For What Shall We Pray?

By Marc Massery

Turn to any page of St. Faustina’s Diary, and you’ll find spiritual gems. Like this one:

I remind you, My daughter, that as often as you hear the clock strike the third hour, immerse yourself completely in My mercy, adoring and glorifying it … In this hour you can obtain everything for yourself and for others for the asking (Diary, 1572).

Every day at the 3 o’clock hour, Jesus promises that “you can obtain everything for yourself and for others for the asking.” Maybe you’re thinking to yourself, “I prayed for wealth, and haven’t received it yet,” or “I prayed for healing, and I’m still sick,” or “I prayed that my loved ones return to Christ, and they still haven’t.” What, then, does Jesus mean? 

When Jesus says “everything,” He means everything according to His will (see Diary, 1731).  We shouldn’t let this qualification take anything away from His promise. As St. Faustina reminds us elsewhere in her Diary, God’s holy will is love and mercy itself (950). God only ever intends love and mercy toward us, so of course He wouldn’t give us something harmful, no matter how we beg for it.   

As far as praying for others goes, don’t forget that God gave everyone free will. Our loved ones can’t return to the Church if they willingly refuse His grace. Of course, we can and should pray for them to have a change of heart, but they have a part to play in their own salvation, too. 

Regarding anything else we might pray for, we ought to think about our prayer requests from Jesus’ perspective. What if the thing we desire would put our souls in danger? We need to trust that God knows better than we do. 

This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t pray for what we want. It’s good to express our true desires to Jesus. However, I find that the more I pray for something specific, the more frustrated I become with the Lord. Yes, Jesus has intervened in my life and answered specific requests. But many times, I find that He makes me wait a while for my prayers to come to fruition. Other times, He’s simply said “no.” 

I have found it advantageous, therefore, to pray especially for things that I know, beyond a doubt, are part of God’s will for me. Perhaps more than anything, God wants us to become holy and virtuous: chaste, temperate, patient, possessing fortitude, etc. If we pray consistently to grow in virtue, Jesus will help us. 

After all, we only ever pray for health and wealth because we believe that these will bring us peace and happiness. But it would be more advantageous for us to pray to grow in holiness and virtue. The holier we become, the more peace we will have, no matter what circumstances we endure. 

Plus, there’s a bonus Jesus promises us when we strive to live in this mentality. Christ says, “[S]eek first the kingdom [of God] and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides” (Mt 6:33). When we place Christ’s Kingdom first, when we make growing in holiness and virtue our top priority, God will follow through on giving us everything we need as well. We just need to be careful lest “all these things” creep their way back into the center of our attention. 

So, next time the 3 o’clock hour comes around, remember to immerse yourself in Christ’s mercy. Know that it’s all right to ask God for whatever you want. But remember to ask Him most of all for the grace you need to grow in holiness. Slowly but surely, He will transform your heart and soul more and more into the Image of His Son. 

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