Father Girardey highlights three characteristics of a good prayer: faith, confidence, and perseverance.
He writes: “Jesus insists on the necessity of faith and confidence in our prayers. . . . Moreover, God defers granting our prayer for our own advantage, because the longer He defers granting us what we pray for, the greater will be the benefits He will add to what we pray for, provided only we persevere faithfully in prayer.”
“The example of St. Monica will serve as a beautiful and convincing illustration of this matter. Monica was a very pious woman and when she found out that her son Augustine, at the age of seventeen years, had been led by bad companions into leading a sinful life, had lost the faith and embraced Manicheism, a most absurd heresy, set herself at once to do all in her power to reclaim him, and to pray earnestly to God for his conversion. But all her efforts and prayers seemed to be in vain. She redoubled her prayers, denied herself all amusements, all delicacies, and performed many penances and austerities, many good works that required great sacrifices on her part; followed him to Milan, and left nothing undone to bring about his conversion. The more she prayed, the more she underwent and suffered, the more holy she became, so that all who came in contact with her, revered her as a saint. For sixteen years she persevered in her efforts and prayers and, at last, Augustine was thoroughly converted, and her prayers were fully granted, and more than this by her efforts and prayers for Augustine, she sanctified herself so that the Church has declared and honors her as one of her great saints and a model of all Christians.”
“If we examine the lives of the saints, we shall discover that it was through persevering prayer that they became saints. Some saints, seeing the necessity of humility for salvation, exerted themselves for twenty, thirty, forty or more years by prayer and their corresponding efforts to acquire humility. . . . St. Francis de Sales for over twenty years strove by persistent prayer and his own corresponding efforts to overcome his natural irascibility, and succeeded in becoming a very model of meekness and a great saint. For forty years St. Alphonsus acted in like manner to acquire the virtue of patience, and became thereby a great saint.”
“If we henceforth set out earnestly to overcome our greatest defect by dint of persistent prayer, accompanied by our own efforts of ‘putting our own shoulder to the wheel,’ we shall in the end succeed in saving our soul and attaining ‘our place in heaven.'”
Quotations from Ferreol Girardey, Prayer: Its Necessity, Its Power, Its Conditions (St. Louis: B. Herder, 1916).