Week after week, Mass after Mass, for way too many years, I thought I was doing God a favor.
In that quiet space that follows the pastor's weekly directive, We now pray for our own intentions, time and again, I intentionally gave God my silence and seriously thought I was helping him out.
For years I was certain this was the right thing to do. I was sure that millions on earth had intentions that were far more urgent than anything I could come up with, and wouldn't it be selfish of me to add my thoughts and requests to the mix?
How many millions need to pray every Sunday for their loved ones to beat cancer? How many need to pray for the most essential things, like enough food to feed the family, a big enough paycheck to cover the rent? Millions, no doubt, but not me.
My silence, my withholding prayer, was what God would appreciate. Less work for him, right? (That is how downright confused I was about how He worked.)
You, my blog-reading friends, are undoubtedly more spiritually mature than I, and you wouldn't make such an amateur mistake. However, tell me this: Has there ever been a time when you stopped praying? Maybe when the kids were young or the job was crazy you had trouble finding time for prayer. Or maybe your felt your prayers were going unanswered, so you stopped talking to God? Or perhaps there is a special person in your life -- a friend/neighbor/daughter -- who is hurting and who does not pray and you feel it deep in your bones that she would feel SO much better if she did talk to God?
Would you like to know what broke my silence -- what got me praying regularly, not only in church but in the car, in the kitchen (and yes, in the shower)?
It was what author Lisa Brenninkmeyer wrote in Lesson 4 of Opening Your Heart, the WWP foundational Bible Study. Lesson 4 is titled, “Why and How Should I Pray?” When I reviewed this lesson with my Opening Your Heart study group last fall, I highlighted two things, and for me to swipe yellow ink across a book page is a big deal, because I love books and I cringe a little when I have to deface one with a pen or pencil.
Here's what I highlighted:
“When children ask for what they need, they ask big. They ask with boldness. God wants our prayers to be filled with the faith that believes the impossible can happen, because when we tame them we are saying that God isn't all that powerful, or that He doesn't really care about our dreams and our needs...”
“Your prayers are evidence of your confidence in God.”1
That was it. For me, it was the green light to go ahead and start talking to Him. It was the affirmation to pray for anything, anytime; to trust it was someone else's job to guide me because I am really not the one in the driver's seat on my life's journey. And now I chat with Him all the time, and now I believe that He doesn't mind my chatter at all. And while I have yet to ask for or receive any sort of miracle, what I have received is something that I can only describe as an invisible blanket -- a blanket that is really thick and warm and even though you can't see it, it's always on my shoulders.
PS: I'm thinking many of you have also experienced the foundational WWP Bible study, Opening Your Heart, but what about that friend/neighbor/daughter who, like me, needs to know the basics? Who could benefit from a closer relationship with God? Feel free to share this blog post with her.
Blessings and Peace,
Learn more about Opening Your Heart here!
1 Lisa Brenninkmeyer, Opening Your Heart (2010-2018), p. 45
I remember my first official day of working for Walking with Purpose vividly. I hit the ground running in Chicago, surrounded by more than 8,000 college students at SLS 2018, a young adult conference hosted by FOCUS, the Fellowship of Catholic University Students.
This time was exciting for a variety of reasons, but more than anything, it is etched in my mind because I encountered the excitement of college-aged girls as Walking with Purpose answered a question they have had for years: What resources do you have to help us enter into Scripture and deepen our relationship with Jesus?
For the first time, Walking with Purpose had a response to the one big road block that has consistently planted itself in the way of young adult women seeking to dive into Scripture. We finally had something for the age group that is often left out to wander without much direction.
At SLS 2018, we released our very first Young Adult Bible study series based off of our foundational Opening Your Heart study. This Opening Your Heart Young Adult series is made up of three six-week Bible studies: Beloved, Unshaken, and Steadfast. Each study is meant to help women enter into a deeper relationship with Christ through Scripture and the teachings of the Catholic church.
Throughout the past year, it has been overwhelming to witness the reactions of young adult women when they realize that something has been created just for them. For so many of them, this was an answered prayer.
It is now, with great excitement that I announce our newest editions to the Young Adult Bible study series: The Keeping in Balance Young Adult series. Like the OYHYA series, these studies are based on a Walking with Purpose adult women's Bible studies. Based on Keeping in Balance, these studies, titled Harmony, Perspective, and Exhale, will be released this January, with a special appearance at this year's FOCUS SEEK2019 conference with over 14,000 college students expected.
Each part of this new series speaks to the heart of a busy young adult woman struggling to find balance in a world pulling her in a thousand different directions. I would have done anything to have had these Bible studies when I was in college.
In the first part, Harmony, young adult women will learn how to get a grip on their lives by looking at the importance of living authenticity, setting priorities, managing expectations, and nurturing healthy relationships. Additionally, they will also explore finding a balance between mediocrity and perfectionism so that they can become the women God created them to be without stressing or striving.
Then, in part two, Perspective, young women will learn how to become more content, grow stronger in areas where they've felt as if they failed a million times, and get moving when they feel like settling for the status quo. This part also explores how they can engage the culture as Catholics at a time when the reputation of Christians is at an all-time low.
Finally, in part three, Exhale (don't you just love that title), young women will discover how to establish a rhythm of rest, worship and surrender. For women longing for more simplicity in their life and are ready to order their thoughts so that they can experience inner peace (things we all want, am I right?), this Bible study will both inspire them and provide them with practical steps to make positive change.
As a twenty-two-year-old, I can attest to the fact that learning how to do all of these things while rooting myself in Scripture has been more than a challenge. As a young person, I am extraordinarily excited to dig into these focused studies.
I encourage you to take a moment to reflect upon the young women in your lives. Think about your daughters, granddaughters, nieces, goddaughters, sisters, and friends. Think about your high school students, your college students, and your young adults. Would any of them benefit from studies like these? My guess is that they would!
It has been a pleasure to witness the ways in which Walking with Purpose has spoken to the hearts of this Millennial generation of women over the past year and I am excited to watch them continue to do so. My hope is that you will be jump in and be a part of this.
In Grace and Peace,
P.S.: While the Keeping In Balance young adult studies won't be in stock until January, you can purchase Opening Your Heart studies for young adult women in our store.