Rotating Header Image

prayer

A Story Of Courage And An Urgent Prayer Request

 

It never ceases to amaze me how the Lord works in my life. I often think that I’m doing something for one reason, only to realize that the Lord was attempting to accomplish something completely different by my actions. As many of you know, I’m a full time Catholic lay evangelist. As you can imagine, it’s not easy to earn a living in this line of work. It requires a great deal of trust in God’s Providence (I’m still working on that!) and a close relationship with the Lord (working on that too!). In order to earn some additional income, I’ve been exploring various affiliate programs, which will allow me to earn a percentage of all sales referred by my website. Yesterday, I signed up with ChristianShirts.net and put their link on my website.

I started browsing their site more closely (in order to make sure nothing conflicted with Catholic teaching) and I was startled to see the following message:

Due to the loss of our baby, orders placed recently, today, and in the near future will be delayed. I appreciate your patience. Please pray for us at this difficult time. -Rachelle

I said a prayer and then I followed a link which explained the entire story of Rachelle’s pregnancy and subsequent loss of her child. You can read the full story here (and I recommend that you do because it’s powerful), but in summary:

Rachelle had chemotherapy in her teens, which put her at risk for heart complications during pregnancy. Unfortunately that’s exactly what happened during her pregnancy. She went to a high risk obstetrician, who informed Rachelle that there was a 50 percent chance of her dying if she continued on with the pregnancy. Devastated by the news, this young woman was not prepared for what she heard next. In her words…

She began by holding my hand and asking what religion I was. I replied Catholic, and she said “Let me tell you what I know about God. God is loving and forgiving, and He will understand if you have an abortion.” She added that she had worked in a cardiac clinic and had seen many Catholic women die for the decision to continue with a pregnancy. We had already mentioned that we did not want to terminate, yet she pressed on, even reminding me that I would not want to leave my 18-month-old son without a mother. She made it clear that I would most likely end up in the hospital for several weeks – maybe months – and we had to prepare for that. There was no compassion, no caring about my unborn child that was already loved and very much wanted. When we continued to explain to her that we were not going to have an abortion, she mocked our beliefs and told me that I had better start praying. I left that appointment distraught and beside myself. It was enough to take in that I had a 50% chance of survival, yet to be coerced to try to get me to have an abortion on top of that was just too much.

As if hearing this from her doctor wasn’t bad enough, Rachelle was also encouraged by some family members to abort her child. She refused, stating “I was willing to risk my life for my unborn child. In my eyes, it was no different than risking my life for my born child.” One week later, an ultrasound revealed that her baby had died. Rachelle is currently undergoing further testing on her heart to determine the prognosis for future pregnancies.

In the First Reading from today’s Mass, God used the unaware Assyrians to punish his disobedient people. In a similar way I think he used me as I searched for new funding sources for my work. I thought that I was simply entering into an agreement with a great Catholic company struggling to do the Lord’s work, but more importantly, I experienced a powerful witness of trust in God’s Providence (which I really needed!) and I discovered a woman desperately in need of prayer. I’d ask you to kindly keep Rachelle and her family in your prayers and please consider making a donation for travel and burial expenses. I’ll close with Rachelle’s powerful words…

We think of our business more as a ministry – spreading Pro-life and Christian messages through affordable clothing which will spark conversation – and we make barely enough to pay our bills. It is not about the money. However, we are planning on traveling out of state at some point to bury our baby in the same cemetery where all of our relatives are buried. This will leave us behind in a lot of ways, but we believe it is well worth it for our spiritual and emotional healing. If you find it in your heart to donate for travel and burial expenses, we greatly appreciate it. If you would prefer to donate to a pro-life organization in our baby’s name (which we will announce when we decide on a name), please let us know so we can send a thank you.

More than donations, please keep us in your prayers. I have a long road ahead of me with my heart condition, and we are still praying that testing might reveal that my heart is strong enough to withstand another pregnancy.

10 Great Tips To Help You PRAY (not just SAY) The Rosary!

 

I’ve always found praying the Rosary to be difficult. Although I love the Blessed Mother and understand the importance of the devotion, it just doesn’t come easy to me. In reality, I have no problem SAYING the prayers, the problem arises in transforming the words into a heartfelt prayer. Furthermore, many books tell us how to SAY to Rosary, with only a few instructing us how we should PRAY it. In an attempt to discover the “secret” of this beloved prayer, I’ve done a lot of research and uncovered 10 great (I can say that in all humility because they’re not mine!) tips to help you PRAY (not just SAY) the Rosary!

1. Less Is More – In his book, The Rosary of Our Lady, Msgr. Romano Guardini offers the following advice:

“It is not necessary to ramble through the whole Rosary; it is better to say only one or two decades, and to say them right.”

Talk about removing the pressure! I’ve always struggled to make sure I complete the entire Rosary, even if it meant that I wasn’t paying attention. Now I realize that quality is more important than quantity.

2. You Are Not Alone – A great proponent of Marian devotion, St. Louis de Montfort urges us to be aware of our company while praying the rosary. In The Secret of the Rosary, Montfort reminds us that, when we pray the Rosary, we should put ourselves in God’s presence and imagine that He (along with the Blessed Mother) is watching us and that our guardian angel is standing to our right. If we say the prayers well, our angel will use them to make crowns for Jesus and Mary. Thinking about this before beginning to pray helps us to realize that we are doing A LOT more than just repeating pious words!

3. Watch What You Say – St. Josemaria Escriva, the founder of Opus Dei, contributes a simple, but often overlooked suggestion. He encourages us to pronounce each Our Father and Hail Mary clearly and without rushing. In doing so, we will better express our love for Mary and Jesus. When praying the Rosary, it’s easy to fall into the trap of mumbling and our rushing through the prayers. Remembering that the Our Father was handed down to us from Jesus and that most of the Hail Mary is taken directly from Scripture should help us to recall that the words DO mean something!

4. Been There, Done That – When we look at Mary’s life, we sometimes overlook her many struggles. Like us, Mary was forced to endure suffering and difficulties, often without a lot of explanation. Being the Mother of God didn’t make her all knowing. The Bible tells us that Mary experienced confusion and had to seek understanding through prayer. In her book, The Splendor of the Rosary, Maisie Ward (Catholic author, publisher and wife of noted apologist Frank Sheed) stated:

“In the Rosary we rejoice, sorrow and triumph with Our Lady as she walks the same path we have to walk. But now she has reached the end.”

When we pray the Rosary, we should remember that Mary understands our problems and confusion. By meditating on the events in her life and the life of her Son, we can obtain help for our daily struggles from someone who is now in a place where we’d like to someday be!

5. Listen To The Word – In his Apostolic Letter, Rosarium Virginis Mariae (On The Most Holy Rosary), Blessed Pope John Paul II recommends that we supplement our Rosary meditations with Bible reading. After announcing the individual mystery, the late Holy Father encourages us to read an appropriate Bible passage. While this is not always possible (if we are praying while walking or driving, for instance), we can still mentally recall the details of an appropriate Bible story. This underscores the importance of becoming familiar with Sacred Scripture.

6. Savor The Repetition – Sometimes it feels as if praying the Rosary is just “repeating a bunch of words”! In fact, one of the criticisms of the Rosary is that it is nothing more than “vain repetition”. In his book, The World’s First Love: Mary, Mother of God, Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen addresses those who consider the rosary to be monotonous. Using the analogy of a husband telling his wife “I love you” or a mother proclaiming “you’re a good boy” to her child, Sheen stresses that the words mean something different at each point in time that they are repeated. In the same way, each time we pray the Rosary, we are saying “I love you” to God, the Trinity, to Jesus and to Mary. With each successive bead (or decade) the meaning shifts as we contemplate a new aspect of Jesus or Mary’s love.

7. Do Whatever He Tells You – Praying the Rosary, no matter how devoutly, is never a substitute for following the commands of Jesus and His Church. The Rosary should spur us on to live the mysteries in our daily life. In his book, The Sermons of St. Francis de Sales on Our Lady, St. Francis de Sales had this to say:

“The worldly-minded imagine that devotion to Our Lady usually consists in carrying a rosary in their cincture. It seems to them that it is enough to pray it a number of times without doing anything else. In this they are greatly mistaken. For our dear Mistress wants us to do what her Son commands us (John 2:5) and considers as done to herself the honor we give to her Son by keeping His commandments.”

8. Think – In the preface of Father Peyton’s Rosary Prayer Book: The Family That Prays Together Stays Together, Fr. Patrick Peyton reminds us that the Rosary is more than a series of prayers to be recited. Rather, it is “a series of thoughts to be dwelt on, to be turned over in the mind, to be applied in daily life.” While we are saying the words of the prayers, we should be meditating upon the mysteries. That was a hard concept for me to understand, but it’s the key to unleashing the power of the Rosary.

9. Grow In Virtue
– Mother Angelica loves the Rosary. In her book, The Prayers and Personal Devotions of Mother Angelica, she discusses how to use the Rosary to grow in virtue:

“If you’re not making progress in one virtue, say your Rosary and meditate on that virtue as Our Lord practiced it. I cannot get over my faults and weaknesses if I don’t substitute those faults and weaknesses for something of God. This is precisely why the life of Jesus and the reading of Scripture and the rosary never seem to change us – why we remain the same: Because to change you need to admire someone other than yourself.”

10. Ask Mary For Help – This one’s so obvious that it’s easy to overlook! This simple, but powerful suggestion comes from a list (Tips On Praying The Rosary More Devoutly) put together by The Association of the Miraculous Medal in Perryville, MO. Before beginning the Rosary, we should ask Our Blessed Mother to help us pray devoutly.

Although the Rosary follows a simple pattern, it can be a very challenging prayer to master. Rest assured that many of the Saints struggled with it too. If you find it difficult to pray the Rosary, try out these tips and see what happens. It might take a little time, but eventually your persistence will pay off. The next time you pick up your rosary beads, imagine that you’re holding Mary’s hand and taking a trip to visit Jesus. For when we pray the Rosary, that’s exactly what happens!

“The Rosary is the most beautiful and the most rich in graces of all prayers; it is the prayer that touches most the Heart of the Mother of God…and if you wish peace to reign in your homes, recite the family Rosary.” (Pope Saint Pius X)

Hearing God Speak Is Easier Than You Think!

 

One of the biggest mistakes many Catholics make is to treat the Bible as “just another book”. We sometimes (and I have been guilty of this for many years) ignore the fact that God does actually speak to us through the pages of Sacred Scripture. Furthermore, many people are unaware that the Bible can be used to speak with God. We can actually enter into a conversation with the Lord simply by opening up the pages of the Bible!

As many of you know, I’ve written a book A Worrier’s Guide to the Bible: 50 Verses to Ease Anxieties which provides an alternative to worry. I’ve been a worrier for many years and I wanted to provide some relief to my fellow worriers. More importantly, I want the book to be a reminder that God is waiting to speak to us in the Bible. When we open its pages and read the inspired words, the Lord is speaking directly to us and that’s powerful!

Listening to God speak through the Bible was not something that I always understood. There are 2 books, however, which helped me to first understand the idea of God speaking through Scripture. Both of these books are very easy to read and contain information that will change the way you view the Bible.

Conversing with God in Scripture: A Contemporary Approach to Lectio Divina – The title says it all! In this 150 page book, Stephen Binz presents a step by step plan for learning to converse with God using the pages of the Bible. He discusses the ancient practice of “Lectio Divina” (Latin for “Sacred Reading”), which not only allows us the hear God speak, but enables us to speak with Him using the inspired words of His Book! Some time ago, I used the concepts presented in this book in an adult faith formation class and the students were astounded. In less than an hour, they learned how God truly does speak to each one of us in the Bible and how they could use the Sacred words to speak with Him.

Praying Scripture for a Change: An Introduction to Lectio Divina – On the back cover of this book by Dr. Tim Gray, we’re told that this book will teach us:

How God speaks directly to each of us in His Word.

How to overcome the obstacles to a consistent and fruitful prayer life.

Strategies for reading and praying the Bible fruitfully.

What Christian meditation is and how it differs from non-Christian approaches.

This book promises a lot and it DOES deliver! This book is short (127 pages) and easy to read, but provides a wealth of information that will help you in your relationship with the Lord. In Chapter One (The Secret of the Saints), Dr. Gray starts off with a bang as he reveals, “the great – and simple – secret of the saints is that they realized that God’s word was addressed to them“. That simple, but profound, statement is the secret to unlocking the power of the Bible. Understanding that fact will completely transform your spiritual life and bring you closer to the Lord.

Learning to converse with God by using the Bible is a valuable practice that will help you every day of your life. These books have helped me and can quickly help you to master this important technique. When faced with decisions, problems and temptations, why not turn to God and ask for advice? Hearing His voice can be as simple as opening up the pages of your Bible!

“Sunday Sunset” Debuts This Sunday!

 

Looking for a great way to end your Sunday?

Want to unite in prayer with Christians around the world without leaving your home?

Need some strength in preparing for the week ahead?

Do you need relief from your anxiety?

Would you like the Lord’s peace to fill your heart?

My new 15 minute Internet radio program may be just what you need! On Sunday, June 24th at 8 PM Eastern time “Sunday Sunset with Gary Zimak” will debut on BlogTalkRadio. Join me in praying the Night Prayer from the Liturgy of the Hours and for some reflections on the day’s Gospel reading. Each Sunday, we’ll get together to pray and reflect on the Lord and His providence.

How can you listen?

Simply click on the following link at 8 PM Eastern on Sunday and the show will begin to play. If you’d like an email reminder, you can follow the link now and click on the clock icon (next to the program date).

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/gzimak/2012/06/25/sunday-sunset

If you can’t listen live, the podcast will be available in the BlogTalkRadio archives and iTunes and you can access it from my regular BlogTalkRadio page:

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/gzimak

I hope you can join me as we gather together over the Internet. No matter where we live geographically, the miracle of technology allows us to unite as brothers and sisters in Christ. I’m looking forward to praying with you on Sunday…

please invite a friend!

Join The Summer Prayer Safari!

 

Don’t Let Your Prayer Life Go On Vacation For The Summer!

What are you doing this summer? How about joining me for a Prayer Safari? Starting on May 28, 2012 and continuing each week throughout the summer, I’ll be sending a weekly email with a specific prayer intention (an end to abortion, our priests, the entire Church, our families, etc.) and will ask you all to say the following 3 prayers each day for the weekly intention:

One Our Father

One Hail Mary

One Glory Be

Each week I’ll email a new prayer intention to all those who sign up. If you’d like to join us, here’s all you need to do:

1. Fill out the your name and email address in the form below.
2. Put “summer” in the subject.
3. Hit the “Send” button.

That’s all there is to it! Just think of all the good we can do by spending a few minutes in prayer each day throughout those months when we sometimes neglect our prayer life. Don’t miss out on the chance to join in this special gathering of prayer warriors and remember the Lord’s promise:

“For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” (Matthew 18:20)

I’m looking forward to praying with you!!!

Your Name (required)

Your Email (required)

Subject

Your Message

Why Bother To Pray? Here Are 5 Reasons…

 

“As our body cannot live without nourishment, so our soul cannot be kept spiritually alive without prayer.” (Saint Augustine)

From time to time most of us ask (or feel tempted to ask) ourselves, “Why should I pray?” While some will hesitate to actually ask this question for fear of a lightening strike or other Divine punishment, it raises a valid point and probably should be asked. For if we really examine the answer, it can spur us on to a better relationship with the Lord and increase our appreciation of prayer.

There’s no doubt that the main reason we should pray is because Jesus instructed us to do so. Furthermore, He prayed often, especially before the important milestones in His life. Let’s face it…if the Lord prayed than so should we! However, if you’re interested in arriving at a greater understanding of the importance of prayer, let’s look at 5 practical reasons why we should pray:

1. We Are Granted An Audience With God – Did you ever wish you could meet a celebrity? How about trying to get good seats for a sold out concert or game? Most of us just “aren’t important enough” to make things like this happen. Heck, it’s hard enough to get a doctor’s appointment when we need one! When we pray, however, we are able to speak directly with Almighty God…at any time of day and from wherever we are. And if that’s not enough, we know that He will hear us. What a great honor and privilege!

2. No Prayer = No Heaven – Putting it bluntly, it is not possible for us to get to Heaven if we don’t pray. Why? Because we need God’s help, in the form of actual and sanctifying grace in order to achieve our salvation. On our own, we’re just not good enough. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that “Prayer is a vital necessity” (CCC 2274) and that “Prayer and Christian life are inseparable” (CCC 2275). According to Saint Alphonsus Liguori, “A person who prays will certainly be saved, but a person who does not pray will certainly be lost.” In addition to praying for temporal goods (earthy possessions), we should pray often for spiritual goods (spiritual possessions) so that we can lead holier lives.

3. It Always Produces Results – Sometimes we feel that our prayers don’t do any good. We erroneously believe that God doesn’t “hear us”. That’s a huge mistake and will cause us to lose many graces that would have been ours had we persisted in prayer. Throughout Sacred Scripture, the Lord assures us that when we ask…we’ll receive:

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” (Matthew 7:7)

“For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” (Luke 11:9)

“Therefore I tell you, all that you ask for in prayer, believe that you will receive it and it shall be yours.” (Luke 11:24)

“Amen, amen, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in my name he will give you.” (John 16:23)

What often drives us crazy is that we sometimes don’t get what we requested. If we study Jesus’ words in context, however, we’ll realize that He doesn’t promise that we won’t always receive what we want…we’ll receive what we need…for our salvation. As hard as it is for us to accept, we sometimes don’t know what’s best for us and pray for things that will put our salvation in jeopardy. God loves us too much to let that happen and will often deny our requests in order to protect us. In the end, the most important thing we can ever pray for is final perseverance as that will allow us to reach our ultimate destiny…Heaven!

4. It Will Bring You Peace – For many people, this is the benefit that will “seal the deal”. Once we realize that praying will bring peace into our anxiety-filled lives, we’d be foolish not to pray. And we DO KNOW that prayer is guaranteed to bring peace. According to Saint Paul…

Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)

5. It Can Help Others – Do you ever wish that you could help other people…the poor, the hungry, your children, your spouse, the sick, the souls in purgatory? Would you like to help put an end to the evil of abortion or prevent sinners from going to hell for all eternity? You can help out all of these (and many more) situations by your prayers. Why does it work? Only God knows. What we do know is that it DOES work and that the Lord wants us to pray constantly (1 Thessalonians 5:17, Luke 18:1) for ourselves and for others. By expanding our vision and praying not only for ourselves, but for others, we can do infinite good in the world!

Now that we’ve looked at some important reasons to pray, how about methods? Is one way of praying better than the next? I personally prefer a mixture of formal prayer (Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be, etc.) and an informal dialog with God throughout the day. Formal prayer helps me to “find the words” when my mind is blank and informal prayer lets me speak with the Lord throughout the day. More important than the actual method is the fact that we DO pray and that it comes from the heart. By doing so, we’ll not only receive the gifts God wants to give us, we’ll get to know Him better. And that’s a really good thing!

“Would that I could stand on a high mountain where I could be heard by the whole world. I would constantly cry out: Pray, pray, pray!” (Saint Teresa of Avila)

Spiritual Exercises – Day 19

 

On today’s show, I concluded the meditation on the Our Father.

1. Thy Will Be Done On Earth As It Is In Heaven

– We ask that God’s will be done by everyone on earth.

2. Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread And Forgive Us Our Trespasses As We Forgive Those Who Trespass Against Us

– We ask that all of the world’s starving people may receive food.
– We ask for a greater appreciation for the Eucharist.
– We remember that if we expect God to forgive us, we must forgive others.

3. Lead Us Not Into Temptation, But Deliver Us From Evil.

– We ask for the grace necessary to combat temptation.

Listen to the podcast here.

Begging For Scraps

 

“Lord, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s scraps.”  Then He said to her, “For saying this, you may go. The demon has gone out of your daughter.”  When the woman went home, she found the child lying in bed and the demon gone. (Mk 7:28-30)

While at Mass this morning, I was moved by the encounter from today’s gospel (Mk 7:24-30).  A Syrophoenician woman fell at the Lord’s feet, begging for a demon to be expelled from her daughter.  Jesus responded with a seemingly harsh comment that would have probably angered many of us, “Let the children be fed first. For it is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs.”  Unfazed, the kneeling woman then replied, “Lord, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s scraps.”  Jesus then healed her daughter BECAUSE of what she said.

May I always find myself like that woman, KNEELING before the Lord, HUMBLY accepting His response (even if I don’t like it) and PERSISTENTLY asking for the graces I need to get through the day and remain close to Him!

Prayer To Jesus Abandoned

 

Here’s a nice way to end your day…

Prayer To Jesus Abandoned

With Mary Immaculate, let us adore, thank, implore and console the Most Beloved and Sacred Heart of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.

O Divine Jesus, lonely tonight in so many Tabernacles, without visitor or worshiper, I offer Thee my poor heart.
May its every throb be an act of love for Thee.

Thou art always watching beneath the Sacramental Veils; in Thy Love Thou dost never sleep and Thou art never weary of Thy vigil for sinners. O lonely Jesus, may the flame of my heart burn and beam always in company with Thee.

O Sacrament Most holy, O Sacrament Divine! All praise and all thanksgiving be every moment Thine!

(From Holy Hour of Reparation prayer book)

3 Suggestions For Hearing And Responding To God’s Voice

 

What does God want me to do?

That’s a question that we often ask ourselves.  While complaining that the Lord doesn’t speak to us, we sometimes fail to recognize the fact that He is speaking…it’s just that we’re not listening!

How do we get better at hearing and responding to God’s voice?  The readings from today’s Mass hold some important clues.  In the First Reading (1 Sm 3:1-10, 19-20), Samuel is unaware that the voice he is hearing is actually coming from the Lord.  Fortunately, the high priest Eli is able to let Samuel know that God is speaking to him.

LESSON 1:  Seek out the advice of a spiritual director or a trusted friend when trying to hear the Lord’s voice in your life.

In today’s Gospel (Mk 1:29-39), after healing Simon’s mother-in-law,  Jesus rose early the next morning and “went off to a deserted place, where He prayed”.

LESSON 2:  If you want to hear the Lord speaking to you, find a quiet place (even if only for a few minutes) and pray.  If it was good enough for Jesus, it’s good enough for us.  According to St. Cyprian of Carthage, “If He who is without sin prayed, how much more ought sinners to pray?”

Once we have determined that the Lord is speaking to us (and possibly calling us to do something), there is one more thing that we should do.  While it is important that we learn to identify God’s voice, it is more important that we obey His commands.  A great piece of advice can be found in today’s Responsorial Psalm (Ps 40:2 and 5, 7-8a, 8b-9, 10)…

Here am I, Lord; I come to do your will.

LESSON 3:  Be open to what the Lord may be asking of you, even if it is difficult!

Following these 3 simple suggestions will help you hear and respond to the God’s voice.  Give it a try today and see what happens!