Scripture is clear on what happens when women pray. Because of Queen Esther’s plea to save her people, “their sorrow [was] turned to gladness and their mourning into a holiday (Est 9:22).” The Blessed Virgin’s “yes” to the Archangel drew down the Savior of the world! When women pray, the glory of God triumphs and the devil is crushed (see Gen 3:15).
Kathleen Beckman, L.H.S., collected reflections of prayerful women for her recent book, When Women Pray: Eleven Catholic Women on the Power of Prayer. Women of prayer, yes. But these are also, like Queen Esther and Mary, women of action.
The bios of the 11 authors show how a fertile life of prayer yields abundant apostolic fruit. We hear from professors, journalists, television hosts, and founders of international organizations. Busy women who know that their busy-ness means nothing if it isn’t rooted in a deep connection with the maker of all things.
The authors are old, young, married, widowed, single, convert, revert, or cradle Catholic. Their stories are by turns poignant and funny. For some, friendship with Jesus started in grade school, while others discovered spiritual intimacy with him late in life. Today, God speaks to these women in varied ways, but always with the same message: I love you. Let me guide you.
Most of the essays comprise a series of vignettes—snapshots of grace as the author’s prayer life deepens. For example, Mary Healy traces her path from slo-mo Rosaries that seemed to drag on forever to a sudden, startling awareness of God’s presence within her.
We witness the power of prayer in times of jubilation, “I felt an amazing lightness of spirit and clarity of mind (Mary Healy),” of unimaginable loss, “The death of my young adult son to suicide was the heaviest cross I have ever carried (Ronda Chervin),” and inner peace, “Looking back, I have seen how the direction of my life has changed. The things that I held important no longer attract me. When we say yes to God and dispose ourselves in prayer, grace transforms us…. (Marilyn Quirk)”
This collection is a smorgasbord of spiritual experience in which you’ll find insights from kindred souls, whatever your personality or favorite flavor of prayer. You’ll discover ways to pray that you may not have considered before and inspiration to stick with it—or get started again if you find yourself stuck.
Mordecai’s words to Esther, “perhaps you have come to the throne for just such a time as this (Est 4:14),” is our call to action, too. We can be sure that God has called us to this broken world for such a time as this. Ms. Beckman offers us personal witness from 11 prayerful women that when women pray, God will change everything, one heart at a time.
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