How to be heard in our prayers

August 23, 2021 • 4 min

From St. Joseph’s Life, Virtues, Privileges, Power, page 338
By Very Rev. Archdeacon Kinane, P.P.

“You ask, and receive not, because you ask amiss” (James, iv. 3).

“God resisteth the proud and giveth grace to the humble” (Ibid., iv. 6).

“The prayer of him that humbleth himself shall pierce the clouds, … and he will not depart till the Most High behold” (Eccl. xxx. 21.)

“Let him ask in faith, nothing wavering” (James, i. 6)

Reflect that though men pray, yet the world abounds with sin. We pray to-day and relapse to-morrow. We pray in the morning, and sin before night. We pray for conversion, grace, and perseverance, but our prayers are never heard; hence many continue to live in sin, others are always relapsing into sin; and a third class never advance in virtue.

The reason is that such prayers are cold, careless, inattentive, and distracted. They never think of God’s presence. The lips pronounce holy words, but their minds and hearts are far away from God.

God Himself says of such prayers: “This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me” (Matt. xv. 8).

To have our prayers heard, to be entitled to the promises of God to hear us when we cry to Him, we must pray, first, with attention and fervour.

That is, we are to call to mind the presence of God, that by prayer we are addressing God, and speaking and communing with the Almighty. Whilst our tongues are pronouncing holy words let our mind and heart be fixed on God.

Secondly, we must pray with humility. “God resisteth the proud and giveth grace to the humble” (James, iv. 6).

The prayer of him that humbleth himself shall pierce the clouds. … and he will not depart till the Most High behold" (Ecclus. xxxv. 21).

The Royal Psalmist thus addresses the Almighty: “A contrite and humble heart, O God, thou wilt not despise” (Ps. 1. 19).

The penitent publican obtained mercy and pardon by one fervent and humble prayer—“O God, be merciful to me a sinner.”

And on the occasion our Blessed Lord said: “Every one that exalteth himself shall be humbled, and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted” (Luke, xviii. 14).

Thirdly, we are to pray with confidence and perseverance.

The word of God says: “No one hath hoped in the Lord and hath been confounded” (Kecles., ii 11).

Our Blessed Lord said to His Disciples: “Have the faith of God. Amen I say to you, that whosoever shall say to this mountain, Be thou removed, and be cast into the sea, and shall not stagger in his heart, but believe that whatsvever he saith shall be done, it shall be done unto him. Therefore, I say unto you, all things whatsoever you ask when ye pray, believe that you shall receive, and they shall come unto you” (Mark, xi. 23).

“Ask in faith,” says St. James, “nothing wavering; for he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea which is moved and carried about by the wind. Therefore let not that man think that he shall receive anything of the Lord” (i. 6.).

A fourth condition is perseverance in prayer.

Our Blessed Lord has said: “He that shall persevere to the end, he shall be saved” (Matt., xxiv. 13).

Again, the inspired text tells us: “We ought always to pray” (Luke, xviii. 1).

“Watch ye, therefore, praying at all times” (Luke, xxi. 36).

“Pray without ceasing,” says St. Paul (1 Thess. v. 17).

If our prayers be not immediately heard we are not to desist. Our Blessed Lord loves to be importuned. We are to keep asking until we get our request.

We are to continue knocking until the door be thrown open. We are to persevere in seeking until we have found grace and mercy from the loving Heart of Jesus.

St. Joseph, taught by Jesus Christ Himself, knew best how to pray, and hence we are not surprised at his eminent sanctity, his perfection in all virtues.

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