“The hard fact is that nobody finds time for prayer. The time must be taken. There will always be something more pressing to do, something more important to be about than the apparently fruitless, empty act of prayer.”Joan Chittister O.S.B.
She said, “Please, Lord, for even the dogs eat the scraps that fall from the table of their masters.” (Mt. 15:27)
Prayer is the heart of the Christian life, but many of us have heart disease because we misunderstand what prayer is. It is easy for us to get caught up in the idea that prayer is about “feeling close to God”.” Like good consumers, we shop around for techniques or methods that will make us feel good during our prayer time. We want to “get something out” of our time in prayer. A little voice whispers to us, “With as hectic as my life is, don’t I deserve some consolation during prayer?”
And prayer can be a wonderful, joyful, peaceful experience. But it isn’t always that way. If consolation is our primary motive during prayer, we will be disappointed when prayer stops “feeling good.” At that point we may even stop praying altogether.
What we overlook is that prayer is often a struggle. The catechism has an entire section dedicated to “The Battle of Prayer.” A large part of prayer, just like in any relationship, is showing up.
In today’s Gospel the woman’s prayer (her conversation with Jesus), isn’t what we might expect. At first her request is met with resistance and harsh words. But she persists! Her persistence leads her to move beyond pleasantries and eventually into a deeper insight into Jesus’ identity. She recognizes who Jesus is: the Savior of all people; and her request is granted.
Our prayer life requires that same kind of persistence. Resistance in prayer can be an invitation to deepen our prayer life, rather than abandon it.
Dcn. Lincoln A. Wood