Grr. I have this post from several years ago that somehow keeps getting a few views and a couple of comments. The last two or three are kind of aggravating to me. It's not that the commenters don't have a good point. Prayer is beneficial. I get that. I wouldn't keep it up if I did not think so. Further, I think some prayers take a long time to be answered and it is only perseverance in prayer that gets us to that point. I always think of St. Monica praying for St. Augustine; 30 years of prayer, but he then has influences more than a thousand years of Christians by his writings.
However, I wrote that post from the perspective of someone who has prayed a lot and for over a decade for a particular intention with no end in sight. That was at least two and a half years ago. There is still no end in sight. To spend time talking about how prayer CAN change God's mind leads me right back to the place that I was trying to get away from: that I must not be praying hard enough, must not be doing something right, because even though He apparently listens to everyone else, He can't seem to hear me at all. I am just glad these comments have trickled in over a long time, and did not appear immediately when I wrote that post. Had they come then, I'm not sure I could have handled it, because I would have seen it as more "proof" that God apparently listens to everyone else and not to me.
I do believe that prayer is effective, that it is a necessary part of bringing His grace to bear fruit in the world and in each of our lives. I think that He is waiting to pour down grace on us all, but He will never force that grace or Himself on us. I think that prayer and asking for those things that we need and want is a part of our participation in a beautiful relationship with God and that our asking means that He will respond with grace beyond what we can imagine. The point of that post was that when we turn to God in prayer, grace is flowing and pouring over us, whether we see it or not, whether we feel it or not, whether we get what we are asking for in this moment or not. The point is that He may be doing amazing things with those prayers while we are convinced that absolutely nothing is happening and that He doesn't care. Arguing that "God can change His mind" when we pray just makes me ask "well, then why in the heck has He still not changed His mind in my case?"
Okay. I think I'm better now. It's frustrating to have people seem to miss the point. They seem to think that I am saying that God is not good and that He does not hear, and it seems to imply that I'm not doing something right if I don't understand how well prayer works.* The real point I was trying to make that He IS good, and that He DOES hear even when it seems like He doesn't. I still believe that, even though to this point in my life- to all outward appearances- the novenas still "don't work".
*At least, that's the implication that I hear, and the one that I have heard many times in my life when someone tells me "Oh, just do this novena/prayer/trust in God more/let it go/work harder at it, etc." or any variation of them explaining to me what I must be doing wrong in comparison to what they apparently did right. Because it's my fault that I'm single and childless, doncha know? Also, I don't love God enough. That or my faith is too weak. That or maybe I would be a horrible wife and mother, and God knows that, so He kept if from happening. People! These lines of thought are ridiculous! We have to stop it! There is not always a discernible reason why something works out for one person and it doesn't for another. It doesn't meant that God loves one person more than He does another, or that the first person loves God more than than the second person does and that's why their prayers are answered but not the second person's. Dang it! I hate that kind of talk, because when someone's current suffering is not enough, let's just make it worse by trying to figure out what they did wrong so we don't accidently do the same thing and suffer the same fate. No! That's not it! We all have different paths, and I don't know why they look like they do sometimes, but I do know that God walks with us on each Via Crucis. Which we will all have, because that is life. Let's help each other carry those crosses and not add to them!
Okay, obviously I wasn't done ranting. Let me be clear, I don't think that the commenters were trying to say those things. It seems from the few words used there that they were working out some of their own thoughts on the subject from their own particular perspectives right now. Good for them, but I just wish they would work them out elsewhere because it obviously drags up some baggage for me.