When a Saint’s Prayers Went ‘Unanswered’

It’s something I’m sure every faithful Christian has experienced at least once: you prayed for something specific—a new job, a new house, or perhaps a cure from illness or injury—and you didn’t get it.

Well, you’re not alone.

Even some saints prayed for certain things that they did not get.

A case in point in Blessed Alexandrina, an early twentieth century Portuguese saint whose feast day was earlier this month. As a child, Alexandrina reportedly was regarded as something of a tomboy and a prankster. She lived an active life, singing in her local church choir and was an avoid nature lover.

But, at the age of 14, a violent assault put an end to all that. When she was alone with her older sister and another young woman, three men entered her house and attempted to rape the women. In attempt to escape being violated, Alexandrina jumped out of a window and became partially paralyzed as a result of her fall. For a time, she was “still able to ‘drag herself’” to Mass, according to her Vatican bio, but over time, her condition gradually deteriorated until she was completely confined to her bed, where she’d remain for 30 years until her death.

Alexandrina reportedly prayed hard for a miraculous healing, even “promising to become a missionary” if her paralysis were cured, according to the Vatican bio.

It never happened.

Instead, over time, Alexandrina learned that God had something else in store for her: he was calling her to be a “victim” soul and identify with Christ’s sufferings on the cross.

Her story is a powerful reminder that just because God does not give us exactly what we want does not mean our prayer wasn’t “answered.” God does answer our prayers—as Jesus promised so often in the gospels—but maybe not in the way we had expected.

Go ahead and read Jesus’s promise in Matthew 7 that if we ask we shall receive. I don’t see anywhere in that chapter that Jesus promised we’d receive exactly what we asked for. Even Jesus himself prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane to be spared the excruciating ordeal of the cross—but quickly added that He wished for the Father’s will to be done.

The point is not to necessarily stop praying for what we want or sincerely desire, but to approach prayer in a spirit of humility and faith—humility before God’s providential wisdom and faith that He will answer our prayer in the way that He knows is best for us. As Psalm 37:4 says, “Find your delight in the Lord, who will give you your heart’s desire.”

Stephen Beale

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Stephen Beale is a freelance writer based in Providence, Rhode Island. Raised as an evangelical Protestant, he is a convert to Catholicism. He is a former news editor at GoLocalProv.com and was a correspondent for the New Hampshire Union Leader, where he covered the 2008 presidential primary. He has appeared on Fox News, C-SPAN and the Today Show and his writing has been published in the Washington Times, Providence Journal, the National Catholic Register and on MSNBC.com and ABCNews.com. A native of Topsfield, Massachusetts, he graduated from Brown University in 2004 with a degree in classics and history. His areas of interest include Eastern Christianity, Marian and Eucharistic theology, medieval history, and the saints. He welcomes tips, suggestions, and any other feedback at bealenews at gmail dot com. Follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/StephenBeale1

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