Friday, May 28, 2010

Which prayer does God hear?

Please also read the articles:
Pray Well
How Must We Pray?
Can non-Catholics pray to God?


Conditions of Prayer

Its object must be worthy of God and good for the one who prays, spiritually or temporally. This condition is always implied in the prayer of one who is resigned to God's will, ready to accept any spiritual favour God may be pleased to grant, and desirous of temporal ones only in so far as they may help to serve God.

Next, faith is needed, not only the general belief that God is capable of answering prayer or that it is a powerful means of obtaining His favour, but also the implicit trust in God's fidelity to His promise to hear a prayer in some particular instance. This trust implies a special act of faith and hope that if our request be for our good, God will grant it, or something else equivalent or better, which in His Wisdom He deems best for us.

To be efficacious prayer should be humble. To ask as if one had a binding claim on God's goodness, or title of whatever colour to obtain some favour, would not be prayer but demand. The parable of the Pharisee and the Publican illustrates this very clearly, and there are innumerable testimonies in Scripture to the power of humility in prayer.

Psalm 50:19: "A contrite and humbled heart, O God, thou wilt not despise"

Ecclesiasticus 35:21: "The prayer of him that humbleth himself shall pierce the clouds".

Without sacrifice of humility we may and should try to be sure that our conscience is good, and that there is no defect in our conduct inconsistent with prayer. The principal motives of one's confidence are God's goodness and the merits of Christ.

Sincerity is another necessary quality of prayer. It would be idle to ask favour without doing all that may be in our power to obtain it; to beg for it without really working for it; or, at the same time that one prays, to do anything inconsistent with the prayer.

Earnestness or fervour is another such quality, precluding all lukewarm or half-hearted petitions. To be resigned to God's will in prayer does not imply that one should be indifferent in the sense that one does not care whether one be heard or not, or should as lief not receive as receive; on the contrary, true resignation to God's will is possible only after we have desired and earnestly expressed our desire in prayer for such things as seem needful to do God's will. This earnestness is the element which makes the persevering prayer so well described in such parables as the Friend at Midnight (Luke 11:5-8), or, the Widow and the Unjust Judge (Luke 18:2-5), and which ultimately obtains the precious gift of perseverance in grace.


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