Becoming Perfect as the Father
The purpose of prayer is perhaps less to obtain what we ask, than to become someone else. We should go further and say that asking something from God transforms us, little by little, into people capable of sometimes doing without what they ask for.
Let us not attempt to state too quickly and a priori the laws regarding the transformation of our desires and the orientation of our lives. It will be different for each person. The stages will be as diverse as the movement of a river, where everything depends so much on the territory traversed. On each man’s journey, there will be meanderings, those times when we do not seem to be moving ahead, and also huge gaps and the call of the estuary. Let us not be surprised that there are “ages” in the life of prayer as there are in the life of man. Here and there, the interplay between desire and a sense of the real and the situation at hand that varies according to the past and future, shape the major parts of a man’s life, just as graces and temptations do. But whatever his age, true prayer will always be effective in preserving the infinite that man desires and the image he has of a God who calls him, by protecting him against the illusion of false haste and against a retreat occasioned by pessimism and a feeling of abandonment.
Now we understand why God seems to delay; not in order to test us arbitrarily, but to compel our desire to become more intense and to become truly like his. While we judge such delays with our eyes and according to our defeats, God judges them according to reality.
This is why only he is effective. The education he gives, his pedagogy, is not an unjustifiable sport, which is gratuitous and of no value. If God takes his time, he does so for our sake. Because of the unusually delicate nature of his love, he does not want to effect our happiness without us, but wants to produce it from within to make us work at it and to give it to us only after exhausting the possibilities of our waiting. “God fashions us with our help.” Because of love, God cannot fail to take into account that desire which he placed in us to serve as an aid to his giving.
The purpose of prayer is to bring this desire, which leaves a man restless and disturbed, to becoming a feeling of hope, guaranteed…but by an infinite effectiveness since it comes from God himself.