By Blessed Fr. Sopocko (St Faustina’s spiritual director)
Ask and You Shall Receive
Our Lord showed the need for prayer when He said, “Without me, you can do nothing”. (John 15:5) Then He assured us of the power of prayer, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened” (Matt 7:7-8). “And if you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer”. (Matt. 21: 22)
Would You Give Him a Stone?
To emphasise the effectiveness of prayer still more strongly, He made use of a comparison: “What man is there among you, if his son asked for bread, would give him a stone? Or if he asked for a fish, would give him a snake? If you then being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father, who is in Heaven, give good things to them that ask Him?” (Matt. 7:9-11)
An Honest Conversation with God
Prayer, which is a conversation with God, should have certain characteristics. It should be trusting, humble and persistent. Above all, we must prepare ourselves for prayer. Jesus taught: “But when you pray, enter into your room, and having shut the door pray to your Father in secret and then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you”. (Matt. 6:6) He often urged us to trust, but especially in prayer: “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours”. (Mark 11:24)
Humility in Prayer
He highlighted humility in the parable of the prayer of the Pharisee and the Publican, on whom He passed judgment. “I tell you that this man (Publican), rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled and those who humble themselves will be exalted”. (Luke 18: 14)
Perseverance in Prayer
In order to teach perseverance in prayer, He told the parable of the Unjust Judge, who refused for a long time to defend a certain widow against her adversary. “And will not God”, said Jesus, at the end of the parable, “bring about justice for His chosen ones, who cry out to Him day and night?”. “Will He keep putting them off? I tell you, He will see that they get justice and quickly”. (Luke 18:1-8). And to the Apostles before His Passion, He said: “Watch ye, and pray that you enter not into temptation”. (Mark 14: 38)
Notes on Fr. Sopocko’s Article
This article by Fr. Sopocko, the priest chosen by Jesus to be St. Faustina’s spiritual director, brings together some of the most important teachings by Jesus on the power of prayer. Jesus once told St. Faustina that Fr. Sopocko’s writings were very dear to Him so we should pay attention to this wonderful priest.
Fr. Sopocko gives us great hope by showing us that Jesus has taught us how to pray. Firstly, we must believe that God’s mercy compels Him to answer our prayer. Secondly, we must be humble in our prayer which means being honest with ourselves and God. None of us are perfect. God knows our faults and failings, but that does not mean that He loves us any less. If we are humble, we call our sins sin and don’t justify it or pretend that the wrong we have done is not wrong. It is a sign of goodness and honesty if we can say to ourselves, ‘what I have done is wrong. I must make amends with my fellow man and ask God to forgive me’.
Thirdly, we must persevere in our prayer. God does not do magic tricks. Sometimes we want an instant miracle, but don’t receive it. But trusting that God will do what is best for us is the key to understanding this aspect of praying. If you have been praying for a long while, I’m sure you will remember things that you prayed for that you are now very glad that you didn’t receive. I’m sure you can remember prayers that were answered and can understand the benefits of these graces also.
But praying is the most important thing. Everyone will pray for their individual needs. But also we must remember to pray for others. In our new devotion to God’s Divine Mercy, Jesus specifically asks us to pray for sinners and particularly the dying. The Chaplet of Divine Mercy, although a short prayer, is incomprehensibly powerful. It is only through personal experience of praying the Chaplet that you will believe and understand its power. We hope that Fr. Sopocko’s advice on prayer will help you to understand prayer more deeply and give you great confidence in the power of prayer in your life.
We must always trust in God even if it seems that He is not answering our prayers. None of us have the intelligence to understand the decisions of God and that is why placing all your trust in His goodness, love and mercy is the best way to live life.