Listened to the tears of a grandmother who needed reassurance as she struggled to help her drug-addicted grandson.
Consoled a family whose child died from an overdose.
As a priest and the founder of the Birmingham area Cenacolo Community for those with addictions, retired Birmingham Bishop Robert Baker has “been there” for thousands of people for more than 20 years. And because he himself has had to face the death from cancer of not one, but two of his brothers, he well understands why many of those he has counseled ask the question: “Why Lord?”
That was the impetus behind his new book, “Prayers of Desperation: A Questioner’s Prayer for Answers in our Darkest Moments,” http://bit.ly/3ESgtkh.
“The Bible tells you that you can take that dilemma and that struggle to God,” he says. “’How will I come out of this situation? Where are You when I need You?’ When all is said and done, that may be the best prayer I can ever utter. Psychologists make a lot of money, but Jesus wants us to bring those problems to him too. We want to allow Him, in faith, to answer.”
What does that last sentence mean? How do we allow God to answer us in faith?
The Bible itself is full of questions that people asked Jesus. The Bishop points out that the prophet Zachariah and the Blessed Mother asked the Archangel Gabriel the exact same question, but only one asked in faith. As you may recall, when Gabriel appeared to the elderly Zachariah and told him that his elderly wife would conceive a child, he asked “How can that be?” Bishop Baker says Zachariah asked this question because he was doubting that the Lord could make this happen. That’s not asking in faith. However, when Gabriel told Mary she would conceive and bear the Son of God, her “how can it be?” question was directed at understanding how she, a woman who had been vowed to virginity, could become pregnant. What was the Lord asking her to do?
The Bishop says Mary essentially said, as we all need to say: “I believe in you Lord. I don’t know how this is going to be answered, but I bring this to you.”
All the Lord asks of us, even in the darkest of nights, is that we bring Him our questions, trusting that He will answer them in His time and in His perfect way. Bishop Baker’s book was written to show us how to turn our questions into prayers. He tackles six questions: Why, Lord?; How, Lord?; When, Lord?; What, Lord?; Where, Lord; and Who, Lord?
To those who feel they can’t ask the Lord such questions the Bishop writes this:
“To some people, questioning God suggests a lack of faith; when they have questions for God, no matter what the problem or dilemma causing the question, they wonder if that means that they don’t believe in God anymore. These reflections attempt to point out just the contrary: it’s failing to ask God a question when one is dealing with a difficulty in life that may reflect a lack of faith. Jesus makes it clear that ‘for everyone who asks, receives, and everyone who searches, finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened” (Luke 11:10).
If you’re one of those people who worries about asking such a question or who would like some examples of how to do this in faith, pick up a copy of Bishop Baker’s “Prayers of Desperation,” available now from EWTN Religious Catalogue, http://bit.ly/3ESgtkh.
As Bishop Baker tells us in the preface of his book: “[I]t is my intention to help you give voice to the questions you have for God in prayer – from a perspective of faith.”