Rely on regular prayer to hear what God is saying
Growing up, whenever something was misplaced or couldn’t be found, my parents and great-grandparents encouraged us to recite “Jesus, Mary and Joseph: Lost and found.”
Perhaps St. Anthony was also included – I’m not entirely sure of the exact phrasing of the prayer. Throughout the years, I may have shortened the mantra that I – to this day – recite whenever I can’t seem to find something. And it usually works: reciting the brief prayer, I try to retrace my steps and I’ll usually locate whatever it is that I thought I lost.
One year, as we were preparing to leave for a family road trip, my mom noticed that Jesus’s body had fallen from her crucifix on her rosary. The cross was still intact; only the small body was missing. We searched everywhere before we had to leave.
We all prayed what I now term “the lost and found” prayer, but Jesus was nowhere to be found. We gave it up for lost. That is, until we returned from the trip. Somehow, the metal body had clung to the fabric of one of the arm chairs in the living room. Dangling against the fabric, we found Jesus.
I usually think of that incident whenever I find myself reciting the lost and found prayer.
It reminds me of two things: first, that even though this recitation isn’t exactly a family tradition, it has its roots in my family teaching me to rely on prayer and my faith when things have gotten out of hand. Second, it reminds me that, often, things happen when we least expect it.
Even though we may have forgotten or let go of something, God hasn’t.
As a child, perhaps, the importance of that lesson didn’t quite make sense. As an adult, realizing that God’s timeline is often different from my timeline has helped me make sense of the ways God responds to my prayers.
Prayers are forms of devotion to our faith, just as traditions and customs are signs of devotion to our family and heritage. They aren’t performances, but intimate conversations with God. Especially during my search for objects that I have misplaced, I often forget the intimacy of prayer as I frantically recite – sometimes through gritted teeth – “Jesus, Mary and Joseph: lost and found.”
And perhaps that is the problem with recitation: it becomes commonplace. It’s no longer intimate, but familiar. I think that is why relating it back to family devotions becomes important: it’s a piece of connective tissue, interlacing and reaching back to the lessons learned from my family’s religious upbringing.
Too often, those pieces of connection are lost. Too often, the lessons fail to inspire or become forgotten in the chaos of everyday life.
In the first Book of Kings, Elijah listens for God in the wind, earthquake and fire. Only when Elijah is least expecting it, does he hear God’s voice as a whisper.
That whisper is the very connection that too often we fail to hear.
Through a reliance on prayer, we can come to realize that God comes to us in the smallest ways, and often when we aren’t even searching.