Priest advises on how to pray through times of trial, adversity

When life takes a challenging turn — such as the loss of a job or financial security — it may seem as though God has abandoned us, but Scripture repeatedly tells us the opposite is true.

“It’s no fun going through a trial, but don’t be afraid,” said Msgr. Jason Gray, administrator of St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Peoria, during a workshop Sunday on “How to Pray Through Difficult Times.”

“Here are words of encouragement for us,” said Msgr. Gray, who cited 20 different Bible passages showing God’s concern for those in difficulty and our need to trust in God’s power, love, and plan. He was one of six speakers during afternoon sessions at St. Vincent’s offering spiritual and psychological support to people and families in these days of ongoing economic troubles.

One example of a passage to take to prayer in hard times, said Msgr. Gray, is Mary’s proclamation of trust found in the first chapter of the Gospel of Luke. Known as the Magnificat, the verses include Mary’s rejoicing that, despite her “low estate,” God “has done great things for me.”

“Don’t give up,” counseled Msgr. Gray. “A very important lesson to take away is to never doubt that the Lord does remember us even if it doesn’t seem like it all the time.” In fact, both the Old and New Testaments are filled with examples of God’s special care and concern for the poor, he said.

Psalm 72, Msgr. Gray pointed out, assures us that God “shows pity to the needy and saves the lives of the poor.” In the Beatitudes, Jesus tells us, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

Msgr. Gray said persons enduring trials should look to these and other similar passages “to find optimism and encouragement.”

Msgr. Gray urged those who have lost jobs or are in economic distress to make additional time for prayer.

Sunday and even daily Mass attendance, recitation of the rosary, and regular confession are “great sources of health to keep us from giving in to negativity or other sins.” Staying close to God “gives us that solid base, that nourishment we need to go forward.”

Editor’s note — Msgr. Gray’s message is available in full via an audio download found online at www.jgray.org/scripture/prayer-in-trial.html. The site also includes a list of all Scripture passages mentioned in his presentation.

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