Finding peace through the spiritual pathway of prayer

  • Published
  • By Ch. Ganigan
  • 163d Attack Wing Chaplain Corps

In the past couple of months, certain events filled my life: 1) a trip to the emergency room 2) a notification of our rent being raised 3) a follow up visit to the doctor 3) a plane ride to an unknown, never visited before place 4) an un- pleasant confrontational discussion needing to take place with another person 5) an accident on the freeway 6) an election that would decide who would be the leader for the next four years at least of the greatest nation of this green earth.

There is a commonality in all these events for me. In each of them, some to a greater degree than others, there were moments when this sobering, absolute realization became crystal clear: namely that there are things that happen in life that I have little to no control over. I don’t know about you, but I like being in control!

For me those situations rob me of this spiritual condition of resting in and being at peace. In those situations, my peace is dependent upon someone or something else. An emergency medical technician. The landlord. The doc- tor. A pilot. Other voters and our democratic system. And although I’ve put my trust in those more capable than me, I find that a truer, more real and lasting sense of peace comes when I pray.

A powerful reminder about peace through prayer that I’ve found helpful comes from the movie

Rudy. It’s the true story about a tiny Catholic boy, with average grades and average athletic skills, from a steel mill town, fighting against all odds in his attempt to achieve his childhood dream of playing football at Notre Dame. After giving his all in the class- room and on the practice field he finds himself in chapel wondering if he’s done enough. A Catholic priest who’s been helping him comes in and the following dialogue takes place:

Father Cavanaugh: [in church] Taking your appeal to a higher authority?

Rudy: I’m desperate. If I don’t get in next semester, it’s over. Notre Dame doesn’t accept senior transfers.

Father Cavanaugh: Well, you’ve done a hell of a job kid, chasing down your dream.

Rudy: Who cares what kind of job I did if it doesn’t produce results? It doesn’t mean anything.

Father Cavanaugh: I think you’ll find that it will.

Rudy: Maybe I haven’t prayed enough.

Father Cavanaugh: I don’t think that’s the problem. Praying is something we do in our time, the answers come in God’s time.

Rudy: If I’ve done everything I possibly can, can you help me?

Father Cavanaugh: Son, in 35 years of religious study, I’ve come up with only two hard, incontrovertible facts: there is a God, and, I’m not Him.

Somehow, in some way, praying acknowledges that someone, something bigger and greater than my situation and myself, exists. In praying I humbly ac- knowledge that there is someone who is willing to hear my cry for help and someone who can do something about my appeal. And then something incredible -- and mystical -- happens. I come to know that there is a God, that I am not Him, and that He does indeed care to know my concerns and as I pour that out to Him I receive peace.

Peace. It’s a word that adorns our greeting cards during the Christmas season. It’s the gift we wish for others and for ourselves. It is an essential piece of having a healthy and refreshed soul.

Prayer. It’s the pathway God provides to know peace in a world filled with uncertainties, in the midst of events beyond our control, to know shalom in the deepest parts of our soul.

We at the 163d Chaplain Corps would love to pray for you, pray with you, or connect you to the faith group you identify with to grow in knowing peace through the pathway of prayer.

Happy holidays!

Bright Spot is a recurring column produced by the 163d Attack Wing Chaplain Corps.