Faith | God hears our prayers even when we’re far from him

As a teenager, longer ago than I care to admit, I was always on fire for one cause or another.

Inspired by the hippy movement of the 60s, by the time I reached adolescence in 1970 I was eager to join the noble work I saw happening around me, to fight for high ideals of justice and peace.

But other, darker, changes in society also crept in during that time, and before long I was persuaded that the values of the sexual revolution were more relevant than the family values I had been raised with.

Sadly, following those “values” led to an unplanned pregnancy and the loss of my first child when, desperate for a way out of a crisis, I had an abortion when I was just 15.

Soon after that dark day, I stopped going to church. I didn’t think I could ever be forgiven.

It would be nearly two decades before I returned. But throughout those long years, I never stopped believing in God, which would be my saving grace.

God’s guiding hand was unseen but always near to me as I wandered so far from him. He made himself known in quiet moments through the words of a song, or a beautiful sunset.

In one such moment, I came across a prayer in Katherine De Vinck’s A Book of Uncommon Prayer, entitled “Teach Me How to Dance.”

Fancying myself an artist, I wrote out the joyful words of that prayer in amateur calligraphy, with whimsical illustrations: “Thus I survive, by skill, by luck, saved by art and grace, and I say, God, I delight in your work ... from moment to moment invent my life—light a passionate fire, a thing of blazing gold—let me laugh in your joy, my laughing God, and leap in your rising, my Dancer!”

On the lid of my watercolor paint box, I wrote, “Dedicated to the Holy Spirit, who delights in teaching us how to dance.”

God hears our prayers, even when we’re far from him, and he invented quite a life for me in the years since I prayed that passionate prayer.

I continued down the wrong road for a long while, deceiving myself into believing I had done the responsible thing. But something was missing from my life and I couldn’t quite name it.

I tried college, but dropped out. I failed to find the perfect career. I eventually realized I lacked true artistic talent and put away my paints.

It would be several years before I found love and got married. After my marriage, I had two beautiful children and I discovered the greatest joy of my life: my family.

I resurrected my paint box and spent happy hours creating masterpieces with my little ones.

Having my children also made me realize what I had lost—in that abortion and in leaving my faith. A desire to make things right came into my heart.

Finally, I gathered the courage to return to confession. There I encountered the endless mercy of God and began to find healing from the deep wounds of my past.

Wanting to share my rediscovered faith with others, I returned to college to study Christianity, and began to teach religion. Knowing firsthand the devastating consequences of abortion, I eventually became an ardent pro-life advocate. I began to write, speak, and teach about my new passions.

Transforming my dark past into hope for the future, God invented a life for me that I never had imagined.

Today, on the Feast of Pentecost, as we commemorate the Descent of the Holy Spirit in tongues of fire, which ignite the hearts of the Apostles to courageously proclaim the Gospel, I thank God for the gift of the Holy Spirit. He is the Inventor of our lives, the One who lights a passionate fire, a thing of blazing gold, and delights in teaching us how to dance!

Nancy Murray
Nancy Murray

Nancy Murray is a freelance writer and a Catholic catechist who blogs at She attends Christ the King Church in Richland. Questions and comments should be directed to editor Lucy Luginbill in care of the Tri-City Herald newsroom, 4253 W. 24th Avenue, Kennewick, WA 99338. Or email