The Power of Prayer to Heal, Transform and Inspire

National competition for Christian youth, in its 20th year, stresses creativity and a lifelong devotion to growing closer to God

It can take many different forms, including Sunday school, Bible studies, praying in church, and even learning to pray incessantly, as Saint Paul exhorts in Thessalonians 5: 15-16: “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

Faith can also be expressed artistically — and that was the aim recently of the “Try Prayer! It Works!” contest.

The national competition was sponsored by Family Rosary, a worldwide campaign, and founded by Patrick Peyton, a Catholic priest from Ireland — who is being considered for sainthood by The Vatican, according to Crux.

The contest, in its 20th year, encouraged students in grades K-12 to share their faith through art, poetry and prose.

And some 800 of them rose to the creative challenge, submitting inspiring works reflecting upon the theme, “Mary, the New Eve.”

“Our goal is to bring the church’s teachings to life around the dinner table with discussion prompts, reflection question, prayer ideas and creativity,” noted Susan Wallace, director of external relations for Holy Cross Family Ministries (HCFM), in a press release to the media.

Based in North Easton, Massachusetts, HCFM was also founded by Fr. Peyton, who passed away in 1992.

In the Christian tradition, Mary, the Mother of God, is revered and venerated as a beacon of obedience. She stands in sharp contrast — and a counterbalance — to Eve’s disobedience as referenced in the book of Genesis in the Old Testament.

“Her devotion to Christ and humble acceptance of God’s plan gently unites all people, as she works to share the deep joy and peace His friendship can bring,” added Wallace. “United by baptism, we are all brothers and sisters of Christ, sons and daughters of God. Mary is our perfect model, committed to helping bring God’s love to all. Reflect with your family about how you can work together to live your life full of faith like the Blessed Mother.”

“Our goal is to bring the church’s teachings to life around the dinner table.”

In the United States, three winners were chosen per grade, representing each category: art, poetry and prose. First-place winners were awarded $100 each.

Judges considered content, the ability to capture and interpret the theme, artistic and technical proficiency, and adherence to rules.

The “Try Prayer! It Works!” contest derives its name from an experience in Fr. Peyton’s life. When he was a seminarian, he was stricken with severe tuberculosis. At one point, a frustrated physician said, “Try prayer! We have done all we can for you,” according to the news release.

After he prayed his rosary to the Blessed Mother, he made a miraculous recovery — which he attributed entirely to Mary’s intercession.

It’s been said that this experience — coupled with his spiritually rich family life as a youth in Ireland — inspired Venerable Peyton to devote his life to Mary, the Mother of God, and to the spiritual well-being of the family.

His famous phrase, “The family that prays together stays together,” still resonates to this day.

Elizabeth Economou is a former CNBC staff writer and adjunct professor. Follow her on Twitter.