Grace Mazza Urbanski is the Director of Children’s Ministry for the U.S. National Office of the Apostleship of Prayer, and she finds that noisy children can be a trigger to prayer. When praying the Spiritual Exercises in daily life, she imagined herself as a baby.
After all those weeks of praying as an infant in the arms of my loving Father, the cries of babies resonate somewhere deep within. Pavlov would be proud to observe my new instinct to pray upon hearing a baby noise. Happy coos and squeals are an invitation to prayer; relentless screaming and soulful cries remind me of my fitful neediness. Incense and bells may be more conventional, but a child’s voice is my new prayer trigger.
And what better laboratory than a packed church for testing this prayer stimulus? The louder the better, as far as I’m concerned. Children of the world, unite! Do you sense a moment of profound stillness? Pierce it! Can you detect a reverent pause? Tear it wide open, and bring us to tears as we confront our own infancy, our own awesome dependence on our heavenly Father.
Have you experienced an unconventional prayer trigger?
Yes, I have experienced a baby’s cry at a silent women’s retreat. I enjoyed our retreat master’s talks, yet I felt really small, and the talks advanced. So in the silence, all of a sudden, a baby’s cry came loud and clear! I cried, and felt it was an answer from God. I approached the mother afterwards, with tears in my eyes, and shared this insight. I asked her name and she said, Maria.
I love the idea of cries being invitations to prayer. On Christmas eve, right when they were reading the Gospel at our church, a baby started to cry. It was so fitting. I also see the children running into the church, after the Children’s Liturgy of the Word dismissal is complete, as a reminder of the Holy Spirit like a strong driving wind blowing through the assembly.
Oh, I love your analogy! Vivacious children as the Holy Spirit “like a strong driving wind blowing through the assembly.”
Another daily prayer trigger for me is the stack of dishes in my sink. I hate washing up, but I ask to be filled with gratitude for the blessings dirty dishes represent. Lucky for me, there’s no end in sight for this prayer trigger!