Father Girardey gives two reasons why some prayers go unanswered as asked. One reason is the unworthiness of the petitioner; the other is the unsuitability of the petition.
Concerning the second reason, he writes: “Some persons are not heard when they pray, because they pray for things that would prove hurtful to them, and it is a proof of mercy and love on the part of God not to grant such prayers. When he refuses to hear such prayers, God usually imparts something else that will prove more beneficial to the petitioner. God is like a kind and loving father, who because of his love for his child, steadily refuses to give him a thing he asks for and wishes to get by all means, if such a thing would prove dangerous or hurtful to him.”
“God is the most loving of fathers; hence when a certain sick man prays to get well, to be free from pain or infirmity, and God knows well that if that sick man were to get well, he would end in going astray and lose his soul, out of mercy He does not hear his prayer, but imparts to him some other favor, or some spiritual benefit.”
“Another, a good practical Catholic, prays for success in business, for a good position, for a political office, and God foresees that if he were to attain the object of his desires, he would soon become so absorbed in material interests, wealth, goods or in his work, or get into dangerous habits or company, as to gradually neglect the interests of his immortal soul and wholly give up the practice of his holy religion, as has happened to so many others.”
“In fact, does not a sad experience teach, that many a man, many a woman, would have remained good, charitable, virtuous, exemplary and faithful Catholics, had they never acquired wealth, power, influence or popularity, but, having attained the object of their desires, of their ambition, they found therein the occasions and enticements to wholly devote themselves to worldly pleasures, to the gratification of their passions, and entirely to forget their soul, their God, their eternity!”
Thus, “if our prayers are not heard, not granted by God, the fault is not God’s, but ours.”
Quotations from Ferreol Girardey, Prayer: Its Necessity, Its Power, Its Conditions (St. Louis: B. Herder, 1916).