A friend said, "St. Monica had nothing on me." I knew she had
been praying for the conversion of her husband far longer than the
years St. Monica prayed for the salvation of her son St.
My friend, a modern-day St. Monica, has a lot of company. Like
the father of the Prodigal Son, many parents continue to pray long
after their children have become adults and gone down some dark
In fact, most of us know of a wife, husband, brother, sister,
child or friend making the choice to live without the light of
Christ in their lives. Though we pray without ceasing, it is hard
to continue to hope when prayers seem to have gone unanswered for
so many years.
Even if there appears to be no change in the person for whom we
pray, our prayers can still bear fruit in unexpected places. The
most indelible image I have of my mother is seeing her kneeling in
prayer by her bed each night.
We knew she prayed especially for the light of Christ in our
father. She was also praying for my brother, for me and everyone
she knew who might be lost, ill, or may have strayed off the
straight and narrow path a little bit.
I don't know the results of most of those countless nights of
prayer, and perhaps she never knew some of the results either. I do
know the effect her life of prayer had on my life. Her nightly act
of faith still serves me well as a model of how a Christian
I am certain, too, that her life of constant prayer changed her.
People who continue to pray can get discouraged, frustrated and
even angry with God. These things can happen only because we are in
a relationship with God: a relationship that grows stronger when we
refuse to walk away.
Mother Teresa's words, "God does not call us to be successful;
he calls us to be faithful," have encouraged many who pray without
seeing results. We are not responsible for the results of our
Those who pray long past the time when hope should have become
despair come to understand deeper truths that can be discovered
only through experience. The constant support of prayer is real
support, providing something close to bedrock beneath those for
whom we pray.
Among all of the questions we must carry, the most difficult may
be the question of unanswered prayer. Answers will be given, if not
in this life, then in the life to come. We may be surprised at the
answers to some of our prayers.
Christ himself spoke of some unexpected people ending up in
God's Kingdom. Those who will be the most surprised of all may be
the ones who find themselves ushered into the Kingdom because
someone, somewhere never stopped praying for them.