God has an interesting way of putting things in perspective sometimes.  I decided to spend some extra time in prayer tonight– for myself.  I’ve been struggling with a few things this past week, and a dear friend reminded me to return again and again to the sacraments.  “I know you don’t need me to tell you that, Joan,” he admitted.  “But remember, Jesus spent whole nights in prayer before big decisions.”

So tonight I had plans to head over to Night Prayer at the nearby convent.  I knew I wouldn’t be spending the night in the back pew of the chapel, as romantic as that may sound, but I did want to spend some extra time with Him.

Before I could leave and spend my time with Our Lord, focused on my own needs, demanding answers, begging for help… I spoke with another dear friend, who needed prayers much more than I did.

As I drove to the convent, my mind was wrapped up in her situation and grief.  I sat in that back pew of the chapel, consumed with sorrow for her and her family.  And then I remembered why I was there.  I was there to plead my case.  But it suddenly seemed so small.  Like the man who implores God for mercy because his basement is flooding, only to look over and see his neighbor sitting on his roof, his whole house lost.

I did spend some time dwelling on my own intentions, but at the end of the prayer time, I could no longer concentrate on anything but my friend.  I have to admit, at first I was disapointed — I was hoping tonight would bring answers and relief and a turning point.  I had been planning to sit in silence and listen to Him and come out with answers.  Instead, my mind couldn’t focus, I couldn’t sit there in peaceful silence, and I felt I was leaving with no answers.  My prayer time had not been my own.

And perhaps that’s a better answer than anything.  As I left, I could do nothing more than put my problems in front of Him.  There had been no dramatic moment or relieving denouement as I had hoped for, but I’m guessing my prayer time was much more fruitful than if I had sat there begging for myself.   I’m not saying I’m no longer in need of answers, nor that my problems are frivolous.  But in the end, He helped me stop pleading and start surrendering.  And that’s the first step to any answer.

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