Prayer and Sin


A friend of mine shared something with me that I found disturbing (especially since it was something her priest had told her). She told me that a person’s prayers in a state of mortal sin merit him nothing. This frightens me because it has been a while since I have been to confession, but all this time I have been praying. Have I just been talking to myself, then?


God does hear your prayers, but are they meritorious if the life of grace is dead in your soul? No they aren’t. But God wants them to be - he wants to answer them. But he can’t if you don’t open yourself to the sanctifying grace that he ardently desires to bestow on you. God didn’t put you in the state of sin - you put yourself there. And you need to get out of the state of sin and back into God’s grace for your prayers to be efficacious and meritorious. If you fear that you are in mortal sin, go to confession and make a habit of going at least one every 2 months. Not going to confession is to the soul as not going to the doctor is to the body.


Thank you for your reply, christus_vincit. Please do not take the following question as my wanting to do only the minimum, but I am confused by these terms meritorious and efficacious. Aren’t prayers being meritorious and efficacious the same thing as being heard? That is to say that if a prayer “merits nothing”, isn’t it just bouncing off the sky?

Forgive me, as I do not mean to frustrate you.


God hears everyone and everything, even a fly crawling on the ceiling. He is certainly aware of what you are saying. But that is not the point of the priest. He said that anything you do, that is any good deed, is worth nothing in the next kingdom, and therefore does not merit a reward for doing it. Basically, you are working and doing for nothing. Any good in your life is worthless in the next world.

However this dosen’t mean that your good deeds are worthless in this life. For according to St. Catherine, a doctor in the church, God is good and just and because of this will give reward in some fashion for good deeds in this world. As an example, how often has it been said, “why do the wicked prosper?”. Because they are being rewarded in this world, but they can’t expect anything in the next.

Being in the state of grace means we reflect the life of Jesus Christ in our soul, and because of this likeness and life of Jesus, the Father looks upon what we do as very pleasing in his sight because we are his other sons/daughters worthy of a reward in our real home with him in heaven.

Because Jesus was the very son of God and the image of his Father, everything that Jesus did, even the most menial actions, like talking, eating, breathing, were infinitely pleasing and meritorious because he was the Father’s very Son. Therefore every one of his actions was pleasing.

In a similar way, because we are the images of his son and children of the Father, everything that we do is pleasing and meritorious because we are the sons/daughters of the Father thru sanctifying grace, which makes us reflect the image of Jesus. (But have the intention to please.)

But without this life of Jesus thru grace, we no longer reflect his son and therefore none of our actions are pleasing to the Father since we are now dead children, unable to please him in anything we do.

Whether we really appreciate what sin is or not, the fact is, the horrible consequences begin right here on earth. We lost our birthright in our real home for a bowl of pottage.

May God bless and keep you. May God’s face shine on you. May God be kind to you and give you peace.


Christus vincit makes a claim :** “God does hear your prayers, but are they meritorious if the life of grace is dead in your soul? No they aren’t.”**

This is ludicrous.

If this were True, then NEVER could a person pray to God for help in coverting to Christianity.
If you have a Citation to show that the Catholic Church has ruled your way, please cite it.


A meritorious prayer would be one which is “worthy” or “deserving of reward”. God assures us that he hears and answers all our prayers (so they are all meritorious), but if we aren’t open to his grace, he really can’t do much for us. Efficacious would be the effect that the prayer has - for example the grace your receive for the prayer or the fulfillment of the prayer’s request by God. So, even if one is in sin, his prayer is heard and never “merits nothing” - but it is a severe impediment to be living in a state of sin. God can’t apply the graces of our prayers upon us because we have turned away from him in sin and have not sought sacramental confession. Like I said in my previous post, if you feel like you may not be in the state of grace, the best thing you can do is go to confession.


How can one merit anything without sanctifying grace? A person praying for conversion to Christianity would surely be aided by grace - but this isn’t the same sanctifying grace that gives life to the soul. All of us are held in existence - even the devil and his angels - by grace. But Lucifer certainly doesn’t have sanctifying grace. So perhaps I should have specified that I was speaking of the sanctifying grace which lose when we commit a mortal sin. Until that sin is repented of and absolved we don’t have the life of grace.


The thing I don’t understand in comparing us to Jesus and how what He did was ALWAYS “meritorious” to the Father is that Jesus couldn’t help but be pleasing to God since He Himself IS God. That comparison, which I have read many times on this board and elsewhere, always rings hollow with me. I know the part of scripture when Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist, and the voice of God was heard saying something to the effect of “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased” (Matt. 3:17), but that really confuses me since we acknowledge that Jesus IS God.


Christus vincit continues in his NO grace for Mortal sinners : "How can one merit anything without sanctifying grace? … All of us are held in existence - even the devil and his angels - by grace. But Lucifer certainly doesn’t have sanctifying grace. … I was speaking of the sanctifying grace which [Catholics will] lose when we commit a mortal sin. Until that sin is repented of and absolved we don’t have the life of grace [and thus, NO Merit for all of our Prayers]."

Uh huh.

But, I would like you to Cite your source for this Mortal sin completely stops all Sanctifying Grace theory.
I ask this question, because I disagree with it, and I have a God Who can give Sanctifying Grace (and Merits for all of one’s prayers) to whomever He pleases.
But, if the Pope has RULED that this is an incorrect belief, I will bend my Faith to make room for it.
So, if the Pope has decreed this … please let us all know.


??? That’s what mortal sin means. Mortal sin means that the life of sanctifying grace is no longer in our souls. Like I said before, WE are responsible for putting ourselves in sin. Therefore, it is not God keeping his grace from me - rather, it is ME keeping God’s grace from ME. Its such basic theology that I don’t feel need to do your research for you. If we die in mortal sin we go to hell. Why? Because we are void of God’s sanctifying grace. What is wrong with saying that?


This Thread is about receiving NO Merit for one’s prayers (and , other Meritorious actions) if he has committed a Mortal Win.

Christus vincin keeps mixing up the issues, and dancing around the question.

So, please don’t give that so-so definition of Sanctifying Grace any longer.
Please respond to the actual Question at hand.
Does a person with a Mortal Sin, get ZERO Merits for going to 100 Masses, and reciting 1000 Rosaries, and giving to the Poor, and helping to convert 10 people to Catholicism?


Look at it this way: If I die in the state of mortal sin, will attending 100 Masses, reciting 1000 rosaries, giving to the poor, and helping to convert 10 people to Catholicism save me if I refused to repent of my mortal sins and receive sacramental Confession? I would say no. If these things alone - without Confession - somehow merited our salvation then why even have Confession?

Also, why are you being so hostile towards me? I’m not trying to be offensive.

EDIT: If you were that involved in your faith, its safe to say that there would be grace present - not sanctifying grace - but grace that would lead you to seek confession.


Now, I will address something else that Christus vincin claims : "it is not God keeping His grace from me - rather, it is ME keeping God’s grace from ME."

Wow ! And I thought God was strong and powerful.
So, you are stating that people have the Power to force God to act (or to NOT act)?
This gives Mortal Sinners an amazing amount of power over Jesus Christ.

The Bible says that people who are sick Spiritually receive MUCH MORE Grace from God than those who are (already) righteous.
This, although I have not thought-out this issue for more than a few minutes, seems to contradict your God-is-STOPPED-from-giving-Grace theory.
For, those people are (almost surely) those who have a Mortal Sin on their Soul.


We must cooperate with God’s grace for it to work in us. God can send as much grace as he wants to us, but if we don’t cooperate with that grace, what good does it do for us?? So yes, our free will does give us the “power” to accept or reject God’s grace.


Through God, all things are possible. I think some people should start reading some exhortations, and maybe do a little research. Only God knows who will inherit the Kingdom. Really, the wording is very tricky on this, but I think it is clear that the door never completely closes on the sinner, unless he belligerently closes the door on God.

Does God hear or answer the prayers of sinners who are living in mortal sin (someone who has committed one or more bad sins, such as taking birth control or rejecting God’s Church, without confessing them, thus becoming an enemy of God)?

He hears their prayers for the grace of true repentance (the grace to feel sorry for your sins and confess them to a priest), but He does not hear their prayers for other favors, unless they are willing to give up their sins and do penance.

"Now we know that God doth not hear sinners: but if a man be a server of God, and doth His will, him He heareth." (John 9:31)
Should only good people pray?

No, everyone should pray.  Especially should mortal sinners pray to be delivered from their sins.

“I desire not the [eternal] death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way, and live.” (Ezechiel 33:11).

“For every one that asketh, receiveth.” (Matthew 7:8)


My last Post in this Thread

Christus vincit states : "God can send as much grace as he wants to us, but if we don’t cooperate with that grace, what good does it do for us??"

This (to me) is slapping God in the Face, for God freely dispensing Grace to people who need it the most (i.e., that God’s wasting His time).
People think like people … but God thinks like God.
And therefore, people cannot understand God’s underlying reasoning for God’s actions.
I do not believe that God wastes His time performing useless activities.

So, is it your opinion that God (and any other Heavenly Creatures, if any) who dispense Grace, are somehow STUPID-enough to give Grace that has NO meaning?
If so, then Heaven is full of make-work projects, and God is having everyone wasting their time.

I believe that there is inherent Good for a person, when God gives His Grace.
Whether or not that Grace is (eventually) going to be for a person who goes to Purgatory, or even Hell, it has a purpose (and a blessing).

And, deeper within this issue, is the USUAL situation:
A person commits a Sin (let’s say Adultery).
He prays to God, and says he is sorry for his Sin.
But, because it is NOT Saturday, he has not confessed that Mortal Sin.
At this point-in-time, that person is clearly a Mortal Sinner.
So, is it your opinion that this man is completely devoid of receiving Sanctifying Grace (or, more to the point, Merit) for all of his otherwise meritorious actions?


Baltimore Catechism
Q. 842. How do good works done in mortal sin profit us?
A. Good works done in mortal sin profit us by obtaining for us the grace to repent and sometimes temporal blessings. Mortal sin deprives us of all our merit, nevertheless God will bestow gifts for every good deed as He will punish every evil deed.
Catechism of the Catholic Church****2010 Since the initiative belongs to God in the order of grace, no one can merit the initial grace of forgiveness and justification, at the beginning of conversion. Moved by the Holy Spirit and by charity, we can then merit for ourselves and for others the graces needed for our sanctification, for the increase of grace and charity, and for the attainment of eternal life. Even temporal goods like health and friendship can be merited in accordance with God’s wisdom. These graces and goods are the object of Christian prayer. Prayer attends to the grace we need for meritorious actions.

2011 The charity of Christ is the source in us of all our merits before God. Grace, by uniting us to Christ in active love, ensures the supernatural quality of our acts and consequently their merit before God and before men. The saints have always had a lively awareness that their merits were pure grace. [INDENT] After earth’s exile, I hope to go and enjoy you in the fatherland, but I do not want to lay up merits for heaven. I want to work for your love alone. . . . In the evening of this life, I shall appear before you with empty hands, for I do not ask you, Lord, to count my works. All our justice is blemished in your eyes. I wish, then, to be clothed in your own *justice *and to receive from your love the eternal possession of yourself.63





In addition to what’s been said, I think there is probably a chance that some people’s good deeds can outweigh their mortal sin, but only special circumstances and we would never know for sure. I wouldn’t be surprised if some murderer at some point in history gave their life to save someone else, and now they will eventually get into heaven. But it’s very risky to live life that way. No one should take those chances. The only guaranteed way to get to heaven is to repent, confess one’s sins to a priest, and sin no more.

A similar situation is people that commit suicide. We know that murder of all kind is a mortal sin if done with full knowledge and consent. Some people that take their lives we know to have mental illness or be under the influence of drugs, but only God knows the full situation. We cannot know for sure whether a person who commits suicide can enter heaven one day. But again I say, never take a risk with mortal sin. It is just too dangerous, especially because you could convince yourself to presume God’s forgiveness, which is itself a mortal sin.


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