Pray Until Something Happens

Martha Dudich

There’s a magnet on my refrigerator with the charge to “dance as though no one is watching you, love as though you have never been hurt before, sing as though no one can hear you, live as though heaven is on earth.” It’s been there for years, and I usually pass through the kitchen without giving it a glance. While helping a friend move over the weekend, we learned that the storefront downstairs from the new apartment would be occupied by Latin dancing instruction. So, reaching into my fridge this morning, I smiled at the idea of a sidewalk full of people surveying the carnival atmosphere of neophyte mambo and samba and tango dancers. Not likely, but the quote has stayed with me. It’s been attributed to many sources, one of the most popular being Dr. William Purkey, a recognized leader in the theory and practice of making schools and classrooms inviting places to learn.

dance. love. sing. live. A few of my favorite pastimes, to be sure. So I have no trouble hearing them as imperatives, seeing the verbs in bold print. The clauses, however, are what I have come to find useful operating principles – as though no one’s judgment carries weight, as though a broken heart has healed, as though the kingdom of heaven really is among us. We can have trouble believing that any of this is possible, so I suspect it’s precisely what keeps so many of us seated and silent and solitary. We forget that we are crafted in the Divine image. We identify with lesser dimensions of ourselves, denying or rejecting or suppressing our identity as the beloved children of God. Children eager to dance and love and sing and live. With something of a familiar scripture spin on it, children ready to ask and seek and knock.

“For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” Jesus speaks to the persistence and effectiveness of prayer and his words spill down to disciples of every age. And yet again you and I can have trouble believing any of this is possible. So we stay seated and silent and solitary.

ask as though there were an array of possible answers and you’ve been given the strength to receive any of them. seek as though you’re certain whatever you find will provide some blessing. knock as though you can’t imagine the party starting without you.

dance. love. sing. live. ask. seek. knock. I’d like to add one more imperative: push. I’m not generally one for acronyms, but I’ll make the exception here. push. Pray Until Something Happens. I think of some of my ancestral sisters in faith and their conviction in the power of persistent prayer.

Queen Esther, trying to avert a massacre planned against her people, was certain she had no help but the God of Israel. She exchanges her royal robes for sackcloth and her crown for ashes. She begins a fast. And she prays. Day after day.  Petitioning, pleading, pushing. Asking, seeking, knocking. “Give me courage.” Not “here’s what I need you to do, Yahweh.” Not “deliver me from my enemy,” but “deliver me from my fear.” Stand with me – until something happens – for I am alone.

An unnamed widow in Luke’s gospel, low on the social ladder, with no money to bribe the judge’s attendants and have her day in court. She is persistent. In the Greek, she keeps coming. She wants justice, not advantage. And she believes the judge can be trusted to this end. So she keeps coming. Not bemoaning “When?…Why?…How?…” that litany of seldom helpful often limiting questions, but in fact speaking only a half dozen words. She just keeps coming – a demonstration of faith – until something happens.

Pray until something happens. And something will most certainly happen. When we limit God’s options and only watch and wait for a very specific something, there’s a good chance we will miss what happens, and then perhaps wonder why our prayers went unanswered. ask that you might be awake to all possibilities. seek a wider view. knock on lots of doors. It’s not as though no one is watching you.

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7 Responses to Pray Until Something Happens

  1. Kitty says:

    Hello,

    We have recently become aware of your blog through “Catholic Media Promotion Day” on promotecatholicism.com. We have recognized that your vision of uniting our Catholic faith with the way we live is compatible with our non profit organization, and we were wondering if you would be willing to do a spotlight on our work and service. We are a non profit network of over 200 faith based organizations, and help volunteers and those interested in long time service be paired up with the program that best suits them. We have a directory, RESPONSE, both online at our website http://www.catholicvolunteernetwork.org, and also in hard copy.

    Thank you for considering us and God bless,

    Kitty Robinson

    Catholic Volunteer Network

    • seansanford says:

      Hi Kitty,

      CFJ is actually a member of CVN, with three programs listed in RESPONSE. Let me talk to our editor and get back to you. Our blog has, thus far, largely been reflection on various issues rather than reportage. Feel free to contact me via email at ssanford@faithjustice.org.

      Peace,
      Sean Patrick Sanford
      President
      The Center for FaithJustice

  2. This is, as usual, a deeply thoughtful reflection. We’re so lucky to have Martha in our world. I’ve shared the link with many friends, some of whom who have been alienated from the Catholic Church for a variety of reasons. Thank goodness for Martha and all of those faithful Christians who share their faith experience online. For many people, it’s as close to church as they are willing to go. Martha’s love of the Word is sustenance for many hungry seekers. Gracias!

    • Martha says:

      Thanks, Aidan. The idea (and reality) of online faith sharing can be daunting (read: terrifying!) But I take comfort and courage in the joy of widening the circle – including as many voices, struggles and dreams as possible. Just last night @ Soup and Psalms our prayer included the lesson (for me) of being open to the workings and will of God everywhere – in everyone, at every time, alert to ways in which God may be serving through methods I haven’t imagined, have criticized, even condemned, as well as those ways God may be denied through the means I have trusted and treasured. On the cusp of Pentecost, might we all be awake to the Spirit’s movement in and through us and continue to honor it in one another.

      • Holy Spirit, Wild Goose
        Great Spirit,
        Wild Goose of the Almighty
        Be my eye in the dark places;
        Be my flight in the trapped places;
        Be my host in the wild places;
        Be my brood in the barren places;
        Be my formation in the lost places.

  3. The perfect words for me today! My Facebook post this morning says… “[at the] Gym. ‘learning the value of patience (not just at the gym.)” It’s only taken me taken me 49 years to learn that ‘there is a season for everything, and a time to every purpose.’

    Thanks for the reminder!

  4. Debby Seme says:

    I love Pray Until Something Happens. It reminds me of another similar quote that I have on a plaque in my office – “God’s 3 Answers to Your Prayers: 1) Yes. 2) Not Yet.
    3) I Have Something Better in Mind.”

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