How to Ask God for Something in Prayer
You have prayed for something and it seems like God is ignoring you. You think “Am I not asking God in the right way, or do I just not have enough faith overall?” You want to pray and receive an answer; however, you feel as though you are just wasting your time. Take a few minutes of prayer and see how it will yield extraordinary benefits!
A friend of mine is currently in this position, and asked me how I’d word my prayers to God. When I tried to come up with something, I realized that it’s not the words but the personal relationship with Jesus.
Here are a few tips to handle this situation effectively:
Tip #1 - Give Thanks to God in Advance
Most people thank God only after they have received an answer to their prayer. Why not thank Him in advance as soon as you finish praying? Capuchin Monk, Venerable Fr. Solanus Casey, shared an excellent suggestion:
“To thank God for everything, even to be thankful in advance for what would be coming into our lives"
It seems pretty simple, yet one discovers that sometimes the simplest prayers and actions in life can be quite effective (take St. Therese of Liseux’s life, for example). The problem with saying thank you to God only after you have received an answer to your prayer is that you essentially are then only praising Him when He answers you. Although an innocent act, we are often unaware of this method of prayer.
Paraphrasing on a story from a talk I heard from a wise nun from Portugal, Sr. Angela:
“Imagine a mother and her two daughters who have grown up and moved away from home. The mother loves them both equally; however, they demonstrate their love to the mother in different ways. One of the daughters only contacts the mother when she needs to borrow something from her mother and even though this makes the mother a little sad; nevertheless, she is happy to hear from her daughter and so she assists her child in need. The other daughter calls her mother every day just to tell her mother she loves her and this makes the mother feel very loved and extremely happy.”
The wisdom we should take from this should lead us to be like the second daughter, who calls her mother just to tell her she loves her. Instead of praying "Jesus, please give me...", pray "Jesus, you know my wants/needs in which I humbly lay down on the foot of Your cross. What can I give to You? I am here to focus on You; to worship, cherish and adore You." Though whatever one may ask for seems important to that individual, one must trust God’s unconditional love in that He will satisfy all your desires. With this in mind, we remember Mary's response to God: “Let it be done according to Thy word” – Luke 1:38
Tip #2 – Asking Intercessory Prayers from Saints
Just as St. Louis de Montfort strove to unite his soul “to Jesus through Mary,” one may also ask for a saint’s intercession in prayer. Asking for a saint’s help is not praying to them as if asking for God’s assistance; rather, it is asking them to pray for you which is similar to asking prayers from priests and loved ones here on earth. An insightful quote which can aid in this understanding would be: “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” - Matthew 18:20
I usually make a quick note of my prayer to a saint(s) that I have a lot of similarities with. I thank them for their contribution here on earth and ask if there is a way they could petition my prayer to Jesus.
Saints stress asking intercession from the Blessed Mary Mother of God to plead to Jesus for you. Ask her if you can offer to Jesus any acts of love, charity or penance so the prayer will have more weight as well.
I highly recommend an offering of (one or more) Mass, a Rosary or a Chaplet of Divine Mercy to God, a saint, the person you are praying for and even yourself. Praying within the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist or the adoration chapel can be a way of physically submitting yourself to Christ. Regardless of what you do, persevere with daily prayers in love and believe in faith that God desires your happiness. Your only duty is to say "yes" to His graces!
Though there is a certain personal appeal to God in using your own words in prayer, if you are struggling with what exactly you should say, feel free to borrow mines:
"Loving Heavenly Father,
I bow to You in submission to Your will, hear my cry for I am in distress. You who have said 'Ask and you shall receive, seek and you shall find, knock and it shall be opened to you.' I ask You then in Jesus’ name with the intercession of the Blessed Mary Mother of God and my patron saints: St. Anthony of Padua, St. Raphael the archangel, St. Michael the archangel and St. Gabriel the archangel.
Father, please hear my prayer intention(s):
List your intentions to the Father and make sure to state reasons how the intention brings someone closer to Jesus Christ.
My loving Mother Mary, holy angels and saints; I know that I am unworthy, but please make me worthy so that in doing so you may watch over me as my patrons. Please petition to Jesus my prayer.
List what you have in common with (or desired virtue from) the saints. Remind the saints how they had the same desires, struggles and crosses to bear in earth too.
Father, I am nothing without You! From the dust you made me and dust I will return. You have given me all these benefits and how shameful am I that I desire more! Turn not Your eyes from me for I am weak. Please give me the grace to love You above all. I love You, Father! I thank You for always giving me the opportunity to accept Your graces. I thank You for allowing me to have the grace to spend this time with You in prayer. I thank you in advance, whether or not my prayer gets answered. I love You! ”
Of course, this might be a bit formal. You’ll want to make the prayer sound like a conversation rather than a script. Remember that it’s your personal relationship with Jesus. Either way, the prayer is pretty straightforward and it only takes a few minutes.
It can be a little frustrating praying with your heart for hours and not having it answered, as it feels like you’re expecting to receive a “no” from God, but that is not always the case. If God gives you a “no”, do not allow your heart to be cast down, He only means to give you something better. On the other hand, sometimes you may discover that God just needed an extra day to perfect the timing of answering your prayer.
St. Anthony of Padua is known for finding lost things. St. Raphael is known for guiding, safe travel, healing and relationships. St. Michael is known for victory, courage, perseverance and protection. St. Gabriel is known for strength, good news and peace.
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