The Bible and the great Tradition are massively interested in prayer, especially the prayer of petition. There are many types of prayer—meditation, contemplation, adoration, etc.—but the most basic and most practiced form of prayer is the prayer of petition, of asking God for something. Studies have shown that everyone prays, that even professed nonbelievers pray. It seems to be born of a profound instinct in the human heart. We ask God for things; we beg; we implore; we desire; we long. But what precisely is petitionary prayer, and how does it work? Our first reading and Gospel for this weekend shed a good deal of light on this issue.