How should we petition God?

Jesus returns to Galilee from Jerusalem and returns to Cana, the site of His first Sign (changing water into wine). Now a court official approaches him petitioning healing for his son who is dying.

Though the Lord God knows our need He desires we ask for help. Why? He desires that we reach out to him. He desires we establish, maintain and deepen a relationship with him. He desires us to know that we are not autonomous.

What is a good way to petition God for our needs? The first step of the prayer of petition is in fact a prayer asking for forgiveness. We need to make our hearts pure and our intentions righteous, before we ask for something. We need the prayer of the tax collector: “God be merciful to me a sinner.” (Lk 18:13) It is with a humble and trusting disposition that our prayers can be heard in the first place. This disposition is necessary both for preparation for Mass and for personal prayer.

Also our hearts need to be filled with hope – we need to be searching for God’s Kingdom to come. After a humble and contrite disposition we need to petition first for the Kingdom of God, asking for what is necessary to welcome it and what we need to cooperate with the coming Kingdom. By doing this we align ourselves with the whole mission of the Church, and unite our intentions with the apostolic community.
Then in humble trust and within the whole mission of the Church we make our particular petitions known to God. Every need we have can be brought to God. Both St James and St Paul exhort us to pray at all times and by this they mean for us to bring all our needs to God in prayer.

Finally we must remember that perseverance is often necessary in order to prove our trust. Like the persistent widow we often must ask over and over again.

When our prayer is pure and humble, when it is aligned within the apostolic mission of the Church, and when we are willing to persevere to show our trust in our Father’s care, God will answer our prayers as is most expedient for us.

Fr Ian

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