Explain this...

Hi everyone,

I’ve always wondered…

If a person is in a state of mortal sin, are their prayers effective for themselves and others, or are they pretty much useless until after Confession?


God obliges himself to hear and answer the prayers of those in a state of grace, so that we have a sort of God-given right to be heard as sons. Those in a state of original sin have not yet acquired this right, and those in mortal sin have lost it, so that both of these depend utterly on God’s mercy to be heard and answered. That doesn’t mean their prayers are utterly useless – God is merciful – and how else could they repent? But are their prayers less efficacious in that state? Probably, because the person is turned away from God, and their prayers aren’t motivated by charity.

That said, Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange writes:

The question of the efficacy of prayer interests all souls without distinction: those who are beginning, those who have made progress, and even those in the state of mortal sin, for though the sinner who has lost sanctifying grace cannot merit, he can always pray. (Three Ages, Ch. 33)

In the shortest analysis…I have to say that it depends on what the prayers are for.
Prayers for others offered in genuine agape…I believe are always effective even if offered by one in mortal sin. I say this because I believe that even a drowning man can wish that others be saved.

Prayers for one’s self though are different. For one’s self the first prayer must be one of repentance. Until this happens, one remains shut off from God’s grace by their own refusal to repent.

Just some thoughts…


Im of a mind to say that our prayers are effective at all times if they are heart felt and we are truly sorry for our sin. Of course you need to go to confession asap if youve commited a mortal sin. However, Psalm 51:17 " a broken and contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise." God is a Gid of love and mercy. " mercy is not to be seen as a higher power like a monarch randomly pardoning criminals in his kingdom. It is about God’s love for us, even in the face of our sin." Quote from A Biblical Walk Through the Mass by Edward Sri

Bolding Mine…

This is the key…One who is in mortal sin is, by definition, not sorry for their sin. Such a one freely chose to commit a sin of grave matter.
So for instance…Would it be an efficacious prayer for one to thank God for allowing him to beat up his enemy? Would it be efficacious for one, having beat up his enemy, to then ask God to further smite the enemy and his family?
Heaven forbid.

No - the first efficacious prayer of one in mortal sin - for themselves - must be a prayer of repentance.


I would have to say that when one is in a state of mortal sin, if they reach out to pray before repenting, it is they we are going to struggle with prayer, and not God being open to such a person.

To me it’s mortal sin that keeps US from praying effectively, not God effectively hearing prayer.



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