Does prayer have an effect on those we pray for?

Does prayer have an effect on those we pray for?

I was at Wal-Mart yesterday morning, long before the crowds fill the aisles and checkout lines. No one was behind me at the checkout counter.   The checkout clerk and I began a conversation that quickly turned to the storms’ devastation. I asked if she had family in the Northeast. Almost immediately tears glistened in her eyes. She has family in NJ. She doesn’t know how they are doing. She sent a package by UPS, because the Mail deliveries have not resumed. There has been no phone communication in days. She longs to hear the voices of her loved ones. “I feel so helpless” she sobbed. “All I can do is pray.” “Yes,” I said, trying to be pastoral to this woman expressing her deepest concern to a stranger. “We must hold our loved ones in prayer, projecting our love towards them. In this way we are placing them in God’s care”. We held hands over my filled bags and in that moment we were connected in a mysterious way, tears spilled down our cheeks signaling God’s mercy falling into our hearts.

We often hear that prayer is talking to God. Praying, we place ourselves and those for whom we pray in the stream of providence. In prayer, we channel God’s inflowing love. The circumstances may not change immediately and maybe not in visible ways none the less we are changed and transformed by prayer.

To appreciate how prayers and thought can affect suffering, we must realize that intentionally directed thought and love are activities. Thought and love reaching outward can be felt by others. The interchange between the checkout lady and me was a powerful moment. I drove home renewed in hope. “All will be well”.

The effects of  Prayer and Meditation under the scientific lens shows surprising results though the efficacy of intercessory prayer is not easy to investigate scientifically. Results are often mixed and inconclusive. However, there is more evidence for the effectiveness of prayer than would be expected by chance.  It is easy to be sidetracked by research data. Those of us who choose to meditate and pray do so because we long for consolation courage and strength that is beyond our capacity. Meditation and prayer are focused on channeling divine energy toward a particular situation or person(s). No progress, healing or renewal occurs without trusting in the inflow and outflow of the divine. Becoming prayerful is an activity of projecting good wishes, hope and love towards others. We may feel helpless and unable to do anything to alleviate the suffering of people affected by the storm but we can spend time in prayer. Thought is an energy flowing from mind to mind, in a continual stream arising from its origin, the mind of God. Intentionally directing loving thoughts towards others places us and those we are praying for into the stream of Divine Providence.See more on this in Swedenborg’s Arcana Ccoelestia #Number 8478.4 on  Divine Providence

“It is one the most beautiful compensations of life that no one can sincerely try to help another without helping themselves.”

John P. Webster




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Gabriella was born in Budapest Hungary. Some of her family still resides in Hungary. After escaping the Communist regime in the aftermath of the 1956 Revolution, Gabriella's family settled in Cleveland OH. She graduated from Cleveland Heights High School and attended college but did not earn a degree. She met her husband in Devon PA, and soon they were married and began family life in PA. Only a few years married, John and Gabriella moved to FL to be with Gabriella's aging parents. Two o their three children were born Florida. After the children began school, Gabriella volunteered in schools and libraries. Her love for swimming drew her into the world of aquatics. Part time coaching jobs evolved into career aquatic management. Her children out of the home, Gabriella worked full time as an aquatic manger, coach and swim instructor. In 2001, John and Gabriella's plans to ease into retirement in Tucson changed drastically when John suffered a heart attack in 2002. John’s amazing recovery after bypass surgery allowed Gabriella to seek a new career. It was a life changing experience for both of them. Gabriella returned to school at the University of AZ and John took over household responsibilities. A shift occurred in their lives. Gabriella felt called to become a spiritual care provider. Preparing for seminary, she chose interdisciplinary program, combining Psychology, Family and Religious Studies. She graduated with honors in 2006. Gabriella and John moved to Berkeley for her to begin seminary at the Pacific School of Religion. Gabriella was accepted on the ordination track in the Swedenborgian Church of North America. Her goal was to becoming a chaplain. John's health crisis necessitated a move from Berkeley back to Tucson in 2008. Gabriella transferred to Earlham School of Religion to complete the Master’s program. In her senior year, working in required Supervised Ministry, Gabriella created a dual ministry; Circle Community, a sharing, praying and studying support group and worked as a crisis advocate in Tucson area hospitals. Most of her family was present in Cincinnati OH when Gabriella was ordained in July 2012. In July of 2011 she was ordained in the Swedeborgian Church and accepted a call to be the pastor of the New Church of Southwest FL. Soon after her ordination Gabriella accepted a call to become the pastor to the New Church of Southwest FL in 2011. John, a VA patient needed comprehensive medical care unavailable in Fort Myers. For Gabriella ministry begins at home. Once again new a health crisis changed their life. They moved back to Tucson AZ. Back in Tucson, Gabriella found ministry opportunities with Circle Community, did workshops and conducted weekly Prayer Meditations at Rincon U.C.C. She completed a course in Spiritual Direction at the Hesychia School for Spiritual Direction. In mid October 2012, Gabriella began to work as a Chaplain for Harmony Hospice. The job all she had expected. She found great satisfaction working with patients and their families. Gabriella left the per diem position with Harmony for a full time job with Valor HospiceCare. Here too, she worked with grieving families, conducted grief support groups and lead Community Memorial services during the same time that her husband's health was spiraling downwards. Gabriella resigned her job to care for John in the last months of his life. John died in April 2014. Life became chaotic. An intense search a chaplain position in Tucson and other parts of the country was unsuccessful. Peers suggested Gabriella look into open churches with the Swedenborgian Church. She candidated in Kansas with two churches. She was called to pastor the Pretty Prairie and Pawnee Rock churches in July 2014. A new life began with the move to rural Kansas. In August 2014, Gabriella began to serve as the Pastor of the two churches.

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