It is clear then that we do not receive anything because we do not ask enough. God could not give us little, He could not restrict His liberality to small things without doing us grave harm. Do not misunderstand me. I am not saying that we offend God if we ask for temporal benefits or to be freed from misfortune. Obviously prayers of this kind can rightly be addressed to Him by making the condition that they are not contrary to His glory or our eternal salvation. But as it is hardly likely that it would redound to His glory for Him to answer them, or to our advantage to have them answered if our wishes end there, it must be repeated that as long as we are content with little we run the risk of obtaining nothing.
Let me show you a good way to ask for happiness even in this world. It is a way that will oblige God to listen to you. Say to Him earnestly: Either give me so much money that my heart will be satisfied, or inspire me with such contempt for it that I no longer want it. Either free me from poverty, or make it so pleasant for me that I would not exchange it for all the wealth in the world. Either take away my suffering, or—which would be to your greater glory—change it into delight for me, and instead of causing me affliction, let it become a source of joy. You can take away the burden of my cross, or you can leave it with me without my feeling its weight. You can extinguish the fire that burns me, or you can let it burn in such a way that it refreshes me as it did the three youths in the fiery furnace. I ask you for either one thing or the other. What does it matter in what way I am happy? If I am happy through the possession of worldly goods, it is you I have to thank. If I am happy when deprived of them, it gives you greater glory and my thanks are all the greater.
This is the kind of prayer worthy of being offered to God by a true Christian. When you pray in this way, do you know what the effect of your prayers will be? First, you will be satisfied whatever happens; and what else do those who most desire this world’s goods want except to be satisfied? Secondly, you will not only obtain without fail one of the two things you have asked for but, as a rule, you will obtain both of them. God will give you the enjoyment of wealth, and so that you may possess it without the danger of becoming attached to it, He will inspire you at the same time with contempt for it. He will put an end to your sufferings and even more He will leave you with a desire for them which will give you all the merit of patience without having to suffer. In a word, He will make you happy here and now, and lest your happiness should do you harm, He will let you know and feel the emptiness of it. Can one ask for anything better? But if such a great blessing is well worth being asked for, remember that still more is it worth being asked for with insistence. For the reason why we obtain little is not only because we ask for little but still more because, whether we ask a little or we ask a lot, we do not ask often enough.