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Eight Conditions of Prayer

Have you ever felt like your prayers are not being heard? It could be a case of waiting for God’s timing when the answer is “no” or “not yet.” However, it could also be because the prayers are imperfect, lacking certain constitutive elements or dispositions.

While we tend to focus on prayers of petition, there are several main types of prayer: adoration, petition, intercession, and thanksgiving. Prayer, even prayer of petition, is about submitting our will to the will of God rather than vainly trying to conform God’s will to our wishes.  Yet we are assured that God hears our petitions: “Ask and you shall receive; seek and you shall find; knock and it shall be opened to you” (Luke 11:9).

Fr. Michael Müller (1825 – 1899) addresses the nature and necessity of prayer in his 1868 treatise Prayer: the Key of Salvation. His chapter “On the Conditions and Qualities of Prayer” considers how we can make our prayers of petition more efficacious by rendering them more pleasing to God. He lays out eight specific criteria that make our prayer worthy in the eyes of God:

  1. The Object of Our Prayer Must Be Lawful

There is no use praying for something that is contrary to God’s law. God does not hear prayers that seek the harm of others, or would cause, even indirectly, spiritual harm. Eternal salvation is the ultimate end of each prayer. God will grant the temporal goods only when they serve this end, even when the connection or contingency is not clear to us. We need not fear those praying for our destruction: such evil requests are contrary to the very nature of prayer. Fr. Müller explains that God will not grant prayers for things that are vain, detrimental to our salvation, motivated by personal ambition alone, or ill-considered.

So, firstly, we must ensure that we are praying for something that is objectively good. Fr. Müller goes a step further, explaining that when we pray for an object, we must also pray for the graces to obtain that object. For example, if we pray for the virtue of patience, we must pray to accept the graces of trials that are occasions for developing patience.

Read more at Catholic Exchange 

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