FAQ: If something good happens after someone prays, and the same thing happens to one who doesn't pray for it - how can you prove that the prayer was answered?
God is free to bestow gifts on people even if they don’t ask for them! Does a parent only provide good things for their children if they specifically ask? Moreover, God, who alone sees all things and what is necessary, treats us as the unique individuals He created us to be; not a ‘one size fits all’ approach, and He answers prayers and gives gifts on that basis, not simply on whether or not they are a believer.
But the non-believer does not recognise the hand of God in what happens, so the grace God gives doesn't deepen their love for Him. For those who do believe, the more you pray, the more you recognise God at work in our life, the more you understand of His ways. You come to understand that God always answers your prayers by everything working out for the good for those who love him. But prayer changes you more than it changes God. You learn to rely on God's care and providence and to ask for the right things (St. Paul said be ambitious for the higher gifts of faith, hope and charity).
In fact prayer is not first and foremost about asking for things. Prayer is about adoring God, giving him the praise that is His due and so raising our own minds and hearts to him to be in communion with his own most holy and perfect Mind and Will. This very act is a blessing for us as we are drawn into the life of the Blessed Trinity and our own lives are conformed little by little to God's purposes, shaped by his grace and guided by his providence.
So we do not judge prayer by whether it "works". The more we listen to God, and the more we learn about how he does answer our prayers and guide our lives, we learn more about what to ask for, how to use his gifts, and how to trust him through good or bad times. All prayers are answered - but not necessarily in the way expected or desired. All good things are gifts of God. Also His permitting of suffering can be an invitation to learn about ourselves, to become more Christ-like, and/or fruitfully to share in others’ suffering. The mature Christian learns to see the hand of God in all things, working for our good.
God can and does bless others too, even if they don't believe. Of course that could be because someone else is praying for them. In fact all blessings are because Jesus prayed for us on the Cross and continues to offer himself for us in heaven and in every Mass. Jesus said that the Father makes the sun to shine and the rain to fall on good and bad men alike. But the unbeliever does not recognise God's blessings. The believer goes back to Jesus in deeper prayer and gratitude, so we grow in love of God, humility of heart, joyful trust and inner peace. This is the real fruit of prayer.
March - April 2018
Recent Blog Posts
- Blog: 13.02.18Over at First Things a transcript has appeared of the 2017 href="https://www.firstthings.com/events/2017-erasmus-lecture">Erasmus Lecture given at the end of last year by Bishop Robert Barron on the subject of “reaching the nones”, that is those who self-declare as being of “no religion”. The whole piece is definitely worth reading, a...Read More
- Blog: 28.01.18The recent Channel 4 News interview of Jordan Peterson, professor of psychology at the University of Toronto, by journalist Cathy Newman is currently trending high on YouTube and various Social Media platforms. The 30 minute interview rapidly covers a lot of ground; the difference between the sex...Read More
- Blog: 08.01.18“Peace is the harmony of good order. Good order is the membering of man in ready acceptance and honest love.” (Edward Holloway, Catholicism: A New Synthesis, 1)As we begin 2018, the sense of tension in the international order is strong. There are fears of nuclear war given the problem...Read More
- Blog: 30.12.17Fr Chris Findlay-Wilson made the below defence of priestly celibacy in the Catholic Herald (15th Dec., letters):"a fresh witness of true love is desperately needed; that it is love – not sex – that fulfils us as human beings." This is a point often made by Fr Holloway, ...Read More
- Blog: 24.11.17Last Saturday was the 100th anniversary of Agnes Holloway giving birth to Edward.He was born just as Lenin’s revolution began. This was the beginning of changing the poor, Christian country of Russia into the powerful Marxist one. It was predicted by Our Lady of Fatima over the previous six...Read More
- Blog: 13.11.17The Harvey Weinstein affair has unleashed a can of worms. There has been a series of exposures concerning sexual offences or inappropriate sexual behaviour of MPs, celebrities and others. There is no doubt that sexual harassment, carried out mostly by men, deserves condemnation and certainly ther...Read More