For the past several years, I have tried to set aside time once a month to pray a novena to St. Therese for 9 days. This novena is a most powerful prayer and while it takes about 15 minutes a day to pray it, it is a very small investment for the return, if I may speak of prayer in those terms. You might think it would be a challenge to come up with a different intention to pray for every month but you'd be surprised how easily several come to mind. Sometimes, I pray the novena for someone I don't see very often or hear much about. It isn't until I hear of some suprising news about them that I recall having prayed the novena for them.
To date, I've prayed for a co-worker struggling with infertility, a cousin battling brain cancer, another cousin battling colon cancer, two relatives struggling with addictions, and countless other people in need of prayer. On Friday, I was stunned to learn that a relative who has been in and out of jail and battling drug addiction was in a halfway house and expected to be released in December. He's been cleaner than he has for many years and doing remarkably well. I was embarassed that I didn't know about this sooner so I could offer thanks to St. Therese for her glorious intercession. When my mother relayed the news to me about this relative, I told her how I had prayed to St. Therese on his behalf. I was disappointed in her response. "You know" she said "you should really save your powerful prayers for emergencies". I had to remind her that God is not a politician with a limited tolerance for doing favors but a loving Father of infinite mercy who wants His children to come to Him with their needs.
Prayer is not always easy for me. I'm the poster-child for adult ADD when it comes to concentrating on the words I'm saying, and I often catch myself drifting somewhere else. I wouldn't dare to presume that I pray any harder than anyone else. What I do have in my favor is the complete confidence that God listens and wants to give us things, especially those things that will help us better conform to His will. I also know that we can do nothing without Him, whatever else we might think, and that when we call to Him, He doesn't see a wretched sinner but a child who is much loved. I also know that prayer and frequent reception of the sacraments are the most powerful weapons we have against sin and vice. Yet they are often the last resort for the desperate rather than a steady diet for the faithful.
Remember that saying, God helps those who help themselves? It's true. We can't just sit back and do nothing and expect God to handle everything. There are those situations, however, when the only way we can help ourselves is to pray and we should never lose sight of this.