Dr. of Spirituality
Final Essay – The Miracle of Prayer
Rev. Terri Zastovnik
As I reflect on my life and its circumstances over the course of the last year and since the beginning of this course I have learned that the power of prayer truly does bring miracles.
I have always felt that my prayer life was stable and that God truly does answer my prayers. In my earlier years as a young Christian I would find myself asking why God wasn't answering. Patience is but a virtue ...we all know that, but as humans we fall short daily with a common fault …lack of patience. And secondly, I would find myself questioning why my prayers weren't always answered with what I had put my faith in.
Through this course I have learned so much more about my own prayer life. How consistent is it? What do I put into it? Am I offering thanks and praise to the Lord for the blessings that He has bestowed upon me? Am I thanking him for meeting my needs according to his word before receiving those blessings?
A few years ago I purchased a small box for my husband. He was battling an illness and through it found his faith to be faltering. I asked him to pray with thanksgiving in his heart and to write those prayers/prayer requests down, put them in the box and leave them in God's hands. At the end of that year we went back through the box and to his amazement saw how God did bless and answer his prayers. As a Hospice Chaplain I do the same with my patients and their family members. I have also begun an exercise with those that I serve that incorporate a "gratitude list" in their daily prayer life. By using these techniques my patients are more able to find peace and thanksgiving even in the midst of a terminal illness.
I also found myself asking "Have I truly forgiven myself as Jesus has? I have lived to believe that in order to be forgiven we must first forgive ourselves. In order to love others we must first love ourselves. We are God's children and he loves us unconditionally. Unfortunately, we live in an earthy world full of sin. We struggle at times in the midst of this stressful world with who we truly are as God's children. With the pressures of life in all of its demands and judgment we perceive ourselves as less than worthy. As children of God we have to constantly remind ourselves that although forgiveness from others is at times less than easily obtained – we ultimately are forgiven. Our Father in Heaven has offered us the most precious gift through His son Jesus Christ. Because of Him, His ultimate love and mercy we are free. As I work with my patients, their loved ones and even my own loved ones I try to instill in them the truth that they are free. I teach them to forgive others as well as themselves. I ask them to take unforgiveness and doubt to our Father asking that the Holy Spirit offer us strength and courage. Many find that when they can lay this at the foot of the cross once and for all that they can come to peace. In my experiences as a Hospice Chaplain, I have witnessed the difference in death experiences with patients who pass with unresolved issues as compared to those who have found peace. Those who have found resolve with relationships and with themselves tend to pass more peacefully than those who don't. I see it in other situations as well. Those who know and understand that they are forgiven and can forgive others are in general happier more relaxed individuals.
In conclusion, through the teachings of this course my overall prayer life has changed. I find myself in constant communication with my Father in Heaven. My day is very stressful with my incredible workload, my ongoing battle with my illness and with the demands of being the only source of income in my home, but I can truly say that because of my increased prayer life I can face each day with renewed confidence and peace. My ministry has strengthened and I see a more powerful positive difference in the way that I serve the Lord in the lives of others. I continue to live by a few important principals – 1) I am forgiven because of Christ's ultimate love for me; 2) I am nothing without God; and 3) I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
Rev. Dr. Terri M. Zastovnik
"When God calls you to do something, He enables you to do it"
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