Saint Meinrad Seminary & School of Theology

Formation and Education for the Life of the Church

Walking in Prayer

by Ann Cavera


On a recent Sunday evening, our son called to let us know he and Amy are getting married. We whooped for joy! We have loved Amy from the moment we met her. She is a wonderful young woman who loves books, music, gardening and art, making her a perfect fit for our family. Even before our son met her, we had been praying for someone like Amy to come into his life.

If you have ever spent years praying for a son or daughter, or for the right job to open up, or for good health to return, you know how we felt. Of course, prayer isn't a vending machine dispensing wishes like candy bars. While we prayed and waited, we had no inkling as to whether this prayer, or any of our prayers, would be answered in ways we hoped.

Often, prayer isn't about specific outcomes at all. Beside my chair is a bright pink journal with the word "Faith" embossed on the cover. As the year began, I wrote dozens of names, some new and some I've carried over from year to year. Among these names are friends with serious illnesses as well as several priests and deacons who are so busy lifting up others that I doubt they have time to pray much for themselves.

On days when I am up early, I place each person by name in God's care. Other days, I lift the journal and all in it, asking God's grace to bring spiritual strength, wisdom, peace of mind and heart, and physical strength into their hearts and lives. I leave the specifics up to God.

Sometimes, life itself becomes a form of prayer. As a parish RCIA director for several years, I offered my ministry as prayer. Even as I opened the door for those who came seeking faith, I often asked God to send others to bring loved ones beyond my reach into the light of faith.

Other times, my prayers have no words at all. This past spring before surgery, I breathed gratitude and offered my life and soul to God, hoping for a good outcome while breathing in anesthesia. Even in the not knowing, I felt myself wrapped in the love and peace of Christ. Meister Eckhart, the 17th-century mystic, said, "If the only prayer we ever prayed was 'thank you,' that would be enough."

This year, I added a final entry to my journal, asking for faith and wisdom for our leaders. Last month we watched the inauguration of Donald Trump as president. Whether we supported his candidacy for president isn't the point. We are all on this ship together and I am praying our leaders will be led by faith to seek God's wisdom in their decisions.

I pray their hearts will be open to caring for our common home and for the most vulnerable among us. In my prayer for this year, I ask that overwhelming numbers of us will have the humility to seek the love of God in caring for this planet and for each other.

I don't know what the outcome will be for any of my prayers. But, like the news we received recently of a prayer answered, I know amazing things can happen, things that cause us to leap for joy. Perhaps the problem with prayer isn't that we expect too much, but that we expect too little. 

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Echoes from the Bell Tower is a blog devoted to observations on Christian faith, spirituality and everyday events, by authors with a connection to the Benedictine values found at Saint Meinrad Archabbey and its Seminary and School of Theology. Contributors include students, permanent deacons, Benedictine oblates and Saint Meinrad monks. Their stories, thoughts and ideas highlight the mission and vision that ring out from the bell towers on this Hill in southern Indiana.