“…how much more will the Father in Heaven give the Holy Spirit…?”
As Saint Luke the Evangelist continues to set before us Jesus’ teachings about prayer, we hear a lot about the prayer of petition. Petition is one of the four chief types of prayer that human beings voice to God. The four types are easily remembered by the acronym “P-A-C-T”: this word reminds each of us of the pact, or covenant, that each of us entered at the moment of baptism.
The acronym “P-A-C-T” stands for: petition, adoration, contrition, and thanksgiving. Far more important than what we say to God, though, is what God says to us. Still, what we say in prayer is important for many reasons, one of which is that our vocal prayers reveal to us the state of our own selves.
One way in which to reflect on the differences among these four types of vocal prayer is to consider their use in the three states of the Church. The Church lives on earth as the Church Militant, in Purgatory as the Church Suffering, and in Heaven as the Church Triumphant. Ask yourself, then: which of these four types of prayer exist—or have meaning—in each of the three states of the Church? All four are meaningful on earth, but only two have meaning in Heaven.
There is no need for prayers of petition in Heaven. Petition is the prayer of a pilgrim, on his way to a better place. What we ask for in petition reveals our own heart: where we believe we are, and where we believe we’re headed, or at least where we want to go. Our petitions are a gauge of our fidelity to the pilgrimage to which God has called us.