Never tire of asking the Lord to answer our prayers

A elderly woman prays during a 2013 Mass at a Catholic church in Tianjin, China. Pope Francis asked people to pray for Catholics in China so that they may be able to live their faith with serenity and in full communion with the pope. (CNS photo/Kim Kyung-Hoon, Reuters) See POPE-MARY-CHINA May 23, 2018.

On a plane recently, I overheard a conversation between a young boy — about three or four years old — and his father. Before the flight began, the boy repeatedly asked to play with his Legos; his father responded, “Not on the plane.” Eventually, the boy fell asleep. After napping through almost the entire two-hour trip, he awoke to ask, “Can I play with my Legos now?” His persistence astounded me, and I thought, “This must be part of what Jesus means about becoming like a little child.”

Approaching the beginning of a new school year, anticipating the return of my elementary school students, I smile at this memory. After all, every parent knows that a young child’s persistence can be a trial! So, why would the Lord prize it so much as to say that we “cannot enter the Kingdom of heaven” without it (Matthew 18:3b)?

The little boy in the airplane was not discouraged by his father’s, “No, not yet.” He knew that he would eventually be permitted to play with his Legos. He also did not simply forget about the Legos; they were still in the forefront of his mind, awaiting the appropriate moment when he would ask his father for them yet again. Perhaps his persistence in hope and desire is what we can learn most from little children.

What are the desires of your heart? Be “real” with the Lord about your hopes and longings. There is nothing too big or too small to bring to Him. He cares about us and about what is important to us, even that little boy’s Legos — not because He loves the Legos but because He loves him!

I recently shared a prayer intention with another Sister, who responded, “I’m on it. He can’t say, ‘No,’ to me.” I was struck by the boldness of her statement. She said that people sometimes tell her, “I don’t think God works that way.” “Oh, but, yes, He does,” she insists to them. We should all share her confidence in God’s love and good will toward His people.

Of course, God does sometimes answer “no” or “not yet” to our prayers, like the father on the plane. But, like the young boy, we must not take “no” for a final answer; we must not give up asking. In the Scriptures, the Lord shows us through many parables and instances of healing that He is pleased by perseverance. He wants us to expect Him to answer our prayers. He wants from us the trust and confidence that a little child naturally places in his or her parents. Let us persist in being bold with Him, ever confident in His personal love for each of us.

Sr. Mary Martha Becnel is a member of the Ann Arbor-based Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist.