We always try to go to prayer with the confidence of children. And then we seek to identify our will with that of our Father God: not my will, but yours be done4 , we could add after each petition. Because we do not want to affirm our life project but, above all, to fulfill the Will of God. The Gospel presents us with many cases of this filial, humble and persevering prayer. St. Matthew narrates5 the request of a woman who can serve as an example for all of us. Jesus came to the region of Tyre and Sidon, a land of Gentiles. He had to go looking for some rest for his Apostles in those places, since he could not find it in the desert region of Bethsaida; he wanted to spend a few days alone with them.
While they were walking, a woman approached them, with an insistent request. And in spite of her perseverance in pleading, Jesus kept silent: But He did not answer a word, says the Evangelist.
The disciples tell him to attend to her, so that she may go away. He does nothing but annoy them with his insistence. But Jesus thought otherwise. After a while, he comes out of his silence and, filled with tenderness at seeing her humility, he attends to her. He explained to her the divine plan of salvation: I have been sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. It was the divine plan from eternity. He would redeem all men with his Life and Death on the Cross, but the evangelization would begin with Israel; then the apostles of all times would carry it to the end of the earth6 , to all men.
But this Canaanite woman, who perhaps did not even understand the divine plan, was not discouraged by his answer: But she came and fell down before him, saying, "Lord, help me! She knows what she wants and knows that she can get it from Jesus.
The Lord explains to her again, with a parable, the same thing He had just told her a short time before: It is not good to take the children's bread and throw it to the dogs. The "children" were the people of Israel7 , to which she does not belong. Very soon the time of the Gentiles would also come.
But the woman does not give up. Her faith grows and overflows. And she enters the parable, with great humility, as one more character: True, Lord, but even the little dogs eat the crumbs that fall from the table of their masters.
So much faith, so much humility, so much constancy, make the Lord exclaim: O woman, great is your faith! And, with a tone between solemn and full of condescension, he adds: Let it be done as you wish.
The Evangelist will be careful to note: And at the same hour her daughter was cured. Exceptional faith, humility and constancy were also necessary for this exceptional miracle.
Jesus always hears us: even when he seems to be silent. Perhaps it is then that he listens to us most attentively. Perhaps he is provoking - with this apparent silence - the necessary conditions for the miracle to take place in us: that we ask him confidently, without discouragement, with faith.
How many times our prayer, in the face of peremptory needs, will be the same: Lord, help me! What a wonderful ejaculation for so many needs -especially of the soul- that are so urgent for us!
But it is not enough to ask; it must be done with perseverance, like that woman, without tiring, so that constancy may achieve what our merits cannot. The persevering prayer of the just is worth much. God has foreseen all the graces and help we need, but He has also foreseen our prayer.
Ask and it will be given to you... knock and it will be opened to you. And now we remember our many personal needs and the needs of those who live close to us. The Lord does not abandon us.