Persons, places and things: Prayer experiences

Beth Blough
Members of the Assumption High School football team in Davenport take a “kneel” and pray for an injured player from the opposing team during a game in this photo taken more than a decade ago.

Barb Arland-Fye


While reading The Catholic Messenger, Beth Blough came across the story of Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin who suffered a cardiac arrest Jan. 2 during a game against the Cincinnati Bengals. The image of his teammates huddled in prayer for Damar on the Bengals’ field caused Beth to reflect on a photo on her desk, taken years ago, of another football team praying for a fallen player.

Beth, a wife, mother, grandmother and diocesan tribunal auditor, shares her reflection of a profound prayer experience:

“The recent tragedy surrounding Damar Hamlin quickly brought to mind one of my proudest moments of being a mom — and it happened on a football field. It was when our youngest son was a sophomore on Assumption’s football team playing tight end. During a defensive play, the quarterback from the opposing team, North High School, was injured, badly enough that he was immobilized and carried from the field to a local hospital by ambulance. It was serious and the game was delayed 20 minutes.”


“While both teams waited in silence wondering what the outcome would be, John left the sidelines to join the defense standing on the field. He told his friends they needed to do something for this injured player, so they ‘took a kneel’ and John led them in prayer. I witnessed this through my zoom lens from the bleachers at Brady Street Stadium in Davenport.”

“When he got home that night, I asked him about all that had happened. John said he felt helpless but wanted to do something. He remembered that in the not so distant past he, too, had an accident and many people had prayed for him. He said it seemed like the right thing to do and it was. Prayer is real.”

Another profound experience of prayer comes from Deacon Pat Murphy of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Bettendorf. In early December, he sent an email to the diocesan deacon community, asking his fellow deacons to pray for the couple’s 25-year-old grandson, Ryan, “who went home to Our Lord a few days ago.”

The outpouring of prayer provided comfort during a time of desolation. “Our good God consoled us,” Deacon Pat said. He described as great gifts the graces and blessings from the outpouring of condolences of families and friends. The church was packed for Ryan’s visitation and his funeral Mass. “Condolences continue to come in the mail and writing thank you notes is a great time of healing.”

“God’s perfect timing and perfect gift” arrived in yet another way, with the birth of Maria Rose, the granddaughter of Ryan’s parents and the great-granddaughter of Deacon Pat and MaryBeth. Ryan’s parents were able to spend nine days with Maria Rose, “who brought much needed healing and consolation to them. God is good!,” Deacon Pat said.

“To pray is to light a candle in the darkness,” Pope Francis said. “Prayer rouses us from the tepidness of a purely horizontal existence, lifts our gaze to higher things, makes us attuned to the Lord, allows God to be close to us; it frees us from our solitude and gives us hope” (Pope Francis@pontifex, 12-1-15-2020).

“The wonder of prayer is revealed beside the well where we come seeking water: there, Christ comes to meet every human being,” St. Augustine said. “It is he who first seeks us and asks us for a drink. Jesus thirsts; his asking arises from the depths of God’s desire for us. Whether we realize it or not, prayer is the encounter of God’s thirst with ours. God thirsts that we may thirst for him” (CCC #2560).

If you would like to share a profound experience of prayer with The Catholic Messenger, please contact Editor Barb Arland-Fye at

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