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I often hear the question, “Does God hear our prayers?” This is both an easy and a hard question to answer. The difficult part of this question is that our experience often makes it difficult to verify one way or the other. We pray for certain needs and we say that our prayers are answered because what we want happens. On the other side of the coin, sometimes we prayer for certain needs, like that pool for the rectory that I always talk about :-), but what we want does not happen. In this case, it appears that God does not answer our prayers. Even in the case when we pray for a particular need, gainful employment, for example, it is hard to know how God did arrange for a requested need to be fulfilled. Honestly, I have struggled with this conundrum for some time. I have always been a man of prayer, but not so much with the prayer of petition.

I am changing. Recently, it has become clear that I am asking the wrong questions. It is not really my job to figure out how God answers prayers when I ask for something good and receive it. It is not even mine to say that if the “something good” isn’t received that God decided it wasn’t good for me. The reason that our prayer of petition is both right and good is because Jesus is the Son of God and he exhorts us to pray and he tells us that the Father hears and answers our prayers. We have a great example of the prayer of petition at work from this Sunday’s first reading. In the Acts of the Apostles (Acts 12: 1-11) we hear about Peter’s imprisonment through the hands of King Herod. Four squads of four soldiers took him into custody and placed him in prison. Now, what did these earliest of Christians do? Riot or write a letter to the editor? No, we hear that “prayer by the Church was fervently made to God on his behalf.” St. Luke makes a direct connection between the Church’s fervent prayer and the Angel’s deliverance of St. Peter from prison.

Why do we pray for what we need? In my mind the best reason for the prayer of petition is that Christ insists upon it for his disciples. The first Christians in the Acts of the Apostles knew this and prayed fervently. It is not mine to know exactly how God intervenes in response to my petitions. This gives me peace.

Pray for me and I will pray for you.

Ad majorem Dei gloriam,

-Fr. John F. Jirak

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