I have heard several discussions among women with IF about how long they should continue asking God for the gift of a child. It seems that we often get tired of praying for the same thing all the time, and sometimes feel that we are bugging God, or pressuring Him. The women often say, “I know that God knows the desires of my heart, so should I really keep praying for this?” Or, “Is God’s silence to my prayers an indication that having a child is not His will for me?”
This week we had a parish mission. On the final night, the priest read Matthew 7:7-8 “Ask and it will be given you; seek and you will find; knock and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. “
I could barely wait for his instruction on the passage, knowing how much it relates to our petitions to God for the lifting of our infertility (or the grace to accept it). I wish I had brought some paper with me to write down all of his great insights.
One thing he said is that we shouldn’t see our unanswered prayers as a waste. He then told the story of his father who was basically agnostic. For forty years, the priest prayed for his father to have a conversion. Finally, during a medical crisis, his father finally said he wanted to become Catholic and was baptized. Then today at mass our pastor talked about his recent trip to visit his brother. The brother had fallen away from the faith for almost forty years. He is now returning to the church and his wife and her daughter who are part of a non-denominational church are also considering the Catholic faith. Forty years of persistent prayer! How they must have felt like giving up hope at times, or that their prayers were not heard. With two priests talking about this in the same week, I think God was trying to teach me a lesson about how He answers our prayers. Today our priest spoke about God working with us patiently through our struggles – in small ways, things change. He spoke of how God’s time is not our time. How forty years to God is but the blink of an eye. If they could persevere in prayer for forty years, why am I so impatient when my prayers have not been answered in a few short years? Perhaps God is working in me in small ways, to form me to be the mother He would have me become. Little by little, I have learned of the medical causes of my infertility and miscarriages. These things cannot happen overnight; we must be patient with God.
Our mission priest also spoke of the prayer of petition being an exercise in the virtue of hope. Hope seems to be a recurrent theme this year, with the Pope releasing Spe Salvi and the theme of the papal visit being “Christ our Hope.” I have not read all of Spe Salvi, but one line I read has stuck out in my mind. It seems to stick out in a lot of people’s minds – I see it used often in articles, during sermons, or as people’s email taglines. “The person who has hope lives differently.” I have hope that God will lift the suffering of infertility from me. Knowing that, I need to examine how I should live my life in accordance with that hope. (Maybe I should start by reading that ecyclical!)
“May He grant you your heart’s desire, and fulfill all your plans…May the Lord fulfill all your petitions!” – Psalm 20: 4; 5b
“Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
“The fervent prayer of a righteous person is very powerful.” – James 5:16b
1. Do I become impatient when my prayers seem to go unanswered? How long am I willing to persist in prayer for a petition that is close to my heart?
2. In what ways have I grown during this time of infertility? Have things been revealed to me that I would not have learned otherwise?
3. Do I have hope that God will give me the grace to accept His will in my situation?
4. How will I live differently because of the gift of hope I have received?
Act of Hope and Confidence after Holy Communion
My soul, confide in Jesus. He can do thee every good. He is God and He loves thee. In the Blessed Eucharist He is sweet and mild and generous. Urged by love, He comes to manifest His love to thee. Yes, my dear Jesus, Thou art my hope and my salvation. Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place my trust in Thee. I trust, O Lord, that Thou wilt enkindle in my heart the flame of Thy pure love, and a real desire to please Thee; so that, from this day forward, I may never will anything but what Thou willest. Amen.