Father Girardey continues his discussion of five conditions or qualities of prayer that are pleasing to God. Here he mentions two more qualities: praying with humility and with sincerity.
Concerning humility, he writes: “Whose prayer will God surely hear? The humble man’s. Whose prayer will He refuse to hear? The proud man’s. This our Lord Himself tells us in His parable of the Pharisee and the publican praying in the temple. God heard not the proud Pharisee’s prayer, for in the very presence of God he gloried in himself and his alleged good works, and preferred himself to everyone else. But the poor publican, laden with many sins, indeed, humbled himself and implored God for mercy, and his prayer was heard. Hence St. Peter says: ‘God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble’ (1 Pt 5:5).”
“Let us remember, when we pray, that we are poor, wretched sinners craving mercy from God, poor beggars asking for an alms without any merit or claim of our own. Therefore, let us, whenever we pray, most humbly beseech God to supply our great need, to strengthen our great weakness, and this, not because of any merit or claim of our own, but through the infinite merits and mercy of our Saviour Jesus Christ. The more we humble ourselves, the more we feel convinced of our misery and helplessness and of our total dependence on the mercy and bounty of God, the more surely we shall obtain the object of our prayers.”
Concerning sincerity, he writes: “Our prayer should be sincere, we should mean what we ask of God; we should really wish for, desire it, and should, therefore, do our share to obtain what we pray for. For instance, we pray God to forgive our sins; if we really mean this, we shall not fail to do, on our part, all that is necessary to obtain their forgiveness, for he who wishes the end, must also wish the means of attaining that end. We must, therefore, be sincerely sorry for our sins, firmly resolved to amend our life and avoid all proximate occasions of grievous sins, and make a sincere confession. . . . In like manner, he who sincerely prays God to grant him the virtue of patience, will also do his share and, therefore, will watch over himself, especially on those occasions in which he is apt to yield to impatience or anger.”
“We must not expect to go to heaven by merely praying to God, without doing our share, without making the necessary efforts to fulfil our whole duty. We must, on our part, do all in our power to keep the commandments, and if we do this manfully, we can be sure that God will do His share and will answer our prayers by giving us the help of His all-powerful grace. In like manner, when we ask God: ‘Give us this day our daily bread,’ we must not imagine that He will dispense us from earning our own living, and supply all our wants without our doing our share, our duty in working for it.”
Quotations from Ferreol Girardey, Prayer: Its Necessity, Its Power, Its Conditions (St. Louis: B. Herder, 1916).