It sure does seem like God and prayers are a lot more apparent around exam time. How often around and during testing periods do you hear something similar to students saying, “God, help me,” or that they’re praying for a miracle on the next test in order to get a good grade in a class? Even after a test is over students often say that they’re praying for a good grade, or perhaps they’ve given up entirely on getting a good grade and are relying on/praying relentlessly for that beloved curve (I know I’ve certainly been in that situation before. Thank you, engineering).
With all of this being said, it appears that a lot of the praying and hope for divine intervention around exam time seems to attach with it a bit of exaggeration. However, I think the praying time around tests, studies, and other major life obstacles provides an immense opportunity to deepen your faith, and it allows each of you to grow as an individual. Rather than simply praying for a good grade or for you to be able to simply complete the difficult obstacle, it would be beneficial to pray that you are able to understand the material presented to you and that you are able to apply that understanding to anything that comes before you in your life.
Often times we feel as if a certain difficult task such as a final exam is impossible, but in reality this is just our own mindset telling us we cannot do something. The famous basketball star, Michael Jordan, once gave a quote that has stuck with me for a very long time. He said, “Limits, like fear, are often just an illusion.” Basically what this means is that many times the only thing holding us back from doing our absolute best is simply our own mindset.
To bring this back to the religious standpoint, in order to expand your own range of possibility, you have to ask God to guide you through the seemingly impossible.
Only by breaking the barriers that we set for ourselves can we really see how far we can go as human beings. It will never be easy because our bodies do not like to be in areas of discomfort, but with the power of God by our sides and in our hearts, even the sky is not the limit. We were each created for a specific reason, and once we understand and accept that calling, it is our duty to break out of our shells and make ourselves vulnerable. Through this state of vulnerability, we open our hearts and souls to the power of the Holy Spirit, which in turn gives us all the power we need to carry out our Christian duties. Anyone that says that something cannot be done simply needs to listen to that small voice inside of him or her just persuading him or her to try and take that next step. Sure, the other 99% of our body will be saying, “Uhhhhhh that’s a terrible idea,” but how can we really know just how amazing we can be unless we push ourselves beyond the limit of our own reality?
Now with all of this theoretical stuff about how you should push yourselves beyond your limit, I think it’s important to give a little personal experience with how I used prayer to expand my own reality of possibility during testing/exams/schooling. It was during my freshman year of college in my Statics and Basic Strength of Materials class. I had been a nervous wreck my entire freshman year because of the major transition from high school to college, and every single test jacked up my anxiety to immense levels. To make matters even worse, my first exam in this class resulted in a 15%. Yeah, there was no typo with that. 15 percent. If I recall correctly, the class average was about a 30%. Needless to say, every single negative thought that could go through a college student’s mind, went through my mind after seeing that exam. I wanted to drop the class, drop out of engineering, and even drop out of college altogether. But then, I talked to my lovely mother. Quitting is absolutely not an option for her. She also has one of the deepest faiths I have ever witnessed in another human being. She has been unfaltering with her faith for as long as I’ve been alive, and I’m always awestruck with how amazing of a lady she is. During the conversation with her, she said she was going to do some research about potential prayers that I could use to help me through this class. I vividly remember her simply telling me to never give up and to keep my head up because it will work out. That very same night she sent me an email with a prayer, which is given below, that I have prayed every single night before bedtime ever since she sent it to me. After repeating that prayer over and over again that semester, I proceeded to obtain a 100% on my next three exams in that class and went on to receive an A- in the class. Without being specific, the prayer has continued to help me in every single one of my classes and life obstacles that I have encountered so far.
My initial mindset had barriers galore set up that inhibited me from reaching my full potential after such a bad test score. However, with immense prayer and meditation, I was able to overcome and push through these barriers, and I have a firm belief that each and every one of you reading this blog can break through each and every obstacle set before you in life. We all have different past histories, we all have different current predicaments, and we all have different future endeavors, but the one thing that remains the same between each and every one of us is that we all have the one superior and supernatural God that truly makes every single goal possible.
“Glorious wonder worker, Saint Anthony of Padua. As I prepare for my examination, I come to ask your aid. Secure for me in your kindness, the spirit of wisdom, knowledge and understanding. With your help, may I be able, with clear vision and unclouded mind, to pass successfully. In this way too, I will show gratefulness to my parents and teachers who have sacrificed themselves so much for my good. Hear the prayers of the Franciscan mission children, which join in my own petitions for your assistance. In gratitude, I will try harder to be more diligent in serving God and loving my neighbors as I continue my studies.”
-This is the prayer that my mother presented to me that pushed me beyond my limits and helped me to achieve what I thought to be an impossible task.