Question 032.

What is the relation between faith and prayer?

If faith lacks, prayer dies.  For who prays for that which he does not believe?…  So that we might pray, let us believe.  And that this faith by which we pray not fail, let us pray.  Faith pours out prayer and the pouring out of prayer, in turn, obtains the strengthening of faith.

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


The seed of prayer is the grace of faith that God implants within the soul.  It is watered by hope, grows by charity, and the fruit of its flowering is the obtaining of union with God, which and who is charity itself.  How does the seed of prayer become planted?  By one hearing of God and of those good things that He promises to those who would but turn to Him in prayer.  In hearing, that is in some way encountering exterior to oneself the reality of God and learning of His promises and taking those things within the interior man, one either turns towards the One who has been spoken of, or does not; the seed germinates or it does not, yet the seed will remain as pledge that God is faithful to His own gifts, even if we are not.   

What is faith but the acting in accord of that which one has heard; of the One far off and His promises?  At its smallest, it is the turning in acceptance, which is far from great or complete, of the report of which one has heard to request, to pray, to and for what one has heard.  Prayer cannot be done without the grace of faith, for who asks for that which one does not hope for?  As one, by faith, prays, one’s prayers increase the faith by which one prays.

How so?  Simply because what is prayed for is that the One far off might not be so far off, that He might be known better, that His will be done better, and that the good things of His promises be given and more fully received.  The core of prayer is to have an increase in faith, the very faith by which one prays.  If increased, so too then will prayer increase in fervor, for the One far off will not be so far off: He will be God and then, more clearly, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; His promises of good things will be more clearly known and greatly anticipated.  So hope increases.  In the increase of these things, so too charity, for one receives more completely God’s good things, His charity – His very self – and one loves God all the more for His goodness.

But without faith prayer, indeed all of this, dies for one cannot pray without accepting God and His promises.


Prayer, John Philip, 1859