Today's readings is one of the first examples we see in Scripture of intercessory prayer.
The way Jesus responds to intercessory prayer during His three years of ministry always fascinates me.
This time, Our Blessed Lord seems like He ignores the royal official and complains about our lack of faith.
Now there was a royal official whose son was ill in Capernaum.
When he heard that Jesus had arrived in Galilee from Judea,
he went to him and asked him to come down
and heal his son, who was near death.
Jesus said to him,
“Unless you people see signs and wonders, you will not believe.”
I love what the official says back to Christ's less than edifying response. Two can play that game. He ignores Christ's gripe and persists in his intercessory prayer.
The royal official said to him,
“Sir, come down before my child dies.”
Jesus said to him, “You may go; your son will live.”
Only then did the official and his household finally believe.
Been there/done that. I have a short memory of the countless miracles I've personally observed. It seems like it takes way too long for Christ to clean up a lot of the messes we get ourselves into.
It seems most of the time, Christ reminded the intercessor that they lacked faith or worthiness.
Can you imagine having your intercessory prayers answered thus by Christ: "I don't give what is holy to the dogs!"?
But a desperate mother has no pride. In her perfect response, she tell Our Blessed Lord, even the dogs get crumbs from their Master's table.
Christ actually seems cruel, but He knows that His Divinity is not for everyone. He withholds it. Sharing His Divinity to an unworthy person in the public square would cause scandal. So He sets her up to confess her unworthiness in public before He heals her daughter.
I don't want to make this post about the Romans, but they are a shining example of how pride and the stupidity of refractory sin makes even basic theological principles incomprehensible. Everything Jesus did and said - and the reasons - are lost on them. I digress.
Several things are important to the efficacy of prayer.
1. Frequent reception of the Sacraments to remain in a state of Sanctifying Grace. Fast.
2. Develop friendships with saints and angels and ask them to intercede on our behalf.
3. Be persistent and pray with conviction.
I wanted to share a little of my own experience with angels and saints and a few intercessory prayers. Please feel free to chime-in in the comments section with your own. I'm betting you've had the same kind of experiences. I put them into three categories.
The one-off saints:
I have approached certain angels and saints (and continue to) when I wanted help with a virtue they mastered or there was something I was praying for that they experienced. They help with those situations, but they don't seem to stick around. I don't feel, experience or stumble upon their daily presence.
The low-maintenance saints:
These saints and angels are more frequently around, but are on the low-maintenance plan. I reach out to them in prayer a few times a week for a more constant need or they occasionally throw me an unsolicited bone to remind me of their presence.
Friendships and constant intercessor saints:
These saints are very much part of my daily life. Saints who approached me, but, I paid very little attention to them for decades. Until their constant and powerful presence and intercessions drew me into a relationship/friendship. For me, these saints are the Blessed Mother and St. John Paul II, St. Thomas Aquinas.
The Blessed Mother keeps me out of trouble every day, all day long. St. John Paul II made his presence in my life known three times today. There is a man who knew the efficacy of persistent prayer.
I'm sure we will be embarrassed to learn about the presence, prayers and intercessions of angels and saints we ignored for the majority of our life.
Especially our guardian angel.
Here are a few intercessory prayers:
Last week, we had the feast of St. Frances of Rome who had an intimate friendship with her Guardian Angel.
O God, among the many gifts of grace you bestowed on your blessed servant Frances, you granted her an intimate friendship with an angel. May we be worthy of fellowship with the angels through her intercession. Through our Lord.
O Lord, protect us from the dangers of soul and body and through te intercession of the blessed and glorious ever-virgin Mary, Mother of God, Saint Joseph, your holy Apostles Peter and Paul, Saint _______ and all your saints, mercifully grant us health and peace, that your Church may triumph over all enmity and error to serve you in security and freedom. Through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord.
post-Communion intercessory prayer
O Lord, let the offering of this sacramental gift cleanse and strengthen us, and through the intercession of the blessed virgin Mary, Mother of God, Saint Joseph, your Holy Apostles Peter and Paul, Saint _______, and all your saints, may it purify us from all wickedness and deliver us from all adversity. Through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord.
another few post-Communion intercessory prayer for friends
We offer these sacred rites, O Lord, and pray that this sacrament of salvation may bring prosperity and peace upon our friends, for whom we have offered this sacrifice to your divine majesty. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and rules with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever.
Almighty and merciful God, cleanse us through the reception of this sacrament. May all your saints pray that this holy communion will not turn to condemn us because of our unworthiness, but rather that it will aid our salvation by obtaining your forgiveness. May it wash away our sins; be strength for the weak; shield us against all dangers of the world; and bestow your pardon to the faithful living and dead, for all their sins. Through our Lord.
In defense of the Church
Almighty and eternal God, your hand controls the power and government of every nation. Help your Christians and by the might of your right hand destroy the non-believing peoples who rely on their own cruel strength. Through our Lord.
O Lord, look upon the sacrifice we offer you, and deliver those who do battle for you from the sinfulness of non-believers, and keep them safe under your protection. Through our Lord.
for the remission of sin
Eternal Saviour, grant that we, who are pardoned through the reception of this heavenly gift, may avoid all sin in the future. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and rules with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever.