Why does God require some people to beg for years, in prayer, for something?

Let’s take a look at St. Monica. She begged God 18 years for his conversion.

Why didn’t God tell her “OK, just wait 18 years, in the meantime be a good example.” instead of making her beg for 18 years?

Yes, I get it, boy we got a big fish there with St. Augustine, he was a great conversion!

I just have trouble with God acting like “the unjust judge” (in Christ’s parable) - God is not unjust, right?

God is not unjust, correct. But, he does operate on His schedule, not ours and often he will not will to give us what we ask for at the time we ask because in His wisdom He knows that we are not yet ready for that gift or that it would not be good for us.

God does not need our prayer as He knows what is in our hearts before we say it. Prayer is for ourselves and others.

Let me use St. Monica. I am going through the same issue with my son - walked away from the Church, thinks he knows better, thinks Catholics don’t know what we are talking about. I have prayed for him. I pray for him. Some days I am tempted to stop. Then I recall St. Monica and the faith she had. I have been praying for 3 years. She prayed for 18. I still may have a good 15 to go, but that is God’s will, not mine.

I agree, so why doesn’t God say “OK, just wait 18 years, you don’t have to keep begging.”

How long does one have to pray before realizing the answer is “No”?

I don’t see the benefit of praying for something that has the answer of “No”

God is not unjust, correct. But, he does operate on His schedule, not ours and often he will not will to give us what we ask for at the time we ask because in His wisdom He knows that we are not yet ready for that gift or that it would not be good for us.

:thumbsup:

Sometimes when the answer is “No”, that is what is best for us. The length of time to receive that “No” is also for our benefit. We may not realize it now, during our life, why God said “No” or why He waited so long to tell us but we must trust in his plan for our life. God is never wrong or incorrect. He does what is best for us.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.”

Proverbs 3:5

Perhaps that’s how much prayer it took for Augustine’s conversion! We do not know. God is all-loving and does not need our prayers to know what we need. Prayer is not just about petitioning God for requests. We can never change God’s mind. Prayer does not operate like an appeal to God, for we are not more loving or merciful than he is. Rather, prayer is communion with God and enables him to act through us. And through God’s perfect knowledge and will – experienced totally and eternally without alteration – God knows how we will pray and what we will pray for and can therefore choose to include our requests as part of his providential plan.

Let’s not forget that the biggest obstacle to St. Monica’s prayers being answered was not God, but St. Augustine’s own free will.

God could not violate that. He does not possess people and make them act against their well; he only aids them by means of a supernatural grace.

Of course, this answer doesn’t work for things like sickness or natural disaster, but in cases where there’s human evil at the root of an unanswered prayer, I believe this is a reasonable answer. (For a more trivial example, a woman may pray 30 years for her husband to give up smoking, but ultimately, he has to quit of his own free will, and he has to cooperate with God’s grace in order to do so.)

I’m not a Catholic yet, but I can take a stab at this one.

First, she wasn’t “begging”. She was requesting. And as we are taught in the New Testament, our prayer requests end with “thy will be done” not “my will be done”. When you say “thy will be done”, you are agreeing with God’s plan, will, and timing. That means “No” or “Not yet” are possible answers. If someone does not pray with that mindset, they are in for a world of pain.

Praying “my will be done” is simply another name for sin. My, me, I know what is best so do what I say. Thank God he does not work that way.

Prayer is not a magical incantation to get what we want. It aligns our hearts and minds with God’s to do his will and to will his will for ourselves and others.

Do you really believe any mother would think of praying for her reprobate son as “begging God” for something God is loathe to give unless and until she “begs” him enough? St. Monica, like all of us who pray for our loved ones, didn’t think of God as a slot machine or of a tyrant holding out on her or as one who needs to tell us when we’ve “prayed enough” to get what we want. None of those ideas are how God deals with us.

Yes, I get it, boy we got a big fish there with St. Augustine, he was a great conversion!

I just have trouble with God acting like “the unjust judge” (in Christ’s parable) - God is not unjust, right?

God an unjust judge? God who knows us better than we know ourselves? God who does not force us to love him or to recognize that he is our Creator, Redeemer, and Savior unless we wish to? St. Augustine had to reconcile himself to God by fully surrendering to God, which is a process, and for some a long (to us) process. But considering how long eternity is, 18 years is nothing at all. I don’t for one moment believe the St. Monica felt God was holding out on her, being unjust to her, or owed her any explanations–because he doesn’t. It is we who owe him explanations. God waits patiently for us to come to him.

I believe St. Augustine converted when he did and was the great saint and doctor of the Church that he was because of those 18 years of seeking and questioning and sorting out his life. His mother’s prayers were part of that process, for which he thanked her, and for which God has richly rewarded both her and her son in heaven.

Also, if you want a thorough answer to your question, why not read some Augustine? :slight_smile:

I imagine he covers it in The Confessions.

For lots of reasons.

[LIST]
*]The potential for an increase in holiness of the person who is praying.
*]The fact that the time-scale for certain things has to be appropriate.
*]The fact that God rarely reveals Himself to individuals in the way you insinuate He ought to, and that He certainly has His reasons for this.
*]The fact that God doesn’t give sufficient graces for conversion to everyone at every moment of their lives.
*]The fact that many people have spent years resisting graces and that, in justice, God may permit them to go without for a period and for their own good.
[/LIST]

And I asked why God required that much prayer. 18 years is a long time to get the “no” answer.

We can never change God’s mind.

Precisely. So why can’t we just ask once and be done with it? 18 years of prayer is not going to change his mind.

So why didn’t God say “OK, just wait 18 years” as the answer?

Since we are beggars before the throne of God, all prayers of petition are begging God to show mercy on us (temporal, spiritual). Otherwise, we must be in a position of some kind that enables us to request.

We are unprofitable servants, nothing more, says Christ.

And as we are taught in the New Testament, our prayer requests end with “thy will be done” not “my will be done”. When you say “thy will be done”, you are agreeing with God’s plan, will, and timing.

Precisely. God hears all prayers, and answers “yes” to those requests which conform to his will, and “no” to those which don’t.

So ask once and be done with it.

I don’t know why 18 years of prayer was needed here.

Not true. Yes and No are not the only answers. Maybe and Not Yet are also answers. As someone else mentioned, the amount of prayer required could have been in molding Monica. Why are we told to “pray without ceasing”? Why doesn’t the Bible say, “Pray just once and move on?”

Why is praying for 18 years distasteful to you? Would you not pray for 18 years for something? Why did Moses wander in the desert for 40 years? Why not just 40 days? Why shouldn’t God allow someone to pray for 18 years? Our years are nothing to God.

The question comes across as “Give me what I want when I want it.” What if she prayed for 40 years and NEVER got the answer? Would that be unacceptable? Could that still be God’s will? Could she have gained benefit from it?

For that matter, why didn’t God just start with heaven? Why did he create an Earth where we suffer? Why not just make all brand new people perfect and living in paradise? The answer to those questions will be similar to the answer to your question.

So then why didn’t God say “Wait 18 years, you don’t have to keep praying for this.” to St. Monica?

God an unjust judge?

I’m talking about the unjust judge parable in Luke 18.

I don’t mind waiting for God to do things on his timeframe, but I’m struggling with the idea of being required to pray repeatedly for something for huge amounts of time.

Why?

“Not Yet” is “Yes” - just wait, and it will come.

“Maybe” means what? If it is not yes or no, God will do what? Maybe it is “yes to part” and “no to part”?

Yes and No are the only answers to prayers. Yes, if the prayer is in God’s will, no if it is not.

Why are we told to “pray without ceasing”? Why doesn’t the Bible say, “Pray just once and move on?”

That’s what I’d like to know.

Why is praying for 18 years distasteful to you?

Why would a father dangle something one is asking for and playing “keep away” until they’ve done enough praying for it?

Why would a father require his child to beg for what they’re needing? Should I demand my boy to beg multiple times before I say yes to his needs? I would be a bad father if I did that!

Would you not pray for 18 years for something?

No.

Hearing “no” after a certain amount of time will lead me to stop praying for that, since it must clearly not be in his will.

Our years are nothing to God.

Precisely. God does not care about how much we suffer.

The question comes across as “Give me what I want when I want it.”

No. My question comes across as: why don’t God just say “wait 18 years.”

Fine, his timeframe is unchangeable and so is his will. If the answer is “no” then there is no benefit to praying further for that item. God is not changing his mind!

What if she prayed for 40 years and NEVER got the answer?

This is worse.

Either she is stubborn and trying to force God to change his will, or God is just playing some horrific psychological torture. How is this not “keep away”?

God is supposed to be “Daddy” (Abba) - who loves us and cares for us.

Not some guy who demands us to beg and grovel for huge amounts of things for what we need. I get it. We’re nothing but worthless specks of dust to him. But sheesh, this is totally not acting like a father, but more like a bully doing the “keep away”.

Just let us know “yes” or “no” so we can say “OK, we move on.”

I get it. God is not a vending machine. I’m not advocating that. If God says no, ok, that is not changing. God doesn’t always give us what we need.

Because it is like a bully doing the 'keep away" game, until the requisite amount of begging and groveling is done.

What kind of Father does that?

Because it wasn’t the case. It might have been 30 years or longer if she hadn’t persisted in prayer. God tells us that we are to persist in praying not that we are to expect him to do things in our timeline. Her son came to the faith in 18 years in part because she prayed for 18 years.

I’m talking about the unjust judge parable in Luke 18.

I know the one you mean. Haydock quotes St. Augustine on this:

And he [the unjust judge] would not for a long time. The Almighty does not always hear us as soon as we could wish, nor in the manner that seems best to us; but if we are not always heard according to our desires, we always are as far as is conducive to our salvation. He sometimes delays, in order to exercise our patience, and increase our ardour: sometimes he grants, in his anger, what, in his mercy, he would refuse. Let us then pray always, desire always, love always. Desire always, and you pray always. This is the continual voice of prayer, which the Almighty demands of you. You are silent, when you cease to love. The cooling of charity, is the silence of the heart. (St. Augustine, in Psalm xxxvii.) (Witham)

I don’t mind waiting for God to do things on his timeframe, but I’m struggling with the idea of being required to pray repeatedly for something for huge amounts of time.

If you don’t mind waiting for God to do thing on his timeframe how can you then say the idea of being required to pray repeatedly for something for “huge amounts of time” bothers you? That is contradictory and illogical. :slight_smile:

Asking once and waiting is one thing.

Asking six hundred thousand times, and waiting and repeatedly praying wondering if the prayers are actually effective is another.

Two different things.

The former requires patience.

The latter requires patience and something else: Assuming one is sane, and not being a stubborn jerk who demands God to change his mind.

At what point is one supposed to just give up and realize the answer was “NO”? I can’t change God’s mind. I have no position to do so. I have no ability to do so. I have no relationship to do so.

It depends on what we are asking for and our motivations. It’s never too much to ask daily for someone’s conversion. It can do us no harm and may help the one we’re praying for. Now, if we are asking that God give us that big promotion or a better house or more recognition, not so much: Jas.4[3] “You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.” One of the reasons we ask the intercession of the saints is because their motivations cannot be selfish, so they present our petitions free of all self-interest.

I have to wonder if you’re really all that concerned about a long dead woman’s prayers for her son. If you are trying to say that God forces us to beg and plead out of some despicable motive, which is what one could be led to believe from some of your responses, then you have a very serious misunderstanding about God, who he is and what he wants for us. You may want to talk to a priest about this issue if you think of God as unjust, demanding of us what he himself did not require of himself as one of us. Jesus spent long nights in prayer the whole of his life. He fasted 40 days and nights to prepare himself for his mission to save and instruct us. If even he had to take the time and energy to pray for many years, how much more should we be willing to do as he did?

Most of the time I pray for others. But sometimes I ask for myself.

I’m asking to be delivered from evil.

It’s never too much to ask daily for someone’s conversion. It can do us no harm and may help the one we’re praying for. Now, if we are asking that God give us that big promotion or a better house or more recognition, not so much: Jas.4[3] “You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.” One of the reasons we ask the intercession of the saints is because their motivations cannot be selfish, so they present our petitions free of all self-interest.

But it really doesn’t matter what I pray for (if it is for me) the answer is always no. Doesn’t matter how good the thing I"m asking for. I can’t even be delivered from evil. I can’t even expect my heavenly father to protect me from the evil one. That is too much to ask.

then you have a very serious misunderstanding about God, who he is and what he wants for us.

I know. I’m trying to work through this. Hopefully getting wisdom from CAF (or maybe I’m too optimistic?)

Jesus spent long nights in prayer the whole of his life. He fasted 40 days and nights to prepare himself for his mission to save and instruct us. If even he had to take the time and energy to pray for many years, how much more should we be willing to do as he did?

Christ is close to the Father. He spent long times praying because it was a conversation - two way street. The Father talked to him. It was a pleasant conversation between two most loving persons.

The closest thing we have in human kind is two close friends spending long time on the phone talking, or a man and woman in love who spend tons of time talking.

If prayer were like that for me, with me actually having a personal relationship with God, I’d be praying a long time too!

Prayer to me is a monologue. I speak, God is silent. So I can’t compare what I have to what Christ’s prayers were like.

Completely two different things.

I get it. Prayer is not supposed to give me warm fuzzies. But for crying out loud, I’d like to actually hear his voice! Silence tells me “no, I don’t care about you”

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