Jesus assures us emphatically that if we seek, we shall find (not just perhaps); if we ask, it will be given to us; if we knock, it will be opened (Mt 7:7-8). Yet, you will may wonder, what are we to think of the petitions we make that do not seem answered?
Several observations are in order. First of all, the Lord is supposing that the normal situation, namely, that we are praying as we ought to pray. There are conditions to be fulfilled -- as is normal in other human relationships as well. The first one is that we seek before all else our greatest good and the genuine welfare of others. If that is lacking, what else matters? Scripture teaches us plainly that if we seek the Lord with all our heart and all our soul, we shall find him (Deut 4:29). Saints always find God, and in finding him they obtain everything else they need. the psalmist tells us to be sure that the Lord does wonders for his faithful ones (Ps 4:3, JB). So we need to ask: Am I faithful? The New Testament insists that whatever we ask for we will receive because we keep his commandments and live the kind of life God knows is best for us (1 Jn 3:22). Are you and I living that kind of life?
The second and third conditions for our prayers to be answered are included in the first one. Namely, we are to ask with full trust in the Lord (Jas 1:5-8), and we are to seek the right things, what is best for ourselves and for others (Jas 4:2-3). We are to put first things first and ask for genuine goods.
One further question: Suppose we ask for the conversion of a sinner, surely a good and holy petition, and yet he does not give up the wrongdoing or does not return to the Church? What has happened? Has God answered this prayer? Yes, indeed. He has given the transgressor all the graces he needs for a complete conversion; the Lord has responded to the prayer. Yet he leaves the sinner free to use the graces given or not to use them. God forces himself on no one. St. Monica, the mother of the tremendous Augustine, prayed for twenty years for the conversion of her son. The Holy Spirit was working on his mind and heart for two decades (thus responding to the mother's tears and petitions), and when her son finally said a complete Yes, he was mightily converted, not only to the state of grace, but eventually to the very heights of heroic holiness and the transforming union of prayer. Worthy prayers are indeed answered.Prayer Primer, Thomas Dubay, S.M.
Thursday, January 27, 2005
Are Your Prayers Answered?
We always are told that our prayers are answered but sometimes God says, "No." This is probably the best and most complete answer I have ever seen as to why that "No" might be ... it is because the fault is within ourselves.