Questions on efficacy/purpose of prayer, and prayers to St. Therese in particular


#1

Warning: slow morning at the office, ergo ridiculously long and rambling question. My apologies.

Before I get into the details of my questions, let me just state that I’m pretty well educated on the Faith and Catholic issues, and I’m not doubting the existence or goodness of God. That being said, I’m having a bit of a spiritual crisis right now. I have, or had - it’s a bad week, so I’m not even sure where I stand any more - a significant devotion to St. Therese. I’ve asked her a lot over the last year or so, and almost always got roses in what I thought were positive answers to my prayers (which always dealt with the same issue). But now it’s been a long time, and nothing has improved - rather, the situation has gotten progressively worse. I’m miserable and losing hope… In spite of my belief in God, I’m feeling angry, betrayed, even lied to (which is stupid, because I know God doesn’t lie). I know some people are against the idea of asking for signs, or believing in signs, but the circumstances in which I received my first rose from St. Therese were pretty extraordinary and, I think, undeniable. Am I putting too much stock in this? I thought St. Therese was pretty “legit”, and known for sending roses, so I trusted.

Time is running out, and so is my patience. I can’t understand why God, through Saint Therese, would promise something that I truly believe is a completely good thing, and then not carry through; why He would get my hopes up like that on the issue most important to me in the world, and then let me down. When things started going wrong, I clung to what I thought was the childlike faith we’re supposed to strive for, and trusted that everything would work out in the end because God can do anything. “Maybe this is just a test”, I thought. But now it seems almost impossible that what I thought I had been promised will happen, and I’ve fought against it but now am succumbing to anger, etc. at God. If what I desire is wrong, then why did it seem that, over the 2.5 years I’ve been praying about it, God again and again kept pointing me in the same direction and encouraging me to keep hoping for it? I’ve put countless hours of prayer, rosaries, Eucharistic adoration, Masses, sacrifices, etc. into this. If no prayer is wasted, then why doesn’t God use the merit of my prayers to point me in the right direction if I’m not in it already? I’ve been getting so sad, depressed, and angry recently, it’s driving me crazy. I’m normally a pretty happy person, but I can’t seem to get out of this pit. I beg God for help, even just to stop feeling so sad all the time, and don’t seem to get any reply, any help, nothing.

There are so many passages in the Bible about the efficacy of prayer:
Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.” “And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.” And many more. Now I feel like that’s just a pack of lies - though at the same time I really don’t believe it is lies because I believe in God and that He is goodness itself. So it’s a battle of feelings and evidence (or lack of evidence) against my beliefs and what I know to be true.

I’m crying out from the depths and asking God to hear my voice, but it doesn’t feel like He is. I believe, but maybe my belief isn’t strong enough - I want and really need to see a sign of God’s love. What’s the point of praying if our prayers don’t get answered? Even if I can’t get what I want, why isn’t God helping me in any other way? Why does God tell us to ask and we shall receive, if it’s not true? How do I reconcile what the Bible says about the efficacy of prayer, with the stark reality that my prayers are not being answered in any way?


#2

I apologize in that I did not read your entire post but just wanted to bring up one issue on prayer, and specifically relate it to the life of St Therese…

Many saints have written about various “Dark nights”. These are times when God feels far from us and no matter how hard we try we cannot seem to make connection or gain any comfort. He does this often after giving us some great comfort so as to allow us to draw closer to and lean even more fully on him instead of ourselves.

I recall something from St Therese’s autobiography - I can’t remember just where - in which she compares herself to a little ball, a toy, that belongs to the Child Jesus. Sometimes the Holy Child plays with the ball, and the ball (therese) is very happy. but sometimes the Holy Child ignores the Ball. This makes the Ball very sad - miserable in fact.
The question St Therese asked herself about this and the answer she came up with were wonderful.
She felt at first as you do, very sad and disconsolate that her redeemer would seemingly ignore her. Yet she determined that, she had offered herself to Christ as his possesion, His toy. If he chose to play with her or ignore her was not for her to say. She was to only be His and trust that, after a time of ignoring “the toy”, He would return to her once more.

I’m not sure if I explained that very well. Perhaps someone else might know about where this is in St Therese’s writings.

The long and short is that we must know that God will both comfort us and test us. He will console us and also stretch us beyond what we are capable of so that we learn to rely on what HE is capable of.
When All elso fails, and you are miserable, just pray to God, “Pleae Lord, Just don’t let go of me”.

Peace
James


#3

How do you know He’s not? Your not being aware of His action is not proof that He is not acting on your behalf. Learning to trust is a very hard thing. Maybe Therese sent you roses to help you learn that.

Betsy


#4

Thanks, James, that is very helpful.


#5

Melina,

Keep trusting the Lord and ask Him to increase your faith.

He is right there with you, and knows you inside and out. He loves you infinitely.

Peace,

Dorothy


#6

Oh…and sometimes we get thorns when we pray for roses. The good Lord knows what He is about. He wants us to grow in faith for our own good.


#7

I know where you’re coming from. I, too, have been struggling with major life issues over the past several years, and it hasn’t become any clearer as time goes by even though my devotion to Him has grown deeper during this time.

Maybe, that is the whole point! Maybe He allows these confusions and desperate yearnings to enter our lives so that He can show us (people who can be very slow to pick up on things) that there is something far more precious than what we believe or want to be true. Maybe our struggle will end so much differently than we expected. Maybe, instead of getting what we were praying for, we get the One to whom we are praying to!

Maybe we will find Someone instead of something. It may not sound comforting right now, but God always desires that we know Him more intimately. I believe that you are on that path right now. You expect something, but you are about to get more than you bargained for! :smiley:


#8

:hug1:

maybe the roses did not mean that the request would be answered… maybe St Therese wanted you to know that amidst these trials, she is there with you praying for you, and God is there. Remember that prayer is answered according to God’s will… maybe this is God’s will for you right now. Maybe your request would be answered, only later on… it happens sometimes that God doesn’t answer our prayers right away cause He wants us to learn trust.

Try to trust Him anyways, and try to trust in St Therese’s intercession, not that your specific request WILL be granted (in that, surrender to His will) but that she is praying for you and God is with you. Maybe through her intercession you would have the strength to bear this trial.

God bless


#9

I’m crying out from the depths and asking God to hear my voice, but it doesn’t feel like He is. I believe, but maybe my belief isn’t strong enough - I want and really need to see a sign of God’s love. What’s the point of praying if our prayers don’t get answered? Even if I can’t get what I want, why isn’t God helping me in any other way? Why does God tell us to ask and we shall receive, if it’s not true? How do I reconcile what the Bible says about the efficacy of prayer, with the stark reality that my prayers are not being answered in any way?

sometimes God doesn’t answer our prayers to give us something even greater - more faith in Him. But in order to find this faith, we need to be ready to love and trust Him even when we feel He is absent, even when things are going badly and we feel abandoned. As CS Lewis said, when a person looks around at a world from which God appears to have vanished, asks why he has been abandoned, but still obeys…that is a real victory against the enemy. I think St Therese went through this too… when she suffered from tuberculosis, she went through a terrible ‘dark night’…but her endurance at this time is partly what made her a Saint :slight_smile: it’s impossible to become a Saint without suffering, without contradictions, without the Cross… what you’re going through is what Christ went through when He prayed, “My God, why have You forsaken Me.” When we trust in God and He doesn’t answer, that can ONLY mean one thing - that He is trying to teach us greater faith, that’s not reliant on feelings or things we can see. And sometimes once we learn our answer, only then He grants our original request :slight_smile:

if you feel doubts about God’s love… (this happens to us all) spend time thinking about the Cross and the Eucharist.

God bless


#10

Sometimes the tighter we hold onto our request, the harder for it to come through.
Try to relinquish, let go and let God.

I say this based on my own experience. I have prayed for long time for certain intention, including Novena to St. Therese. And I have received red roses several times during the novenas. But the answer did not come years later until I did my best to relinquish my desire to God. It is not easy to let go. Time and again I asked God help me to relinquish my desire. And the desired answer comes through.

Pray without ceasing, give thanks always, and have the faith of obedience.

God bless!


#11

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.