Tuesday of the First Week of Lent
Isaiah 55:10-11 + Matthew 6:7-15
“If you forgive men their transgressions, your heavenly Father will forgive you.”
Our prayers of petition add nothing to God: neither to His knowledge of us, nor to His love for us. God cannot love us more than He already does. Likewise, He knows everything about us, better then we know ourselves. He knows our past lives, our current thoughts, motives and actions, and our destiny. So if we offer our petitions to God, since we do so not for God’s sake, we must do so for our sake. But in what sense is this true?
If our petitions are answered as we wish, then the act of petitioning God beforehand helps our little minds understand our dependence on God: that every good thing comes from him, not from ourselves.
If our petitions are not answered as we wish, because what we wish is contrary to what God wishes for us, then the act of petitioning God helps our little hearts turn towards Him and ask questions about our own desires, and how we might need to reform them. Hopefully this helps us enter more deeply into God’s Heart and His desires for us.
Yet if our petitions are not answered as we wish because what we wish is something we are not ready for, then the act of petitioning God helps our little souls to grow in their capacity and desire for God’s good gift. We hear St. Augustine speak to this holy need in the Office of Readings during the Sixth Week in Ordinary Time:
“The whole life of a good Christian is a holy desire. Now what you long for, you do not yet see: however, by longing, you are made capable, so that when that has come which you may see, you shall be filled. For just as, if you would fill a bag, and know how great the thing is that shall be given, you stretch the opening of the sack or the skin, or whatever else it be—you know how much you would put in, and see that the bag is narrow—by stretching you make it capable of holding more. So God, by deferring our hope, stretches our desire; by the desiring, stretches the mind; by stretching, increases its capacity. Let us desire therefore, my brethren, for we shall be filled.”