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It is the plea from the heart -- and faith, especially at a tough time -- that counts with God. We all know that. Do we remember it enough?

When the going gets tough, the tough get praying (instead of fretting).

We speak here of effective prayer; prayer that works; prayer that leads to miracles (which are there for the asking).

There's the "telephone prayer." We used it recently while kayaking. Lost for several hours -- with sunlight fading (and in a wildlife preserve rich with large alligators, water moccasins, and assorted other hazards) -- we finally unleashed a prayer from the heart that was as simple as it was sincere.

Jesus I trust in You. Mary take over.

That was repeated over and over and grew in power with each stroke of each paddle and suddenly we spotted a canal that materialized behind us and took us right to a bridge that took us to a boar-trapping camp where we not only got out of the swamp but found someone who got us and our kayak (against all odds) home more than an hour away!

Any bookmaker would have bet we were going to be spending the night in that small boat, with no light, water, or cell phone.

God heard us. He hears us all -- and delights when we focus on prayer (there was also a litany of saints) instead of panic.

That same week, at a local beach, a woman was swept out in a rip current and her boyfriend went out to try to save her. She couldn't swim. He could. Unfortunately, he died in the attempt -- but she lived.


"The two then became separated and the man began to yell instructions to his 'frantic' girlfriend on how to get out of the rip current, said a witness," reported the St. Augustine Record. "He said the woman told him she 'loudly prayed to God' and was able to make it back to shore."

"Loudly" is from the heart. It is the depth of being. Here you find God. It doesn't have to be an emergency. It simply has to be sincere.

Pray with your entire soul. Pray with your whole body.

It can be just a word or two. In fact, these are often the most effective. Remember His prayer from the Cross? My God, My God...

The area code is "Jesus I trust in You." Or just "Jesus, Jesus, Jesus."

Have you noticed how simple the requests were of those for whom Jesus worked healings?

God wants depth more than length. It's also a matter of attitude. Look at every setback as a set up for a comeback. Instill yourself with holy determination. Pray as if you are desperate -- but full of faith. Don't complain.

Aim for what you need.

Holy determination knows no discouragement. It replaces anxiety with a novena.

Crises are bumps in the road (maybe speed bumps, maybe you need to slow down)! But winter always turns to spring. "This too shall pass" is crucial to dealing with troubles.

There are seasons of trial. There are seasons of favor. An unanswered prayer is a prayer that is not yet in season. Eyes of faith see that.

They also see the new (joyful) season.

Believe that.

Desire nothing (selfish) and you will possess everything.

"Mary take over."

Those are some hints through the ages.

[Adds viewer William Sturm: "Just as God gave David five stones with which to defeat Goliath, Our Lady is also giving us five stones or weapons we can use to defeat Satan. They are:

[resources: Prayer of the Warrior and Spiritual Warfare Prayers]

[see also: Come pray the Rosary!, Power of the Rosary, and Video: Original St. Michael prayer]

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