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Friends, our Gospel offers a wonderful promise of answered prayer: “And I tell you, ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.”

Petitionary prayer is one of the most fundamental ways that we raise our minds and hearts to God. It is also the most common form of prayer in the Bible. Every major Scriptural character—Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, Samuel, David, Solomon, Ezra, Nehemiah, Peter, James, Paul, and John—prays in this way; they all ask God for things. 

There is something, of course, primal and elemental about this kind of prayer: “O God, please help me! O Lord, save my child!” If we could place a net capable of catching prayers as they waft their way to heaven from hospitals and churches, we would corral millions upon millions of them. Finally, the paradigmatic prayer that Jesus taught us—the Our Father—is nothing but a series of petitions, and Jesus urged his followers, again and again, to persevere in prayer.