Persisting in Prayer - A Letter from Kara Becker

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My dear sisters,

Often in my life, I have gone through periods where I have found prayer to be difficult. I have questioned, and ranted, and thrown up my hands in the air with exasperation. I have struggled to hear the Lord’s voice and feel a deep personal connection to Him. Sharing this struggle brings me no small amount of shame. I'm ashamed to admit that I have questioned and argued with God intensely in small areas and in large ones. Are you there God? Do you even exist? If you are there, do you care about me at all? These questions and others have regularly echoed in my heart.

"I'm ashamed to admit that I have questioned and argued with God intensely in small areas and in large ones. Are you there God? Do you even exist? If you are there, do you care about me at all? These questions and others have regularly echoed in my heart."

I have often wished for a spiritual 2x4 to hit me in the head, to reveal to me God's presence and plan for my life. I have come to learn though that God does not often work in such a dramatic fashion. Instead, He appears to us in the people around us - our loved ones, our friends, our acquaintances, and the stranger in the street.

Middle school marks the first time that I remember facing a period of intense doubt. Though I was a cradle Catholic and raised in a loving family, during this period of my life, I felt entirely disconnected from God. "Why should I pray? God is not there, or if He is, He isn't listening to me! He doesn't care about me at all,” I screamed at my mother.

In the midst of this period, my parents sent me on a pilgrimage to Medjugorje with a family friend. I went begrudgingly, excited to travel out of the country, but not excited to be doing more "faith stuff." I only knew one other girl on the trip and everyone else spoke German, so while I enjoyed spending time with them, I struggled a little to communicate.

One hot, sunny morning near the beginning of the trip, we began to hike up Apparition Hill. As we plodded up the mountain, we prayed together. About halfway up the mountain, there stood a tall, wooden cross. One by one, the members of our group (and the other groups nearby) approached the cross and knelt to pray.

"About halfway up the mountain, there stood a tall, wooden cross. One by one, the members of our group (and the other groups nearby) approached the cross and knelt to pray."

I stood off to the side, shoulders slumped and a stony expression on my face. An old woman I had never seen before approached me. She tried to speak to me in several languages, before eventually switching to broken English. With an arm extended, she gestured towards the cross and called to me, "Come, come..." I resisted, shaking my head, but she persisted. Grasping my arm, she pleaded with me, "Come, come. Come to Jesus. He is calling you. Come."

With tears streaming down my face, I followed her to the foot of the cross. As I knelt in the dust, my heart softened and I felt a rush of overwhelming peace. I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that God was not only there with me, but that He loved me and cared about me on a personal level.

"As I knelt in the dust, my heart softened and I felt a rush of overwhelming peace. I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that God was not only there with me, but that He loved me and cared about me on a personal level."

This moment marked a massive turning point in my journey with Christ. Though I sometimes still struggle with prayer, I have never forgotten this experience. When the inevitable challenges of life arise, I picture the old woman in my mind and remember her wise words. I pause and try to reorient my heart to the Lord. I beg Him to tear down the boundaries and walls I have built up. I ask Him to speak truth and light into the circumstances of my life and I try to carve out time for silence, space for Him to move.

Our culture prizes emotions and feelings above all else. Everything in our world screams at us to do what makes us happy, to surround ourselves only with the things and people that make us feel good. When we do not feel emotionally close to the Lord, it is easy to buy into the lie that emotions are what matter most. It becomes easy for us to indulge in Netflix or alcohol or shallow friendships, rather than turning to the Lord in prayer, because distracting ourselves from our pain is far easier than facing the pain.

"When we do not feel emotionally close to the Lord, it is easy to buy into the lie that emotions are what matter most. It becomes easy for us to indulge in Netflix or alcohol or shallow friendships, rather than turning to the Lord in prayer, because distracting ourselves from our pain is far easier than facing the pain."

But my dear sisters, do not forget… our Lord has not and will never abandon you. No matter what sins you have committed or what curveballs life has thrown at you, He is there. He is there with you in the muck, in the grime, in the darkness. Whether you feel His presence or not, He walks alongside you, longing to carry your burdens for you. All you must do is turn to Him.

Turning to the Lord when you do not hear His voice is challenging. But Our Lord will never force Himself upon you; instead, he will wait patiently with open arms for you to turn to Him.

"Whether you feel His presence or not, He walks alongside you, longing to carry your burdens for you. All you must do is turn to Him."

Remember that Saint Mother Teresa too experienced the dark night of the soul. She wrote, “The longing for God is terribly painful and yet the darkness is becoming greater. What contradiction there is my soul.” Despite this vast emptiness, she persevered daily, ultimately obtaining that heavenly crown that we all long for.

While I cannot fathom the depths of desolation she must have experienced, in small ways throughout my life, I too have experienced desolation and confusion. Mother Teresa’s example gives me courage to remain steadfast in prayer. Know that you are not the first woman to struggle to hear His voice, nor will you be the last.

A wise friend of mine once told me that when you feel far from the Lord but persist in prayer, you are closer to him then than you are when you feel the fullness of His peace and presence. Relationships take work. Friendships take effort. And so it is in prayer too…


My dearest sisters – let us persist in prayer together. Let us turn over our aching hearts to the Lord. Let us rise in the morning and bow our heads and bend our knees even in the midst of exhaustion. Let us tear down the protective barriers we have erected around our hearts and surrender our burdens to Him. Let us embrace the Lord wholeheartedly, with confidence that He will never abandon us. Let us come.

Come to the foot of the cross. Come to Jesus. He is calling you. Come.

xoxo

Kara

"Let us embrace the Lord wholeheartedly, with confidence that He will never abandon us. Let us come."


About Kara Becker

My name is Kara Becker and I’m a 25 year old stay at home mama. My husband, Michael, is the Director of Operations/Director of Religious Education for our parish and we have two children (Andrew, aged 2, and another on the way). I graduated from Belmont Abbey College with degrees in Elementary Education and Theology and worked for awhile in parish based ministry before making the decision to stay home with our sweet son. Currently, I live in the great land of the pines where I drink way too much Chick-fil-A sweet tea and soak up every minute I can get outdoors. I’m a Carolina girl through and through! I’m passionate about living out each day with prayerful intention and stripping away the excess in order to focus on what matters most to me - my faith and my family. In my downtime, I enjoy curling up on the couch with a good fiction book, hiking, playing board games, and belting out songs from musicals.


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Kara Becker

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