Rejoice in hope, endure in affliction, persevere in prayer. —Romans 12:12
Sometimes when our prayers aren’t answered right away, we lose hope because we are more likely to expect a “fast miracle.” Yet some of the greatest miracles are the ones that unfold over time as a result of a great effort in prayer.
When God takes his time, we have much to gain. We learn about his love with lessons in trust and hope. When we persevere in prayer on our way toward a miracle, we grow stronger and weaker at the same time: stronger in faith and weaker in our own self-reliance. That is always a good thing.
While you are praying in earnest for your miracle, don’t give up on gratitude. Let it be the undercurrent of all your prayers. When I was waiting on God to send me a baby, I praised him for his perfect timing, even though I didn’t understand it. I thanked him for the barrenness that I was experiencing, both physically and spiritually.
Even though the waiting time left me feeling frustrated and fearful, I kept praying with a grateful heart because Scripture is full of accounts of the power of praise and thanksgiving to work miracles even and especially in the midst of doubt and despair. The Catechism of the Catholic Church has this advice: “Do not be troubled if you do not immediately receive from God what you ask him; for he desires to do something even greater for you, while you cling to him in prayer” (2737).
We rarely know what God is doing through our perseverance, but the story of the Canaanite woman in Scripture reminds us that persistence in prayer pays off (Matthew 15:21-28). She was someone who would not be denied! She cried out to Jesus, followed him, and persisted in engaging him to heal her daughter, even as she was being scolded and pushed away by his disciples.
Initially it seems as if Jesus is being harsh and unresponsive. But then he grants her prayer and praises her for her great faith. With Jesus, we can be confident that there is always a miracle in the making.
Lord, give me the grace to grow in confidence and perseverance.
Read more of Anne Costa’s inspiring reflections about prayer, joy, and the Christian life in Breaking into Joy: Meditations for Living in the Love of Christ (The Word Among Us Press, 2014). Available at wau.org/books