Chelle Summer


Quietly Answered Prayer

Michelle Rusk

I have experienced enough life to understand that prayer can often feel dry and empty. Particularly over the past five years as I have worked to grow spiritually, I've really begun to understand that there are times when prayer feels like...nothing.

And in my recent life– with certain aspects of it, especially professionally as I grow a new business and continue to write (as well as maintain a full-time job), it can be frustrating when I'm asking for help to move forward. Yet I feel like there I am, standing in one place, nothing happening. And I'm alone.

Still, I know I'm not alone, I know that God is always with me. I don't doubt any of it. But there are times when I wonder what's really going on because it feels as if nothing is going in the direction I want it to. Wait, I should clarify that– at the pace I want it to go. Nothing ever moves as quickly as I would like.

There I sat last week in my studio– the room I lovingly call my "sweat shop" although when the swamp cooler is on, it's one of the coolest rooms in the house– making one of my Our Lady of Guadalupe prayer dolls for our new priest's mother's birthday. 

As I sat there gluing on her hair, drawing her face, sewing her dress, and, finally, adding the snaps to her cape and her dress, I realized how lucky I am that my sewing adventures began with making Barbie clothes. That has helped me with Guadalupe's dresses. And as I have written recently, practice does make perfect. Or at least better!

And then my mind wandered– as it often does while I'm working– and in my head popped an answer to a prayer: the second half of manuscript that had felt seeming impossible for several months.

There it was, suddenly appearing in a moment where I least expected it.

Many times prayer is dry and empty. And then there are those quiet moments that the answers appear as if out of nowhere. But they aren't out of nowhere. They were just waiting for the right moment to appear. 

Some call it grace. I call it an answered prayer. 

A Reminder as the Lenten Journey Ends

Michelle Rusk

Sometimes I repeat myself in a blog. A year might go by but usually I find myself writing about something I had shared some aspect of in the past, mostly because I have realized something different about it. And I figure that if I am thinking about it, probably someone out there could use similar inspiration.

I still talk too much in my prayers.

I hadn't thought much about it in quite a while but suddenly at mass on Saturday I realized that I'm like a constant chatterbox when I pray. I'm that friend who gets you on the phone and you only have to say an occasional "Uh huh" (and you can probably put the phone down and make a sandwich without them knowing it) to keep up your end of the conversation.

Which makes me wonder if God is making sandwiches as I pray– or even keeping tabs on several prayers happening at the same time (more likely). 

The reality is that we were taught to say prayers, to ask for what we need/want/desire. There are unlimited numbers of prayer cards and prayers available to us. We were taught to memorize certain prayers growing up.

So how would we know the importance of silence during a prayer?

No one taught me that it's just as important to listen in our prayer as it is to ask. I'm too busy with my list that I forget to listen, too. And while I know that often the answers don't come during prayers, instead we usually find the answers present themselves to us at moments when we least expect them to. It can happen when we are in the middle of something unrelated (perhaps, cooking dinner) or when our minds have time to wander and we aren't thinking about anything in particular.

But if we don't listen– as difficult as that can be because our minds tend to wander when we "rest" during prayer– we'll never hear the answers. It might feel dry to listen during prayer, but remember that it's part of the give and take of the conversation. We don't give God a chance to give to us if all we do is keep asking.