Sacred Heart of Jesus

Parish Blog

An answered prayer

I was traveling by plane on a 4-hour flight from New Orleans to Phoenix. As a “good Catholic Youth Minister,” I prayed that the Lord would let me have a row to myself. I wish it were so I had more room to pray however, selfishly, I just didn’t want to talk to anyone. As I took my middle seat on the plane, I waited anxiously as each passenger got on and walked towards my row.  Next thing you know, I found myself in the midst of two passengers. Again, as a “good Catholic Youth Minister,” I prayed “Okay, Lord, since my row is full can you see that no one talks to me, I just need a break?” As that prayer left my thoughts, I could feel God laugh. It wasn’t long after take-off that the gentleman on my left asked me the famous question, “So, what do you do for a living?”  I smiled and said, “I am a Catholic Youth Minister.”  He responded with, “Wow, I’m an atheist,” and the women on my left interrupted, “Oh, I left the Catholic Church years ago.”  It was at that moment where, in the depths of my heart, I asked God, “WHY?!”  

At first thought, it would be easy for me to assume God wasn’t listening. However, looking back, there’s no doubt that conversation bore fruit. God did hear and he most certainly responded. Prayer can appear to be a time taker and hassle maker. However, the more energy I focus on prayer being a gift, the more I can receive the plan God has for my life and not the one I have for my life. Prayer liberates my posture from focusing inward. All successful relationships require an intimate level of communication. In the moments before other passengers arrived, I was so focused on what I wanted that I was ignoring what God wanted.

For years I struggled with anxiety. In those moments I would feel overwhelmed and trapped and would immediately turn to anger as my defense mechanism. It wasn’t until I learned how to pray that I was able to manage my anxiety and eliminate my anger.  Prayer became more than just an Our Father and Hail Mary. Prayer was my heart becoming a dwelling place for Christ. It was my invitation for Christ to enter into my life.

A question that I often ask myself at the beginning of prayer is “God I know you are here, and you want to reveal everything to me. Help me to be small in prayer so that I can hear Your plans and not mine.” I’ve learned that prayer has to be a priority in my life for me to be the person that God desires. I’ve also learned that it’s hard for me to hear Jesus if I don’t give Him my full attention. For me, this means two things, no cell phone and not to pray while I’m lying in bed. My prayer time has become the most important time of my day, knowing that if I weren’t giving that time to Christ, then the anxiety and anger I once carried would return. I now know that my encounter with Christ would sustain my joy and eliminate my fears.  

Lent has always been a season for me to identify the parts in my life that need to be worked on and make the time to do it. This year, this 2017 Lent is all about returning to the basics, simple one on one time with Christ. I also have incorporated the Journey to Jerusalem Lenten Prayer Reflection Guide which has forced me to ask questions that I would have never thought to ask on my own.  Whatever your Lent looks like, remember that this season calls us into the desert where we can begin to take stronger strides with Christ. Let today be your beginning, not tomorrow. 

Here at Sacred Heart, God desires us to dive deeper in prayer and to encounter Him personally.  If you would like to grow in prayer, we are here to help.  Simply stop us after any mass, visit us at the parish office, or connect over the phone or email. 

Praying for you daily.

Jake Etcheverria