Years ago, when I started my career in the basement laboratory of a hospital, I began to take my lunch breaks outside and walked while I ate. I wanted to memorize Scripture and do ‘self talk,’ so my husband got me a Scripture affirmation book for women. I could keep it in my pocket and read a verse or page at a time while I walked. I often talked to God, too. I called it ‘prayer,’ but I never actually learned to listen to Him.
A few years after I began my married life and this career, life got very hard. More years went by and I was a mother of two, but wishing to throw in the towel and try life as a divorced mom. I made a Lenten commitment to pray in the hospital chapel every workday. I think I started just stopping in for a short time at lunch and then taking my walk, but I soon began to spend almost the whole lunch hour on my knees, staring at the tabernacle. Or crying in front of it, often writing out my pleas to God in my journal. I could never spend too much time praying there, with Jesus. I had to set an alarm to go back to work on time.
God clearly communicated to me during those prayers in front of the Tabernacle that He did not permit me to get a divorce, even if I could have qualified for annulment. I had a number of arguments with Him about this before finally submitting my life fully to His will. Those arguments, eventually giving myself to Him, and spending that Lent in the chapel, changed my life. I finally began to research why the Catholic Church teaches what it teaches. I would listen to Ave Maria Radio and EWTN with my headphones at my microscope all day, and would spend my lunch hour praying in front of Jesus. I did this for all the years I continued that career!
Over time, God renewed and restored my marriage. Eventually, He fulfilled my heart's desire to be a stay-at-home mom (working only on my terms when I wanted to). I had two more beautiful children – with my same husband (who has drastically changed) – and most recently, He afforded me the chance to have a new career in ministry.
The time I spent that Lent in front of the Eucharist did not end when Lent ended. Daily prayer at the chapel was a constant for the remainder of my five years working at the hospital. Some time during those first months, I definitely experienced a healing of the hardness of my heart, both toward my husband and toward the Catholic Church. (I remember complaining, before this transformation, ‘Why are we even Catholic anymore?’ I did not enjoy the Mass with my young toddlers when I didn't understand what was happening there. I liked non-denominational worship experiences better, because it was all about me: my feelings and my experience of worship. We would often go to both services in one weekend before my ‘reconversion’).
The experience of my healing was like slowly having links removed from the chains I carried around day after day, until I could finally feel joy again.
I remember telling my sisters how amazing my prayer time had become, on my lunch hours at the chapel, and how much I had been able to experience intimate prayer with Jesus there. My sister's response was, "But couldn't you go outside on your lunch break?" I said, "Well, yes, I could." But I thought to myself, ‘Why ever would I go back to that, when I could have this!?’ Sometimes, people just don't get it; they have to experience it for themselves. It all started for me with one Lenten obligation.
I love keeping a prayer journal. When I pray and read the Bible while I'm sitting in front of the tabernacle, I often feel God's presence in my heart, or seem to hear His voice. When visiting Jesus daily, I like to take my journal and write my prayers to Jesus. It helps me focus my words and move forward in the conversation I am having with Jesus. I have many pages in which I recorded His responses back to me. It helps me to look back and remember where I have been, how God has helped me and answered various prayers, and the many, many moments of consolation He has given me. I like to look back on those journals, or even just remember that they are there, on the occasions when my prayers feel dry or I am too distracted to have a good conversation. The record of all of those times renews my commitment to pray again, to come and sit with Jesus again. My memories of adoration are full of experiences of consolation, of truly feeling the Lord's presence in my heart. The best prayers are always in front of the tabernacle!
Experience it for Yourself
Jesus is truly present. Jesus is always with you. Sit in his presence and open yourself up to his voice.