Prayer And Providence

We are taught, since we were children, to pray for the things we desire: from health for us and our beloved to a job, a wife, a house, and obviously salvation. We pray for other reasons too, of course, but today I will focus on this one.

However, we are also told that nothing happened that has not been preordained. Non si muove foglia che Dio non voglia, “not one leave moves, but God wants it so”.

How do we reconcile these two apparently antithetical positions? With the most difficult phrase of the first of all prayers: Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

Prayer is not a magic ritual with which I can, in a way, move God to change His mind. God is – whatever idiots and perverts like Francis and Father Jeanine Martin tell you – unchangeable. Perfection can only be omnipotence and immutability of will and being.

God does not change his mind. You do.

Prayer is the process by which I allow myself to wish for a desired outcome that seems good to me, whilst accepting not only that God's will will be done, but that God's will is exactly what is best for me in the end.

My prayer is, at the same time, my submission and my acceptance of whatever outcome God has already established. My prayer is, in fact, the willed embrace of whatever outcome God has already decreed. I am not trying to make God behave the way I want. I am trying to become what God wants me to become. In my prayer, and in my acceptance of what the Lord has providentially decreed, I strive to conform myself to His wish, rather than trying to conform Him to mine.

The Lord has, as we have said, providentially decreed, already now, whether my prayer will be answered. Whatever happens it is good that it be so (in which way exactly I will see after death).

Why, then, pray?

Because it is part of God's providential plan that we pray. Because if God wants to give a certain desired good – say: a job, a wife, a house, and most of all salvation – He is very likely to want me to pray for it, uniting my collaboration to His already made, immutable will and unchangeable decision; so that, once again, I may be changed as I receive what I asked for. And if he does not want to answer my prayer, it is because it is better for me that He doesn't (which can happen in a varieties of ways, some of which very clear to me: to teach me submission, obedience and abandonment to His will are the easiest to understand).

God wants that we ask Him for both what he gives us and what he does not give us. And he wants us to ask for it with stubborn determination. The wife who sees, after 50 years of prayers, her husband abandoning his atheism has not decided, after 17.5 years, that she has prayed for long enough. She does not stop asking, she does not stop hoping. She accepts the final outcome all the time. But what joy, to know that God has allowed one to collaborate with Him in the salvation of her husband's soul, with 50 years of prayer!

In this way, prayer and Providence are intertwined; our prayers are the threads of our life, and God is the one who, after giving us the threads in the first place, weaves with them the canvas He has decreed.

In this understanding of prayer is the key to a much happier life, because it teaches us to grow in humility and to submit to God's providential work, knowing that what he sends us is, without exception, what we need to grow in faith and get nearer to Him.




Posted on October 17, 2017, in Catholicism, Conservative Catholicism, Traditional Catholicism and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 14 Comments.

  1. I find this hard to understand ( im not bright)
    I like to do novenas for the various intentions.
    Right now I have 5 novenas happening, with various
    intentions from the cure of a sick friend to the
    conversion of my flat mates. Some times I ask Godt to send me a sign that the intention is working,
    For example I’m praying for the conversion of my young Italian flat mate. He constantly blamsphese
    when he speaks insulting God and the Madonna.
    So in order to see if my novena is working I ask God to show me signs such as him swearing less, happy to say he has certainly has ceased swearing.
    But if I wasn’t doing those novenas would that have happened anyway? It kind of takes out all the joy of of doing them.
    Same with the rosary, if I wasn’t saying it would I get those graces anyway?

    • You should not pray that the guy ceases his blasphemies now. Good if it happens, but it’s not an enchantment. Your prayers may benefit your roommate perhaps in 50 years, and perhaps never if he does not accept the graces given to him.
      In praying for his conversion, you pray that His will be done. Not only you do not expect any immediate result, you accept that the desired outcome may not happen at all.
      Keep praying for the guy.

  2. Thank you, Mundabor. Precisely what I needed to hear this morning.

  3. This is wonderful Mundabor. Thank you.

  4. I find this post very interesting and enlightening. I have never before understood prayer in this way. Many thanks

  5. I can’t think of it all this way, or it would all seem random, or less like a relationship with God. I want to think of the constant interaction and that He hears, He cares, He loves, and He responds. I believe prayer is absolutely necessary, especially intercessory prayer, as vaticano is speaking of here. Some things will not happen, without prayer. Mundabor I know you know this already. I had a recent example that stands out.
    Staying at my sister’s house, her granddaughter had taken out the dogs, but left the smallest one, who weighs four pounds, (and who usually never roams) at the front. The unthinkable happened, and the dog disappeared. They have coyotes and, they live on an extremely busy road. After five minutes of distraught looking, I believed the dog was gone, and the horror of a coyote loomed large.
    While scouring the yard, I had the sudden prompting, very strong, to pray. I stopped in my tracks, closed my eyes and put my hands up, asking God, if the little dog was still alive, to help us find her. My distraught sister came outside, and as we were hurrying, I stopped her, by a prompting, and said we need to pray. Quickly, we did.
    Within three minutes we were delighted to find her across the street and down a dirt road. It was about 7:00 a.m., and a man was there starting work, and he happened to see her. She was already so panicked she bolted at first, but after a minute, she came to us. It is incredible she made it across that street, and that she did not come to harm.
    I was prompted to pray, the Holy Spirit instructed me to pray, I believe. We thank God for the wonderful outcome!
    And that dog now has a harness and on it she will stay. No more adventures for her.

  6. St. Catherine Laboure had a vision of the Blessed Virgin (O.L. of the Miraculous Medal) in which the Virgin had beautiful rings on her outstretched hands. Some had shining rays stretching down to the saint; some had none. St. Catherine asked her what was the meaning. The BVM’s answer: the shining rings signified the requests to God in prayer through Our Lady and which our Lord answered positively. The plain rings were those waiting for the faithful’s prayer requests. So there is more ‘mystery’ to this business than we can understand with our human capability. But we cannot possibly give up on the idea that our prayers are of avail to our friends and loved ones. Our Lord would not tell us to knock, to ask, to bang at his door. So I won’t stop hoping in the effectiveness of doing so.

    • Yes and no.
      You should never give up the idea that your prayers *will* be of avail *if your friends avail themselves of them*.
      The reality is that some, or perhaps many, of our friends will go to hell.
      Ask me to expand on this when I have time.

  7. Beautifully written, Mundy, thank you:+) It’s always that abandonment to God’s will, whatever it may be. And assuming He allows our prayers to help those we love and others in a myriad of ways…always keeping open the reality of free will and the mysteries of God. In the end, it’s all about becoming closer to Our Lord and the riches that flow from being so close to Him:+) God bless~

  8. “You should never give up the idea that your prayers *will* be of avail *if your friends avail themselves of them*”

    They will avail themselves of them IF God has decreed so and having decreed so He will prompt them to cooperate with His efficacious Grace.

    Sure, we cannot know with infallible certainty that this will happen. But as marykpkj said “Our Lord would not tell us to knock, to ask, to bang at his door” and i think this point is not without merit.

    If God continues to inspire us to pray for a person, then it is likely that there is a reason for it. Plus we should remember Luke 11:5-8

    “Jesus said to them, “Suppose you have a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have no food to offer him.’ And suppose the one inside answers, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children and I are in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything.’ I tell you, even though he will not get up and give you the bread because of friendship, yet because of your shameless audacityhe will surely get up and give you as much as you need”.

    • You are being too VII again.
      Yes, it may be that if you pray for 30 years for the conversion of your wife God is allowing you to cooperate with Him in his salvation. But we are talking beloved wife and 30 years here.

  9. Sorry, but “Non si muove foglia che Dio non voglia” it’s just a popular Italian proverb and has nothing to do with Scriptures. In fact, it’s heretical, typically jansenistical. A catholic version would be something like “Non si muove una foglia che Dio non permetta”, “not one leave moves if God doesn’t allow it”. This changes the whole matter (and your reasoning too).

    • Funny guy. Yes, the way even the proverb has been always understood is with “permetta” rather than voglia. A catholic, however, would now this implicitly.

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