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Discovering Christ through prayer

Jennifer Tan Hooi Peng is a 54-year-old Catholic who found her way back to the Church eight years ago. She lives in Penang with her husband and two children but currently she is in Ipoh with her elderly family members in this Covid-19 lockdown. She shares her journey back to the Lord in a series of articles. Her earlier articles are listed below.

By Jennifer Tan 
SEPT 8, 2021

Before I started attending regular Sunday masses in 2013, I used to pray occasionally by talking to God as if He were another person. This happened during the 29 years I stayed away from the Church.

Thereafter, I began learning formal prayers such as the Our Father, the Creed, Gloria, Hail Mary and other prayers, as projected on the church screen during Sunday masses.

The Rosary

In 2014, I thought of praying the Rosary since it was associated with Catholicism, although I did not understand it much. My lack of effort in memorising the Our Father and Hail Mary, and the Sorrowful Mysteries being too sad for me, I did not continue with this prayer.

I had a change of heart in 2016, when my husband’s gospel sharing group leader gave me her old Rosary book. Within two weeks of saying the Rosary with the aid of the book entitled, I am the Lady of the Rosary, Pray the Rosary Daily, my heart changed. I meant every word I said and prayed the Rosary often. Praise God! Alleluia!

Later, I discovered that the Rosary is a powerful weapon in fighting satan. Likely the two long years I took to pray the rosary had been influenced by the devil, as I did not seek God’s help to pray at that time. Thank you for overcoming my difficulties finally, My Lord and My God!

St Michael’s Prayer

After joining the Catholic Charismatic Renewal in mid-2016, our spiritual leader asked us to intercede or pray for people who were sick and needed help or requested prayers. She suggested using the Rosary by praying a decade for each group of people who needed prayers such as those with cancer, those with other illness, and other prayer requests. We were asked to consider intercession carefully as we would be subjected to spiritual attacks, as we were intervening and standing in the gap of others. Upon the advice of another spiritual director, who assured us that it was fine to intercede, as many people do it. I started praying for others and I included the St Michael’s prayer for our protection.

Mass Offering & St Gertrude’s Prayer for the Holy Souls

I came to know about mass offering for the dearly departed after Deacon Lazarus Anthony Jonathan told me about it. Deacon Lazarus said that I could offer masses and pray for the dead regardless of their religion. Only then, I realised that I could pray and offer masses for my friend, a non-Catholic, who passed away in early Feb 2017, and a friend’s aunt, a Catholic, who died in mid-2017. Thank you for your teachings, Jesus!

Another prayer book given by the same gospel sharing group leader had the Saint Gertrude Prayer for the Holy Souls. I took a photo of the prayer using my mobile phone and started praying it consistently.

In early 2020, Sr Mary Zelie P. Karm from the Daughters of Carmel, Bukit Mertajam Center taught me that prayers offered for the holy souls were never wasted. Our prayers would be passed on to the next soul if the one we have been praying for had joined Christ in heaven. Praise the Lord! Alleluia!

Other Prayers 

On May 13, 2018, during a seminar by lay missionary Jude Antoine at the Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary and Saints Chastan and Imbert, Butterworth, I met another prayer group leader who received a message from Christ to pray for the Holy Souls. This was when I shared with her that on most days I would pray the St Gertrude, St Michael, and the Rosary prayers. When I met her again at St Anne’s feast on Aug 4, 2018, she enrolled me into two of her prayer groups called, the 11th Hour and Spiritual Empowerment.

Since then, I learnt and prayed more formal prayers including the Angelus, Regina Caeli, Armour of God, Breaking Curses & Building Protective Walls, Prayer for Humility, Guardian Angel, Psalms, Prayer of Consecration to the Holy Spirit, the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and the Immaculate Heart of Mary. My prayer life strengthened in this prayer group. Thank you so much, Lord for your guidance!

Chaplet of Divine Mercy

My friend invited me to pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet on Divine Mercy Sunday on Apr 8, 2018, which I agreed since the same Rosary beads were used. Sometime later, I was surprised when she suggested that I continue to pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet daily at 3 pm, the time Jesus died. Due to my work schedule, I could not, but prayed it early morning before leaving for work.

Only after I joined the 11Th Hour Prayer Group in 2018, I realised that many people prayed this chaplet each day! Praise the Lord! Late 2019, I started chanting most parts of the chaplet  following the late Timothy Chong and friends after discovering a video on YouTube. The chanting deepened the meaning of the words, so I prayed the Divine Mercy Chaplet more consistently. Thank you, Jesus! Alleluia!

On Apr 11, 2021, the Divine Mercy Sunday, I heard for the first time the same chant in St Michael’s Catholic Church in Ipoh. It was recited before Mass. I joined in eagerly, to find myself both crying and praying simultaneously. It was so beautiful! Praise God!  

Daily Reflections on Divine Mercy (365 days with St Faustina)

On Nov 19, 2019, I discovered the Daily Reflections with Divine Mercy Diary of St Faustina. These daily reflections helped me to try become more loving and compassionate. Thank you, Jesus! Alleluia!

It was so good that from Dec 3, 2019, I shared this with my Spiritual Empowerment Group. Shortly after Covid-19 lock down commenced on Mar 18, 2020, I also shared it with my BEC, CCR groups and individuals. The daily reflections for a year were needed even more during the pandemic.

The Complete Prayer – ACTSS

I came across ACTSS in the Holy Spirit Seminar from May 18 to 20, 2018, at the Minor Basilica of St. Anne, Bukit Mertajam. Deacon Clement Samuel explained that ACTSS stood for Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Silence or mediation and Supplication and it was a complete prayer. This was affirmed in another seminar, Basic Christian Maturity by Lay Missionary Martin Jalleh in Nov 2018.

After attempting to follow, I discovered the hardest was the silence or meditation part, because many thoughts of daily activities and plans interrupted me. Upon Deacon Lazarus’ advice, I repeated the word “Maranatha” non-stop. This really helped for a long time before I managed to do some short semblance of meditation. ACTSS takes a long time because I used the Rosary for supplication. For most of 2019 I managed to adopt the ACTSS method of prayer daily until 2020 when the Covid-19 lockdown started. I shortened prayer time to care for my elderly family in Ipoh.

As I am writing this, I know the need to resume, especially my meditation and daily examination of conscience. ACTSS is crucial and helped me tremendously before.

Prayer Time

Finding time for prayers was the hardest. I used to wake up around 5.30 am or earlier to accommodate this. Over time, I realised that it was Christ and prayers that protected me while traveling alone to foreign countries for work without knowing the local language, taking public transport, and conducting unannounced work. Alleluia! Praise God!

After the pandemic lockdown, I could not find time to pray the Rosary while caring for my elderly family in Ipoh. After seeking advice from Sr. Maximilliane Soon, a nun with the Daughters of Carmel, Sabah Center, I was told that it was fine to break up the decades to make time in helping the elderly. On Aug 10, 2021, an Institute for New Evangelization facilitator advised me not to worry if I could not  make it on time for the Divine Mercy Chaplet at 3pm or within this Holy Hour. Thank you, Jesus! My guilt feelings that have stayed with me for quite a while on prayers have been fully removed! Praise the Lord!

Importance of Prayers

I slowly realised that prayers don’t always get answered at the time or in the way I want, but I know God’s Decisions and Timing is always Perfect as purification or learning is needed. By giving my time to God for prayers, he has efficiently speeded up my daily activities and removed obstacles.

As I find difficulties in expressing my own words during prayers, formal prayers made it easier, but I know simple dialogues from my heart with God also worked when I lacked time.

Praying is my first step in spending time communicating with Our Lord. From prayers stem actions to try and lead a more holy life as God desires. While prayers are crucial for me, I will not treated them as mere words but to use them as instruments to grow closer to Jesus. Thank you, Jesus for helping me in my prayer life! All Glory to God!

More articles by Jennifer Tan:
Being away from Christ was the greatest mistake of my life – the story of Jennifer Tan
Tears would roll down my cheeks each time I receive Holy Communion
‘Our return to Christ as husband and wife happened just as how God told me’