This summer, I realized my family was in serious need of prayer. Oh, we are always in need of prayer, but this year things were a little more unsettled than usual. My eldest son was experiencing the growing pains of leaving his teenage years into young adulthood, and making his parents crazy as we experienced these pains alongside of him. My husband had been accepted into the diaconate program, and was preparing to enter a classroom for the first time in over 20 years. I was experiencing symptoms and signs of an aging body and battling anxiety in the process. Luckily, the other two children were status quo and I hoped a little extra prayer would keep it that way.
Whenever I think of powerful prayer practices, the rosary is always at the forefront of my thoughts. Unfortunately at the time I was in a season of not praying the rosary regularly (or at all if I am completely honest here). I am not clear why, but I seem to go in and out of practice of daily (or even weekly) rosary recitation. Not having grown up praying it, unless (true story) there was a thunderstorm, then my mother lined us all up on the couch to pray the cessation of Our Fathers and Hail Marys. She did not know about the mysteries, so this time of prayer was not a meditative pray practice more like a plea with God to have mercy and to not (literally) strike us down. Ironically, the one storm we were not sitting together in prayer, our house was actually struck by lightning – but that’s another story.
As I contemplated our current state of life and searched for strength as we moved through it; my thoughts came not only to the rosary, but more specifically the 54-Day Rosary Novena. A friend had shared this with me several years ago, and I remember the peace that covered my heart while and after praying it. That afternoon, I sat in my favorite prayer spot to begin the 54 days of prayer, when suddenly I felt this weird nudge in my heart to get outside and walk while I prayed. I tried with all my “I hate going outside let alone exercising” heart to ignore the Spirit’s nudge but could not. As I scoured the house for my sneakers, the image of the walls of Jericho and Joshua (and friends) encircling it came to mind. In some instances my family needed walls brought down and in others shored up. It was clear to me anyway, I was being called to pray these 54 days encircling my home – why not, I had nothing to lose but perhaps … my dignity.
In order to understand the oddity of this task, besides turning my yard essentially into a track, I need to set the scene. I live on a fork-in-the-road, just off a busy highway. Visible. Very visible. Yet, for my family, for my health, to obey my God, I was willing to look a little silly. Ok, a lot silly as I made the widest girth possible but am still essentially walking around in circles for all the world to see. Day by day, however, it was clear the walls were coming down.
The first benefit I discovered came in the actual praying of the rosary, without a phone, computer or housework to call me away or distract me from contemplating the mysteries, the 20, 30 or even sometimes 60 minutes spent in prayer was incredibly fruitful. That distance I had felt from God leading into the summer was melting away, as I remembered all Jesus had and still does for a poor sinner like me and my heart overflowed with love and gratitude. One neighbor started texting me occasional prayer requests and when another questioned my strange new practice, I had this unique opportunity to witness to my faith that I’d not had in the twenty years we’d lived in the same neighborhood. Next, I started to notice my own physical symptoms were abating – the exercise was a big part of the answer to my prayer about my health. Lastly, and to me most importantly, I started to observe changes in my eldest son – the walls of his heart and poor choices were starting to come down.
So my neighbors may think I am a little strange, but I continue this practice today – lacing up my sneakers and grabbing my beads. No one was ever sorry for spending time in prayer, nor looking a little silly for Jesus.
Copyright 2015, Allison Gingras
First appeared on New Evangelizers