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656

Part Four

their petition is not heard. Here two questions should be asked:

Why do we think our petition has not been heard? How is our

prayer heard, how is it “efficacious”?

Why do we complain of not being heard?

2735

In the first place, we ought to be astonished by this fact: when

we praise God or give him thanks for his benefits in general, we are

not particularly concerned whether or not our prayer is acceptable to

him. On the other hand, we demand to see the results of our petitions.

What is the image of God that motivates our prayer: an instrument to

be used? or the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ?

2736

Are we convinced that “we do not know how to pray as

we ought”?

23

Are we asking God for “what is good for us”? Our

Father knows what we need before we ask him,

24

but he awaits

our petition because the dignity of his children lies in their free­

dom. We must pray, then, with his Spirit of freedom, to be able

truly to know what he wants.

25

2737

“You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to

spend it on your passions.”

26

If we ask with a divided heart, we

are “adulterers”;

27

God cannot answer us, for he desires our

well-being, our life. “Or do you suppose that it is in vain that the

scripture says, ‘He yearns jealously over the spirit which he has

made to dwell in us?’”

28

That our God is “jealous” for us is the

sign of how true his love is. If we enter into the desire of his Spirit,

we shall be heard.

Do not be troubled if you do not immediately receive from

God what you ask him; for he desires to do something even

greater for you, while you cling to him in prayer.

29

God wills that our desire should be exercised in prayer, that

we may be able to receive what he is prepared to give.

30

23

Rom

8:26.

24 Cf.

Mt

6:8.

25 Cf.

Rom

8:27.

26

Jas

4:3; cf. the whole context:

Jas

4:1-10; 1:5-8; 5:16.

27

Jas

4:4.

28

Jas

4:5.

29 Evagrius Ponticus,

De oratione

34: PG 79, 1173.

30 St. Augustine,

Ep.

130, 8, 17: PL 33, 500.

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