“Ask, and it will be given you; seek and you will find; knock and it will be opened to you. For every one who asks, receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Or what man among you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:-11, RSV)
We are so often in the Scriptures urged to persevere in prayer, to pray constantly, to have faith that God hears his children’s prayers, to trust in God’s goodness and generosity. Yet we are frail creatures who live in time, and we are easily discouraged when it seems to us that we’ve been praying for ages with no discernable answer in sight. It doesn’t help much when we read that “a thousand years is as a day” for God; not so much for us!
I recently came across this exerpt from St Charles de Foucauld, a recently canonized saint who is known for his Prayer of Abandonment (you can find it easily online), a prayer I have been familiar with and have prayed regularly for several years. This quote is from him:
” … believing prayer [is] having steadfast faith that it will be answered because the asker believes in three things: the infinite goodness and the infinite power of God, and the veracity of his words – words in which he often promised in the holy Gospel always to respond to our faith. People’s prayers will be answered if they have unwavering faith that if they pray with humility and trust they will receive, either what they are seeking for or something better than what they are asking for. Their prayers, far from being useless and ignored, will always, always be useful, always be answered, and always obtain good, either what they are asking for or (God’s goodness being so great) something better. God is so good that he sets no limits on the effectiveness of our prayers, but no matter how great our requests are, his power and goodness will always surpass them. He allows himself to give us even more than we ask for.”
He continues: “My God, give me that faith, and since my prayers can do so much good, may I pray and pray and pray, for myself and those you have placed beside me in my life. Let me pray to you with profound faith in the effectiveness of humble, believing prayers the way you want me to pray, with that humility and faith, and let me pray to you as much as you want me to, for your glory, for the good of your children…to glorify you the most, in you, through you, and for you.”
From “Scriptural Meditations on Faith”, translated by Alexandra Russell, 1988, New City Press, Hyde Park, NY.