Summa Th. II-II EN Qu.82 a.2

Whether devotion is an act of religion?

Objection: 1. It would seem that devotion is not an act of religion. Devotion, as stated above (Article [1]), consists in giving oneself up to God. But this is done chiefly by charity, since according to Dionysius (Div. Nom. iv) "the Divine love produces ecstasy, for it takes the lover away from himself and gives him to the beloved." Therefore devotion is an act of charity rather than of religion.
2. Further, charity precedes religion; and devotion seems to precede charity; since, in the Scriptures, charity is represented by fire, while devotion is signified by fatness which is the material of fire [*Cant. 8:6; Ps 52,6]. Therefore devotion is not an act of religion.
3. Further, by religion man is directed to God alone, as stated above (Question [81], Article [1]). But devotion is directed also to men; for we speak of people being devout to certain holy men, and subjects are said to be devoted to their masters; thus Pope Leo says [*Serm. viii, De Pass. Dom.] that the Jews "out of devotion to the Roman laws," said: "We have no king but Caesar." Therefore devotion is not an act of religion.

On the contrary Devotion is derived from "devovere," as stated (Article [1]). But a vow is an act of religion. Therefore devotion is also an act of religion.
I answer that It belongs to the same virtue, to will to do something, and to have the will ready to do it, because both acts have the same object. For this reason the Philosopher says (Ethic. v, 1): "It is justice whereby men both will end do just actions." Now it is evident that to do what pertains to the worship or service of God, belongs properly to religion, as stated above (Question [81]). Wherefore it belongs to that virtue to have the will ready to do such things, and this is to be devout. Hence it is evident that devotion is an act of religion.

Reply to Objection: 1. It belongs immediately to charity that man should give himself to God, adhering to Him by a union of the spirit; but it belongs immediately to religion, and, through the medium of religion, to charity which is the principle of religion, that man should give himself to God for certain works of Divine worship.
2. Bodily fatness is produced by the natural heat in the process of digestion, and at the same time the natural heat thrives, as it were, on this fatness. In like manner charity both causes devotion (inasmuch as love makes one ready to serve one's friend) and feeds on devotion. Even so all friendship is safeguarded and increased by the practice and consideration of friendly deeds.
3. Devotion to God's holy ones, dead or living, does not terminate in them, but passes on to God, in so far as we honor God in His servants. But the devotion of subjects to their temporal masters is of another kind, just as service of a temporal master differs from the service of God.

Whether contemplation or meditation is the cause of devotion?

Objection: 1. It would seem that contemplation or meditation is not the cause of devotion. No cause hinders its effect. But subtle considerations about abstract matters are often a hindrance to devotion. Therefore contemplation or meditation is not the cause of devotion.
2. Further, if contemplation were the proper and essential cause of devotion, the higher objects of contemplation would arouse greater devotion. But the contrary is the case: since frequently we are urged to greater devotion by considering Christ's Passion and other mysteries of His humanity than by considering the greatness of His Godhead. Therefore contemplation is not the proper cause of devotion.
3. Further, if contemplation were the proper cause of devotion, it would follow that those who are most apt for contemplation, are also most apt for devotion. Yet the contrary is to be noticed, for devotion is frequently found in men of simplicity and members of the female sex, who are defective in contemplation. Therefore contemplation is not the proper cause of devotion.

On the contrary It is written (Ps 38,4): "In my meditation a fire shall flame out." But spiritual fire causes devotion. Therefore meditation is the cause of devotion.
I answer that The extrinsic and chief cause of devotion is God, of Whom Ambrose, commenting on Lc 9,55, says that "God calls whom He deigns to call, and whom He wills He makes religious: the profane Samaritans, had He so willed, He would have made devout." But the intrinsic cause on our part must needs be meditation or contemplation. For it was stated above (Article [1]) that devotion is an act of the will to the effect that man surrenders himself readily to the service of God. Now every act of the will proceeds from some consideration, since the object of the will is a good understood. Wherefore Augustine says (De Trin. ix, 12; xv, 23) that "the will arises from the intelligence." Consequently meditation must needs be the cause of devotion, in so far as through meditation man conceives the thought of surrendering himself to God's service. Indeed a twofold consideration leads him thereto. The one is the consideration of God's goodness and loving kindness, according to Ps 72,28, "It is good for me to adhere to my God, to put my hope in the Lord God": and this consideration wakens love [*'Dilectio,' the interior act of charity; cf. Question [27]] which is the proximate cause of devotion. The other consideration is that of man's own shortcomings, on account of which he needs to lean on God, according to Ps 120,1-2, "I have lifted up my eyes to the mountains, from whence help shall come to me: my help is from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth"; and this consideration shuts out presumption whereby man is hindered from submitting to God, because he leans on His strength.

Reply to Objection: 1. The consideration of such things as are of a nature to awaken our love [*'Dilectio,' the interior act of charity; cf. Question [27]] of God, causes devotion; whereas the consideration of foreign matters that distract the mind from such things is a hindrance to devotion.
2. Matters concerning the Godhead are, in themselves, the strongest incentive to love ['dilectio,' the interior act of charity; cf. Question [27]] and consequently to devotion, because God is supremely lovable. Yet such is the weakness of the human mind that it needs a guiding hand, not only to the knowledge, but also to the love of Divine things by means of certain sensible objects known to us. Chief among these is the humanity of Christ, according to the words of the Preface [*Preface for Christmastide], "that through knowing God visibly, we may be caught up to the love of things invisible." Wherefore matters relating to Christ's humanity are the chief incentive to devotion, leading us thither as a guiding hand, although devotion itself has for its object matters concerning the Godhead.
3. Science and anything else conducive to greatness, is to man an occasion of self-confidence, so that he does not wholly surrender himself to God. The result is that such like things sometimes occasion a hindrance to devotion; while in simple souls and women devotion abounds by repressing pride. If, however, a man perfectly submits to God his science or any other perfection, by this very fact his devotion is increased.

Whether joy is an effect of devotion?

Objection: 1. It would seem that joy is not an effect of devotion. As stated above (Article [3], ad 2), Christ's Passion is the chief incentive to devotion. But the consideration thereof causes an affliction of the soul, according to Lam. 3:19, "Remember my poverty . . . the wormwood and the gall," which refers to the Passion, and afterwards (Lm 3,20) it is said: "I will be mindful and remember, and my soul shall languish within me." Therefore delight or joy is not the effect of devotion.
2. Further, devotion consists chiefly in an interior sacrifice of the spirit. But it is written (Ps 50,19): "A sacrifice to God is an afflicted spirit." Therefore affliction is the effect of devotion rather than gladness or joy.
3. Further, Gregory of Nyssa says (De Homine xii) [*Orat. funebr. de Placilla Imp.] that "just as laughter proceeds from joy, so tears and groans are signs of sorrow." But devotion makes some people shed tears. Therefore gladness or joy is not the effect of devotion.

On the contrary We say in the Collect [*Thursday after fourth Sunday of Lent]: "That we who are punished by fasting may be comforted by a holy devotion."
I answer that The direct and principal effect of devotion is the spiritual joy of the mind, though sorrow is its secondary and indirect effect. For it has been stated (Article [3]) that devotion is caused by a twofold consideration: chiefly by the consideration of God's goodness, because this consideration belongs to the term, as it were, of the movement of the will in surrendering itself to God, and the direct result of this consideration is joy, according to Ps 76,4, "I remembered God, and was delighted"; but accidentally this consideration causes a certain sorrow in those who do not yet enjoy God fully, according to Ps 41,3, "My soul hath thirsted after the strong living God," and afterwards it is said (Ps 41,4): "My tears have been my bread," etc. Secondarily devotion is caused as stated (Article [3]), by the consideration of one's own failings; for this consideration regards the term from which man withdraws by the movement of his devout will, in that he trusts not in himself, but subjects himself to God. This consideration has an opposite tendency to the first: for it is of a nature to cause sorrow directly (when one thinks over one's own failings), and joy accidentally, namely, through hope of the Divine assistance. It is accordingly evident that the first and direct effect of devotion is joy, while the secondary and accidental effect is that "sorrow which is according to God" [*2Co 7,10].

Reply to Objection: 1. In the consideration of Christ's Passion there is something that causes sorrow, namely, the human defect, the removal of which made it necessary for Christ to suffer [*Lc 24,25]; and there is something that causes joy, namely, God's loving-kindness to us in giving us such a deliverance.
2. The spirit which on the one hand is afflicted on account of the defects of the present life, on the other hand is rejoiced, by the consideration of God's goodness, and by the hope of the Divine help.
3. Tears are caused not only through sorrow, but also through a certain tenderness of the affections, especially when one considers something that gives joy mixed with pain. Thus men are wont to shed tears through a sentiment of piety, when they recover their children or dear friends, whom they thought to have lost. In this way tears arise from devotion.


We must now consider prayer, under which head there are seventeen points of inquiry:

(1) Whether prayer is an act of the appetitive or of the cognitive power?

(2) Whether it is fitting to pray to God?

(3) Whether prayer is an act of religion?

(4) Whether we ought to pray to God alone?

(5) Whether we ought to ask for something definite when we pray?

(6) Whether we ought to ask for temporal things when we pray?

(7) Whether we ought to pray for others?

(8) Whether we ought to pray for our enemies?

(9) Of the seven petitions of the Lord's Prayer;

(10) Whether prayer is proper to the rational creature?

(11) Whether the saints in heaven pray for us?

(12) Whether prayer should be vocal?

(13) Whether attention is requisite in prayer?

(14) Whether prayer should last a long time?

(15) Whether prayer is meritorious? [*Art. 16]

(16) Whether sinners impetrate anything from God by praying? [*Art. 15]

(17) of the different kinds of prayer.

Whether prayer is an act of the appetitive power?

Objection: 1. It would seem that prayer is an act of the appetitive power. It belongs to prayer to be heard. Now it is the desire that is heard by God, according to Ps 9,38, "The Lord hath heard the desire of the poor." Therefore prayer is desire. But desire is an act of the appetitive power: and therefore prayer is also.
2. Further, Dionysius says (Div. Nom. iii): "It is useful to begin everything with prayer, because thereby we surrender ourselves to God and unite ourselves to Him." Now union with God is effected by love which belongs to the appetitive power. Therefore prayer belongs to the appetitive power.
3. Further, the Philosopher states (De Anima iii, 6) that there are two operations of the intellective part. Of these the first is "the understanding of indivisibles," by which operation we apprehend what a thing is: while the second is "synthesis" and "analysis," whereby we apprehend that a thing is or is not. To these a third may be added, namely, "reasoning," whereby we proceed from the known to the unknown. Now prayer is not reducible to any of these operations. Therefore it is an operation, not of the intellective, but of the appetitive power.

On the contrary Isidore says (Etym. x) that "to pray is to speak." Now speech belongs to the intellect. Therefore prayer is an act, not of the appetitive, but of the intellective power.
I answer that According to Cassiodorus [*Comment. in Ps 38,13] "prayer [oratio] is spoken reason [oris ratio]." Now the speculative and practical reason differ in this, that the speculative merely apprehends its object, whereas the practical reason not only apprehends but causes. Now one thing is the cause of another in two ways: first perfectly, when it necessitates its effect, and this happens when the effect is wholly subject to the power of the cause; secondly imperfectly, by merely disposing to the effect, for the reason that the effect is not wholly subject to the power of the cause. Accordingly in this way the reason is cause of certain things in two ways: first, by imposing necessity; and in this way it belongs to reason, to command not only the lower powers and the members of the body, but also human subjects, which indeed is done by commanding; secondly, by leading up to the effect, and, in a way, disposing to it, and in this sense the reason asks for something to be done by things not subject to it, whether they be its equals or its superiors. Now both of these, namely, to command and to ask or beseech, imply a certain ordering, seeing that man proposes something to be effected by something else, wherefore they pertain to the reason to which it belongs to set in order. For this reason the Philosopher says (Ethic. i, 13) that the "reason exhorts us to do what is best."Now in the present instance we are speaking of prayer [*This last paragraph refers to the Latin word 'oratio' [prayer] which originally signified a speech, being derived in the first instance from 'os,' 'oris' (the mouth).] as signifying a beseeching or petition, in which sense Augustine [*Rabanus, De Univ. vi, 14]: says (De Verb. Dom.) that "prayer is a petition," and Damascene states (De Fide Orth. iii, 24) that "to pray is to ask becoming things of God." Accordingly it is evident that prayer, as we speak of it now, is an act of reason.

Reply to Objection: 1. The Lord is said to hear the desire of the poor, either because desire is the cause of their petition, since a petition is like the interpreter of a desire, or in order to show how speedily they are heard, since no sooner do the poor desire something than God hears them before they put up a prayer, according to the saying of Is 65,24, "And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will hear."
2. As stated above (FP, Question [82], Article [4]; FS, Question [9], Article [1], ad 3), the will moves the reason to its end: wherefore nothing hinders the act of reason, under the motion of the will, from tending to an end such as charity which is union with God. Now prayer tends to God through being moved by the will of charity, as it were, and this in two ways. First, on the part of the object of our petition, because when we pray we ought principally to ask to be united to God, according to Ps 26,4, "One thing I have asked of the Lord, this will I seek after, that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life." Secondly, on the part of the petitioner, who ought to approach the person whom he petitions, either locally, as when he petitions a man, or mentally, as when he petitions God. Hence Dionysius says (Div. Nom. iii) that "when we call upon God in our prayers, we unveil our mind in His presence": and in the same sense Damascene says (De Fide Orth. iii, 24) that "prayer is the raising up of the mind to God."
3. These three acts belong to the speculative reason, but to the practical reason it belongs in addition to cause something by way of command or of petition, as stated above.

Whether it is becoming to pray?

Objection: 1. It would seem that it is unbecoming to pray. Prayer seems to be necessary in order that we may make our needs known to the person to whom we pray. But according to Mt 6,32, "Your Father knoweth that you have need of all these things." Therefore it is not becoming to pray to God.
2. Further, by prayer we bend the mind of the person to whom we pray, so that he may do what is asked of him. But God's mind is unchangeable and inflexible, according to 1S 15,29, "But the Triumpher in Israel will not spare, and will not be moved to repentance." Therefore it is not fitting that we should pray to God.
3. Further, it is more liberal to give to one that asks not, than to one who asks because, according to Seneca (De Benefic. ii, 1), "nothing is bought more dearly than what is bought with prayers." But God is supremely liberal. Therefore it would seem unbecoming to pray to God.

On the contrary It is written (Lc 18,1): "We ought always to pray, and not to faint."
I answer that Among the ancients there was a threefold error concerning prayer. Some held that human affairs are not ruled by Divine providence; whence it would follow that it is useless to pray and to worship God at all: of these it is written (Malach. 3:14): "You have said: He laboreth in vain that serveth God." Another opinion held that all things, even in human affairs, happen of necessity, whether by reason of the unchangeableness of Divine providence, or through the compelling influence of the stars, or on account of the connection of causes: and this opinion also excluded the utility of prayer. There was a third opinion of those who held that human affairs are indeed ruled by Divine providence, and that they do not happen of necessity; yet they deemed the disposition of Divine providence to be changeable, and that it is changed by prayers and other things pertaining to the worship of God. All these opinions were disproved in the FP, Question [19], Articles [7],8; FP, Question [22], Articles [2],4; FP, Question [115], Article [6]; FP, Question [116]. Wherefore it behooves us so to account for the utility of prayer as neither to impose necessity on human affairs subject to Divine providence, nor to imply changeableness on the part of the Divine disposition.In order to throw light on this question we must consider that Divine providence disposes not only what effects shall take place, but also from what causes and in what order these effects shall proceed. Now among other causes human acts are the causes of certain effects. Wherefore it must be that men do certain actions. not that thereby they may change the Divine disposition, but that by those actions they may achieve certain effects according to the order of the Divine disposition: and the same is to be said of natural causes. And so is it with regard to prayer. For we pray not that we may change the Divine disposition, but that we may impetrate that which God has disposed to be fulfilled by our prayers in other words "that by asking, men may deserve to receive what Almighty God from eternity has disposed to give," as Gregory says (Dial. i, 8)

Reply to Objection: 1. We need to pray to God, not in order to make known to Him our needs or desires but that we ourselves may be reminded of the necessity of having recourse to God's help in these matters.
2. As stated above, our motive in praying is, not Divine disposition, we may change the Divine disposition, but that, by our prayers, we may obtain what God has appointed.
3. God bestows many things on us out of His liberality, even without our asking for them: but that He wishes to bestow certain things on us at our asking, is for the sake of our good, namely, that we may acquire confidence in having recourse to God, and that we may recognize in Him the Author of our goods. Hence Chrysostom says [*Implicitly [Hom. ii, de Orat.: Hom. xxx in Genes. ]; Cf. Caten. Aur. on Lc 18]: "Think what happiness is granted thee, what honor bestowed on thee, when thou conversest with God in prayer, when thou talkest with Christ, when thou askest what thou wilt, whatever thou desirest."

Whether prayer is an act of religion?

Objection: 1. It would seem that prayer is not an act of religion. Since religion is a part of justice, it resides in the will as in its subject. But prayer belongs to the intellective part, as stated above (Article [1]). Therefore prayer seems to be an act, not of religion, but of the gift of understanding whereby the mind ascends to God.
2. Further, the act of "latria" falls under a necessity of precept. But prayer does not seem to come under a necessity of precept, but to come from the mere will, since it is nothing else than a petition for what we will. Therefore prayer seemingly is not an act of religion.
3. Further, it seems to belong to religion that one "offers worship end ceremonial rites to the Godhead" [*Cicero, Rhet. ii, 53]. But prayer seems not to offer anything to God, but to. ask to obtain something from Him. Therefore prayer is not an act of religion.

On the contrary It is written (Ps 140,2): "Let my prayer be directed as incense in Thy sight": and a gloss on the passage says that "it was to signify this that under the old Law incense was said to be offered for a sweet smell to the Lord." Now this belongs to religion. Therefore prayer is an act of religion.
I answer that As stated above (Question [81], Articles [2],4), it belongs properly to religion to show honor to God, wherefore all those things through which reverence is shown to God, belong to religion. Now man shows reverence to God by means of prayer, in so far as he subjects himself to Him, and by praying confesses that he needs Him as the Author of his goods. Hence it is evident that prayer is properly an act of religion.

Reply to Objection: 1. The will moves the other powers of the soul to its end, as stated above (Question [82], Article [1], ad 1), and therefore religion, which is in the will, directs the acts of the other powers to the reverence of God. Now among the other powers of the soul the intellect is the highest, and the nearest to the will; and consequently after devotion which belongs to the will, prayer which belongs to the intellective part is the chief of the acts of religion, since by it religion directs man's intellect to God.
2. It is a matter of precept not only that we should ask for what we desire, but also that we should desire aright. But to desire comes under a precept of charity, whereas to ask comes under a precept of religion, which precept is expressed in Mt 7,7, where it is said: "Ask and ye shall receive" [*Vulg.: 'Ask and it shall be given you.'].
3. By praying man surrenders his mind to God, since he subjects it to Him with reverence and, so to speak, presents it to Him, as appears from the words of Dionysius quoted above (Article [1], Objection [2]). Wherefore just as the human mind excels exterior things, whether bodily members, or those external things that are employed for God's service, so too, prayer surpasses other acts of religion.

Whether we ought to pray to God alone?

Objection: 1. It would seem that we ought to pray to God alone. Prayer is an act of religion, as stated above (Article [3]). But God alone is to be worshiped by religion. Therefore we should pray to God alone.
2. Further, it is useless to pray to one who is ignorant of the prayer. But it belongs to God alone to know one's prayer, both because frequently prayer is uttered by an interior act which God alone knows, rather than by words, according to the saying of the Apostle (1Co 14,15), "I will pray with the spirit, I will pray also with the understanding": and again because, as Augustine says (De Cura pro mortuis xiii) the "dead, even the saints, know not what the living, even their own children, are doing." Therefore we ought to pray to God alone.
3. Further, if we pray to any of the saints, this is only because they are united to God. Now some yet living in this world, or even some who are in Purgatory, are closely united to God by grace, and yet we do not pray to them. Therefore neither should we pray to the saints who are in Paradise.

On the contrary It is written (Jb 5,1), "Call . . . if there be any that will answer thee, and turn to some of the saints."
I answer that Prayer is offered to a person in two ways: first, as to be fulfilled by him, secondly, as to be obtained through him. In the first way we offer prayer to God alone, since all our prayers ought to be directed to the acquisition of grace and glory, which God alone gives, according to Ps 83,12, "The Lord will give grace and glory." But in the second way we pray to the saints, whether angels or men, not that God may through them know our petitions, but that our prayers may be effective through their prayers and merits. Hence it is written (Ap 8,4) that "the smoke of the incense," namely "the prayers of the saints ascended up before God." This is also clear from the very style employed by the Church in praying: since we beseech the Blessed Trinity "to have mercy on us," while we ask any of the saints "to pray for us."

Reply to Objection: 1. To Him alone do we offer religious worship when praying, from Whom we seek to obtain what we pray for, because by so doing we confess that He is the Author of our goods: but not to those whom we call upon as our advocates in God's presence.
2. The dead, if we consider their natural condition, do not know what takes place in this world, especially the interior movements of the heart. Nevertheless, according to Gregory (Moral. xii, 21), whatever it is fitting the blessed should know about what happens to us, even as regards the interior movements of the heart, is made known to them in the Word: and it is most becoming to their exalted position that they should know the petitions we make to them by word or thought; and consequently the petitions which we raise to them are known to them through Divine manifestation.
3. Those who are in this world or in Purgatory, do not yet enjoy the vision of the Word, so as to be able to know what we think or say. Wherefore we do not seek their assistance by praying to them, but ask it of the living by speaking to them.

Whether we ought to ask for something definite when we pray?

Objection: 1. It would seem that we ought not to ask for anything definite when we pray to God. According to Damascene (De Fide Orth. iii, 24), "to pray is to ask becoming things of God"; wherefore it is useless to pray for what is inexpedient, according to Jc 4,3, "You ask, and receive not: because you ask amiss." Now according to Rm 8,26, "we know not what we should pray for as we ought." Therefore we ought not to ask for anything definite when we pray.
2. Further, those who ask another person for something definite strive to incline his will to do what they wish themselves. But we ought not to endeavor to make God will what we will; on the contrary, we ought to strive to will what He wills, according to a gloss on Ps 32,1, "Rejoice in the Lord, O ye just." Therefore we ought not to ask God for anything definite when we pray.
3. Further, evil things are not to be sought from God; and as to good things, God Himself invites us to take them. Now it is useless to ask a person to give you what he invites you to take. Therefore we ought not to ask God for anything definite in our prayers.

On the contrary our Lord (Mt 6 and Lc 11) taught His disciples to ask definitely for those things which are contained in the petitions of the Lord's Prayer.
I answer that According to Valerius Maximus [*Fact. et Dict. Memor. vii, 2], "Socrates deemed that we should ask the immortal gods for nothing else but that they should grant us good things, because they at any rate know what is good for each one whereas when we pray we frequently ask for what it had been better for us not to obtain." This opinion is true to a certain extent, as to those things which may have an evil result, and which man may use ill or well, such as "riches, by which," as stated by the same authority (Fact. et Dict. Memor. vii, 2), "many have come to an evil end; honors, which have ruined many; power, of which we frequently witness the unhappy results; splendid marriages, which sometimes bring about the total wreck of a family." Nevertheless there are certain goods which man cannot ill use, because they cannot have an evil result. Such are those which are the object of beatitude and whereby we merit it: and these the saints seek absolutely when they pray, as in Ps 79,4, "Show us Thy face, and we shall be saved," and again in Ps 118,35, "Lead me into the path of Thy commandments."

Reply to Objection: 1. Although man cannot by himself know what he ought to pray for, "the Spirit," as stated in the same passage, "helpeth our infirmity," since by inspiring us with holy desires, He makes us ask for what is right. Hence our Lord said (Jn 4,24) that true adorers "must adore . . . in spirit and in truth."
2. When in our prayers we ask for things concerning our salvation, we conform our will to God's, of Whom it is written (1Tm 2,4) that "He will have all men to be saved."
3. God so invites us to take good things, that we may approach to them not by the steps of the body, but by pious desires and devout prayers.

Whether man ought to ask God for temporal things when he prays?

Objection: 1. It would seem that man ought not to ask God for temporal things when he prays. We seek what we ask for in prayer. But we should not seek for temporal things, for it is written (Mt 6,33): "Seek ye . . . first the kingdom of God, and His justice: and all these things shall be added unto you," that is to say, temporal things, which, says He, we are not to seek, but they will be added to what we seek. Therefore temporal things are not to be asked of God in prayer.
2. Further, no one asks save for that which he is solicitous about. Now we ought not to have solicitude for temporal things, according to the saying of Mt 6,25, "Be not solicitous for your life, what you shall eat." Therefore we ought not to ask for temporal things when we pray.
3. Further, by prayer our mind should be raised up to God. But by asking for temporal things, it descends to things beneath it, against the saying of the Apostle (2Co 4,18), "While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal." Therefore man ought not to ask God for temporal things when he prays.
4. Further, man ought not to ask of God other than good and useful things. But sometimes temporal things, when we have them, are harmful, not only in a spiritual sense, but also in a material sense. Therefore we should not ask God for them in our prayers.

On the contrary It is written (Pr 30,8): "Give me only the necessaries of life."
I answer that As Augustine says (ad Probam, de orando Deum, Ep. cxxx, 12): "It is lawful to pray for what it is lawful to desire." Now it is lawful to desire temporal things, not indeed principally, by placing our end therein, but as helps whereby we are assisted in tending towards beatitude, in so far, to wit, as they are the means of supporting the life of the body, and are of service to us as instruments in performing acts of virtue, as also the Philosopher states (Ethic. i, 8). Augustine too says the same to Proba (ad Probam, de orando Deum, Ep. cxxx, 6,7) when he states that "it is not unbecoming for anyone to desire enough for a livelihood, and no more; for this sufficiency is desired, not for its own sake, but for the welfare of the body, or that we should desire to be clothed in a way befitting one's station, so as not to be out of keeping with those among whom we have to live. Accordingly we ought to pray that we may keep these things if we have them, and if we have them not, that we may gain possession of them."

Reply to Objection: 1. We should seek temporal things not in the first but in the second place. Hence Augustine says (De Serm. Dom. in Monte ii, 16): "When He says that this" (i.e. the kingdom of God) "is to be sought first, He implies that the other" (i.e. temporal goods) "is to be sought afterwards, not in time but in importance, this as being our good, the other as our need."
2. Not all solicitude about temporal things is forbidden, but that which is superfluous and inordinate, as stated above (Question [55], Article [6]).
3. When our mind is intent on temporal things in order that it may rest in them, it remains immersed therein; but when it is intent on them in relation to the acquisition of beatitude, it is not lowered by them, but raises them to a higher level.
4. From the very fact that we ask for temporal things not as the principal object of our petition, but as subordinate to something else, we ask God for them in the sense that they may be granted to us in so far as they are expedient for salvation.

Summa Th. II-II EN Qu.82 a.2