Kathy Bernard - Publisher


“And so I tell you, keep on asking, and you will receive
what you ask for.   Keep on seeking, and you will find.
Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you.    
For everyone who asks, receives.  Everyone who seeks,
finds.   And to everyone who knocks, the door will
be opened. – Luke 11: 9-10

So many of us have walked the tightrope of fear and worry, not knowing if certain problems of health, heartbreak, money, discord and misery could be turned around solely by ourselves. When we fail in our efforts, we turn to God through prayer, asking for intervention, deliverance and mercy. Through the darkness of pain, we strain to hear His voice but it remains silent to our fervent pleas. In our deepest miseries, there appears to be no answer, no aid coming forth and we begin to get a little shaky in our faith. Why, after being so steadfast, does He ignore us?

“Where are You, Lord?”

What can we do when God doesn’t seem to answer us? We pray but we cannot hear, we plead but cannot gain. We want and need to believe in a God who answers the prayers of the hurting with right now deliverance. In John 16:23 we are told, “whatever we ask in Jesus Name, it would be given to us.”  How then, does faith play out in these circumstances? Isn’t this the very objection those who do not believe throw out to us who do have faith?  

”When God Says No — the Mystery of Suffering and the Dynamics of Prayer", is a book authored by Father Daniel Lanahan. O.F.M, which states, “suffering is an ordinary part of human life, whatever its cause may be.” The Director of the Franciscan Ministry of the World team of Holy Name Province, New York, Father Lanahan has a doctorate in moral theology from the Alphonsian Institute in Rome and has taught for many years at Christ the King Seminary at St. Bonaventure University and in East Aurora, New York. Besides preaching parish missions and retreats, he is the Religious Assistant to eleven monasteries of Poor Clare sisters. He resides at St. Anthony Friary in Ho-Ho-Kus, New Jersey.

“The goal of prayer is not to change God, but to allow God to transform us,” he writes. Through the enlightening pages of Father Lanahan's book, we are able to understand more clearly that there are no easy fixes; nonetheless we are still able to experience God's unconditional love in spite of the suffering, trials and refusals we face in our lives.   It is through our own "little crucifixions" that we are lifted closer to God as Apostles of Christ.

Father Lanahan strongly reminds us that Jesus also felt the pangs of abandonment in His human form even though He was the Son of God.   “In the Garden of Gethsemane He prayed that the 'cup be taken from him,' if it be God’s will. God answered no. Three times St. Paul begged God to remove the "thorn from his side." Three times God said no. “When,” says Father Lanahan, “my family prayed desperately for my brother Neil to be cured of melanoma, God said no. When we prayed for our twenty-five-year-old niece to survive a car accident, God said no. When the victims of war in the former Yugoslavia, or in any of the hundred places war is being waged at any given time prayed; when people afflicted with cancer, alcoholism, or AIDS prayed for deliverance; when the victims of physical, sexual, or emotional abuse prayed to be spared, sometimes the answer was no.”

Why would an all-loving God say “No” to the people who worship Him?

After his brother’s death, Father Lanahan searched for and provided the mold for these difficult answers.   Like us, he too, looked for answers to the prayer he prayed for his brother to be spared.  Like us, he wanted an intercession from the God he faithfully serves.  After careful examination, he gives us his conclusions.  His book informs us that we too must come to the realization that though God hears each and every prayer, through His "silence" He sometimes is saying “no” to us. It is through His eternal love that never changes, is never amended, that He is telling us we must wait and rely on His wisdom, that we are part of His Master Plan and whether it is in this life or the next, He will one day make known that plan to us.   

"When God says ‘no’ that ‘no’ will end when we reach Heaven,  face to face with God.  In this life we are not given the answer to the question 'why' that no theology, no book, not even the Bible, no dogma, no authority, not even that of the Church, has ever answered during this lifetime.  But God promises that someday we will have all things made known and we will be blessed with the fullness of salvation and healing.  We will be with the Answer, and in love forever.”

So how should we as Christians deal with God’s "silence" as we stumble forward in trials and sufferings?  We see those around us pleading for answers to prayers because of disease, starvation, blindness, cruelty and the whole spectrum of human misery.   We watch people dying from illnesses that during the time of Christ were cured by love and compassion when He walked the earth.  Why not now?

When Jesus came, He was establishing His Father's plan for this earth.  Today, we are experiencing that plan in its fullness.  Romans 8:28 says: “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them.” As humans we are unable to analyze, understand, or know what or how God is using that plan.   We can only see the rocky road filled with sorrows and tribulations.  As Christians, we are asked to trust Him, understanding His blueprint for the good of this world comes forth from our earthly ordeals.  For example, Jesus died and through His suffering on the cross, salvation was made evident for all who believe in His dying on a cross and ultimately his resurrection, which promises our own resurrection someday. 

François Fénelon, a 18th-century French Roman Catholic theologian, poet and writer, once prayed, "Lord, we know not what we ought to ask of you. You alone know what we need. . . .We have no other desire than to accomplish Your will.  Teach us to pray!  Pray Yourself in us." 

In about 1675, when he would have been 24 years old, Fénelon was ordained a priest and he tells us in one of his writings, “Pray simply from the heart, from pure love, and not from the head, from the intellect alone.  If you would truly derive profit from the discovery of your imperfections, neither justify nor condemn on their account, but quietly lay them before God, conforming your will to His in all things that you cannot understand, and remaining at peace; for peace is the order of God for every condition whatever. There is, in fact, a peace of conscience which sinners themselves should enjoy when awakened to repentance.  Their suffering should be peaceful and mingled with consolation. Remember the beautiful word which once delighted you, that the Lord was not in noise and confusion, but in the still, small voice.”   It is that small voice which lives in our hearts and souls that we must listen for in times of despair.

Every bad thing that has ever happened in this life will be transformed into something good. God’s answers are often vehicles for others to learn from and follow.  It is also a way to bring those who do not believe to attention, pulling forth the plug of awareness that is imbedded in the soul of each human being. 

As a believer in Jesus Christ, I know I am loved.   At the height of my troubles, He is there in the mix, walking through the darkness with me.  I also know God’s concern is for me to live forever.  As God watched the indignities of Judas' betrayal, the verdict of His Son's enemies, the nailing of His hands, and the final shame of the cross, God had a plan, a plan for victory at the end, a victory that encompasses all of us today. This has become our victory. 

Will God answer our prayers?  Will He give the desires we ask for? The answer is yes, if those things are according to the plan He has for us. His love for us is endless.  Because of this, we are beneficiaries of the limitless comfort He gives us through the gifts of the Holy Spirit and the saving grace of Jesus Christ. 

Ephesians 2:18 reads: Now all of us can come to the Father through the same Holy Spirit because of what Christ has done for us.” Like those who came before us, we are part of God’s master purpose.  We are part of His plan, not ours.  God looks at the big picture much like we look at the big puzzles we buy for our children. God looks at each of us as a unique piece in the puzzle of this temporary life as we, on an earthly scale, look at our cardboard puzzles and carefully fit the pieces together to make a whole.  Each piece is vital for completeness and beauty.  God has an eternal master design for mankind.  We are His living pieces which will ultimately comprise His ultimate design.  Each of us, seemingly small in the scheme of things comprise an eternal importance to God, and as He continues His skillful architecture, He hears and listens to each cry, each plea as He continues to join us all together in His massive whole where each of our names and images are set in a kaleidoscope of beauty that will last for eternity.  

Someday, God will wipe away each tear we shed.  No hurting wound will be allowed to fester.  Can you accept and believe this?   Each burden, each trial, each unfair humiliation, each failure, each time of suffering, will be transformed into joy. The bible tells us ...God will wipe away every tear from (our) their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away”.  Rev 21:4.

Continue to pray, for Jesus tells us to bring all things to Him.  Be faithful always, with trust and worship.  Keep asking and believing. Stand firm, knowing in your heart that you are loved. He does what is best for you and through you for the salvation of the world as a whole.  Even with His ‘no’s He hones us according to the supreme and final goal He has for all who persevere.  Someday we will know He carried you, and you, and me through all the dangers and toils with answers to our prayers, whether visible or not.  In the height of each trial He is right there, offering a cooling drink of faith, handing us a golden gift of trust and courage. One day we will see with supreme clarity that He is always “right on target and right on time” and we will know that He never lets those who trusted in Him fall down in shame.


“For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are My ways higher than your ways, And My
thoughts than your thoughts. "
-  Isaiah 55:9


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