Daily Reading for January 28 • Thomas Aquinas, Priest and Friar, 1274
Question II. Is it appropriate to pray? . . .
In the case of prayer we do not pray in order to change God’s plan, but in order to obtain by our prayers those things which God planned to bring about by means of prayers, in order, as Gregory says, that our prayers should entitle us to receive what almighty God planned from all eternity to give us. . . . We do not have to present our prayers to God in order to disclose to Him our needs and desires, but in order to make ourselves realize that we need to have recourse to His help in these matters. . . . Our prayer is not designed to change what God has already planned.
God gives us many things out of sheer generosity, without being asked. The reason why He wants to give us some things in response to our petitions is that it is profitable for us to acquire a certain confidence in running to Him and to recognize that He is the source of all that is good for us. So Chrysostom says, “Consider what a joy is granted you, what glory is bestowed upon you, that you can speak with God in your prayers, that you can engage in conversation with Christ, and plead for whatever you want, whatever you desire."
From “On Prayer” by Thomas Aquinas, quoted in Invitation to Christian Spirituality: An Ecumenical Anthology, edited by John R. Tyson (Oxford University Press, 1999).