April 3, 2009

It’s All Good / Patti Lamb

Doing our best to offer a message of God’s hope

Patti LambMy friend has had a rough year.

I won’t get into specifics, but her story involves great loss and much heartache.

She has met with back-to-back trials in a short time. When I thought she had found the bottom of her personal abyss, I learned that her employer had layoffs after losing a major client, and her job was among those cut.

I distinctly remember a line from one of our conversations. “I feel like I have a target on my back,” she said.

I suppose I sounded like a broken record in our correspondence, repeatedly saying, “I can’t imagine what you’re going through, but please don’t give up on God.”

I assured her that I would not stop praying for her. Furthermore, I would ask everyone I could think of to join me in prayer and “storm heaven” for her.

I e-mailed friends and called relatives, putting in a request for prayers on her behalf. They obliged.

Then I didn’t hear from my friend for quite a while.

In the meantime, I began questioning myself. Was I too “preachy?” I assumed that she was put off by my pep rally for prayer. Still, I prayed for her constantly.

More time passed with no communication from her.

Some time later, I received a phone call from her, and the conversation didn’t go as I had expected.

Instead, she said, “Hey there. I just wanted to let you know that [our mutual friend’s mother] is really sick. Things don’t look good.”

I paused. I didn’t know what she wanted me to say. I’d never even met our mutual friend’s mom.

She asked, “So can you get ‘your people’ on the case?”

I paused for a few seconds, and then I realized why she was calling.

“So you want prayers?” I asked.

“Yes, please,” she said, and then she gave me the name of the woman who was in need of the prayers.

“Consider the prayer tree activated,” I assured her. Then I got in touch with friends and family to pass along the incoming request for prayer.

I learned something that day: Even when we don’t think we’re getting through or when people are not ready to hear us, we can still do our best to offer a message of God’s hope.

It’s like planting a seed.

Sometimes we need to bridge the gap for others who are struggling. At times, for whatever reason, people are unable to pray on their own behalf. It could be that they are sick. Or maybe they have no foundation of faith or religious upbringing from which to act.

It could also be that they are growing weary in the faith and have arrived at doubt, thinking their prayers are going unheard or that their prayers alone are not sufficient. So we’ve got to step in and pray. I think the technical term for this is “intercessory prayer.”

God hears our prayers. And I think he’s even more touched when we are petitioning for our neighbors, not just for our own betterment.

When we can’t do something material to help, we can offer to pray. And then we can really follow through and make a concerted effort to do it, confident that our requests have reached God, and will be fulfilled in his own way and in his own time.

(Patti Lamb, a member of St. Susanna Parish in Plainfield, is a regular columnist for The Criterion.)

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