Rotating Header Image

prayer

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!

Looking For A Miracle? Try The Saint Andrew Novena!

One of my favorite devotions, The Saint Andrew Novena, begins TODAY! It is piously believed that whoever recites this prayer fifteen times a day from the Feast of Saint Andrew (November 30) until Christmas will obtain what is asked. Does this mean that God will give you anything, even something that may be harmful to you spiritually? Fortunately, no! However, I have received miraculous favors since I started praying this novena a few years ago and I believe in its power.

Here’s EWTN’s Fr. Joseph Mary speaking about his personal experience with the St. Andrew Novena:

Here is the novena prayer:

Hail and blessed be the hour and moment in which the Son of God was born of the most pure Virgin Mary, at midnight, in Bethlehem, in piercing cold. In that hour, vouchsafe, O my God! to hear my prayer and grant my desires, through the merits of Our Saviour Jesus Christ, and of His Blessed Mother. Amen.

The Saint Andrew novena is also a GREAT way to reflect on the true meaning of Christmas. If you pay attention to the words as you say them, it will draw you more deeply into the mystery of the Incarnation and fill you with hope. Why not give it a try? I know I will!

How To Know God Is Working In Your Life (Part 2)

Last week, I began a series on recognizing God’s response to your prayers. Because of the fact that He frequently works gradually and in ordinary ways, we often miss the signs that He is responding to our prayers. I recommended that you imitate the prophet Elijah in 1 Kings 17 and look for the “little clouds” that signify that your prayers are being heard and the drought is ending.

Is Anything Changing?

A second way to recognize that God is responding to your prayers is to look for change. Last week we focused on the small, positive changes that are taking place in your life, but this week I urge you to look for any changes that have taken place since you began praying. Specifically (and here’s where you’ll probably think that Gary has lost his mind), look for the negative changes! Yes, you heard me correctly. When you pray for something and things get worse, it is a sign that the Lord is working in your life. Crazy, right? Nope. It’s the absolute truth.

What Does The Bible Say?

Let’s turn to the Bible for an example. In Exodus 3:7-8, we are told that God heard the cry of the Israelites who are enslaved in Egypt. The Lord goes on to say that He has “come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey”. Sounds like a done deal, right? The people cry out to the Lord and He fixes the problem. Well, yes and no.

Don’t Be Surprised When Things Get Worse

Even though God did indeed deliver the Israelites from slavery, things got worse before they got better. When Moses and Aaron first obeyed the Lord and went to Pharaoh to request some time off for worship, his initial response was to restrict the straw that was given to the people for brick building. Now, in addition to being forced to build the same number of bricks each day, the Israelites now had to first gather their own straw! Is this an example of the power of prayer? You bet! Although it took 40 years and lots of suffering, the Lord delivered on His promise and the slaves were set free. Moses stumbled and complained, but he never stopped praying and being obedient.

Don’t Stop Praying!

If things have gotten worse since you’ve started praying, don’t give up. God’s ways are not our ways. He really does know what He’s doing. By all means, ask Him what He’s trying to teach you and plead with Him to make things better, but never stop praying. He operates on His own schedule. Give Him a chance!

How To Know God Is Working In Your Life (Part 1)

Have you ever prayed for something for a long time with no apparent results?

God, Are You Listening?

You pray and pray and hear nothing…not even crickets. During times like this it’s common to question if God is even listening. You may begin to wonder if prayer makes a difference. Ultimately, you may just give up and stop praying. I have to admit that I have done exactly that on more than one occasion. And, while I’m not proud of that admission, I have learned an important lesson over the years. Giving up praying because you don’t think God hears you is a BIG mistake. Rather than just leave it there, however, I’d like to offer some assistance. Over the next few days, I’ll share with you some ways that will help you to see that God not only hears your prayers, but is actually responding to them.

Dig A Little Deeper

The first thing I would urge you to do is look for signs. Although He sometimes intervenes with instantaneous and powerful miracles, the Lord typically responds to our prayers gradually. In fact, His response is often so subtle that it can easily be missed.

Elijah Prays For Rain

When we are first introduced to the prophet Elijah (1 Kings 17) in the Bible, a great drought was taking place. Three years later, the Lord told the prophet that the drought would be coming to an end. Bowing down and putting his face between his knees, Elijah prayed for the Lord’s word to come to fruition. With confident expectation, he then told his servant to “look toward the sea” for the arrival of the rain. After the servant reported back that he didn’t see anything, Elijah sent him back seven more times. Finally, the servant observed “a little cloud like a man’s hand rising out of the sea”. Upon receiving that confirmation, Elijah dispatched his servant to inform King Ahab that the drought was over. In a little while, there was a great rain.

Look For Little “Clouds”

Even though the Lord doesn’t seem to be answering your prayers, I recommend that you look for the “little clouds” in your life. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you discover the tiny ways that prove that your prayers are being heard. The signs are there…

You just have to recognize them.

Jesus, Are You Listening?

One of the most challenging narratives in the Bible involves a Canaanite woman who approached Jesus and asked Him to heal her daughter (Matthew 15:21-28). When reading about this encounter, our attention is typically drawn to the seemingly harsh words used by Christ when he states that it isn’t fair to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs. While there are many things I could say about what the Lord said when approached by the desperate woman, let’s first focus on what He didn’t say.

But he did not say a word in answer to her. (Matthew 15:23)

Wow! This poor woman is begging for her daughter to be healed from demonic possession and Jesus didn’t even answer her. How would you react to that kind of response? I agree that it sounds brutal, but let’s dig a little deeper. Scripture tells us that Jesus did not answer the woman, but it says nothing about His non verbal response. Did He smile, nod His head, close His eyes thoughtfully, turn around and glance at her with compassion? It’s certainly possible.

Are you frustrated that Jesus isn’t responding to your cries for help? You pour out your heart and all you hear is silence. The fact that Jesus isn’t responding in the way you expect does not imply that He isn’t listening or doesn’t care. If you have any doubt, think about His death on the Cross. That was done out of love for you. Rather than accuse Him of ignoring you or not caring, try to imagine Him looking at you with compassion, gently holding your hand or giving you a big hug. Let your imagination help you to see how much He cares.

As for the Canaanite woman, the Lord was giving her a chance to put her faith into action. She knew Jesus could make her daughter well and her persistence was rewarded with a total healing. Jesus loves you and wants to help you with your problems. Whatever you do, don’t stop asking!

Is There A Wrong Way To Pray?

When you pray, how do you begin? Do you launch right in to your list of intentions or do you take a few minutes to recognize the fact that you’re speaking to the creator of the Universe who loves you unconditionally? Don’t feel bad. We often get so caught up in our needs that we lose sight of some basic concepts. While it’s true that there is no “wrong” way to pray, it’s also true that the prayer of Jesus should be looked at as the “gold standard” of prayer. With that in mind, let’s look at how the Lord prayed on the night before He died:

 “Abba, Father, all things are possible to you. Take this cup away from me, but not what I will but what you will.” (Mk 14:36)

We can learn a great deal about prayer by analyzing His words…

1. We are not speaking to an impersonal force or distant being, but a Father who loves us unconditionally. When praying to His Father, Jesus uses the Aramaic word “Abba”. It implies a deep personal, relationship with a loving Father. St. Paul encourages us to use the same title when speaking to our Heavenly Father (Romans 8:15).

2. God can do all things. The word “impossible” doesn’t exist in His vocabulary. Remembering this allows us to pray with great confidence.

3. Jesus makes it clear that there is nothing wrong with asking for an end to suffering. Our Father wants us to ask for the desires of our heart. Go ahead and do it!

4. Ultimately, we should be willing to accept whatever our Father gives us. “Yes”, “No” and “Not Yet” are all valid answers to prayer. Because the Father loves us, we will always receive what we need.

Can prayer really be that simple? You bet! Learning to pray like Jesus will transform your life. Give it a try and see what happens. I know you won’t be disappointed!

A 2 Second Prayer That Will Change Your Life!

 

Catholic speaker and author Gary Zimak will be leading a Pray, Hope and Don't Worry at the Malvern Retreat House in 2016

Catholic speaker and author Gary Zimak offers advice for inviting the Holy Spirit to work in your life.

The Fruits Of The Holy Spirit

Here’s something to think about. The Church teaches that we first receive the Holy Spirit when we are baptized and that the gift is completed when we are confirmed. In Galatians 5:22-23, Saint Paul informs us that the fruits of the Holy Spirit are “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control”. If the Spirit does indeed reside in us, why is it that so many of His fruits are not evident in our life?

As is the case with so many of the spiritual gifts, we do not receive because we do not ask (James 1:5). God will not force His way into our lives. The fact that the Holy Spirit lives in us doesn’t automatically mean that His gifts will blossom. We need to give Him permission to do His thing!

Where Do We Begin?

So where do we begin? We begin by inviting the Holy Spirit to work in our life. Jesus assures us that our Heavenly Father will not deny this request:

“And I tell you, ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. What father among you would hand his son a snake when he asks for a fish? Or hand him a scorpion when he asks for an egg? If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the Father in heaven give the holy Spirit to those who ask him?” (Luke 11:9-13)

The 2 Second Prayer

Now, before you think this is a complicated process, let me assure you that it is not. Unleashing the power of the Holy Spirit in your life can be done with a 3 word prayer. This prayer will take no more than 2 seconds to pray. It is so simple that we can write it off as being too trivial. If you pray it as soon as you wake up and throughout the day, you will see tremendous results. It might not happen overnight, but the fruits of the Holy Spirit will eventually be evident in your life. What is that 3 word, 2 second prayer that will change your life?

Come, Holy Spirit!

It Sounds Too Simple!

Let’s be honest, we often have a tendency to complicate spiritual matters. If something sounds too simple, we somehow feel that it won’t be effective. This is nothing new. Do you remember the story of Naaman the Syrian (2 Kings 5:1-27)? A commander of the army of the king of Syria, Naaman was a leper. When Elisha the prophet informed him that washing in the Jordan seven times would cure his leprosy, Naaman was not pleased:

But Naaman went away angry, saying, “I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand there to call on the name of the LORD his God, and would move his hand over the place, and thus cure the leprous spot. Are not the rivers of Damascus, the Abana and the Pharpar, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them and be cleansed?” With this, he turned about in anger and left. (2 Kings 5:11-12)

Viewing Elisha’s instructions as too simplistic, the leper wanted to ignore them. But when his servants convinced him to follow the prophet’s instructions, Naaman’s flesh was restored and the leprosy was gone. Prayer doesn’t have to be long and convoluted in order to be effective. If my wife needs me to help her with something, all she has to do is tell me to come over. Why wouldn’t God be able to operate in the same way? If we want the Holy Spirit to become active in our life, all we have to do is ask!

Give it a try and see what happens. Start praying the 2 second prayer each day. If you want, you can modify the prayer to something like, “Holy Spirit, please guide all my thoughts, words, actions, interactions and decisions today.” Keep praying it faithfully and then watch for love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control to be more evident in your life. I have a feeling you will be very pleased with the results!