A Lesson in Prayer from the Syrophoenician Woman.

Posted by James Hahn on

Step #3 of my 4 Simple Steps to Better Scripture Meditations is "Join the Story".  This means placing
yourself within the scripture passage.  In this step you use your imagination.  Are you a disciple or a bystander?  Are you a Pharisee or a leper?  Can you hear the sea, smell the grass, or feel the tension?  When we place ourselves in the story we become part of it and the words of Our Lord can speak deeply to us.  While doing this I often like to imagine my responses and reactions to the situation.  Today I place myself in the role of the woman asking for healing for her daughter...

Me: Have pity on me, Lord, Son of David!  My daughter is tormented by a demon.


Me: Hey, Master, Lord, have pity.


Me:  Hey, I know you hear me...


Disciples:  Master, send this guy away.  He's making a scene and everyone is watching.

Jesus: I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.

Me: Oh, I see.  Too good for me.  Well, I had heard you were a prophet and healer but I guess not.  At least maybe you are but just for certain people.  Look, I really need your help.  Can you make an exception, just once?

Jesus: It is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs.



Me:*lunging at Jesus and taking a swing - What the heck man!  No, really.  What. The. Heck. (struggling to free myself from the grasp of the disciples)  I'll show you a dog...

Well, that didn't end quite like the original but it's probably more true to life for me and sometimes how my "prayer" ends up!  How many times have I prayed for something only to feel like I'm being ignored by the Lord!?  How many times have I seen Him bless others while I appear to be languishing!?  How many times have I prayed for something in my life only to find something bad happening instead, it's like an insult!??

Prayer changes things, most especially us.  Prayer, daily conversations with the Lord, can help us grow in our faith.  It's when we stop talking to Him, when communications break down, that we drift and our relationship weakens.  God is always trying to help us to grow closer to Him, even during those times it seems like the exact opposite.  If you are praying for patience, God will give you "opportunities" to exercise patience.  If you are praying for humility, God will give you "opportunities" to become humble.  These opportunities aren't always a walk in the park!!

O woman, great is your faith!  This woman in today's Gospel reminds us how to pray and that God is not being mean to us but is trying to draw us outside of ourselves.

Do you feel like Jesus is ignoring your prayers?  Maybe He is trying to teach you perseverance!
Do you feel like Jesus is blessing everyone but you?  Maybe He is trying to teach you gratitude!
Do you feel like Jesus is insulting you?  Maybe He is trying to toughen you up for the work He has planned for you or help you develop tenacity!

O woman, great is your faith!  Intercede for us that we will relentlessly pursue the Lord.  Help us to trust and remember that His responses, no matter what they may be, are designed to make us better and bring us closer to Him and may we too hear, "Let it be done for you as you wish."

"An apostle who does not pray regularly and methodically will necessarily fall into lukewarmness...and he will then cease to be an apostle." - St. Josemaria Escriva, The Forge #121

How to get better at prayer.
  1. Set a prayer appointment - Set a time on your calendar each day to meet and speak with God.
  2. Slowly increase your prayer time. - Don't jump in with an hour right from the get-go.  Build up your "tolerance" so to speak.
  3. Commit - to praying and slowly increasing your prayer time for 30 days.  Mark off the days on your calendar.  If you miss a day, jump right back in, don't give up.
  4. Pray - praying is talking to God, it's spending time with your attention focused on Him.  I enjoy spending time with my children regardless of their level of development.  God is the same way.  Spend time praying as best you can.  Use formal prayers if you want or simply speak in conversation.  Don't forget to listen!
  5. Journal - Our newly revised 4 Simple Steps to Better Scripture Meditations: Guide, Workbook, and Journal walks you through 4 easy steps that will help you go deeper in your prayer life.  It includes 31 days of workbook and journal pages too!
  6. Read other good books about how to pray better - Prayer PrimerDeep Conversion, Deep PrayerTime for GodThe Spiritual Life: A Comprehensive Guide to Catholics Seeking Salvation.
* Contains affiliate links.  No, that doesn't mean that the kids should leave the room.  Rather, it means that if you click on a link, and if you purchase something, I may get some financial remuneration for that click and buy.  All that means is that my kids will finally get to eat, just kidding but I may get something, just so you know...

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