Conditions of true prayer


St. Mark tells us in the Gospel of the Mass that Jesus came with his disciples to the region of Tyre and Sidon1. There a Gentile woman came to them, a Syrophoenician of Syrophoenician origin, belonging to the primitive population of Palestine. She fell at his feet and asked him to heal her daughter, who was demon-possessed. Jesus said nothing, and the disciples, tired of the woman's insistence, asked him to send her away. The Lord tries to explain to the woman that the Messiah must first make himself known to the Jews, to the children. And with an expression difficult to understand without seeing her kind gestures, he said to her, "Let the children first be satisfied, for it is not right to take the children's bread and throw it to the dogs. The woman did not feel hurt or humiliated, but insisted more, with deep humility: Lord, even the dogs eat the crumbs of the children under the table. In the face of so many virtues, Jesus, moved, no longer delayed the miracle that was asked of him, and dismissed her thus: For this you have said, go away, the devil has gone out of your daughter. God, who resists the proud, gives his grace to the humble; that woman achieved what she wanted and won the heart of the Master.

She is the perfect example for all those who tire of praying because they believe that they are not heard. In her prayer are summarized the conditions of every petition: faith, humility, perseverance and trust. The intense love she shows for her demon-possessed daughter must have pleased Christ very much. Perhaps the Apostles remembered this woman when they later heard the parable of the untimely widow, who also got what she wanted because of her stubbornness, her insistence.

St. Thomas teaches that true prayer is infallibly efficacious, because God, who never turns back, has decreed that it should be so. And so that we would not cease to ask, the Lord showed us with simple and clear examples, so that we would understand well, that always and everywhere our prayers made with uprightness reach Him and He answers them: if among you a son asks his father for bread, will He give him a stone; or if he asks for a fish, will He give him instead of a fish a snake... How much more your Father, who is in heaven...! "God has never denied nor will He deny anything to those who ask for His graces properly. Prayer is the great resource that remains to us to get out of sin, to persevere in grace, to move the heart of God and to attract upon us all kinds of blessings from heaven, either for the soul or for our temporal needs.

When we ask for any gift, we must think that we are children of God, and He is infinitely more attentive to us than the best father on earth is to his most needy child.