Ascension: How Prayers Rise to the Occasion

(For the audio version of this blog, please visit:

One of the most important legacies Jesus left us was a blueprint for raising up a prayer. The Our Father has everything we need to build our own prayer, and the core of it is this: “Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”

Jesus lived and died by that prayer. Even in his passion, while contemplating what he was about to endure, he raised this prayer: “Father, if you are willing, take this cup away from me; still, not my will but yours be done.”

So in this Sunday’s first reading we see Peter following suit—praying that God tell them who should take Judas Iscariot’s place as the 12th apostle—Barsabbas or Matthias? 

“You, Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which one of these two you have chosen to take the place in this apostolic ministry from which Judas turned away to go to his own place.” Then they gave lots to them, and the lot fell upon Matthias, and he was counted with the eleven apostles. (Acts 1:15-17, 20a, 20c-26)

If only our lives could be that easy when praying over hard decisions. Again, we return to the example of Jesus, who, even in his resurrected form, prayed that God’s will be done in a world he wanted no part of–except for the word-doers in it. In his pre-ascension prayer, Jesus uses the phrase “they do not belong to the world any more than I belong to the world”—TWICE—like two pieces of bread sandwiching the meat of his prayer seeking their protection:

“I do not ask that you take them out of the world but that you keep them from the evil one.” (Jn 17:11b-19)

In other words, “deliver them from evil” as they spread your word around the world so it may be done.

Your word, not mine. Your will, not mine.

Discerning those two in a world that doesn’t believe in God can be a miracle, as Rita Antoinette Rizzo learned while the EWTN Faith-based TV network was still a gleam in her eye. Mother Angelica, as she came to be known, prayed that God’s will be done when trying to decide if satellite communication was God’s will for spreading His word. Her friend Raymond Arroyo told the story of how EWTN was miraculously blessed with the technology to do just that. (His comical account, told at the “Bringing America Back to Life” conference in Cleveland this past March, can be seen here.)

According to Arroyo …

All she needed was for the $600,000 down-payment on the $2 million price tag to arise out of a bank account containing only $200. She convinced RCA by phone to deliver to her door the satellite carrying that price tag. A few days later, the trucker responsible for releasing it into her custody asked for that payment. After giving the driver a time-stretching tour of their facilities, she excused herself and resorted to her own variation of the “thy will be done” prayer.

“You wanted it, Lord, I didn’t. Now what?”

Her prayer was answered, seemingly almost immediately, by a phone call from a rich donor whose prayers SHE had once helped God answer.

“How can I help?,” he asked.

“Do you have $600,000?,” she answered.

SHE soon had it.

Her prayer for God’s will to be done was answered in the form of a network that communicates God’s word around this fallen world—a world sparsely but powerfully populated by people who continuously raise God’s word in prayer and action.

THAT’S how Ascension’s done on earth as it is in heaven.  

–Tom Andel


  1. Great work Tom! How simple yet complex prayer can be, particularly when we try to lead with our own desires over the master plan of God! This is a great reminder of how to prioritize our prayer, but as importantly, our hearts and our minds every day.

    • Thanks, Mike. “Your will, not mine” is easy to pray, but hard to accept when the answer hurts. Prayer not only requires the will, but the courage to believe.

  2. Jesus gave us many promises prior to his Ascension into heaven, but the greatest was the gift of the Holy Spirit. We’ve all read the biblical accounts of the Holy Spirit descending on worthy instruments of God, to do His bidding.

    This same Holy Spirit given to each of us at our Baptism, is the 3rd Person of the Blessed Trinity. Ponder that for a moment, and consider what an amazing insight and capability the Lord gives us. The power, wisdom, and knowledge of Christ is at our disposal.

    Can we crack the code?

    • A good place to start is, “Do to others whatever you would have them do to you.” The Master deciphered that simple code for us, but we make it so difficult.

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