Sometimes you just need to be wacked over the head with truth. This is what happened for me as I was reading a book my friend gave me called Trustful Surrender to Divine Providence. On page 116, Saint Claude de la Colombiere, writes: “If you want all your prayers to be answered without fail and oblige God to meet all your wishes, the first thing is never to stop praying. Those who get tired after praying for a time are lacking in either humility or confidence, and so do not deserve to be heard.”
How can it be my fault if God does not answer my prayers? What does humility and confidence have to do with prayer? You don’t have to think long until you remember some of the people of whom Jesus proclaimed had great faith. The Mother from Cana (Matthew 15:21-28), The Roman Centurion, (Matthew 8:5-13), the Samaritan Leper (Luke 17:11-19) each of these people displayed true humility and great confidence in Jesus. The Mother could not stop asking Jesus to heal her daughter because there was no one else she believed could offer the healing her daughter needed. Her complete confidence was in Christ. When Jesus answered that He was sent to the Jew first, she humbly responded that even the dogs lick up the crumbs and that is all she needed.
Humility was not humiliating for this woman. Then there is the Roman Centurion who showed great humility after requesting that Jesus come to his home to heal his servant, he humbled himself after sending the second message. His second message was that this great Roman Leader of Rome-the ruling party of the time-did not consider himself worthy for Jesus to come to his home. At the same time, he demonstrated humility he showed great confidence when he pointed out that Jesus could heal by His Word far away. Lastly there is the leper—from the less religious of the Israelites, being the only one who returned to thank Jesus for his healing when nine others were healed. It was humbling for the religious community that the examples of great faith come from Canaanites, Romans, and Samaritans—people groups the religious Jews looked down on.
Each of these examples come to mind as I evaluate the worth of my prayers. I never thought about how worthy my prayers are to be heard yet Colombiere has a point. If I won’t even keep up with my prayers, why should God bother? What is the longest period of time you have prayed over a specific request? We humans tend to blame God for not answering our prayers, but this saint makes me question whether God should answer a prayer I don’t even keep praying.
Whether my prayers are worthy for God to hear, God hears my prayers all the time. Zachariah is a great example of this. The Bible tells us that he and his wife Elizabeth were very old. Although I’m sure in the earlier years they prayed diligently for a child. I’m almost positive that at some point they stopped praying for God to make Elizabeth pregnant. However, God sent an angel to share their answer to prayer. The angel explains to Zachariah: “But the angel said to him: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John.” (John 1:13) The truth is that God always hears our prayers. His love and care for us makes it impossible for Him to ignore one little prayer we pray. The problem with our prayers is not God’s listening ear. The problem with our prayers is indeed our lack of praying them.
My prayer life has been stimulated by the importance of humility and confidence in evaluating the worthiness of my prayers.