If you are anything like me, it bothers you, it makes you uncomfortable, to see so many people sharing photos, prayer chains, and hashtags like #PrayForJuanito. You ask yourself, “Do these people really pray or do they just share an image?” Then again, “Have they prayed for all the other tragedies that have occurred over the years with the same fervor that they are praying now?” I invite you to take a breath and calm yourself a little as we look at the situation together. There is something good behind all this. The Lord always uses that which occurs around us to teach us a lesson.
I propose an idea to you: people in general (believing, practicing, observant, honest Catholics) believe in the efficacy of prayer. They believe that if they lift any prayer to God, it will have a real effect. We know that prayer does not consist of sending good vibes so that the cosmos favors someone, or that the stars align to generate the proper conditions for something to happen. We believe that our prayers to God have real effects which affect the lives of others; we even believe that God can change a situation if we pray for it. This is a sign of hope. People continue believing in the power of prayer. Nobody can deny that it is a good thing.
How about taking this lifeline which God has granted us and using the opportunity to learn about, to teach, and to encourage prayer? How about no longer being a part of the Facebook police who criticize the whole world (like I do) and joining the pastors of Facebook who take good intentions and convert them into holy intentions? Here are some reflections on this:
1. Let’s learn to recognize that others have faith – even in those we would least expect
There is faith in the world. God manifests himself in people’s lives, even in the lives of those for whom we do not have any spiritual expectations, whom we would not label as models of evangelization. The Lord is good and places the intention of praying in their hearts. Even if it is no more than an intention, this is the first step, a step forward.
2. God does not want suffering in any form
We cannot blame God for the things which humans do wrong. Nobody can say that God permits these things to happen so that we learn a lesson. God does not want tragedies, and perhaps he suffers more than us. These moments (desired neither by him nor anybody) are opportunities for encounter and conversion.
“Jesus did not come to explain away suffering or remove it. He came to fill it with his presence. There remain many obscure things; but there is at least one thing which we cannot say to God, ‘You don’t know what it is to suffer’ ” -Paul Claudel
3. We can’t lose momentum
Seeing so many people motivated, inspired, and convicted is a tremendous stimulus for prayer, and even though many have not really taken the time to make a real prayer, we can build upon their intention and encourage them. Prayer is not a campaign with an end date, it is a way for us to relate to God. These “campaigns” can be the beginning of this relationship for many. Let’s take advantage of the opportunity, to learn and to teach prayer.
4. We make visible the invisible
Many have made visible other terrible situations, arguing that they have been happening a long time and nobody has prayed for them, but they do so in a way which is awkward and morbid, not inspiring anybody to pray. The Apostle in his role as a prophet, announces and denounces. Let’s value these opportunities and continue showing the suffering of Christ, not only to inform, but also to help others understand that our prayer as a Church is important. The Lord hopes that we join this spiritual battle with a spiritually active attitude.
5. Slow down and stop for a moment
How many times have we promised to pray for someone either on a social network or directly? Stop for a moment. Take a few minutes out of your busy, fast paced day and sincerely offer that prayer which they need from you. The most difficult thing to change is one’s own heart.
6. Remember that we are not speaking to thin air
This is the fundamental message of this post. We believe that when we pray, things happen, not because our good vibes and desires are magical, but because God pays attention and looks upon our desires and longings. He sees the generosity and integrity of our hearts. If it is His will, He grants us the gifts which we so fervently request. It is God with whom we engage in this conversation. Believing this, putting it into practice, and trusting in God’s response, is a gift which cannot stop sharing. Let’s pray!