and 1-year old Rachel  learned all of their rosary prayers this way. The family developed a nightly rosary ‘habit’.

On the evening before Easter Sunday, parents may wish to fill each egg with a treat or surprise and then hide the eggs for the traditional Easter egg hunt on Easter Sunday. Or you could keep them intact and still fill with treats. Your kids will have had a chance to count down the 40 days and reap a reward for their patience and efforts, seeing a tangible result! Hopefully you will also have enhanced your family prayer habits. God bless you…and may we all have a fruitful Lent.

Let us all pray for one another!

Here are some links to coloring pages for use with your Easter Egg Rosary Project:

Stations of the Cross coloring pages for all of the stations.

Stations of the Cross carousel – a great way to display the colored pages.

Lamb of God Lenten Calendar uses cotton balls on a cute lamb print-out.

Walk the Lenten Path  to countdown the days, put a sticker on each square every day.

Almsgiving Activity for Children During Lent fill this cross-shaped craft with coins.

Catholic Rosary coloring pages to print. Includes Luminous Mysteries and much more!

Sign of the Cross diagram and coloring page.
Our Father – prayer coloring sheet.
Hail Mary – prayer coloring page.
Designs by Birgit – find more of my musings, crafts, and recipes here.
*Note: you could also do the above project using a paper chain much like those that are made during Advent to adorn your Christmas tree. Each ‘link’ in the chain could be a Hail Mary and a larger ‘link’ could be added for the Our Father. You could write on the slips of paper before creating the links.