As a child of God, I am a selfish little person. When confronted with the troubles of another, I might shoot off a quick “dear God, help that person” or “send me some wisdom here, please,” but, for the most part, I pray mainly about my troubles and generally for the good of all.
Lately, God has been tweaking me with these gentle cosmic flicks that are sending me the message that maybe I am not just on the receiving end of prayers. Sometimes, God says, you, Barbara, get to be the angel and answer someone’s prayer.
In my clinical internship here at Loyola, a client quietly smacked me across the head with her thankful words a few weeks ago. She had been referred for counseling because she was having some difficulties in her life and had been afraid that she had something seriously wrong with her. Why else, she said, would someone refer her for counseling? It had not occurred to me that anyone would be frightened of me or counseling. Another client told me she had been praying for help in the moments before I waltzed in and became her counselor. I am humbled in their presence because I am the one who shines from all of their hard work.
My halo gets a little dingy as I get caught up in my own struggles. It often sits atop my head a little dented and skewed to one side especially after I’ve had an altercation with early morning rush hour traffic and drivers who think they are special (meaning they don’t have to use turn signals, follow at a safe distance, or drive within the speed limit). As I am mouthing sometimes not-so-silent curses, someone out there is saying a prayer: let me get to work safely . . . please, someone, let me get off at this exit . . . I hope no one rear ends me with my child in the back seat.
I can be the answer to all of those prayers, too.
As a pastoral presence, we are the answer to someone’s prayer whether that prayer was spoken or silent, whether it was conscious or unconscious, and whether it was the prayer of the person sitting across from us or the prayer of a person we may never meet. If you have asked God for help and that help is a long time in coming, be patient. Some of us angels are just now learning how to fly.
Whose prayer can you be an answer to?