How can our prayers become more efficacious?
Gustavo Dore (1832-1883), “The Pharisee and the Publican”, (image in Public Domain)
“Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.”
1 Peter 5:6
“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.”
By the Very Reverend Adolphe Tanquerey, S.S., D.D.
The need of humility flows from the very nature of prayer. Since grace is a free gift of God to which we have no right whatever, we are as St. Augustine says, but beggars in relation to God, and we must implore of His mercy what we cannot demand as a right. It was thus that Abraham prayed, considering himself but dust and ashes in presence of the Divine Majesty: “I will speak to my Lord, whereas I am dust and ashes.”1 Thus did Daniel pray when he asked for the deliverance of the Jewish people, relying not on his merits and virtues, but on God’s overflowing mercies: ” It is not for our justifications that we present our prayers before thy face, but for the multitude of thy tender mercies.”2 Thus prayed the publican, who was also heard: “O God, be merciful to me a sinner,”3 whilst the proud Pharisee saw his prayer rejected. Jesus Himself gives us the reason: “Every one that exalteth himself shall be humbled: and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted. “4 His Disciples understood this well. St. James insists that: “God resisteth the proud and giveth grace to the humble.”5 This is mere justice: the proud man attributes to himself the efficacy of his prayer, whilst the humble man attributes it to God. Now, can we expect that God will hear us to the detriment of His own glory, in order to flatter our vain complacency? The humble soul, on the contrary, sincerely acknowledges that all it has is from God, and hence God in hearkening to his prayer procures His own glory as well as the welfare of him who prays.
Humility in turn begets confidence, a confidence based, not upon our merits but upon the goodness of God and upon the merits of Jesus Christ.
1 – Gen 18:27
2 – Dan 9:18
3 – Luke 18:13
4 – Luke 18:14
5 – James 4:6