Father Girardey continues his discussion of the objects of prayer by explaining how we ought to ask God to supply our material needs.
“As for our corporal or material wants we should pray God for our daily bread, according to the injunction of our divine Saviour in the Our Father: ‘Give us this day our daily bread.’ Wherefore, we should pray each day for the corporal necessities of that day, and, as required in all our other prayers, we must, moreover, do our share to procure these necessaries.”
“For the things that are over and above our necessaries, we may, but are not obliged to pray for them, and if we pray for them, we should do so only conditionally, asking God to grant them to us, provided they will not endanger, hinder or prove fatal to our salvation. . . . Let us adopt the sentiments of the Wise Man and pray thus: ‘Lord, give me neither beggary nor riches; give me only the necessaries of life; lest perhaps, being filled, I should be tempted to deny and say: Who is the Lord? or, being compelled by poverty, I should steal and foreswear the name of my God’ (Prov 30:8-9).”
“As to crosses and trials, sickness and suffering, we may pray God to free us therefrom, provided this would not endanger our salvation. At the same time we should say to God: ‘Lord, if these crosses and sufferings are necessary for my salvation, I accept them from Thy loving hand, but deign to grant me patience, resignation to bear them as long as Thou wilt. May Thy holy will be done, and not mine!’ Ask Him to grant you the grace to bear them without discontent, without murmur, and beware of the great sin of charging God with injustice or cruelty in permitting you, great sinner as you are, to suffer a little as a penance for your sins, as a means of gaining merit for heaven.”
We might recall the words of Blessed Henry Suso: “It is a greater thing to preserve patience in what is opposed to our liking than to raise the dead to life.” And he warns: “Ten souls on earth enjoying the sweets of grace will more easily fall into sin than one soul that patiently endures affliction.”
Finally, St. Alphonsus recommends that we pray for these four things necessary for our salvation: the forgiveness of our sins, divine love, the spirit of prayer, and final perseverance.
Quotations from Ferreol Girardey, Prayer: Its Necessity, Its Power, Its Conditions (St. Louis: B. Herder, 1916).