Three Steps to Turn Suffering into Prayer

Summary


Katie talks about suffering, and how in the Catholic faith we believe that our suffering is for a greater glory to God. She shares some insights on how we can turn our suffering into prayer, and how we can incorporate these practices in our daily lives. 

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Reflective Study Guide Questions


“Suffering is a great favor. Remember that everything soon comes to an end . . . and take courage. Think of how our gain is eternal.” 

St. Teresa of Avila
  • Remember the words of the Morning Offering throughout your day, and give to God those moments of strength and weakness, those moments of joys and sufferings, so that He can use them.

  • Many saints asked that God would use their suffering for a particular reason; St. Bernadette asked that God would use her suffering for the conversion of sinners, for example. Maybe it might help to choose a particular cause you would like to pray for, and ask God to use what you give to Him that day, for your cause.

  • St. Teresa of Avila wrote that suffering was one way that God can use as a means of trying to reach us, to speak to us, and bring us closer to Him. The next time you are suffering, ask yourself, “Where is God trying to lead me through this suffering?”

Morning Offering Prayer to the Sacred Heart


“O Jesus, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I offer You my prayers, works, joys and sufferings of this day for all the intentions of Your Sacred Heart, in union with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass throughout the world, in reparation for my sins, for the intentions of all our associates, and in particular for the intentions of our Holy Father for this month.”

More Resources on Suffering & Prayer 


“Suffering: Not Why, but Where?” 

“Doing Small Things to Witness to God: What We Can Learn from the Martyrs” 

“Unanswered Prayers”

“Seeing the Face of Christ in the Sick & Suffering, and Praying for Them”

“Can I Suffer With This Person?” 

“What to Say to Someone Who is Suffering”

“The Work of the Suffering”

“Your Tailor-Made Cross”

“For Friends in Crisis” (Grace Urbanski, Praying with Grace)

“A Pope’s Answer to A Problem of Pain” (Christopher Kaczor, Catholic Answers)

Text Version


One of the things I love about being Catholic is how deeply we believe in God’s ability to bring good out of our suffering. As Christians we believe that suffering has meaning and that God does not let our sufferings go to waste. He allows us to share in it’s redemptive value when we offer up our sufferings and unite our cross with His cross for the building up of the body of Christ. The way we take advantage of this “offering up” of the small and heavy crosses in our lives is through prayer. Here are a few ideas on how to turn your suffering into prayer:

The Morning Offering

First, begin the day with The Morning Offering. My family recites this prayer every day before my husband heads to work and we begin our day. And it’s amazing how now that it is a habit I find myself referring back to the words about suffering in this prayer as I encounter suffering in whatever form it comes in throughout the day. If you aren’t familiar with it, the prayer goes like this:

O Jesus, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I offer You my prayers, works, joys, and sufferings of this day for all the intentions of Your Sacred Heart, in union with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass throughout the word, in reparation for my sins, for the intentions of all my relatives and friends, and in particular for the intentions of the Holy Father.

If you don’t have this prayer memorized, I recommend you print it out (again, it’s called The Morning Offering) and start reciting it every morning. Really focusing on offering all that you go through that day to God so He can use it for good.

Ask God

Second, informally ask God throughout the day to use your sufferings as they occur for good. So, if you start your day with The Morning Offering it really helps to keep that mentality of offering up suffering as a prayer throughout the day by continual shorter informal prayers as you encounter those hiccups. You could say something as simple as, “Lord, I offer up this frustration I’m feeling for the consolation of my friend Jackie who has cancer”. Or, “I offer the annoyance of this flu for the strengthening of my marriage”.

In addition to asking God to apply the merits of that suffering to an intention close to your heart, you can also pray that He will use them as He or His mother sees fit for the good of the Church. Your moment of frustration, your sickness, your pain: all of that can have tangible benefits in the lives of others. Some of whom you may never meet. All because you offered those sufferings to our Lord to use for a greater purpose.

Sacrifice Beads

Third, follow St. Therese of Lisieux’s practice of using sacrifice beads. Sacrifice beads can be made or purchased and are made up of a string of ten beads with a crucifix at one end (reminding us to follow our call to take up our cross and follow Christ) and a medal of St. Terese at the other end. That reminds us of the importance of following her “little way” of spirituality in which she let no small suffering go to waste.

Keep the beads in your pocket and when you mentally and prayerfully offer up something to God, in union with Christ’s sufferings on the cross, slide one of the beads towards the crucifix. This is a great way to have something physical associated with this prayer practice. So you can see how those moments of suffering you are experiencing are one-by-one being handed over to our Lord.

Words of St. Teresa of Avila

Since I love so much of what St. Teresa of Avila has written about prayer, I’ll conclude with one of these thoughts from her writings on prayer and suffering she said: “One must not think that a person who is suffering is not praying. He is offering up his sufferings to God and many a time he is praying much more truly than one who goes away by himself and meditates his head off.” So, take comfort in the fact that your suffering is never wasted and that it may be one of the greatest forms of prayer that you have to offer to God.

About Katie (Peterson) Warner 


Katie (Peterson) Warner of CatholicKatie.com is a wife, stay-at-home mom, author and speaker who helps family men and women learn the practical strategies and resources they need to take small steps toward becoming leaders at living more spiritual and meaningful lives, together with their families. Katie is the author of Head & Heart: Becoming Spiritual Leaders for Your Family (Emmaus Road Publishing), a correspondent for the National Catholic Register, and a contributing writer for the IntegratedCatholicLife.org. She has presented in venues like the National Catholic Bible Conference, the Catholic Family Conference, numerous Legatus chapters, the Eucharistic Congress of Atlanta, the Augustine Institute’s acclaimed Symbolon and Opening the Word programs, and on EWTN radio and EWTN television. Katie is the part-time Manager of Communication and Evangelization for Catholics Come Home. Katie and her husband, Raymond, have two children, and her favorite ministry work is family life. You connect with Katie on Facebook, Twitter, and through her website at CatholicKatie.com.

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