Jesus gave us some very specific instructions.
When we read of the countless miracles performed in the Bible, it is natural for us to desire miracles to occur in our own lives. We might have this desire because of something tragic that is happening, or for less weighty desires.
For example, you or someone you know may have been diagnosed with cancer; you might have lost your job; maybe your marriage is in shambles; or your children could be in a difficult situation. Whatever the problem, we want God to fix it.
It could appear to us that the only possible solution is a miracle, and so we want to pray to God for that miracle.
How do you pray for a miracle? Does God listen? Is there a certain formula that you need to pray for God to act?
First of all, as the angel Gabriel said to the Virgin Mary, “For with God nothing will be impossible” (Luke 1:37). As long as it is something true, good and beautiful, nothing is outside of God’s reach. Yet at the same time, God is not a “holy dispenser,” giving us everything we ask for.
He requires us to have a mustard-seed-size faith in him. When a sick man was brought before Jesus, they complained that his own disciples couldn’t cure him. Jesus explained why their prayers were unsuccessful.
He said to them, “Because of your little faith. Amen, I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” (Matthew 17:20-21)
For any miracle to occur, we need to have a deep faith in God, which is itself a gift received and not something that can be “willed” by any individual. This gift requires our cooperation. Our hearts need to be fully open to receive this gift of faith and to be clear of any obstacles.
Furthermore, God desires that we first ask forgiveness for our own faults, before asking for something from him. The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains how every prayer of petition (such as asking for a miracle) needs to include a prayer asking forgiveness.
The first movement of the prayer of petition is asking forgiveness, like the tax collector in the parable: “God, be merciful to me a sinner!” It is a prerequisite for righteous and pure prayer. A trusting humility brings us back into the light of communion between the Father and his Son Jesus Christ and with one another, so that “we receive from him whatever we ask.” Asking forgiveness is the prerequisite for both the Eucharistic liturgy and personal prayer. (CCC 2631)
Repentance was a key element in the miracles of healing Jesus performed in the Gospels, as he often forgave the sins of the person along with a physical restoration of health. Above all, God wants to restore our relationship with him and a miracle can only occur if it helps to bring that restoration about.
However, we must remember that God will grant our request for a miracle only if it is part of his divine will.
Above all things, we need to trust in God and his plan for us. We may not understand if he doesn’t respond to our request for a miracle, but his reasons will be revealed to us in time.