Cooperating with God's Grace


My priest often says “continue to cooperate with God’s grace” at the end of confession.

I understand basically what that means; however, when I think of how that applies to my life I often get confused. Then couple that with the sentiment of “put your trust in God” I can really start reeling.

I have complete trust in God, it is myself that I have doubts about.

The thought that there are some graces that I may not cooperate with can be a pretty scary thought. I suppose that is what people mean by getting in your own way.

Is there any tips or good things to read on this?

I don’t mean the obvious things… I mean I know God would not prompt me to steal, kill, commit adultery, ect… What about when someone has these “ideas”, “thoughts”, “internal promptings” that are not sinful… and not going to get you into trouble. Are there ways to know if these are of your own “ideas” or if they would be promptings from God?

If they are my own fat ideas - even if they are not sinful they may send me on a wild goose chase or cause heartache as I try to force things that are not meant to m

any thoughts or suggestions?


The way that grace works is given by some dogmas of faith:

  1. There is a supernatural intervention of God in the faculties of the soul, which precedes the free act of the will.
  2. There is a supernatural influence of God in the faculties of the soul which coincides in time with man’s free act of will.

1 - Council of Trent "In adults the beginning of justification must proceed from the antecedent grace of God acquired by Jesus Christ (a Dei per Christum Jesum praeveniente gratia)."
2a - Council of Trent “by freely assenting to and co-operating with grace (gratiae libere assentiendo et cooperando).” the sinner returns to justification.
2b - Council of Trent “God’s Goodness towards all men is so great that He wishes them to merit what are His gifts… Who renders to everyone according to his works.”


This is a good spiritual question, I think. Yet I am struggling a bit for a response.

Two things come to mind:

  1. Avail yourself of the sacraments where grace can be found in good measure- namely, the Eucharist and Confession. Also, pray that you might continue to receive graces. Prayer is absolutely essential to the spiritual life and receiving grace.

  2. When quiet thoughts appear in your head that are virtuous and would be pleasing to God, follow them.

-For example, if you get a little thought to stop by a church and visit the blessed sacrament for a few minutes as you are driving by, follow it.


Grace and “free will” work simultaneously in the genuine Christian. It is not one to the exclusion of the other but both are at work.

St. Augustine (b.354-d.430) wrote about “Grace and Free Will”. His book begins with this:

With reference to those persons who so preach and defend man’s free will, as boldly to deny, and endeavour to do away with, the grace of God which calls us to Him, and delivers us from our evil deserts, and by which we obtain the good deserts which lead to everlasting life: we have already said a good deal in discussion, and committed it to writing, so far as the Lord has vouchsafed to enable us. But since there are some persons who so defend God’s grace as to deny man’s free will, or who suppose that free will is denied when grace is defended, I have determined to write somewhat on this point to your Love, my brother Valentinus, and the rest of you, who are serving God together under the impulse of a mutual love.

Augustine, Saint. On Grace and Free Will (Kindle Locations 80-86). Publishing. Kindle Edition. e Christianity.


We have freedom of choice via our free will. We are not robots even if supernatural grace is operating in our lives. All of us always retain moral responsibility and the need to discern right from wrong and to make the best possible choices. After that, we maintain responsibility to act and behave consistent with the choices that we make.


Thank you for your response. I will see if I can find that article On Grace and Free Will

I did not expect to get a clear answer, but I was hoping for something to “think about”.

In your humble opinions, if God were to have something he wanted us to do - would He keep on us? or would he give up on us?

like if God thought I should donate money or my time to a certain charity and I ignored the promptings… does God give up on that happening?

Do I close that door?

If God thought I should apply for a job and I ignore the idea - will I be stuck where I am?

If God thought I should reach out to try to befriend someone and I don’t - did I lose that opportunity for a good friend?

Or will God keep hounding me until I surrender? (I sometimes feel He does - or is that just my guilt or anxiety?)


Messages may come only once. Messages may be subtle and not blatant. We need to be observant and responsive. Use the opportunities that you have and make no presumptions about additional opportunities that may come in the future while neglecting an opportunity that may be already at hand.

We ought, then, to turn our minds more attentively than before to what we have been taught, so that we do not drift away. - The New Jerusalem Bible. (1985). (Heb 2:1). New York: Doubleday.

Hold on to things that should be remembered and respond to them.

May blessings abound for you.


I appreciate that you took the time to respond. As this is something that I am struggling with now and trying to grasp this subject.

This issue is something that I was always aware of and I do believe this. I have had some “hard nose” promptings from God and I finally just surrendered and said “You win” and gave up to change may path.

However, what I am dealing with now is different and I don’t know how to handle it. I have tried to talk to others and I was actually told “aww just sh** or get off the pot”.

But I truly feel like I am doing what I can and the “nagging” or whatever is not going away.

So I wonder is it God or is it my own heart’s desire? How do you know the difference?

Like the TV Evangelist preacher who has an extra marital affair and says “God told me to do it”. Something was obviously pushing them - and not God. (I am not even in the same ballpark of considering that type of crazyness)


Pray to your Blessed Mother for help all the time, and also in the Rosary. She is the one who cooperated fully with God. One can’t go seriously wrong if they are praying to Mary. And the more one prays to her the more one will grow in discernment


Again I appreciate your thoughts. While I realize we can never pray enough, I do pray. I actually woke up a few times in the early morning hours praying the rosary in my sleep. :roll_eyes: I do that fairly often

So the only way is to pray… I wish God would give me a flow chart


You need to be active and make plans. God wants you to be mature and use your mind and will and your discernment. God respects your dignity and wants you to use the powers that you possess. God doesn’t want to turn you into a robot. Use the freedom that you have. On the other hand, boast in nothing but that Almighty God has favored you with graces. If God speaks once, don’t expect Him to repeat. Don’t expect God to nag. He wants you to be a grown-up who seizes opportunities and doesn’t waste them.

One phrase is: “Pray as if everything depended upon God, work as if everything depended upon you.”

I would avoid this phrase: “Let go and let God”.

The phrase in the Bible’s Book of Proverbs (Proverbs 16:9) is:

The human heart plans the way, but the LORD directs the steps.


Thank you and I agree the “Let go and let God” needs the preface of “Do your best to the best of your ability and then… let go and let God”

thank you for the Proverbs verse. I am going read that chapter again. I really don’t expect it to be helpful. In this area of my life I really have never felt anything from God - when I thought I did in the past I come to realize that I just misunderstood. Put my spin on what he was telling me. I guess it worked out but still leaves me without answers and feeling as though God is either ignoring me or just doesn’t want me to have what most other people do… that is where I just feel like giving up. What’s the point. Even somethings that should be very good and have been helpful to me in the past now just bring me pain. ugh :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:


Keep hope alive.

FYI, hope (noun) in French is la esperance.

Avoir l’espoir.


For me, its just as hard to give up on hope as it is to keep hope alive. Silly I know, but that’s how I am wired.

I have come to terms with this now - i have to get over myself - maybe what God wanted from me was to help someone else and I wasn’t supposed to get anything out of it… selfishly I just want to fill a void in my heart and life. To ease my own pain. Apparently now is not the time…


I feel like a parrot sometimes because I have posted most of this in other threads but I guess it fits here too.

God’s grace for us is so that (1) we can participate in God’s life, and (2) we would have the strength and know-how to do so. The first is sanctifying grace, and the second is actual grace. Both are needed to be able to participate in God’s life, which is His will.

God’s will is one, but it applies to us in two ways.

God’s guiding will (also called God’s sovereign will or declarative will) is Him telling us what He wants us to do through His commandments found in Scripture and the teachings of His Church as well as the inspirations He gives us through our reason, intuition, the events that happen to us, and the people around us.

God’s permissive will (also called the will of God’s good pleasure) is everything that happens to us by God’s allowing or preventing of the consequences of everybody’s actions (more often the former, so that we learn) and also by letting the laws of nature run their courses or not (again, more often the former, for He is a God of order, not chaos; that’s why miracles are rare).

To follow God’s guiding will and rejoice in His permissive will, we need faith and hope, and both are graces, too, I. E. They come from God.

Faith is how we see His guiding will and His hand in everything that happens to us. Hope gives us the strength to follow His guiding will and to rejoice in His good pleasure.

Love, the Supreme grace, is then what happens when we struggle to follow Him and to rejoice in Him, and this in turn strengthens faith and hope.


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