Some people have difficulty seeing the point of prayer in times of trouble. But for Magnificat magazine columnist Jennifer Hubbard, prayer got her through one of the worst times of her life.
“We’re all going to face trials, we’re all going to face tragedies," Hubbard said. “My tragedy was my daughter being murdered. Someone else’s tragedy could be the doctor who says the cancer is no longer treatable."
“When you are intimate with that darkness, prayer turns your attention to God in allowing this peace to settle on your soul, despite whatever chaos is circling around you," she told CNA.
Hubbard and her family know times of tragedy, indeed.
Her daughter, Catherine Violet, was one of the 20 children and six adults killed by a solo gunman in the December 2012 shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. Catherine was eight when she was killed.
For Jennifer, the prayers of others meant the world to her and her husband.
“There’s no way, I believe, that we as a family, we as a community, could have walked through the darkness without the prayers of so many," she said. “There were many days that were just very dark."
She suggested that people who have problems praying sometime struggle with the fact that there is not something physical or material they can do or give.
“They feel like prayer is not enough," she said.
Hubbard said otherwise. As she sees it, prayer prepares people “to focus on God, and the love that he has for us, versus the trial and tribulation."
“I truly believe that if you do nothing else in the course of a day, if you spend your time praying, you’ve done more than you can ever imagine," she added.
“You’re praying with the trust that your prayer is going to be answered, but you’re also praying with the understanding that God’s will is going to be best," Hubbard said.
The answer to prayer is not always what one expects.
During the attack on Sandy Hook, Hubbard and her husband waited at the firehouse with other families of staff and students, waiting news about their loved ones.
“My prayer, when we were waiting for Catherine, was ‘bring her home, bring her home, dear God, keep her safe and bring her home’," she recounted. “Yes, the prayer was ‘bring her back to the firehouse’ and that didn’t happen. Time continues to march forward – I see that my prayer was answered, over and over again."
“Catherine’s home. He answered my prayer," Hubbard added. “And in answering my prayer and bringing her home, there’s the hope and understanding that I’ll see her again."
For Hubbard, sincere prayer expresses a hope that something will change. For the one who prays, she said, there is beauty in that the change is in a person’s heart.
“Prayer and hope go hand in hand," she said. “Prayer is this ongoing deep rooted relationship and dialogue with the only one who can provide direction and meaning and peace to our lives."
Hubbard warned there is a danger in not praying.
“When we don’t listen to God, when we take matters into our own hands or look for the answer that we want Him to respond with, I think that’s dangerous," she said. “When we don’t listen to God, we are just belligerent. We are putting ourselves above God. By not listening to God, by taking matters into our own hands, we feel like we’ve got this."
People try and take a situation into their own hands, but make a “horrible mess."
Hubbard’s son Freddie turns 12 at the end of July. He was also at Sandy Hook four years ago. She and her husband aim to help their son grow up with a sense of normalcy.
“I call him my brave one. He could have died," Hubbard said. “He has taught us so much about love and its purpose."
The Hubbard family has launched the Catherine Violet Hubbard Foundation. It supports actions like an animal sanctuary in Newtown, due to Catherine’s love for animals.
“For me, building a sanctuary is one of these things that I believe God has truly placed in front of me, Hubbard said.
She said anyone who believes that God has put them on earth for a specific purpose has to pray.
“Without prayer, without listening to God, or (without) just surrendering whatever you have that’s holding you back from seeing that purpose and that passion, you’re lost," she warned.
“Prayer is a response to knowing that God has something in store for you."
By Kevin J. Jones