My term paper had become a personal crusade of sorts. I wanted to prove to my college professor that the resurrection of Jesus Christ had never happened. Yet as I researched the topic, I began to ask myself how a worldwide faith that has endured for two millennia started in Palestine—with the execution of a Jewish rabbi. Many people had claimed to be the Messiah, but Jesus’ case was different. Why?
This question burned inside of me. As I studied and mulled it over, I became convinced that the resurrection of Jesus must have really happened. Therefore, Jesus must be God! My research paper hadn’t caused my faith to shrivel up; instead, it blossomed.
That was a half century ago—just before I married my wife, Mary Anne. Today, she and I are both dedicated to helping others to know the love of Christ. We firmly believe in the power of the Holy Spirit to transform lives and to heal people. We’ve received many healings, both unexpectedly and through prayer, starting with my “healing” from unbelief in college. The next one came during our early years of marriage.
Fasting for an Answer. In the beginning, we were very happy. Mary Anne had converted to Catholicism, and we were active at our parish. I was on the fast track in the pharmaceutical company where I worked. Then my boss asked me to take a new position that moved us from California to Connecticut, far from family and friends. With three kids at home and me constantly on the road, Mary Anne struggled. We argued a lot, and our marriage suffered. Truthfully, my job had become the most important thing to me, and I had lost sight of the needs of my wife and children. Our home life grew increasingly unpleasant, and I began to consider a divorce.
At this point, Mary Anne wanted nothing more than to return home to California. While driving one day and praying about her situation, she heard God say, “Mary Anne, I want you to do some fasting. I will show you my will, and you will have peace.” After that car ride, she fasted from sugar, praying for me and asking God to give us an answer for our marital difficulties.
She fasted one month. Then another. Then another. Then one day my boss decided to transfer us back to California. Mary Anne attributed the decision to prayer and fasting and thanked God for his faithfulness. We returned to the support of friends and family. We asked each other for forgiveness for our failings. We worked to mend our marriage, and God healed it.
Offering God Even More. But God still had more work to do in our lives. After our move, we attended a large charismatic conference. At one point, as I was walking across the conference floor, I heard the song “Yahweh, You Are Near” and saw myself with poor and sick people, taking part in evangelizing missions. For the first time, I began to wonder if God was calling me to be something other than a business executive. It was as if he were telling me, “This is how I see you.” This brief but powerful experience helped me be open to more change.
Then one day I got into a conversation with a coworker about faith. The depth of his belief and his excitement about God impressed me. He told me it had come from offering his heart and will to God. As I drove home from our business meeting that day, I wondered if God was also calling me to do the same thing. The house was empty when I got home, so I went into my bedroom and offered this fervent prayer: “Lord, I give you my entire life.”
After that, many of my goals and desires did indeed begin to change. I was hungry for God’s word, so I dusted off our family Bible and began to read it for the first time. I mean, really read it—six to eight hours a day—and then I’d talk about what I was learning with Mary Anne or whomever else would listen. Mary Anne also grew in faith, devoting time to daily prayer and Scripture study. Now that God had healed our marriage, he seemed to be inviting us to get to know him on a deeper level so that we could share our faith and bring his loving, healing touch to others.
Childlike Faith. As our faith grew and deepened, Mary Anne and I began reading about the many miracles that have happened in the history of the Church and that still happen today. We both became convinced that God wanted us to step out in faith and ask him for miracles. We knew they might not come according to our timing or in the way we expected, but we believed they would come.
When we shared this conviction with our young children, our son Paul, age three, announced, “Jesus will give me a rainbow.” He patiently waited for God to deliver the rainbow, even though we were in the middle of a Southern California drought. With no miracle in sight, Paul thanked God every day for answering his prayer. Then one day while we were on vacation, all the lawn sprinklers at the hotel suddenly came on at once—and in each one we could see a small rainbow. Paul was elated, and we were reminded of how God meets each of our desires in unexpected yet deeply personal ways.
The Gift of Prayer. Over the next few years, Mary Anne and I attended Bible studies and prayer gatherings. We even went on overseas pilgrimage trips. That gave us many opportunities to pray with people. And as we began to pray, we saw remarkable results.
For example, a friend of ours, John, had just been diagnosed with stage four lung cancer. He was preparing to undergo some more tests, and that day at church, he asked me to pray with him. As we stood outdoors in front of an image of the Blessed Mother, I prayed for John’s healing. As I did, he felt something like fire shooting through the left side of his body where the cancer was located. The following day he went in for his testing and learned that he was cancer-free. He remains cancer-free to this day.
Mary Anne and I still work as a team, looking for opportunities to share God’s love and pray for people’s needs. We have no doubt that God still heals and still answers prayers miraculously. Every week God adds new chapters to the “book of healing stories” that he is writing. I hope that by sharing some of ours here, you will be inspired to keep praying with childlike faith.
Steve Greco was ordained a deacon in 2007. “Deacon Steve” and Mary Anne live in the Diocese of Orange, California. You can learn more about their ministry at spiritfilledhearts.org.
Jim Graves is a Catholic writer living in Newport Beach, California.