The Time I Almost Stopped Praying… And Then God Showed Off

“I don’t even know why I’m praying for this anymore,” I told my spiritual director between sobs on a cold winter morning. “It seems like every time I pray for something really big, God says ‘Thank you for your prayers, but that’s not My will; please accept this.’” I sat there perplexed, not angry or hurt, just perplexed, wanting to understand what was so difficult to grasp.

Shortly after I married my husband Kevin we easily conceived our daughter and then a few years later our son. When a few more years passed without another addition to our family we began numerous appointments, tests, and treatments that all ended in doctors scratching their heads and saying “I don’t know what to tell you, it’s all very weird.” Here I was a young woman, desiring to welcome more children, more souls, into a world that aborts “unplanned” children by the minute and for no apparent reason, I couldn’t conceive anymore.

That morning with my spiritual director I realized that my prayers for another child had become half-hearted and cold. I was ready to give up on what had gone from fervent discourses on my reasons for my request to mumbling a few words for the thing I wanted most because I didn’t really believe that my fervor or mumbling even mattered. If God wanted to answer my prayer, He would and if He didn’t want to He wouldn’t, so why waste my time, energy, and emotions on something that I had no control over?

I hated the place in which I’d found my apathetic heart; I didn’t want to be there.  I wanted to believe that my prayers were important to God, that He listened intently like a loving Father and considered my desires carefully. I wanted to believe that He was working for my good and not just answering prayer requests arbitrarily, like I pictured Him doing while He sat on his throne: “One for ‘to be answered’, three for ‘to be ignored’, two for ‘to be answered’, ten for ‘to be ignored.’” I’d been there before as I waited and watched my dad slip away to cancer and die at 45. I’d been there before as I tried to comprehend the news that my husband’s best friend, and a dear friend of my own, was in a coma from a car accident that resulted in his death at 23. I’d been there before on several occasions and in that moment I felt like what I wanted was never what God had planned.

“Lisa,” my spiritual director said with extra spunk in her voice, “God does want you to ask. I ask for things all the time and I’m bold and specific in my asking. I’ll say I want this thing, on this day, in this way. (Of course, we have to be asking for things that are good, not for say, a million dollars because we want to be spoiled and lazy.) He wants us to tell Him the littlest details of our hearts, and He’s waiting.” “Ok,” I said nodding my head, but not quite convinced. “Always, always ask.” She continued, “But be ready for any answer.”

I took those thoughts home with me and spent the next several months grappling with them. I began to get specific and did my best to be bold in my asking, “I want another child Lord! Bless us again!” And the more I prayed the more I began to have peace, but not peace that made me feel confident that my prayers would be answered, rather peace with “any answer.” My heart’s desires began to change and so did my request. I no longer just wanted another child, I wanted God’s Will for the growth of our family. My heart began to conform with the heart of my Father, I started to want only what He wanted, all because I started to really tell Him deep down what I wanted. I had found the grace to be open to His grace and was ready to accept His plan for our family, whatever it might be.

In February my husband and I made an appointment with a specialist as a final attempt to see if we could uncover the underlying issue of our secondary infertility. It was to be the last confirmation of our mysterious inability to conceive. After the appointment we were going to stop any current treatments we were pursuing and live life as if we were not going to be having any more biological children.

The night before our appointment I took a pregnancy test because I wanted to be able to share with the doctor that I was 100% positive that I was not pregnant. I casually came back to confirm my negative results and gasped. The test was positive. Two, clear pink lines beamed back at me, something I hadn’t seen in almost 4 1/2 years. I was pregnant. In the absolute last moment, God lovingly smiled down on me and said, “My child thank you for only wanting what I want; our wants are now the same.”

I’m now 14 weeks pregnant and still in a bit of shock. Can it really be that this long awaited miracle has come to me? Learning to conform my heart to the heart of my Father was a long and purifying experience, one I hope I will not forget too soon, as it is easy to forget the good things He has blessed us with. Always, always ask, but be ready for any answer.

Be saints, it’s worth it!

Lisa Cotter
Lisa Cotter is a Catholic speaker and author on the topics of relationships, femininity, and living life with excellence. Since 2007 she and her husband, Kevin, have served FOCUS (the Fellowship of Catholic University Students) as a family and together they are the co-authors of Dating Detox and co-hosts of the How-to Catholic Podcast. She is the founder of Made to Magnify, an apostolate that’s mission is to help people fight to be saints - because it’s worth it.

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