When our prayers are seemingly unanswered, our hearts can break. The wound can shake our faith. However, age has given us wisdom. We know that these moments require an act of the will. “In spite of this seeming setback, I believe.” It might be challenging, but this is all a part of spiritual maturity.
The question becomes far more difficult when it is being posed by a young child. How do we help our children remain faithful when their prayers are seemingly unanswered? Our experience, wisdom and words often fail us. The child’s eyes might already be welling with tears, and lips quivering. The child’s heart is pure, and prayers are full, and yet the good Lord has not answered in the desired way.
It is precisely at this time that our acts of the will must be firm. This can be a pivotal moment for the child — let’s call her Rose. Just as at her baptism, we spoke for Rose, now our faith must sustain her. We have to be “all in” for the faith; any disbelief on our behalf will be magnified in her.
Let me speak firmly to parents. In order to help our children, we must seek to be in a state of grace. If needed, go to confession today. Sin clouds, or even covers, our vision, and we are about to ask for guidance from the Holy Spirit. It is important for the soul to be in order for reception of the Spirit.
Now, back to young Rose. She is wounded; comfort her. While you hold her, quietly whisper prayers, just so she can hear. Call on the Holy Spirit, on the mother of mercy, on the angels and saints, especially her guardian angel and patron saint. Even if your whisper is just “Jesus,” it is enough.
When spoken words return, the question might come from deep in her soul, “Why?” The answer, with a sense of mystery, may well need to be, “I don’t know.” Rose has asked an age-old question; perhaps it is necessary to give her age-old answers, which are really questions.
Job questioned God, but was answered with questions. “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?” This was a discourse of wonder. Job realizes his smallness and God’s greatness. G.K. Chesterton
explains, “The riddles of God are more satisfying than the solutions of man.”
Give Rose the wonder of God. “Rose, where were we when God created the earth? Where were we when he made the sky, and the sea, the earth, the animals and plants?” Let her probe the questions with you.
Finally, it must come back to his plan for all time, which has always included Rose. There is something wonderful in being small enough to fit in his great plan.
Remind her that God is love. “Rose, even right now, when your prayer remains unanswered, you are right in the middle of God, right in the middle of love.”
Bormes, a member of Holy Family in St. Louis Park, is the author of the book “The Catechism of Hockey.”