Community, Faith

Is Praying Worth It?

The first person to pray for us was the driver of the Mack truck we collided with.

“I asked one of the passengers what Ashley’s name was and then held her hand with my free hand and started to pray. I remember hoping her hands were not injured because I was squeezing them quite hard. I asked for a lot of things in those moments. I told God I wanted to go to this young lady’s wedding, I wanted to see her children. I wanted her to be alright. My daughter grew up always saying the same prayer before bed, I said that prayer too.”                                  -The Truck Driver

Within seconds, the vehicle carrying our pastor, Father Matya, and other staff members of the Newman Center we worked at that year came upon the tragic scene.

Fr. Matya immediately anointed all five of the women missionaries in the car. 

Calls quickly diffused starting a chain of prayers that covered the nation. Other Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS) missionaries that were closeby caught news and hurried to the University Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC) to comfort their coworkers and pray with us.

Students back at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) that we mentored and led Bible studies with gathered at our Church to pray. People across the nation and world – Rome, Spain, Paris –  devoted themselves to prayer for us.

Is It Worth It?

How can we know if good things in our life are a byproduct of prayer? So often we attribute the good things in our life to what we see – medical intervention, being at the right place at the right time, good luck.

It’s harder to give credit to the power of the unseen.

Are miracles a result of answered prayer or blind luck? Is praying worth it?

This is what the rest of the morning looked like as we were covered with prayer:

  • The truck driver called 911 and immediately applied pressure to stop the bleeding from my chin and kept me alive.
  • An ROTC medic who was driving by the scene stopped and took over for the truck driver until the paramedics arrived.
  • Two different helicopters were able to get to the crash site to transport me and the driver quickly, which a state trooper later noted is incredibly rare.
  • All five of us were taken to UNMC which made it easier for supporters to gather together in prayer and support.
  • Within an hour of the accident, there were around 40 people in the emergency room there to bring food and cell phone chargers, pray, and do anything they could.
  • After being T-boned by a freight truck at highway speeds, two of the women in the car were released that evening and another two were released over the next two days.


The fact that four out of five of us were released so quickly is miraculous in and of itself considering hours earlier we were being removed from a vehicle that had been cut open by the Jaws of Life.

This was all just from the first weekend. Many, many more fruits followed.

Our Response 

When people ask us to pray for them, how do we respond?

For us, an incredible outpouring of support and prayer began on the Internet that day and continued after that first weekend. A Facebook page called, “Prayers for the Women FOCUS Missionaries of UNL” had nearly 2,000 participants in just the first week.

A Caring Bridge page was set up by my family and fiancé with more information on my recovery and continued prayer requests. 91,005 visitors got on their knees and responded. 

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When Brad and my family first arrived at the hospital, they were told I likely wasn’t going to make it. The comments these visitors left encouraged my family greatly and reminded them they were not alone as their daughter, sister, and fiancé fought through my most critical recovery period at UNMC. These countless prayers carried me as I struggled through six months of therapy.

“While we were scared and saddened, there was an unbelievable sense of God’s closeness that made it possible for us to trust and hope and wait as the updates started to come.”                     -Jim Jansen, UNL FOCUS Team Director

Who Should We Pray For? 

Sometimes when you’re in the thick of the suffering, when you are so close to it, it’s hard to find the words to pray. It’s hard to find the words to ask.

“For we do not know how we ought to pray, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groans too deep for words” -Romans 8:26

I was reading through comments that got posted to Caring Bridge updates in the first few days after the accident. Many were from old friends, bosses and coaches, parents of old friends, and family. What struck me was all of the comments from acquaintances and strangers; from people I had met once or never at all.

“I met you last year at the Women’s Night in February when Fr. Brendan read that prayer from St. Anthony, which you later sent to me. I want you to know that I was really touched by the witness to Christ that you gave. You are such an inspiration to me. I only met you that once, but I never forget about my time there and meeting you. You are in my prayers.”              –Benedictine College student

“The altar server at my parish was in a terrible accident this past July. He had to be life-flighted to Lincoln and have emergency surgery done. I thought of you, Ashley, at our parish Masses this weekend, especially at the, “Through Him, with Him, in Him”. Since my parishioners have prayed this altar server back to health, I have started my parish prayer chains here for you and the other four missionaries.”
A Closeby Priest

“I have woken up a number of times the last two nights and have prayed for Ashley. I want you all to know that you are in my prayers and that I am encouraging all I know to pray for Ashley as well. Corrie ten Boom said ‘There is no pit so deep that He is not deeper still.” The Lord Jesus will be with you in this trial in a way you have not experienced Him before.”
Leader of UNL Navigators

These are a few of the comments and prayers left in the first few days. These books are filled with countless others from strangers, acquantices, and friends.


If we’re only praying so that we get something out of it, then we’re missing the point.

People say you never know who your real friends are until you suffer. You’ll be surprised who shows up: friends, strangers, acquaintances, and all.

We’re filming a segment for the 700 Club this week on the power of prayer. As I watched, experienced, and as I reflect on the power of prayer for our recovery, I am convinced now more than ever that prayer is most definitely worth it. It got me to where I am today.

When someone asks you to pray do it immediately.

When you’re not sure you believe in prayer, do it just in case you’re wrong.

When you don’t know the person in need of prayer, do it anyways.

When you see someone too wrapped in grief to pray, do it on their behalf.

No burden is EVER too small to ask for prayer.

If we’re not praying over all types of burdens, big and small, and for all types of people, strangers and those closest to us, then we are not living the love of Christ.

Always ask. Always pray. Because even when prayers seem unanswered, you just never know.

“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” -Hebrews 11:1

I’d appreciate prayers for the 700 Club shoot and would love to hear how you’ve witnessed or experienced the power of prayer.