Since prayer is an intimate and familiar conversation with God, the infinitely good Father, it is necessary that, with regard to its Lord, the soul has an unshakable and unlimited faith, since “this steadfast faith in the God of Love, in the God Who gives Himself and gives life, is irresistible.”
Here I am repeating myself again! And yet I am not afraid of tiring myself or of displeasing the One I seek in these extravagant efforts of my unsatisfied mind. I have not said enough as to the extent to which the soul that prays must believe in the love of God to Whom it prays.
Yes: prayer is like speaking face to face with God. God and the soul are on the same level: they occupy the same inner chamber. They are like Father and son, the Spouse and His bride, like Friend and friend. The soul’s colloquy with God must, then, have one essential characteristic, which is intimacy, an intimacy born of the closest family ties. The child sees and loves with the light of the Father; he sees what the Father sees. He does not see all that the Father sees, but he sees all that the Father enables him to see. He is happy in that union accorded him by the Father, by which the Father makes him His son, for this union is truly the communication of His own divine life.
This unshakeable confidence in the God Who is Love, in the Father giving Himself to souls, is all powerful. “If you shall have faith…and shall say to this mountain: take up and cast thyself into the sea, it shall be done.” “They that trust in Him shall understand the truth, and they that are familiar in love shall rest in Him. Be of good heart…thy faith hath made thee whole.” These are actual assurances from the Spirit of Love; they are beyond question and leave no room for doubt.
This confidence goes very far; it must allow no trial, no delay to affect it. “Although he should kill me, says Job, I will trust in Him.” It must hold the difficult golden means between presumption (which would suppress all human effort) and doubt (which having made the effort, does not really believe in the all-powerfulness of God Who is Love or in the love of the all-powerful God).
All the other conditions required by the prayer of faith lead more or less to those I have suggested. The ardent love of the poor sinner to whom Jesus said: “Many sins are forgiven her, because she hath loved much” (Luke 7:47); that collective prayer which He assures us is all-powerful with His Father; those works of mercy which undoubtedly call down the Divine blessing on those who perform them; the generous pardon extended to those who have offended us: this is what the Holy Spirit is glad to find in the souls of those who appeal to His love. So, too, is the conversion of the heart which restores us once more to the favour of the good God; the recognition of our plight which suffices to keep the light and truth in us; the asking again and again, which is evidence of our determined confidence; our patience in times of trial and our solicitude for the Divine glory; it is in such human voices as these that God recognizes His own voice and responds to it.
Dom Augustin Guillerand, O.Cart.
[From: De vita contemplativa, Franciscan Sisters of The Immaculate, Italy - Translation: Contributor Francesca Romana.]