Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The confidence that comes from answered prayer

I had a new experience the night before last.

I have prayed without expectation, and I have prayed in order to refocus myself and ward off, as the prayer says, "many and cruel memories". Once I wrote about someone who told me to pray confidently, asking for the intercession of the Theotokos and how impossible that seemed. As scattered at those sentences are, they are relevant.

I woke up in the wee hours consumed with anxiety. I had not had bad dreams but woke as if in the middle of a terrible argument or turmoil. I was so stressed I felt like I couldn't breathe. The subject of my stress was nothing, really, but it felt like everything. This is very characteristic of the anxiety disorder/ PTSD that I have experienced throughout my life. I was unable to function and awash in the sea of my worry.

I went to pray. I returned to bed, and the prayer didn't "work". Nothing changed, It was worse, possibly. I started to think about how God doesn't help with this, never has. Then the thoughts turned to anger over a God who can't help with something so consuming that it has limited me throughout my entire life. Why won't God fix this? Why has He never answered my pleas in the night?

My youngest son woke up and wanted milk. After I helped him, I decided to pray again. I lit a candle and alone in the dark, I chose to believe. I chose to try on the idea that all things are possible with God. It was not unlike "faking it". I forced the faith on my prayer and made every effort to ask for relief, an increase in faith and an end to my turmoil.

I went back to bed. When I woke up again, my fear was gone. It was as if it had not happened. I feel light. And I have continued to, praying with thankful prayers. I have never felt anything like this.

I know, I assume, that my anxiety attacks will continue. Nothing can take the confidence I have now, the  new strength that comes from having a secret weapon.

I read a little from a certain book every day. It is called My Life in Christ by Saint John of Kronstadt. today the passage that I flipped to was worth sharing:

"When you experience oppressive waywardness of heart and unbelief in respect to any object of faith, then know that the enemy is in your heart, and that he mocks at your ignorance, your weakness, and your inconstancy in faith. Sincerely condemn at once your foolishness, your blindness, your sinful inconstancy in faith, and your ingratitude to God, for the former light of your heart and former benefits, received by you through faith in that object (for instance, in the relics of the saints) which your heart in its sinful obstinacy now denies, or in which it does not now believe as it formerly believed, and the Master will have mercy upon you; your anguish will cease, and you will be at rest. O, the enemy wishes that even in matters of faith everything should be in accordance with his falsehood!" - Saint John of Kronstadt. In my edition, which was gifted to me, it is on page 106.

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