Carol told Doug. Doug called Frano. Frano passed the word to Pete and Joleen. They told Alicia. And so it went. No, they weren't sharing the latest gossip. They were members of our parish prayer chain, passing along information of the latest request for prayer.
They are successors of a long line of links in the prayer chain. It started with Jesus, praying for the ones the Father had given him. And, after the Lord's ascension, Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James , son of Alphaeus, Simon the Zealot, and Judas, son of James, and some women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.devoted themselves with one accord to prayer.
Before they could go forth in mission, they knew they needed wisdom, fortitude, knowledge, courage, and the other gifts and fruits of the Spirit if they were going to be successful.
For how long did they pray? For nine whole days...a novena.
That's so unlike us in our culture today. We think if we wait any length of time, our efforts are wasted. "Strike while the iron is hot" is our mantra. "He who hesitates is lost," we say. And often we go off half-cocked and shoot ourselves in the foot, and we have to start all over if we can salvage anything.
Prayer is NOT wasting time. It is not turning in on ourselves or withdrawing from the ups and downs of life. By praying we turn towards God and through him to each other. Prayer becomes hope in action, as Pope Benedict XVI once said.
Prayer is more than mouthing words. It also involves silent listening to God's stirring in our souls. Do you leave space to hear God's whisper? Or is your life filled with constant noise from the moment you wake up to going to sleep listening to the radio? Can you go anywhere without an iPod or a cell phone? Are you afraid of silence, to be alone with just your thoughts and feelings?
Prayer is necessary to be a follower of God, to persevere in the mission to be a life-giving spirit to the world.
Are you a strong or weak link in the chain of prayer?