We Pray Because We Need Forgiveness

Father Girardey gives a third reason why we ought to pray: because we need God’s forgiveness.

“God, as we have just learned, is our greatest Benefactor and most loving Father. But how do we requite His countless benefits and most tender love?”

“Every one of us is a sinner, for the beloved disciple says: ‘If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. . . . If we say that we have not sinned, we make God a liar and His word is not in us’ (1 Jn 1:8, 10). . . . We all desire to go to heaven, but what have we done to deserve it? Or rather, have we not done much to lose heaven and deserve the punishment of hell? What would have become of us, had we died on such and such a day, in such and such a place, after yielding to temptation, after gratifying our passion? Are we not like the servant who owed his lord the immense sum of ten thousand talents, and had not wherewith to pay him even a small part of that sum? Have we any excuse to offer for our failure to pay our debt, or any security to give for its payment? What will become of us, if we fail to satisfy the claims, the rights of God’s justice? Have we any means of escaping the just punishment of our sins? Yes, thanks to the Divine Goodness, we have. We have only to address to God a prayer for mercy and forgiveness, a prayer, that is the outcome of sincere sorrow for sin, joined to the firm resolution to sin no more, and to fulfil the condition requisite to obtain forgiveness, that is, to go to confession. Hence the necessity of prayer.”

“We need God’s help, or grace, for everything in the order of salvation, for our divine Saviour Himself says to us all: ‘Without Me you can do nothing’ (Jn 15:5); and with God’s grace we can do all that is necessary to our salvation, for St. Paul expressly declares: ‘I can do all things in Him Who giveth me strength’ (Phil 4:13); and Jesus Himself says: ‘He that asketh, receiveth’ (Mt 7:8).”

“The reason why we must pray to God for the graces we need is because God will not force the means of salvation on the unwilling, but is ever ready to grant them to the willing, to those who desire and ask for them. Such persons are desirous of the graces of God, and manifest their desire by praying for them; and the stronger and more earnest their desire, the more earnest and persistent will be their prayer.”

Quotations from Ferreol Girardey, Prayer: Its Necessity, Its Power, Its Conditions (St. Louis: B. Herder, 1916).

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