Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Septembger 21, 2009
Troubled? Stressed? Turn to prayer
Even when it seems as though God is silent or even gone, pray and reconnect with him
Sr. Gloria Keylor
"And the Apostles went to Mary for support. They were all in fear and trembling when Jesus left. They didn't know where they were going to go. She helped them face their fear."
We draw closer to God through friendships, support networks and "through attentive listening to our own heart," Filthaut says. "It is in reaching out to other people that we really discover how God is at work in our lives. And we don't necessarily name it as God. (Recognizing God's presence) it is a gift and it is a gift of love."
Filthaut cannot imagine not praying in her life.
"If I didn't pray, I would feel apart from God. Think of the relationship with your spouse. If you don't dialogue with your spouse, if you don't dialogue with your friends, don't you in a sense feel apart from them? Don't you feel abandoned (by) them?"
Jocelyne Roy, an Edmonton-based pastoral counsellor, says prayer is essential in stressful times. But if there is loss involved, we still must go through grieving, regardless of our faith.
"The grief process is experiencing the depth of the loss and we need to go through that feeling," she explains. "God does not necessarily take the feeling away."
But we can find God in the process "because God is truly with us always," Roy continues. "It might take some time and some of the things that we need to do are just part of the faith that God is with us in the pain."
God loves us more than we could ever love someone. "(His love) is beyond our comprehension," Roy says. "What that really means is that God knows our needs before we even ask. God cares more than we can even care for ourselves."
But that doesn't mean that evil won't come or pain or loss won't come to us. That's part of the human condition. In those times we should try to remember a time when we felt joy or when we felt a blessing.
"God was with us there and God is with us in the pain as well."
She recommends praying the rosary in times of anxiety. And for those who are visual, she recommends what she calls "the prayer of imagination," where one reads a Scripture passage and imagines oneself into the passage.
"Just meditating on the Scripture we'll learn that God is a loving God - a Father God and Mother God who cares for his sons and daughters."
No two people experience prayer the same way "but if we open ourselves to experiencing God, God will come; that's the promise," Roy stressed.
"It could be just feeling a little lighter about things; it could be like feeling a direction or something we can do to help the situation. It can be that we meet someone that we can talk to who helps us feel not alone."
If we don't pray, we will still go through all the regular human experiences.
"As Christians we have hope and prayer connects us to that hope, but God never abandons us whether we pray or not," Roy says.
How does one, spiritually, move beyond the pain?
"We focus on the gift - the presence of God that comes to us in myriad ways through the day. And we begin to move beyond the pain when we can focus on that hope."
Sister Gloria Keylor, superior of the Sisters of Providence in Western Canada, gives a great deal of importance to personal prayer.
"I don't know how anybody lives without it, actually," she says. "It gets you more centred and more focused in your life."
Those who at times feel distant from God "just need to stay faithful and try to remember that God is always faithful," recommends Keylor.
"I personally try to be faithful by participating in daily Eucharist. I try to be present to the Eucharist everyday and I try to place myself in a time of quiet (so I can get in touch) with the uncluttered part in my being."
Placing oneself in God's presence is all one can do, Keylor says, who recommends paying attention to moments of grace when the going gets tough.
"It is not easy to have that sense of darkness, of abandonment. But all we can do is find our faith, where we are, what we believe, and remind ourselves what we believe and seek some clarity in that."
Prayer brings light into the darkness and gets the faithful grounded in God, Keylor says.
"Prayer brings clarity, maybe only the kind of clarity that allows you to think better, to see more clearly. It may not be an answer but it gives you a sense of interior strength or authority."
One can also move beyond the pain by offering up one's pain to God. Many elderly Sisters of Providence, "who are moving closer to God all the time," make their daily sufferings and their physical sufferings a part of their prayer, notes Keylor.
"If we can take the pain and the sorrow and if we can make that a prayer, I think it helps us move beyond the pain."
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