The Four Foundations
of Sanctity: Page 7
by SAINT JOHN EUDES
THE FOURTH FOUNDATION OF SANCTITY: PRAYER
QUALITIES OF PRAYER
In the name of Jesus
The holy Apostle St. Paul teaches that if you would perform all your actions devoutly, you must act in the name of Jesus Christ. And Christ Himself assures you that whatever you ask His Father, in His name, He will grant you. Therefore, to pray worthily and to obtain from God all that you ask, you must pray in the name of Jesus Christ.
But what does it mean, to pray in the name of Christ? I have already mentioned what it means, but it is a point that can not be stressed too often, a truth which must become well impressed upon your minds as of great importance and most useful in everything you do. To pray in the name of Christ means to continue the prayers which Christ said while on earth.
As He Himself would do now
Since all Christians are members of Jesus Christ and constitute His Mystical Body, as St. Paul says, they represent His Person, and must consequently do everything in His Name, that is, in His spirit, with His dispositions and intentions, just as He Himself did on earth, and just as He would do now, in their place.
In the same way, an ambassador, who represents the ruler of a country, is obliged to act and speak in his name, that is, in his spirit, just as the ruler himself would act and speak if he were present. Therefore, I repeat that to pray in the name of Christ is to continue Christ's own prayers and supplications, to pray in His spirit, with the feelings, thoughts and sacred intentions that animated His Heart as He prayed. All Christians ought to pray as He did, in His name.
When you begin your prayers, remember that you are going to continue the prayers of Jesus Christ
To this end, when you begin your. prayers, remember that you are going to continue the prayers of Jesus Christ, and that you must also continue to pray as He would, namely, with the dispositions of His earthly petitions as well as His eternal prayer now in heaven and upon our altars, where He is present in a ceaseless act of supplication to His Heavenly Father.
Unite yourself with the love, humility, purity, holiness, attention, and with all the holy dispositions and intentions of His infinite prayer.
Now, among these dispositions there are four in particular, with which you should pray if you desire to give God glory by your prayers, and to obtain from Him what you ask.
The first disposition for prayer is that you should present yourself before God with deep humility, recognizing that you are most unworthy to appear in His august presence to contemplate Him, or to be heard by Him. Of yourself, you cannot entertain a single holy thought, nor perform a single act that is pleasing to Him. Therefore, you must annihilate yourself at His feet, offering yourself to our Lord Jesus Christ, that He may establish Himself in you, that it may be He Himself Who prays within you, since He alone is worthy to appear before God's face to glorify and love Him, and to obtain from Him the answer to all petitions. Then, you may approach in full confidence to ask of the Eternal Father all that you ask of Him in the name of His Son, by the merits of His Divine Son, Jesus Christ, Who dwells within you.
The second disposition is a loving and respectful confidence, believing most firmly that everything you ask, if it is for God's glory and your salvation, will infallibly be granted, and often with a generosity surpassing your request, provided that you do not ask it relying upon your merits, or upon the virtue of your prayer, but in the name of Jesus Christ, by His merits and prayers, and for Christ Himself, trusting purely in His goodness and His sacred promise: "Ask and it shall be given you" (Luke 11, 9). "If you ask the Father anything in My name, He will give it you" (John 16, 23); and, "whatsoever you ask when ye pray, believe that you shall receive; and they shall come unto you" (Mark 11, 24). If God treated you according to your merits, He would drive you out of His sight, and destroy you when you presented yourself before Him. Therefore, when He gives you grace, you must not think that He gives it to you in answer to your prayers, but rather that He gives it to His Son Jesus Christ by virtue of His prayers and merits.
3. PURITY OF INTENTION
The third disposition of prayer is purity of intention, assuring Our Lord that you renounce all curiosity of mind, all self-love, and that you wish to pray not for your own satisfaction and consolation, but purely for His glory and to please Him alone. He deigns to take delight in your company and converse with you in prayer. So ask Him to grant that you may pray solely for His glory and contentment.
The fourth disposition to accompany prayer should be perseverance. If you desire to glorify God in prayer, and to obtain from His goodness the favors you ask, you must faithfully persevere in this divine exercise.
There are some favors that Almighty God does not grant either the first, or the second, or the third time you ask Him, because He wishes you to pray for a long time and often He wills this delay to keep you in a state of humility and self-contempt and to make you realize the value of His graces.
He sometimes takes pleasure in putting you off for some time, in matters which oblige you to come frequently to Him, so that, by this means, you may often be with Him, and He with you; so great is His love for you, and so true it is that He delights in being with you.
Finally, to make all the other holy dispositions complete, at the beginning of your prayer, fervently give your mind and heart to Jesus and to His Divine spirit, praying Him to inspire in your heart such thoughts and affections as He may desire.
Abandon yourself entirely to His holy guidance, that He may guide you as He pleases in this Divine activity.
Trust in His great goodness to lead you in the most fitting manner, and to give you all that you shall ask, not perhaps in the way that you wish, but in some other way much better for you.