Question 028.  

Does this mean that Augustine counts himself among “the elect,” and therefore not in need of prayer?

When you find me in these books, pray that I might not fail, but reach perfection.  Pray, my son, pray…You would cheat me of great help if you were not to do so. But not only you, but anyone who by your witness should come to love me, let him pray for me, too.  Read Sacred Scriptures, and you will discover that the Apostles, shepherds of Christ’s flock, asked it of their hearers… We have been placed over you, for you are of God’s flock… Ask, then, for us what we ask of you, that we might lead a quiet and peaceful life in all godliness and honestly.  Let’s ask this for each other wherever you may be or I, for he to whom we belong is ever present.

from St. Augustine Answers 101 Questions on Prayer by Fr. Ermatinger.


In this life, those who are further along the Way than others are still progressing, still seeking to persevere.  The goal is Christ, the way is Christ, and the method is prayer.  Those who are closer to the end pray for those who are further behind and those who are further behind pray for those further ahead.  Prayer, as it is the means for obtaining grace, is not something one can do without in this life: they cannot stop praying for themselves, praying for others, or having others pray for them.  That which is prayed for is the same for all regardless of where one is and where the one who is prayed for is along the Way:  That one might lead a quiet life, that is a life undisturbed by the passions.  That one might lead a peaceful life, that is a life where one humbly and obediently serves Christ who is King and Bridegroom of one’s soul.  That one’s life might be filled with godliness, that is grace and the resulting cooperative action done through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, with the Son, according to the will of the Father.  That one’s life might be filled with honestly, that is in truth, openly, simply, without guile, letting the Light of Christ dwelling within them shine forth to illumine the darkness of the world, bringing all to more clearly know Christ as the way, the truth, and the life that gives to all eternal salvation, if they would but pray.

The question of “the elect” is multifaceted, for clearly some believe and some don’t.  Among the believers, some are placed in positions of authority over others and some are not.  Among believers, some find final perseverance in their prayers, and some do not.  All are in need of prayer and all need to pray.  Even those who have the grace of final perseverance far from the end of their early lives and know, by grace, that they have this (something exceedingly rare) still need to pray and still need the prayers of others.  It is by the prayers of others, and their own, that God has given them this grace.  If there is grace, then there was prayer.  If there is prayer, then there will be grace.  

Even prayers said “after the fact” are not without merit.  Augustine, in the above, counsels that those who should read his books, should they come to love him by his books, should pray for him.  It is not that the elect in heaven now need our prayers, for they have arrived at their end, but our prayers now merit graces not now but according to God’s omnipresence.