A PERSON who is in the state of mortal sin and is not willing to abandon his sinful ways is an enemy of God. To pray effectually he must have true contrition for his sins and a firm purpose to amend his life. St. Augustine therefore gives this advice: “First we must weep, then pray.”
“The prayer of an evil tongue,” says St. Bonaventure, “is not the supplication of one who prays, but the hissing of a serpent.”
“If, however, a person falls into sin through human frailty or rashness,” says St. Alphonsus, “and sighs over his misery and desires to be delivered therefrom; if he implores God to rend the fetters of his sins, he may rest assured that God will hear his petitions.” Our Lord Himself declares: “For every one that asks, receives” [Luke 11:10], be he just or sinner.
St. Augustine asks, “If God did not hear the prayers of the sinner, what would it have availed the publican to ask for mercy?”
ST. JOHN CHRYSOSTOM
“When we pray for graces,” says St. Thomas, “it is not absolutely necessary to be already friends of God; prayer itself will make us become His friends.”
According to the words of St. John Chrysostom, no contrite sinner has ever implored God’s grace and mercy in vain. The words of our Divine Savior Himself assure us of this: “Come to Me, all you that labor and are burdened, and I will refresh you.” [Matt. 11:28] Who should come? Only the just [those in the state of grace]? No! “They that are in health need not a physician, but they that are ill.”