What happens in prayer?
“The Lord our God wants us to petition him, not in order to inform him…but that we might be prepared to receive what he wants to bestow upon us…in proportion to our simplicity of faith, firmness of hope, and ardor of desire, we will be able to be more open to receiving what is immensely great, which neither eye has seen, nor ear has heard…”
from St. Augustine Answers 101 Questions on Prayer by Fr. Ermatinger.
The life of prayer begins with our petitioning our Father for the things that we desire; initially focused on the desires of the self – a child’s prayer for a certain toy – and later in life the goods of others – the health of a neighbor. However, our Father intends to give us more than our desires; He intends to give us His goods. The work of the life of prayer thusly is the progress of self-emptying one’s petitions of those truly good things that are perceived as needed by the self and the opening up of oneself to the desiring of and to the willingness to receive the Father’s goods in the Fathers time. — PPP