Leaven Blog

Prayer works

by Jill Ragar Esfeld

Several years ago, I went to St. Paul School in Olathe to interview the librarian for a story I was writing about good books for children.

I was shocked when I walked into the school and saw a picture of my 23-year-old son displayed prominently on the bulletin board outside the office. 

Above it, were large colorful letters that read “PRAY.”

Written across the picture was a note that said, “Thank you for your prayers, I got the job!”

This is the end of a story about the power of prayer. 

The story begins months earlier when I went with Archbishop Joseph Naumann and members of the Catholic Education Foundation to take pictures at St. Paul in preparation for a promotion of the foundation’s annual fundraiser.

As we went from classroom to classroom to talk with students and get photographs, we found that the different grades had made spiritual bouquets — offerings of prayers and Masses — for each person visiting.

The children presented the bouquets with such sincere concern for the needs of the visitors, it was clear their prayers would be heartfelt.

When we entered the kindergarten classroom, I was surprised and touched that they had made their spiritual bouquet for me. 

As the photographer working that day, I hadn’t expected to be included.

I thanked the students and told them my son was graduating from college. 

I told them his name was John and asked that my spiritual bouquet go to him in petition for a good job.

I truly was concerned about his job opportunities because the market was still recovering from the recession, and I knew graduates were struggling to find work.

When I got home, I called John and told him the kindergarten class at St. Paul was praying for him. That took some explaining, but he was as touched as I had been.

A few months later, John moved home from school. In a twist of events that nonbelievers would call luck, he almost immediately got a call from a former roommate telling him there was a job opening at the company where he worked.

He thought John should apply. 

My husband and I told John the chances he would get the first job he applied for were remote, but if he at least got an interview, the experience would be worthwhile. 

John sent in his resume and within days received a follow-up phone call, which turned into a request for an in-person interview. 

Suddenly, we were running to Men’s Warehouse to buy a suit.

Three interviews later, John was hired by a very good company he has been with now for more than four years.

On average, it takes a college graduate 3-6 months to find employment. Thanks to the kindergarten class at St. Paul, John will never know the stress and angst of that journey.

After he accepted the job offer, John wrote the note on his picture and sent it to St. Paul School. Months later, I saw it on the bulletin board.

I ran down the principal that day and thanked her again for the prayers, and she responded, “We’re still praying.”

As we enter the Lenten season, I hope this little story will remind you of the power of prayer and help you realize the greatest effort you can put into Lent is developing a better prayer life. 

A favorite saying now is the quote of the book title “Everything I need to know I learned in kindergarten.”

There’s only one thing you really need to know, and they’re certainly learning it in kindergarten at St. Paul — prayer works.

About the author

Jill Esfeld

Jill Ragar Esfeld received a degree in Writing from Missouri State University and started her profession as a magazine feature writer, but quickly transitioned to technical/instructional writing where she had a successful career spanning more than 20 years. She returned to feature writing when she began freelancing for The Leaven in 2004. Her articles have won several awards from the Catholic Press Association. Jill grew up in Christ the King parish in Kansas City, Missouri; and has been a member of Holy Trinity Parish in Lenexa, Kansas, for 35 years.

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  • I had a nice little cry and a tsunami of gratitude for all the prayer support my family and I have received over the years. My special group of women were my first prayer warriors, hence the bookmark I made as a reminder for all of us that says “Give It to the girls!” Everyone needs a prayer team; some burdens are just too much for one person to bear. Blessings to all!

  • Great reference on prayer. When my youngest was going through some major turmoil he asked advice. Jesus will help you if you ask Him and honor Him. It takes time, but prayers were answered. Thank you GOD/ JESUS, Son of God/Holy Spirit!