In our fallen nature, we tend downwards to worldly and evil things. It is by God’s grace that we are lifted up. As long as we are in this miserable fallen state, we must labor in begging for God’s assistance (Ven. Louis of Granada). This is where prayer comes in. Christ tells us to pray always by His command (Luke 18:1) and by His example (Luke 6:12).
The Roman Catechisms reasonably states, “For since God owes nothing to anyone, we must ask of Him in prayer those things we need, seeing that He has constituted prayer as a necessary means for the accomplishment of our desires.” However, “It is not enough that you ask that which is good; your entreaties must also be assiduous,” which is corroborated by Christ’s parable (18:2-8).
I’m going to list a few things that the Roman Catechism (The Catechism of the Council of Trent) mentions in its encouragement for fruitful, devout prayer. I’ll also add questions to stimulate your intellect.
Fruits of Prayer
Prayer honors God
We confess our subjection to God, acknowledge and proclaim Him as author of all good.
- Are you willing to obey Him?
- Do you truly believe His will to be good?
- Why don’t you desire to incorporate His supremely good will into yours?
Prayer obtains our requests
God hears the voice of man.
- Is your desire direct to heaven?
- Why aren’t you praying for a greater desire for heaven?
We secure the guidance and aid of the Holy Spirit.
- If you don’t fear God, do you ask the Holy Spirit for this gift?
- If you aren’t pious, do you ask the Holy Spirit for this gift?
- If you aren’t strong, do you ask the Holy Spirit for this gift?
- If you need advice (personal or legal), do you ask the Holy Spirit for this gift?
- If you don’t know, do you ask the Holy Spirit for this gift?
- If you don’t understand, do you ask the Holy Spirit for this gift?
- If you are not wise, do you ask the Holy Spirit for this gift?
The Holy Spirit preserves Faith, delivers from eternal punishment, provides divine protection under temptation, destroys the power of the devil.
- Do you believe He can?
- Why don’t you ask?
- When will you conquer yourself by the Blood of the Lamb (Rev. 12:11)?
Prayer accumulates spiritual joy.
- Why can’t you find joy in spiritual things?
- Are you too attached to the world?
Proofs of heard prayers
The Roman Catechisms states that there are too many instances where people obtained from God the object of their prayers.
- Why isn’t their witness enough?
- What is enough?
Unwise and indevout prayers unheard
God looks to our welfare; we do not receive things that prove superfluous and injurious.
- Are you asking for more than you need?
- If you receive it, will it make you better or worse, spiritually?
Lifting your mind to God (prayer) requires attention and devotion on God.
- If your “mind is elsewhere”, is it lifted up to God?
- Can you call it prayer if your mind is distracted?
- Do you think slurring over the words without devotion or attention should be called prayer? Is the mind even involved when you do this?
The correct disposition for prayer
Those who pray with devout attention are given more than they ask.
“God hastens to grant the inner and hidden desires of the needy without awaiting their utterance.”
Prayer exercises and increases faith
Prayer augments and exercises the virtues of the soul.
- “How can they call on him, whom they have not believed? (Rom. 10:14)
- Has there been a change to your life after starting to pray?
Prayer strengthens our hope in God
As we obtain our requests, we will bear witness to and declare His goodness toward us.
- Do you take the time to recognize His goodness toward you?
- Does obtaining heaven seem more possible when you do what is pleasing to God?
Prayer increases charity
“Those who cherish a mutual affection become more ardently attached by frequent interviews and conversations.”
- Is there a sense of delight when you converse with God?
- Do you believe that He delights in conversing with you?
Prayer disposes the soul to Divine blessings
The perseverance and zeal in prayer will lead to blessings unobtainable without prayer.
- Can God make you perfect?
- Does He want you to be perfect?
Prayer enlightens us to our needfulness
Unassisted by His heavenly grace, we can do nothing on our own (John 15:5).
- What were the consequences of doing things without God’s assistance?
- Did you grow in virtue? Vice?
Prayer protects against the devil
Prayer supplies the most powerful weapons against the devil.
- Can you contend with an unseen, powerful, and intelligent adversary?
- Did he trick you into sinning?
Prayer promotes a virtuous life
God desires that we endeavor to deserve His gifts by loving innocence, destroying our willingness to sin, and purifying every stain of guilt.
- Would it be shameful to present your mind to your trainer time and time again without having made any progress? Why do that with God?
- Do you want to be unmoved and steadfast as a result of your training with the Holy Spirit?
- Do you want to quickly and easily submit to the commands issued from the Love of God?
Prayer disarms the Divine vengeance
“Nothing so effectually delays or averts the punishments prepared for the wicked as the prayers of men.”
- Will you pray as Moses did so God stays His punishing hand?
- Will you pray for our enemies? For their humbling and repentance?
- Do you have hope that our enemies will be subdued by the Blood of our Eternal Redeemer?
- Do you have hope that your personal enemy (temptation by the world, the flesh, and the devil) will be subdued by the God-Hero, the Prince of Peace?