Abandonment to Divine Providence vs Prayer

Is petitioning prayer contrary to abandoning oneself to the will of God?

If I see all things, good and bad, as coming from God, isn’t praying to God to change the way something is the opposite of abandonment?

The older I get and the (hopefully) more resigned I become to God’s will, the more difficult it has been to pray (petitioning prayer specifically).

Thank you in advance ~

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No. Jesus encouraged petitioning prayer, for example in Luke 18: 1-8 and Luke 11:5-13.
Jesus wouldn’t have taught this if it was somehow going against the will of God.

The important part is that when we make our petitions, we always remember to add (even just mentally) “but Thy will be done, Lord”. Jesus himself did this in the Garden of Gethsemane. He asked his Father to let the cup pass from him, but when God said No, Jesus accepted his Father’s will.

Even the saints who trusted God greatly were always making petitions to him, to provide food or cure this person or help that soul or whatever. No reason for you to not make petitions as long as you can handle it and resign yourself to God’s will when he says No.

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Asking for the grace to endure God’s will is petition.

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Prayer is a dialogue with God Our Father; and asking Him for the things we need and want is pleasing to Him. Archbishop Sheen Explains it here: https://www.americancatholictruthsociety.com/sheen/49PrayerisaDialogue.mp3

Any prayer should have the point of “Your will be done Lord not mine.”

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I think I get it. To me it doesn’t feel like resignation. My most common prayer of petition is for God’s help (grace, mercy) so that my family and I may be saved.

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Isn’t God’s will being done even without our prayers though?

I sometimes feel like I am not accepting what God has permitted if I am asking Him to change it.

What would you ask God to change?

We always have choices. We can do what we want to do even if we know it isn’t right, just easier or more enjoyable.

Like @Tis_Bearself said, even Jesus prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet not what I want but what you want.” Matthew 26:39.

Sometimes when we have something hard to do, or something we must do but don’t really want to, we might pray for God to change our path, just never forget His will will be done.

If God has asked us to pray for things (like healing for a loved one, or a job offer for a friend), and He modeled it, then maybe it is His will that we pray for things?

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Was Mother Mary “not accepting what God has permitted” when she requested of Jesus (who was God) that he please do something about the Cana couple running out of wine? And that’s in addition to the examples of Jesus himself teaching us to petition God which I already posted above.

I don’t see how you can ignore/ set aside all the Scripture where Jesus is teaching us to petition God and Mary is showing us by example to petition God. Not to mention the entire OT where Jewish patriarchs, prophets, and even entire peoples are petitioning God constantly. If God didn’t want us to petition him, then the entire Bible would be much, much shorter and everybody would basically just sit around passively and wait for the will of God to just happen to them.

“Oh, here comes our enemies. Well, no point in praying because if God wills that we all be killed, it’s gonna happen anyway.”
“Oh, look we’re enslaved in Egypt. Well, let’s not bother to pray to God about it because God’s going to free us or not, whatever he wills, so we better not go against that by asking God to please free us from our bondage.”
“Oh, so God’s going to destroy our city of Nineveh. I guess that’s his will, so rather than fast and pray, let’s just sit here and wait for God to zap us. We don’t want to be going against God by asking him to spare us, now do we?”

This is clearly not what God has in mind. In addition, Scripture contains stories, such as the wedding at Cana and the story of Nineveh, where God changed his initial decision based on heartfelt petition prayers.

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Others may disagree, but the thought that sprang to mind for me here is this is like a man saying, “I don’t need to tell my wife I love her because she already knows.” I’m guessing his wife disagrees with the first half of that statement.

The point of praying for things is that we are changed, not God’s will. We ask for what we want so that he can better teach us how our will can be aligned with his. It takes a bit of time, a lot of practice, and perhaps some disappointment before we break ourselves of the ME focus, but eventually you’ll find your prayers are like saying, “You’re in charge, but here’s my opinion because I know you love me and care about what I think and want. And I know that you know and understand things so much better than I ever will in this earthly life.”

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I do see that Jesus instructs us to ask for things and He even gave us examples, but at the same time we have the example of Job and numerous saints who accepted every circumstance as coming from God. We also know that God does not say yes to everything we ask of Him (thankfully!) bc His ways are not our ways. So there seems to be a conundrum: am I detached from my own will if I am asking something from God? I cannot reconcile detachment, conformity to God, abandonment to His providence, and at the same time, trying to steer circumstances in another direction by asking for a change.

I enjoy meditative prayer, contemplation, being present throughout my day in simple conversation with God as I do things, so I am not saying I cannot pray at all; that I never talk to God. I do have a problem with petitioning prayer though, and I feel terrible about that bc people ask me to pray for certain things, and I can only muster a “God, thy will be done in this circumstance”.

You could pray, “God, please help Person N. in their bad situation, in the way that is best for them. If it be your will, please do X. But if it is not your will, please bless them and strengthen them to accept whatever you in your love decide. I trust in you. Thank you in advance.”

I say prayers like this all the time when it seems appropriate to me.

I think you are way overthinking this. Since you do not seem to accept any of the good responses by the many people on this thread, I would suggest perhaps you discuss one-on-one with a spiritual director. I have never considered contemplative prayer or growing closer to God’s will to somehow put a damper on the ability to make petition prayers. It may be that when contemplative mystics grow very close to God, they become more aware of God’s will so they know when they are praying if God is willing A or B, but that’s not the same thing as not making the prayer. Padre Pio for example made the petition prayer to the Sacred Heart regularly for all intentions entrusted to him. He didn’t worry about whether he was going against God’s will by praying for others.

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I think this is a good question.

True, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t petition for better circumstances. Even St Therese who found joy in suffering believed her resignation to God’s will was a prayer of petition itself.

She united her suffering with Christ’s suffering not so things would continue as they have been. But that we will return to God, with our whole hearts. She suffered so that God would be loved.

Not that it was her will, but that God’s will be done.

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The purpose of prayer, as I understand it, is for us to come into God’s will. His will is true and perfect; union with Him (our vocation) is oneness with Him in His will.

The perfect prayer - given us by Jesus - is the “Our Father” - which includes, “Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven”. This ought to be a strong motivation for us to come to know, more and more, exactly what is His will, which is done in heaven. Jesus came to show us exactly that. He always did the will of His Father, and only that. Thus, the life of Jesus is the Guide to Prayer that is according to the will of the Father.

Thank you all for your responses. I’m sorry if it looks like I am not responding bc I am not copying others’ posts, but I am hopefully replying in my posts to the points being raised.

Yes, I may be overthinking this, but I am looking for a way to reconcile what seems to me to be a contradiction.

I was thinking specifically of St Therese and her acceptance of suffering, as well as Job. Thinking also of “Abandonment to Divine Providence” and similar works. I do like the thought of abandoning oneself to being a petitioning prayer. The passage “All things work for good to those who love Him” comes to mind. Maybe it isn’t always necessary to verbally ask for something good to result if one trusts that God is always working for our good anyway?

I should say, I do see, however, praying for those who reject God to love Him. I suppose my confusion comes in asking for something for myself, or even for those in my faith circle, as I feel we are trying to seek and joyfully accept God’s will; trusting He has our best interests at heart.

Some of us here have read the Tao, (I have not - at least not completely - only what is discussed here), and it almost sounded to me, as it was described to me, like Christian detachment/abandonment to God’s will, until I considered Christian petitioning prayer. If we are supposed to flow like water throughout life, are we really working for the good of others? Is that love?
Maybe we can be like water and at the same time ask God to change something of the path we will flow through?

Thank you for so much good food for thought.

I think God plans and urges us to pray in certain circumstances, whether it be for someone’s salvation, wellbeing, an opportunity, etc. This is part of His will: cause and effect. Person X will pray for Person Y and then I will bless person Y by answering the prayer of Person X. Or something like that. :rofl: So I’d pray something like

“Dear God, I pray that You would give Person Y the trust and strength to accept Your good and perfect Will with resignation and peace. I pray that, if it pleases You, You would provide XYZ for them, if this glorifies You and fits into Your perfect plan for their life. If not, please give them the courage and strength to do Your Will in every circumstance given by You. Thank you. Amen.”

That prayer does seem to cover it all , “Christismylord”! :slight_smile:

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