07/09/2017 - "A CHORD OF THREE STANDS IS NOT EASILY BROKEN!"
“A CHORD OF THREE STRANDS IS NOT EASILY BROKEN!”
Last Sunday, we lifted up to the Cross of Jesus one of our customs here at St. Louise. In the light that shines from the beautiful countenance of our Savior, we hope our custom of prayer partners to be purified and bathed in His light. We also hope that as we understand prayer partners more fully, embrace it more deeply, and take the next step that it will bear great fruit in the life of our parish family.
I first heard of the prayer partners custom at the Amazing Parish Conference in Denver, CO. Fr. James Mallon described the custom that he embraced at his parish in Nova Scotia, Canada. As I heard him describe it, I was greatly inspired. “That’s it!” I thought! At the beginning of each weekend Holy Mass, God’s people are encouraged to turn to someone near them, tell them their name, and then entrust a person or situation that is in need of prayer. Next, during the Holy Mass, especially during the Prayers of the Faithful and the Holy Sacrifice, we lift up to Jesus our prayer partner and their intention. We might pray: “Jesus, please have compassion on that person!” or “Jesus, please console them with your presence and promise!” or “Jesus, please break the chains that are binding that person!”
Thus far, prayer partners has born good fruit for our parish family here at St. Louise. Parishioners have commented on the joy of overcoming the awkwardness of not knowing the names of the people they have sat next to for the past twenty years. Miracles of healing have been worked in our midst: from a person who was healed of their cancer to a woman who came out of a coma as we were praying for her during Holy Mass. We’ve also heard stories of people that stopped by to our Church for the first time in thirteen years, and how they were overwhelmed with the love, compassion and care that was shown them through their prayer partner.
“CAN SOMETHING BE DONE FOR HER?”
In the story of Elisha, we discovered one of the many reasons we have embraced prayer partners. Elisha had received kindness and hospitality from a family. He was naturally moved to ask if something could be done for them. His servant let him know that the woman had no children and her husband was advanced in age. Elisha took her need to heart. He turned to the living God and spoke to God with humility, trust, and boldness on her behalf.
In his conversation with the Lord, he was inspired to speak a word of blessing: next year, when he returned to visit the family, she would be fondling a little baby boy in her arms!
Elisha’s example shows us that it is a sign that the gift of faith is alive and working in our lives when we are aware of and concerned about the needs of others. Once aware, we then stand before the living God and speak to Him on behalf of the one in need. This turning towards the Lord allows Him to fill our hearts with that which is on His heart! Prayer partners is a wonderful custom for allowing us to become aware of and concerned about the needs of our brothers and sisters!
“BUT PRAYER BY THE CHURCH WAS FERVENTLY BEING MADE TO GOD ON HIS BEHALF!”
In Acts chapter 12, we discover that we can expect great things as we go deeper and embrace more fully the custom of prayer partners. St. Peter found himself in prison, guarded by four sets of four guards each, plus a guard on either side of him as he was in double chains. His situation was hopeless and he was helpless: there was no way he could be set free from that prison. But, then St. Luke tells us, the Church was praying fervently to the living God on his behalf. As more of us respond and believe in the love the Father has for us in His Son, Jesus, something extraordinary happens to our faith. Just as Holy Mary heard from the Archangel Gabriel, as he brought the Good News that she was to become the Mother of our Savior, “for God, nothing is impossible!”, our faith begins to turn to the Lord with great confidence in His power and goodness. Just as Peter was miraculously set free from the prison, his chains broken and doors opened, through the intercession of an angel, we too will experience mighty deeds of healing both physical and moral: people will be healed of their illness and set free from their addictions!
A chord of three strands is not easily broken! When we pray on our own, for our own intentions, especially when the situation is grave, we are prone to discouragement, losing hope, and even losing our faith. God has chosen to save us as a family. Prayer partners allow us to turn to a brother or sister and benefit from their prayerful and loving support. Our vision can become blurred and we can lose hope when we, or someone we love is suffering. Our prayer partner stands by us, looks up to the Cross of Jesus, and inspires us to have great hope and confidence in our Lord!
TAKING THE NEXT STEP
In listing these next steps for our custom of prayer partners, my hope is that one of them will resonate for each person in the parish:
¨ Prayerfully prepare for your exchange with your prayer partner. During the afternoon or in the morning as you prepare for Holy Mass, ask Jesus to show you someone in need. That way when your prayer partner turns to you, you already have an intention in your heart.
¨ If you are uncomfortable with the custom of prayer partners and maybe not ready to approach someone else, begin to pray for that other person during Holy Mass. Ask Jesus to bless them and help them. Believe me, this turning to Jesus and asking Him to bless one of your brothers and sisters is a great place to start.
¨ If you are uncomfortable with the custom of prayer partners and someone approaches you: be courteous, simply tell them your name, and ask them to pray for a “special intention”.
¨ Write down the intention of your prayer partner and then during the week, especially at 6pm as we pray our 6pm prayer, lift up your prayer partner and their intention. How beautiful to cover our prayer partner in prayer during the whole week: great blessings will come from this!
¨ While at Holy Mass, especially during the prayers of the faithful and during the elevation, when Father lifts up the Body and Blood of Jesus to the Father, pray fervently for your prayer partner and their intention. Pray with humility, trust, and boldness!
Whatever your plans are for this week, let’s remember to keep each other in prayer.
In Jesus and Mary,