How does one reclaim faith in prayer after devastating loss?

First, as background, I lost my mother to cancer in January - it has been almost 6 months without her. I prayed constantly for her recovery, healing, and peace, but ultimately cancer took her life. I’m struggling to understand why we are called to pray - to ask St. Jude, St. Peregrine, and Mother Mary to intercede on our behalf, to ask God to heal the sick, if there is a master plan or divine intention for suffering. It hurts to see people posting about God healing their children, etc., and thanking others for their prayers, when I prayed faithfully for my mom. I’m also tired of hearing that God makes good things out of bad…I’m sorry but there is no upside to losing your mom. I’m struggling to pray and find my faith again when my world has fallen apart.

Do our prayers effect change? Do they make a difference? What does the Faith say about prayers vs. God’s plan?

I hope my question makes sense and I thank you for your time.

Dear friend,

The highest form of prayer is the prayer of adoration. Close behind it, is the prayer of thanksgiving. Necessary for us all, is the prayer of contrition.

You are asking about the prayer of petition. The prayer of petition does not change God’s mind, but it does make a difference. Our Lord Himself prayed to the Father and did not get what He asked for. But He prayed with the stipulation that He wanted to do His Father’s will more than He wanted His request to be granted. “Father, “he said” if you are willing, take this cup away from me, Nevertheless, let your will be done, not mine.” (Lk. 22:42)

This is the way we are to ask things of God—always deferring to what He wants. We defer to to Him because He matters more to us than anything we could ask for. After all, He preferred nothing to us when He shed His blood for us. So the change that is effected by such prayer resides in us. WE change when we pray in this way. Further, God may very well have decided that He would grant our request because of our prayer. After all, Jesus did tell us to ask for what we need.

Certainly, the loss of a loved one (especially one’s mother) is painful and ordinarily takes a good amount of time for one to heal.

The three children of Fatima were assured by our Lady that they would all go to heaven. Yet when little Francisco, the first one to die, was on his death bed, all three were quite heart-broken at his parting. Be patient with yourself. The pain will ease with time. You are in our prayers.

Fr. Vincent Serpa, O.P.

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