St Therese, a Roman Catholic saint, had difficulty knowing that God heard her prayers for others. As a youth, she decided to put God “to the test” once and for all. Perhaps only a saint can “test” God. She prayed fervently for the salvation of a callused serial killer of women, Henri Pranzini.
Pranzini was caught, found guilty and sentenced to the guillotine. During this time, Therese prayed that he be saved, and that she be given a sign that a conversion took place. Pranzini became more arrogant. Therese persisted. On the execution day, Pranzini walked up the steps, put his head onto the block, still jeering. Then, unexpectedly, he lifted up, grabbed the crucifix hanging from the side of the nearby priest, and Pranzini kissed the feet of Christ three times. Pranzini publicly repented.
He then put his head back down onto the block, and the guillotine fell. Therese claimed that her prayers were answered. She claimed that her intercessory prayers saved a hardened criminal.
Is this really the way intercessory prayer works? In a word, yes. How? The answer to that rests somewhere in God’s mysterious ways. What we do know, for certain, is that every prayer for someone else is heard, and in God’s goodness, answered, for the other person’s good. Every single prayer for another helps that other person, and helps us.
The lives of the saints are replete with examples. St Monica, mother of St Augustine, prayed day and night for her son when he was living a wild life. Augustine had, among other activities, fathered a child out of wedlock. Monica was told by her Bishop that “no child of so many tears (prayers) could be lost.” Monica’s prayers were instrumental in saving Augustine.
We are each called to pray, ardently, for our children, family, priest, the Church, country, world. We have a noble and royal vocation, to pray and make an untold difference in the entire cosmos.