Our Lady's Garden
Have you ever had a prayer petition that you took to bed and was waiting when you awoke? Of course you have, me too, so has everyone. One of my good friends has been asking me about the Nine First Fridays devotion for months. She has decided to start in September so she called me. “Just tell me the deal.” she said. I started to explain only to hear the request, “Just text me.” I’ll do better, I answered. I will finally write the devotional post I have wanted to do for a year. “Great,” was her response . . . “Print it out so I can put it on my refrigerator.” As honored as I feel to grace her refrigerator door, the First Friday devotion is worthy of the space.
The best way I can explain the Nine First Fridays is to remind you of a favorite bible story. Jesus’ disciples asked Him to teach them how and He taught them the Our Father. In Luke’s gospel, that significant moment is followed by this story -
“Suppose one of you has a friend to whom he goes at midnight and says, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread, for a friend of mine has arrived at my house from a journey and I have nothing to offer him, and he says in reply from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door has already been locked and my children and I are already in bed. I cannot get up to give you anything. I tell you, if he does not get up to give him the loaves because of their friendship, he will get up to give him whatever he needs because of his persistence. And I tell you, ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. What father among you would hand his son a snake when he asks for a fish? Or hand him a scorpion when he asks for an egg? If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?”
Luke 11: 6-13
Knock and the door will be answered to you. Isn’t this our heart's desire? Don’t we all have prayers, concerns, heartaches that we want to offer Jesus and ask him to take our intentions, petitions, hurts and reconcile them? We all have family or friends who we wish would walk through the threshold of Jesus’ Mercy and fall into His Embrace. That is the type of emotion that brings one to the Sacred Heart of Jesus' First Friday Devotion. This is a decisive move to bring your petition to the altar in a significant way and hold nothing back from Our Lord for NINE MONTHS. Each month will offer a new obstacle in scheduling, travel, timing, sickness, work . . .
It will cause a "gut check" as you make the decisions to attend that Friday Mass or do something else and start over the next month. It will change your life. I could write a book about the 20 months it took me to begin, yes begin, my first successful 9 First Fridays. It was 19 years ago and I was at a crossroad in my life and I put all my eggs in Jesus’ basket and I am here to tell you it is a story of God's love and fidelity.
“The Deal” as my friend put it is this:
- To attend Mass and receive Communion on the First Friday of nine consecutive months.
Yep, if you miss one, you start over.
- To pray for the Pope and his intentions. I usually offer my petition in prayer at Mass and then pray the required Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory Be.
- To go to Confession (The Sacrament of Reconciliation)
the week prior to or the week following the First Friday. 8 days before or after
- Lastly – To have no affection for sin.
That’s it, but it’s enough to take you to your knees I guarantee it. So about these “requirements”, let me tell you -
I didn’t know about most of them when I began. I knew there was a promise that good would come if I took my petition to Mass on the 9 First Fridays and that all I needed to know. I didn’t know about getting to confession, I learned about that later, but God didn’t care. He honored a daughter’s request. When I was ready for the next step, I learned of the monthly confession. Funny, I really needed a reason to get to confession more often.
I didn’t know about praying for the Pope (it was before there was internet) but God answered a daughter’s prayer. I only recently heard about the part without the affection for sin. “Who is without an affection for sin!” I hollered. That month I had to struggle with my lack of forgiveness. I had to decide to lay down my anger because it was clear I could not carry both my petition and my anger to the altar. I let it fall, God knew what was best for me.
I am sorry that you have now learned the “whole deal”. I couldn’t keep it from you because you have the internet and you would search it anyway. Maybe God knows you can handle it but please allow me to remind you that God is not a bureaucrat. He is not just checking off boxes - He is offering you an opportunity! An opportunity to bring your petition to Him and accept that change of heart and life’s circumstances take time. The duration needed for a change of heart in us and those we pray for. That it takes time for us to change our perspective on life and see things as they are. Nine months will provide you that time. You will find out very quickly how important that petition is and how faithful your good Papa in Heaven is. He loves you and Jesus’ story tells us to know and ask for what we need. He is a Good Father and that reminder is also worth a spot on your refrigerator.
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"Ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. What father among you would hand his son a snake when he asks for a fish? Or hand him a scorpion when he asks for an egg? If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?”