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How To Know God Is Working In Your Life (Part 4)

Over the past few weeks, I have offered suggestions on how you can know that God is listening to your prayers and working in your life. I suggested that you look for positive changes (things get a little better), negative changes (things get really bad) or attitude changes (nothing changes externally, but you feel hopeful). Given that wide range of options, however, it is entirely possible that despite your fervent prayers, you may not see any changes or feel more hopeful. Could this be the dreaded exception to the rule?

Fortunately for us, there is no way to prevent God from hearing our prayers. He hears us whenever we pray. There are no exceptions. The Bible supports this theory, as evidenced by the Lord’s words to the prophet Jeremiah:

“Then you will call upon me and come to pray to me and I will hear you.” (Jeremiah 29:12, emphasis mine)

That’s all well and good, but hearing and responding are two different things. Even if God hears our prayers, how do we know He is responding to them? To put it simply, we can be sure that God hears our prayers because Jesus said so!

“Ask, and it will be given you; seek and you will find; knock and it will be opened to you. For every one who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.” (Matthew 7:7-8, emphasis mine)

While it is true that you may not get what you want when you want it, you will always receive an answer when you pray. Jesus said it and you can take it to the bank. Therefore, even if it appears that your prayers aren’t being answered, you can fall back on the inspired word of God for assurance. Don’t be swayed by your feelings or an apparent lack of response. When you pray, God hears you and will answer in some way when the time is right. Learning to recognize His presence in your life takes time and practice. Don’t give up. Keep praying with expectant hope. You will not be disappointed!

Are you looking for a unique Catholic Lenten parish mission? Gary Zimak is a dynamic and popular Catholic speaker and is recognized as the leading Catholic speaker on overcoming worry. We are now booking Give Up Worry For Lent parish missions for Lent of 2020 and beyond. Find out how you can bring Gary Zimak to your parish by clicking on the image below!

Catholic speaker and author Gary Zimak is available to speak at your parish or conference

Keep On Keepin’ On

I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work in you will continue to complete it until the day of Christ Jesus. (Philippians 1:6)

This verse, taken from the Second Reading of today’s Mass reminds us of the fact that holiness is a process. More often than not, we are transformed by God’s grace so gradually that we don’t notice a difference. It often takes looking back a year or more to see progress being made in the battle to control our vices.

The Church understands and that’s one of the reasons why we have four weeks of Advent. Don’t get discouraged if you aren’t where you think you should be yet. No matter how hard you try to change, the Holy Spirit controls the pace of your conversion. We still have two more weeks to go before we welcome Jesus at Christmas. In the meantime, let’s assess your Advent progress thus far. Have you prayed a little more, practiced some acts of kindness, refrained from criticizing others on a few occasions or gone to Confession for the first time in a while? Awesome! The Holy Spirit is working!!! Keep praying for the grace to become a little more like Christ each day.

Just like St. Paul, I am confident that the One who began this good work in you will continue to do so in the remaining weeks of Advent.

Gary Zimak is a dynamic and popular Catholic speaker at parishes and conferences throughout the United States and Canada. He is recognized as the leading Catholic speaker on overcoming anxiety through faith in Jesus Christ. One of the most popular Catholic speakers in the New Evangelization movement, Gary has led thousands of people closer to Christ through his parish missions, talks and retreats.

Catholic speaker and author Gary Zimak is available to speak at your parish or conference

How To Handle Any Problem

But as for me, I will look to the LORD, I will wait for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me. (Micah 7:7)

One of the most difficult tasks we face as disciples of Jesus Christ is to surrender to His will each day. This is especially challenging for those of us who are anxious by nature. For, even though we claim to be Christians and pray for God’s will to be done, we struggle to give up control. If you have a pressing need in your life and are beginning to lose hope, this Bible verse is pure gold!

Speaking through the prophet Micah, the Lord provides us with a plan to handle any problem that we could ever face.

Turn to God

When faced with a problem, the world provides us with many sources of comfort. And, rather than addressing the issue, we often choose to “numb the pain” through entertainment, alcohol, shopping or other diversions. These short term solutions will not make the problem go away and will only make you feel good for a short time. In times of crisis, the Lord wants us to turn to Him. Not only is He capable of fixing any problem that we encounter, but He is the only lasting source of peace in this world. Ask Him to help you!

Be Patient

During the season of Advent, we hear a lot about waiting. Like it or not, God is smarter than any of us. If He makes us wait, there is a reason. Don’t waste your time trying to figure out why He is not fixing your problem. Keep asking, but give Him the benefit of the doubt. Use the opportunity to submit to His will. That’s exactly what Jesus did in the Garden of Gethsemane. Whenever we pray the Our Father we ask for God’s will to be done. Waiting gives us the chance to put our words into action.

Know That He Will Hear You

When our prayers are not answered immediately (or within our given time frame), we often assume that God is not listening. This verse puts that argument to rest. The Lord always hears the cries of His children. Furthermore, there is no problem to small (or too big) to give to Him. It gives Him great pleasure when we turn to Him for help.

Although these steps sound simple, they are not necessarily easy to put into practice. It all begins with the realization that God loves you and is interested in your life. He wants to enter into a personal relationship with you and that’s why He sent His Son. During Advent, the Church invites us to prepare to welcome more Jesus more deeply into our hearts. Turning to Him today with your needs would be a great start.

How To Know God Is Working In Your Life (Part 3)

Over the past few weeks I have been offering suggestions on how to observe that God is working in your life. So far, I have encouraged you to look for any changes – either positive or negative. This week, I encourage you to look for NO changes. Yes, you read that right! Quite often God responds to our prayers by changing nothing – at least on the outside.

Feeling Hopeful

One often overlooked way to determine that the Lord is hearing and responding to your prayers is an unexplained feeling of hope. I think we’ve all experienced this at one time or another. You pray about something and, before anything concrete happens, you feel more hopeful. Far from being accidental, the hope you feel is often the first fruit of prayer.

“Are You Listening, Lord?”

Psalm 13 provides a nice Biblical example of this concept in action. David opens this psalm crying out, “How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever?” It goes downhill from there, with several more “how longs” addressed to the Lord. He obviously needs help and needs it now! After bombarding God with all of his problems, David then proceeds to do something bold…and wise. He calls upon the Lord to “answer him”. And, judging by the shift in his tone, that’s exactly what happened.

“But I have trusted in your merciful love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. I will sing to the LORD, because he has dealt bountifully with me.” (Psalm 13:5-6)

Expect An Answer

Instead of just worrying and feeling hopeless by the very real danger surrounding him, David cried out to the Lord and expected his prayer to be answered. As a result, he received a much needed infusion of hope. Even though the threat remained, David was able to rejoice because of his renewed confidence in God’s providence.

Seek And You Will Find

As you continue to pray for an “unanswered” intention, look for an inner feeling of peace or hope. This often missed first fruit of prayer can give you the strength to continue moving forward even though your problem remains. God loves you and will always answer your prayers in some way. As we discussed in prior weeks, our prayers are often answered gradually.

Don’t give up. He is listening and responding!

The End Is Near!

As the liturgical year winds down, the Church wants to be sure that we don’t forget a critical fact – this life is temporary and will come to an end. Furthermore, at the end of our life, we will be judged and our eternal destiny will be determined. If that’s not enough, Jesus emphasizes in this Sunday’s gospel that we don’t know the day or the hour when this will occur. You don’t need to be a Scripture scholar or theologian to know that this is a serious message. How does it make you feel?

Some will hear this and brush it off, assuming that it won’t happen anytime soon and there are more pressing matters to contend with, such as lunch, football or any number of worldly issues. On the opposite end of the spectrum, there are those who will hear this and begin to worry or plunge into despair. Both of these positions are extreme and should be avoided.

I believe that the best way to view this message is to treat it as a wake up call. We often lose sight of what really matters in life and focus on what doesn’t matter. We spend a great deal of time of things that may feel good now, but don’t really matter in the long run. By choosing these readings, the Church wants to help us focus on the Lord and eternity. What can we do to help us remember? I think the answer can be found in a verse taken from Sunday’s Responsorial Psalm:

I set the LORD ever before me; with him at my right hand I shall not be disturbed. (Psalm 16:8)

Each day, Jesus calls us to follow Him. Doing so will not only ensure that you’ll spend eternity in the right place, but will help you avoid being disturbed by all of the craziness in the world. Spend some time each day in prayer, reading the Bible and being kind to those around you. It will keep you focused and you’ll be in great shape.

Do You Trust God?

A man fell over a cliff and, as he tumbled down, managed to grab on to a bush growing from the side of the rock. Terrified, he hung in space, his life flashing before him. In desperation, he shouted toward heaven, “Is there anyone up there?” To his astonished delight, a voice floated down: “I am the Lord God, and I am here.” “What should I do?” called the man. The voice replied, “Let go of the branch and, with my protection, you will float harmlessly down to the beach below.” The man glanced under his feet to the jagged rocks at the foot of the cliff, hundreds of feet below. He gulped, and looked back toward heaven.

“Is there anyone else up there?”

It’s easy to trust God when there isn’t too much at stake. When putting your faith in Him involves parting with your money or trusting Him with your future, however, it becomes increasingly difficult. Why is that? Essentially, it happens because of a lack of trust. Even though Jesus promised that those who sacrifice for His sake in this life (Mark 10:29-30) will be rewarded in Heaven, we struggle to believe His words. Instant gratification, on the other hand, requires no trust and delivers a lesser (but immediate) reward. It seems like a safer option.

In today’s First Reading, we learn of a widow who used all of her flour and oil to bake bread for the prophet Elijah. Even though it could have caused the woman and her son to starve, she obeyed the command of the prophet. Why? Because she trusted that God would provide, as promised by Elijah. Her trust was rewarded and their supply of oil and flour did not run out. Similarly, in today’s Gospel, a poor widow gave all that she had because of her trust in God’s providence.

According to the dictionary, trust is defined as “assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something; one in which confidence is placed”. Every day we have the opportunity to trust God with our finances, relationships and future. Today we learned of two widows who trusted that the Lord was good for His word. There may have been fear involved, but they trusted anyway. Their faith was rewarded. God is asking you to trust Him in some way today.

Are you willing to imitate the widows or would you rather play it safe?

Are You Afraid Of Life’s Big Waves? Jesus Can Help!

 

Catholic speaker and retreat leader Gary Zimak is leading a Pray, Hope and Don't Worry retreat at the Malvern Retreat House in August 2015

Catholic speaker Gary Zimak giving a high five to his friend and fellow evangelist Bear Woznick

Are you someone who is constantly afraid of the “storms” in your life? Are you especially frightened by the “big waves”? I recently had the chance to visit with my buddy Bear Woznick on his Deep Adventure radio show. Bear is someone who knows all about waves and rough seas, but more importantly knows what it means to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. We discussed how worrying is always useless and I shared the story of my lifelong struggle to overcome anxiety. I also offered some secrets that have allowed me to experience peace in my life.

If you’re tired of worrying and looking for peace or if you’d just like to hear two friends and brothers in Christ talk about the Lord, be sure to check out the show. You can listen to the podcast here. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. Aloha!

Fr. Larry Richards On Faith, Hope, And Clarity…

 

Father Larry Richards recommends the new book by Catholic speaker and author Gary Zimak - Faith, Hope, and Clarity

“Knowing and living God’s will is the most important thing you could ever discover, and Gary Zimak’s book will help you do just that!”

– Fr. Larry Richards, Founder of The Reason for Our Hope Foundation

Thank you, Fr. Larry, for recommending my new book – Faith, Hope, and Clarity: How to Know God’s Will. You can pre-order it at a discounted price by clicking on the image below. Stay tuned for another endorsement tomorrow!

Are You Worried That The World Is Falling Apart? Here Are 5 Bible Verses You Should Know…


 

Catholic Speaker and author Gary Zimak discusses 5 Bible verses for those who are worried about the world

Let’s be honest…there are some frightening things going on in the world. Every day we are bombarded with news about Ebola, Isis, financial uncertainty, data breaches and many other threats. While it’s not necessarily a bad thing, advanced technology now makes it possible for weather forecasters to alert us to the possibility of tornadoes and hurricanes. In the same way, the popularity of the Internet makes it difficult to escape from “bad news”. It often seems like there is no place to hide. As soon as we wake up in the morning, we are deluged with troublesome news. When we couple that with our family, job and personal concerns it’s easy to see why worrying has become an epidemic.

As someone who has always tended to be anxious and the author of A Worrier’s Guide To The Bible and From Fear To Faith, I get it…I really do. It’s understandable that so many people worry. Fortunately, I’ve discovered that with the Lord’s help and a little effort on our part, we can experience peace even as the world around us seems to be falling apart. The good news is that God is still in charge and that nothing that happens surprises Him. If you’re worried about the state of the world, here are 5 Bible verses that you need to know. While the messages contained in these verses may seem simple, remember that they aren’t being expressed by “just another person”. These are God’s words and they are addressed to you. Take them seriously!

1. “I have said this to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33) – Jesus never said that we wouldn’t have problems, but He did tell us that He is bigger than any catastrophe or threat that could occur in the world. He also assures us that we can experience peace if we stay close to Him. That’s a very nice promise.

2. God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth should change, though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea; though it’s waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble with its tumult. (Psalm 46:1-3) – This is a great prayer for those times when you feel overwhelmed. It might not feel like it, but the Lord is always in control.

3. “Save us, Lord; we are perishing!” (Matthew 8:25) – Even though Jesus was in the boat with the disciples during the storm at sea, they panicked because he was asleep. With these words, they woke the Lord up and He calmed the seas. Instead of worrying, try using these words the next time you feel like the world is falling apart. Jesus loves it when we turn to Him when we’re afraid!

4. Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7) – What makes this passage so amazing is that it was written by St. Paul while he was in prison. Have no anxiety? Pray with thanksgiving? You’ll receive peace? Pretty convincing advice coming from someone who is sitting in a jail cell! Although Paul wrote these words, he was inspired by the Holy Spirit. This is God’s message to you. It’s one that should be read often.

5. “I am with you always, to the close of the age.” (Matthew 28:20) – The final verse of Matthew’s gospel assures us that Jesus will never leave us. Unfortunately, we sometimes forget to turn to Him when we are anxious and troubled. Even though the world seems crazy, Jesus is right next to you. That makes me feel good. How about you?

So what do you think? After reading these Bible passages, do you feel a little better? I’m guessing that you do. While there are many similar messages contained in the pages of Sacred Scripture, these passages give us a good starting point. Pull out your Bible, highlight them and make it a point to read them the next time you begin to panic about what’s going on in the world. The more you get used to hearing God speak to you through the Bible, the less you’re going to be overcome with fear about Isis, Ebola and financial uncertainty. Instead you’ll be hearing another message, one which we should never forget…

“Do not be afraid!” (Matthew 28:10)

5 Lessons We Can Learn From Jesus’ Calming Of The Storm


 

Catholic Speaker Gary Zimak disusses Jesus calming of the storm at sea

When I speak at parishes and conferences around the country, one of my favorite Bible passages to discuss is “Jesus Calms The Storm At Sea” (Matthew 8:23-27). Basically, the disciples follow Jesus into a boat, a great storm arises, and the Lord calms the sea. Simple, right? Unfortunately, this story is so simple that we often miss some key points. If you’re struggling to stop worrying about Ebola, Isis, the stock market, personal health issues, job loss or many other problems, here are 5 important lessons you can learn from this powerful story:

1. The Disciples Followed Jesus – When Jesus got into the boat, the disciples followed Him. We should do the same thing every day. Following Jesus faithfully will not only help you to stop worrying, but it will get you to heaven!

2. Even Followers Of Jesus Have Problems – Just because we’re followers of Jesus doesn’t mean that we won’t have storms in our lives. On the other hand, following Jesus will give you peace, even in the midst of those storms. (Matthew 11:28)

3. Don’t Panic If Jesus Is Silent – Even though Jesus was asleep in the boat, He was very much in control of the situation. If it seems like He has deserted you, don’t worry…He is right beside you!

4. Cry Out For Help – While it is true that the disciples panicked when the storm arose, they had enough faith to do something very productive – they asked Jesus to help them. Worry is always useless, but prayer is always effective. Although we may not get exactly what we want, we will get what we need.

5. Learn To Look Back – After Jesus calmed the storm, “the men marveled” (Mt. 8:27). Looking back at the many times Jesus has helped you is sure to increase your faith and help you to deal with future problems.

Just as He did 2,000 years ago, Jesus can calm the storms in your life and help you to experience peace. Imitating the disciples at sea is a great idea. Give it a try and see what happens!