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6. FOR WHAT OUGHT WE TO PRAY?
1. We ought to implore of God many things and great things; benefits not appertaining to time so much as to eternity.
Supposing a king said to you: “Ask what you will;” would you not ask a great favor of him? Well, it is nothing more than what God says to you. We ought to ask great things of God, because we have to do with One Who is infinitely rich and powerful. Let us not be contented with what we have already received, but ever beg for more. God is more ready to give than we to receive. Let us not ask so much for temporal and transitory benefits, but rather for those that are eternal. No one would presume to ask of an emperor what was use less and worthless; much less should we venture to implore the Lord of heaven and earth for the things of time and sense. It is the act of a fool to treasure up worthless shells and cast away precious pearls; to choose glittering tinsel rather than pure gold. Let us therefore pray for the joys of heaven, and for whatsoever will help us to attain them.
2. We ought more especially to beseech almighty God to grant us such things as are conducive to His glory, and to our salvation, and in no wise to ask for what will only serve to gratify our earthly desires.
To those who pray Our Lord says: “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His justice, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matt. v. 33). Hence we may conclude that if we ask for the good things of eternity, those of time will also be bestowed on us. King Solomon prayed for wisdom to govern his people aright; God gave him a wise and understanding heart and in addition earthly riches and glory in abundance (3 Kings iii.). It is not right to ask of God what is only calculated to gratify our earthly concupiscences; such prayers are not granted (Jas. iv. 3). “There are many,” says St. Augustine, “who, in what they ask, do not seek God’s glory, but their own sensual pleasures; they would degrade God to be their servant, the servant of their covetousness, their pride, their avarice, their luxury.” King Jeroboam’s hand was withered, because he stretched it out against the man of God. He prayed that his hand might be restored, not that his sin might be forgiven (3 Kings xiii. 6). Many people do likewise; in their prayers they think only of the needs of the body, not those of the soul. Let us never pray that our will, but that God’s will be done; let us not wish for the accomplishment of those desires which arise from our fallen nature, but of those with which the Holy Spirit inspires our soul.
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