Praying with the Cloud of Witnesses (bumped to top)

***Bumped to top for today*** Check below for new posts!

My very dear Father-in-Law had a stroke just about one month ago, and while he came through it extremely well, his vision was so severely afflicted that he was no longer able to drive, or to build the unique toys he loves to make for his grandchildren, or to pick up a hammer or a measuring tape to help a neighbor.

“You’re lucky to be alive and mentally intact,” his doctors told him. “The stroke you had should have turned your world dark. At least you can still see light and shadow, even if there is no hope you will ever see again.”

For some men, just coming through the stroke would have been enough, but my FIL needs to be active, needs to be doing something constructive. He needs to feel useful, and the loss of his sight was for him a heavy cross, added to a year that had already been one continual heartache.

He and my MIL are people of great faith, but they were beginning to wonder if God had foresaken them – if their remaining years would be spent in helplessness and mourning.

Prayers went up – prayers of thanksgiving, that he came through the stroke so well, prayers of supplication that his sight be “somewhat” restored, that if he could not drive, he could at least build and cook again. I know that many regular readers of The Anchoress were petitioners who joined in prayer for that intention.

“How you doing, Pop?” I would ask my FIL, every day.

“I think my eyes are doing better,” he would say. “I really think so!”

I wanted to believe it, but part of me kept thinking that his brain was merely adapting to a new situation. Silly me.

Now, his rather stunned doctor has concluded that – with the exception of a tiny amount of peripheral vision that remains lost – his eyesight has been restored, and restored so fully that he is now able – once again – to drive home. He drove home tonight, singing God’s praises, in humility and thanksgiving and awe.

I wanted to let you know. And to say thank you, to all of you who have been praying, for your generosity of spirit and your gift of faithful example. We do believe we have here – a miracle.

Prayer has power…prayer works.

A friend of mine’s wife needed very risky, scary surgery, and the prayers of many were enlisted. She came through with flying colors and her first words in recovery were, “prayer works!”

Our pal Kobayashi Maru will tell you that prayer has power.

Michelle Malkin has a story up about a Katrina survivor who needs to benefit from the power of prayer, now.

I could list literally hundreds of times in my life where I have seen prayer change things. If I had to testify to only three things I know for certain, one of those three things would be this: Prayer has power; it changes things. It is the only thing that holds when everything else fails or falls apart.

Now, I know many will think me foolish, but I don’t mind that.

I am looking at all of this information concerning Hurricane Rita, and I believe prayer can change the effect of the storm.

I am looking at the state of our nation, and I believe prayer can help heal the tremendous and destructive divide that has thrown us into such disunity. I believe prayer can heal the chasm and repair the breach.

I am looking at one man in a public situation who has perhaps never needed the help of prayer more than he does right now, and another man in my private life who needs lots of prayer as well.

There is only one thing to do – the only thing I can do, really.

Tonight, (basically, as soon as I finish this cup of tea) I am going to be entering into a fast that I hope God will give me the grace to see through for three days. It will be a fasting prayer of Thanksgiving for all of the great and merciful things God has done for me, and for my family, and for my nation…it will be a prayer of supplication, for my family and for my nation, for everyone in a hurricane’s path, and for two men in particular.

I expect great things, not because of I am anyone special, and not because of my puny fast, but because God has promised me – has promised all of us – great things. We know that if we ask for a loaf, we will not be given a stone. He has promised us that a persistant widow can overcome the most heartless and selfish judge. His eye is on the sparrow. He clothes the lillies of the field in splendor, and so much more does he tend to us. And he says that where two or more gather in his name, He is there. [Every answer may not be the one we are looking for - sometimes the best part of prayer is coming to understand the meaning of "thy will be done," but prayer can help find the consolation in that surrender, as well.]

So, today, I pray. I pray every day, but now a bit more intensely. In my prayer, I will be both larger and smaller, both more vocal and more silent. Today I will invite others to pray with me – for us – those who are part of that great cloud of witnesses within the Communion of Saints.

I invite Mary, the Theotokos, the “God-bearer,”

Mary, the Woman Clothed With the Sun to pray for us

I invite Michael, the great Warrior Archangel, patron of First Responders and Soldiers, to pray for us

I invite Raphael, the healer Archangel, to pray for us

I invite Gabriel, the messenger Archangel, to pray for us

I invite St. Joseph, the faithful step-father of the Messiah, to pray for us, and for fathers and heads of households, and all who lead.

I invite St. Benedict, the great Abbot and Father of Western Monasticism to pray for us, and for all who lead.

I invite St. Thomas More, the patron of politicians, to pray for us, and all who lead.

I invite St. Teresa of Avila, the great Abbess and Carmelite Reformer to pray for us, and for mothers and heads of households, and all who lead.

I invite St. Nicholas patron of children, to pray for all of our children, especially those most in need, and their parents.

I invite Presidents and patriots, George Washington,

John Adams,

John Quincy Adams, and

Ronald Reagan

to pray for our nation, and for all who lead.

I invite the great priest and patriot, John Cardinal O’ Connor to pray for our nation and all who lead.

St. Frances Cabrini, patroness of displaced persons, pray for us

I invite the holy pope John Paul II to pray for us, and for the whole world.

I invite Eurosia and Medard, Patron Saints against bad weather, to pray with us for all in the path of Hurricane Rita, and for a weakening of the storm.

I invite you to pray with me – to add your smallness and your largeness, your voices and your silence. To pray for the public needs which affect all of us in our nation, and the private needs of those around you. Join in with my fast, if you like, either physically or spiritually. We live in savagely ugly and wonderously beautiful times. Prayer will help. Extemporaneous prayer. Liturgical prayer. Scriptural prayer. It’s all good!

Let us pray.

The Lord’s Prayer
Morning Prayer
Evening Prayer
Night Prayer
Office of Readings
The Magnificat
Gregorian Chant
Virtual Adoration
Orthodox Icons
Contemporary Icons

UPDATE: Anyone looking to pray the hours over the next three days can find them at the Universalis site. Just click on the appropriate days.

The bracketed insertion – “thy will be done” – was added for clarity.

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • tracey

    That is beautiful, A. I think you do have a miracle. Wonderful news.

  • Jeanette

    Praise God for the miracle in your father in law’s life and for the miracles about to be performed. I know the Lord’s Prayer and will pray that prayer with you and will “freestyle” the other prayers, but always know I am one of the two or three gathered in His Name with you as you pray and therefore He is in our midst. I make this convenant with you.

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  • OBloodyHell

    I don’t want to poopoo the notion of the effectiveness of prayer, but my own understanding of the adaptiveness of the brain suggests that the docs in this case were less than optimistic.

    There is, for example, the case of the inverting glasses — put a pair of inverting lenses onto a subject, and make them wear them 24/7. For a few days to a week, they will need help with everything. Then, suddenly, the image will reverse, top for bottom, and everything will look normal. The brain has reorganized its processing to deal with the new situation. Take off the glasses, and the subject will be back to helplessness, until his brain re-sequences the visual processing again.

    Apparently, the damage to your father’s brain was sufficiently localized that his brain managed to recircuit things to get back nearly full function.

    A *wonderful* thing, no dispute — but not the miracle (unless you want to argue about the brain’s versatility) that it might otherwise appear to be.

  • ukok

    That wa a beautiful post.

    I absolutley love the idea of a fast in Thanksgiving to God. I usually have such a difficult time in maintaining a fast, but I think that I could manage that. Perhaps not for the three day period. I used to fast for up to five days at a time when I was a teenager, but that was because I wanted to lose weight….now I want to lose weight again, but don’t want to do start fasting for that reason in case is becomes a problem for me, detracting from God and bringing focus to myself.I’ll think about it.

    I’m joining my prayers to all the Saints, whether on Earth , in Heaven or doing time in purgatory!

    God Bless.

    p.s. It’s so good to learn this news of your FIL.

  • Julie D.

    This is how I treated the Ember Days fasting of last week (Wed., Fri, and Sat.). Each day I offered up the fast for someone else, partly because they so needed it and partly because I do so much better if I am doing fasting for someone else. However, how could I have forgotten the cloud of witnesses? Thanks for the reminder and this beautiful post … and thanks be to God who I believe DID do a miracle for your FIL.

  • Dave Justus

    This sort of post always bothers me a bit. I understand the sentiment behind it but I think that we need to be careful about overstating the case here, or connecting miracles with worthiness.

    I know, and I am sure that you know as well, people with sincere need, who prayed and whose family and friends prayed and the answer was ‘no’. Good people can sincerely pray and still suffer, and still die.

    I am glad for your father in law’s recovery, and the recovery of your friend’s wife. Those are great things, and I certainly will not claim that prayer had nothing to do with it.

    God isn’t a bank though with guaranteed withdrawal if you just put in enough prayer. I am more impressed by a sincere asking for what we want, followed by a humble acknowledgement that His will is paramont and His will, not ours should be done.

    I am sure that the Anchoress and others agree here with this sentiment, indeed the Anchoress seems to live this philosophy as well as anyone.

  • KMaru

    I am grateful beyond measure to the Anchoress for marshalling readers and saints on behalf of my brother and delighted to tears at the return of her F.I.L.’s sight after his stroke. God is good. His power is amazing: undeniable to the individual who opens his eyes. Yet many miracles have so many little twists of personal meaning that it would take volumes to fully explain their context to others. Such has been my experience with my brother. I blog about 10% of it and that is stunning enough. The rest, well… I just know.

    That said, the effect of prayer does not always conform to our wishes, as I think Dave is pointing out in comment #7. Prayer is not a gumball machine to sort the worthy from the rest – proportional to the ‘effort’ put in. I’ve come to think of prayer as a sort of reprieve… a chance to rest in mind and emotion.

    Regardless of the ‘outcome’ (from our limited human perspective), prayer offers comfort, community (each other here on earth) and communion (with Christ, the saints, etc.) That can be enough, even if the body does not conform – as eventually it will not.

    Re. OBH’s comment (#4) I come from a scientific background and yet I have SEEN God work through doctors and medicines and scientific tools. The best docs on the planet (literally) have been stunned by my brother’s recovery. Yet nobody ever said that miracles had to come ‘poof’ out of thin air. My brother’s docs gave him chemo and as a result, some are thus making them the rock stars. They know better.

    One theory holds that were God to do more ‘poof’ miracles (not working through ordinary people and things), we would become so accustomed to being stunned that we would inevitably forsake Him. And that would be bad. :)

    Anchoress, I wish you Godspeed on your fast. Prayers for your F.I.L. are on their way.

  • W.G.

    I am so happy for the improvement in your FIL’s condition.

    And I join with you – spiritually – in your fast (after my Dr. visit yesterday, I think he’d approve of me joining you in the fast itself!), and in prayer for those in Rita’s path. Over the next 3 days, when I am able to pray the hours, it will be with a mind towards your fast and your intentions.


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  • Donna

    Anchoress, I am so happy to hear about your FIL! You and yours are on my prayer list and thank you for the additional prayers you have provided.

    I work with physicians. The religiously-minded ones among them have no doubt that prayer works.

  • http://none Darrell


    Joining you in prayer! And thanks for all assistance granted you and yours. May I suggest adding St. Katharine Drexel to your list? Just a feeling I have when I pray for you–can’t/don’t want to explain it.

  • MaxedOutMama

    I’m praying with you, Anchoress.

    Take care, and I am very relieved for your father-in-law. Perhaps this mercy can somehow smooth the way for him to come to peace with your brother’s death.

  • newton

    Just a little note – if Ronald Reagan prays for us, we’re going to be OK! ;)

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