Category: Sister Ann Shields

How Does God Want Us to Pray?

The following article is from a talk Sr. Ann Shields gave at a Word of God Community prayer meeting. It can also be found in our Renewal Ministries’ September 2018 newsletter.

Our intercession is pivotal to the graces, power, and love that God wants to give His people. Intercession is not easy. Intercession takes a great commitment and perseverance.

As an example, English Protestant Pastor Andrew Murray once wrote about a grapevine that, during a time of war, starvation, and misery, when all the other vines had subsided, kept producing clusters of grapes. Shocked, they tapped the root system of that vine and discovered that the grapevine’s root system had traveled over a mile, into the Thames River. That vine had everything it needed! Andrew Murray used that grapevine to illustrate what needs to happen to us in prayer. We need to find the Source, who is God. Rather than just saying, “God, this is a catastrophe, a difficult situation, please do something,” we need to say, “Lord, how do You want me to pray?”

Perhaps it seems obvious how we should pray: a person is sick, and we want to pray for them to get better. That’s fine, but if we want to intercede for our own family, friends, and acquaintances—and if we want that intercession to really bear fruit—we should take the first few days to say,

“Lord, here’s the situation.
How do You want me to pray?”

He knows the details of the situation—the mind and the heart of the person or people we are praying for—in a way that we don’t. John 15 says, I am the true vine and my father is the vine grower. He removes every vine in me that bears no fruit.

He prunes, and sometimes that’s what happens to us. We pray, and sometimes it seems like things are getting worse. The temptation is to say, “I’m backing out of this. You need somebody who is a really good intercessor, and I’m not it.” But in reality, what ought to happen is that we say, “Lord, teach me. Is there a different way You want me to pray or approach this situation? Show me what it is.”

In my extended family, there was a sixteen-year-old boy who was out on the streets, struggling with drugs, alcohol, everything. No matter what the family tried to do, nothing bore fruit. They asked a group of us to pray, and someone said,

“How should we pray?”

Everyone replied,

“It’s obvious how we should pray.”

But the person said,

“No, it’s not obvious; God knows the heart and the soul of this young man. How does He want us to pray?”

We concluded that we should pray that the young man would give his life to the Lord and repent of his sin. We prayed that way for about a year, and nothing looked different. Then one night, I got a phone call: he had given his life to Jesus and repented of his sins. His life changed!

We were going to pray for good doctors, for good counselors, for all of the different experiments on dealing with drugs. But God took care of it. Sometimes it doesn’t come out that simple, but in this case it did. I think God, in His mercy, wanted to show us that if we take on His priorities, His will, and His way, it can bear tremendous fruit.

How much confidence do we really have in God and His will? When push comes to shove, we tend to say, “Oh God, oh God, please!” What a difference it makes to instead say, “Oh God, I put all my trust in You. I wait upon Your Word. I wait upon Your will.” His will is the most loving thing that could ever happen. Do we know that in our own lives?

Sometimes we want God’s will, but it nevertheless makes us shudder a bit. We think it is going to cost so much, and sometimes it does. However, the fruit of it is the peace, wisdom, joy, and confidence that only God can give. Let me encourage you: Trust Him more. There is a deeper trust that God wants for our own roots to get into the River of Life—for our own roots to drink more deeply of His Spirit. Rather than saying, “Oh God, please don’t let this happen”—which I pray sometimes too—we can say, “Lord, Your will. Your will is love.” That’s who God is—God is love. We should be praying:

“Lord, let Your will flourish in my life.
Let Your will flourish in the life of my family.”

I think God would be so delighted to hear a group of people praying that way. I think He would be very generous with them.

John 15 says, “I am the true vine and my father is the vine grower. He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit.” Keep that in mind when something seems suddenly eliminated from your life. Or something is asked of you, such as: Would you let go of that to do this? It may be the Lord speaking.

The body of Christ needs genuine intercession—people flat on their faces saying, “Show us the way; teach us to pray.” Everything out there is getting darker. And where is the light going to shine, if not in the followers of Christ? God wants His light to shine through us—through kindness, a helping hand, shared wisdom, and the like. The more I decrease and He increases, the more I see His will over my will. Instead of presenting our plans to God, we need to yield and to say, “Lord, I’m your child, teach me how to pray, even when—especially when—I think I know what to pray for.” It’s amazing what God can do when we ask Him what He thinks we need, and when we listen. We need warriors of prayer, and that means giving up our own will and praying as He wants us to.

In fact, the most important thing is our own submission to the will of God. Otherwise, we start planning how we are going to accomplish things. I’m not saying plans don’t have a place. But don’t go there first. Simply say, “Lord, here I am. Send me. Use me today.”

A few years ago, Pope Francis declared a Year of Mercy. Because I travel a lot, I said to the Lord, “I’ll give up reading and sleeping on the plane. I’ll put aside anything You want if You want me to speak to anybody. If You want people to know the Father’s mercy, I’ll do it.” That was a sacrifice! I love being on a plane when I can just read or pray. But I felt prompted to say that to the Lord. And during that Year of Mercy, not once did I have a moment to read or pray, and not once did I initiate the conversation. They came right up to me: “Pardon me, are you a sister? Can we talk to you?” They’d bring the whole family. I’d never had that happen—never.

My reason for using that example is the mercy of God is right here. God wants to pour out mercy on His people. And He wants to use us, so if we as intercessors are in a position of wanting God’s will and wanting to be channels of His mercy, God will use us. This city cries out for help. Nobody hears it, because the facade is all there. We look like we’re prosperous (to some degree), we look like we’re successful, we look like all kinds of things. But under the surface—look at the situations in people’s lives—who’s going to pray? You.

We need an army of intercessors, not just for our families, but for all of the people we encounter. It’s a tremendous work, the work of intercession, and we can do it no matter what our circumstances are. If you are suffering, you can offer your suffering. Wherever we are, we can make our lives bear fruit, for ourselves and those around us.

If my experience on the plane is any indicator, people need help, and they don’t know where to go. If God would use me, why wouldn’t He use you? If we are Christians with open hearts, God will send people to us. Say to the Lord every day,

“Use me. However you want, use me.”

Pray for anyone you may encounter each day. Ask the Lord to give you what you need. And He will.

Put it in Practice…

Peter Williamson, who teaches at Sacred Heart Major Seminary with Ralph and Dr. Mary Healy, wrote the following prayer in response to Sr. Ann’s talk on intercession. We hope it is a blessing to you!

Lord, help us to sink our roots deep into you. Help us to pray at all times in the Holy Spirit. Help us to slow down and listen to you. And help us to pray with great faith, according to your will and purpose.

In particular, Lord, we pray for miracles. We pray that you reveal your power to the sick among us, to those among our family and friends who have wandered from you and need conversion. Do whatever it takes to turn them back to you and the path of life!

Reveal yourself also to our neighbors and co-workers and those in the city and country where we live, and for the whole world. Your love extends to all; save those most in need of your mercy! Let us Christians be radiant with your light and love. Work signs and wonders that will show those around us who you really are!

Thank you, Lord, for hearing our prayer!

[Featured Image Credit]

A Conspiracy of Silence on Heaven

…my father complained to me some years ago that no one talked about heaven. I see a couple of reasons for that phenomenon. First, no one wants to be definitive about anything these days. No one wants to take a stand, even though Scripture and the long tradition of Church teaching on this issue are very clear. Society’s “all things are relative” approach has affected theologians, preachers, and teachers of the Gospel. Many are afraid to declare anything absolutely for fear of being marginalized in their careers. Pride affects all of us, but those most responsible for preaching and teaching are attacked in a particular way. As a result, many are unable to bring solid food to an often frightened and discouraged people. What a truncated Gospel remains!

In the face of external confusion and internal pride, those called to preach are often silent on what matters most.

This difficulty is very serious. In an interview in The Rock in September of 1996, Scott Hahn commented:

“In American Catholic scholarly circles, if you choose to say things that are politically incorrect, your career is ruined. You’re blacklisted, you’re not promoted and you’ll actually find it much harder to publish.”

Karl Keating echoed similar concerns when he said in the same interview:

“Scholars are marginalized. Their books don’t get reviewed, they don’t get promoted and the centers of scholarship invite on to their staffs only those people who already agree with majority opinion.”

A second reason is that believing in heaven means preaching and teaching on what Scripture clearly explains is necessary to inherit the kingdom of heaven. Again, some priests, theologians, and other teachers of religion are afraid to teach the absolutes of morality. Again, no one wants to be criticized as “fundamentalist,” “simplistic,” or “not up-to-date theologically.” The effect of all this is a conspiracy of silence on the very topic our Lord intended to help us endure, to persevere, to be nourished in hope, and to be sustained in such a way that we could help others put their hope in a God of love.

What does our faith clearly teach us about our resurrection? Christ suffered and died for our sins. After suffering a horrible death and the seeming loss of all hope that the Apostles and first disciples experienced, He rose gloriously triumphant on Easter morning. Paul teaches us in First Corinthians that what happened to Christ is a sure and firm promise of what is to be ours. Christ rose that we might know He triumphed over death. Those who put their faith in Him will experience the same victory, because our lives are one with Christ through faith and baptism.


This article is an excerpt from Sr. Ann Shield’s booklet What Am I Living For? In this booklet, Sr. Ann shows us how to combat the culture of death with the Word of God that enables us to grasp the inestimable value of each person and ponder the incredible realities that await us in heaven.

This booklet is no longer in print but is available as a FREE electronic download on our website!


Prayer: Why & How

The following is a letter from Sr. Ann Shields to members of Friends of Food for the Journey that we felt was important to share more broadly. If you would like to learn more about Friends of Food for the Journey, click here.

Have you been giving God some substantial time every day? If this has been a struggle, simply try spending a half hour in the morning reading Scriptures and bringing your needs before the Lord. Then pray the Morning Offering:

“O Jesus, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I offer you all my prayers, works, joys, and sufferings of this day, for all the intentions of your Sacred Heart, in union with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass throughout the world, in reparation for my sins and for the intentions of all my relatives and friends and for the intentions of the Holy Father.”

Then, give God fifteen minutes in the evening, when you review the day. Repent where you need to, and then thank God for the blessings you received.

We receive blessings every day, but sometimes we are too deaf and blind to see and hear God’s action. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you be more aware of the ways in which God answers prayer and accompanies you throughout the day. If you wish, keep a journal of the insights you receive, the passages in Scripture that really stand out to you, the decisions you make, the questions you have, the petitions you bring to the Lord, and whatever else is on your heart.

In addition to a daily examination, let’s take a moment right now to consider the past month: In what ways did you help yourself yield to God’s grace? How did you help yourself believe He accompanies you throughout the day, and that He knows your thoughts, desires, hopes, and fears? Did you talk to Him about them? Did you entrust your fears to Him, your worries, your hopes? I know that it can “feel” like you are talking into empty air, but you are not! Jesus tells us in the Gospel of Luke: “Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten by God. Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows” (Lk 12:6-7; emphasis mine).

If God, the almighty God, knows the number of each strand of hair on your head, then how much more does He surely know the joys and sorrows, the pain and fear that, at times, weigh you down? “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the KINGDOM” (Lk 12:32; emphasis mine).

Let that sink in a minute: God doesn’t just want you to get over the threshold of the kingdom; He wants to give us—you and me—the KINGDOM! You can trust Him. But to grow in trust, you have to spend time with Him: in personal prayer, in Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, and by going to Mass during the week, if possible.

Let me make one note here about making decisions to grow in your spiritual life. Make one, or at the most, two at a time. Then, make sure they have become a habit—and don’t get discouraged; this could take six months to a year—before you add any new decisions to your list. Finally, writing things down in a spiritual journal can help cement these decisions in your mind and your heart.

God loves you, and I pray that you may come to believe it—personally—for yourself and then for others. I want you to read slowly what Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI said a number of years ago in Germany on his radio program:

“God created each of us according to His will, and this will is our prime origin. It is not just a remote and general will, but a particular will for each one of us. However it may seem when viewed from the outside, no one exists solely by chance. Each one has been willed by God and has his own proper place in life.”

“There is, for each one, a meaning and a role in the universe, and our lives will be all the more replete and happy, the more we realize this meaning, the more we incorporate this will into our lives and are one with it.

“Hence there arises the next question: “What kind of will is this?” What concept does God see fulfilled in the human race? For one thing, we can say that He has his own design for each person; each one is something special, not merely one example of a product produced by the million. Each one is unique, never to be repeated and willed by God exactly as he is. That is why we say that God calls each of us by name—not just by a concept, but by a name that only this one individual knows and that belongs solely to him. For each one there is a special call. And only if we live attentively in conversation and dialogue with God can we know why He needs us in such an apparently insignificant position and why we are, precisely in that position, so immeasurably important. We need only recall that individuals who were apparently the most forgotten and insignificant in the world—a young woman in Nazareth, fishermen on the Lake of Genessaret—became immeasurably significant. It is not always so evident, yet God wants each of us, he needs each one of us, so that His world may become what He wants it to be”

[Co-Workers of the Truth (San Francisco, CA: Ignatius Press, 1992), 222]

Look at what Jesus said to His disciples:

As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you; abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be full. (Jn 15:9-11)

The glory which you have given me, I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one. I in them and thou in me that they may be perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and that you love them even as you love me. Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to behold my glory which you have given me in your love for me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father, the world has not known thee, but I have known thee; and these know that you have sent me. I made known to them thy name and I will make it known that the love with which you have loved me may be in them and I in them. (Jn 17:22-26)

If you are baptized, you are a child of God the Father and a disciple of Jesus Christ, and Jesus has promised many inexpressible blessings for those who clearly decide to follow Him. There DOES need to be a concrete decision on your part, in terms of accepting who you are—a son/daughter of the Father! God does not lie. He promises you the eternal kingdom, where every tear will be wiped away. There will be no more mourning, no more sorrow, no more pain, no more death, for the old order will have passed away. “All will be made new” (see Rv 21:1-8)!

God desires to love us as the Son loves the Father, and as the Father loves the Son. We are drawn into that love. That is a key part of our inheritance: that we know, experience, and are drawn into the love between the Father and the Son. This is a key reason you want to repent of sin, so that you become a clear vessel to receive and give the love of God. It is incomprehensible to us in our limited human state, but if we follow Him now as closely as we can, cooperating with His grace, we will be changed more and more into His image and likeness. This is not just a holy idea! This is what God has in store for those who follow Him. Even as I write this, I know my words are totally inadequate to the reality of union with the SOURCE of all Love.

Hear, again, the words of Scripture—this is Jesus speaking to each one of us:

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you; abide in my love” (Jn 15:9).

These words reflect a depth of love we cannot comprehend. But, it is nevertheless true. Jesus wants to dwell with us! To make His home with us—with you! He literally wants a close, personal relationship with you! Are we worthy? No, but He makes us “worthy” by His love, His mercy, and His forgiveness, day in and day out.

Think about a couple of ways in your own life that you could evangelize yourself. I know that sounds strange, but there are times when we need to tell ourselves the truth of who we are and where we are going. We can so easily lose our way, but God will help us as we cry out to Him. Use the Scripture passages I have given you; reflect on them; apply them to yourself. Speak the truth day in and day out, because the Enemy seeks to rob you of the truth.

Some resources you might want to examine are:

  1. My Other Self: Conversations with Christ on Living Your Faith, by Clarence Ensler. This was published by Ave Maria Press in 2010.
  2. Thirsting for Prayer, by Fr. Jacques Philippe. This was published by Scepter Publishers in 2014.

Both of these books deal in different ways with our spiritual life. They are very solid and can be very helpful!

As we enter more into the truth of who we are and who God is, so much of life’s journey begins to make sense. The day will come when you will be able to “give away” to others what you’re grasping more deeply, not just with the head, but with your heart.  Then you will be able to bring His light and His truth into the growing darkness around us. And that light, that truth, no one will be able to destroy.

[Featured Image Credit]

Live Lent Differently

Live Lent Different

Too often, we associate Lent with negative images that involve, in different ways, giving up something. Meanwhile, most of us have a hard time wanting to give up anything.

I encourage you to live this Lent in a manner that may be different than what you have done before:

  • Take the first two weeks of Lent (Feb. 14-28) to think about the love God has for you. Read carefully, slowly, the Gospel of John, Chapters 14-17. I urge you, if you can, to read those four chapters out loud in some quiet space. (Receiving the Word through two senses—sight and hearing—helps the truth penetrate our hearts.)
  • Take the second two-week period of Lent (March 1-14) to look at the Gospel of Matthew and read aloud Chapters 25 and 26.
  • Take roughly the last two weeks, from March 15-24, to read the Gospel of Mark, Chapters 14 and 15.
  • In the last week—Holy Week—pay attention to the selected readings for the Mass of the Day.

One major step that can help you receive the Word of God and know God’s presence more than ever before is this: Consider putting some restrictions on yourself regarding your use of cell phones and other media devices during Lent. If you want a genuine personal relationship with God, you need time to be still and listen to God as He speaks to you in the Scriptures. Remember, His Word is “living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword” (Heb 4:12). His Word convicts, counsels, and consoles. Give God room to move in your life and heart this Lent!

As you read each of these Scripture passages, pause and ask yourself how God is showing His Love for you! Remember, He did not die for crowds of people—He died for you. In His living Word, God wants to touch your heart with the realization that when He died on that cross, He already knew you. He wanted to obey the Father that you might be with Him forever. You were on His mind when He died on that cross, though you had not yet been created. (With God there are no time limits; God has no limits).

Ask God for the grace to receive and accept His love for you! Ask God to give you the grace to renew your promises to Him or to make your personal commitment to follow Him for the first time. Talk to Him about wanting to be more His son or daughter. Talk to Him about wanting to thank Him for all He has done for you. Tell Him you want to follow Him more closely. Ask Him to help you make a decision or two that will assist you in living out your relationship with God as both your Father and Savior.

Remember God hears every word of every prayer you pray—of every word you speak. Give Him your mind and your heart and ask Him to lead you in the ways He wants you to go.

If you live Lent this way, and if you make a good confession during Lent, you will come to see, by His grace, how dearly He loves you and wants to walk closely with you from now until eternity.

[Featured Image Source]

Gifts With Impact

Need a little inspiration for meaningful gifts to give this Christmas? Check out our staff recommendations—there’s something for almost everyone on your list…

FADThe Fulfillment of All Desire: A Guidebook for the Journey to God Based on the Wisdom of the Saints

Book by Ralph Martin

We are all called to be saints, but most of us don’t have a clear idea of how to make that happen. In this book, Ralph Martin draws on the wisdom of the saints and the Scripture to provide a comprehensible overview of the path to union with God.



LNFLove Never Fails


Book by Debra Herbeck

Compiled by the founder of the Be Love Revolution, this treasury contains the writings of favorite saints and others. Enrich your soul or that of someone you love with these meditations on love: God’s love for us, our love for Him, and our love for each other. This is the message teenage girls and women of all ages need to hear!


HSNHeaven Starts Now: Becoming A Saint Day by Day


Book by Fr. John Riccardo

Fr. John Riccardo’s first book does not disappoint! It contains practical, Scriptural wisdom on key areas of life that can immediately be put into action and bear fruit. Each chapter includes questions for reflection and discussion, which also makes it a great choice for group study!





More of the Holy Spirit

Book by Sr. Ann Shields

This is a handbook of essentials in how to live the Christian life with power, love, and hope. Sr. Ann offers an inspirational message that will help us persist in prayer, re-dedicate ourselves as disciples of Christ, and ignite the fire that once burned within us.




WSCPWhen the Spirit Comes in Power

Book by Peter Herbeck

Peter uses inspiring testimonies and sound teaching in his book to describe the work of the Holy Spirit in the personal lives of Christians and in the Church throughout the world. Readers will learn how to grow in likeness to Christ, experience spiritual freedom and work with the Lord for the expansion of his kingdom on earth.




PWHPeace Will Have the Last Word

Book by Sr. Emmanuel Maillard

This book is engaging from the first sentence. It is full of stories that grab the reader’s heart and fill it with the certainty that—no matter what our circumstances—God is here, and He loves us.





RPDVRenewing Today’s Parish

DVD by Renewal Ministries

Great gift for your Parish Priest! This DVD contains five episodes of The Choices We Face full of insightful discussions with priests and people active in parish leadership about the ways in which they were able to revitalize the faith of their parishes. Guests include Fr. John Riccardo, Fr. James Mallon, and Msgr. Charles Pope.



More great gift ideas from Renewal Ministries»