“Ask, and it shall be given you”.
We pray. I do it and you do it. You pray in the morning and at night, before and after meals, and it is to be hoped that you have certain times of seclusion to lay yourself at God’s feet and to pour out your heart before Him. However, we have to compare our prayer with the prayer of the Church, the prayer of believers, as it is written down in the Holy Scriptures. Do you do this? Have you ever done it? We must compare our prayer with “The Lord’s Prayer”. Christ was so good as to teach this prayer to his disciples, at their request: “Lord, teach us to pray” (Luke 11:1). You admit that not every prayer is a good prayer, that a prayer is not good for the mere reason that it has the name of a “prayer”. The publican went up into the temple to pray; the Pharisee too went up to pray, but he did not pray aright.
A true prayer is a fruit of faith. Do you understand this? Do you understand what I am saying: a true prayer is a fruit of faith? Prayer – now listen – does not come first, but faith. Yes, let this sink deeply into your soul, because it might well be that you would have answered: “Prayer first and then faith, for we pray indeed for faith and repentance.” However, you are wrong, and I have the truth on my side: prayer is a fruit of faith. Do you understand this? A fruit of faith – but this is really as clear as day, for it is written that God will pour upon His congregation the spirit of grace and supplication (Zech. 12:10). This spirit is the Spirit of faith. When a man believes, he reaps fruit and the first fruit is prayer. Again, when a man believes, he can give an answer to the second question of the Catechism: “How many things are necessary for you to know, that you in this comfort may live and die happily?” Answer: “Three; the first, how great my sins and misery are; the second, how I am delivered from all my sins and misery; the third, how I am to be thankful to God for such deliverance.” The apostles James and Paul do not put it otherwise in James 1:6, 7 and Romans 14:23.
(From: Meditations, 8 February. Sermon on Psalm 86:11, 23 September 1943 in The Hague.)