The subject is of the utmost importance, because prayer, in any of its forms, is one of the religious manifestations that tells us the most about our way of understanding God and man. What we expect from the prayer of petition can serve as a test to understand the stage in which our religiosity is. Augustine, with his genius, has led us down a dead end when he affirmed that prayer was not effective, quia malum, quia mala, quia male. Which means: because I am bad, because I ask for bad things, because I ask for them in a bad way. This reasoning is untenable because, once God does not respond, we manage to leave God safe, since we are always to blame. See also Prayer for Unjust Situation
In a less lapidary way, I dare to say: If we pray, waiting for God to change reality: bad. If we expect others to change, bad, bad. If we ask, hoping that God himself will change: bad, bad, bad. And if we end up believing that God has listened to me and he has granted me what he asked for: downright bad. Any trick is good, as long as we are not forced to do the only thing that is possible: to change ourselves.
It is not God’s job to impart human justice, and divine justice is being performed at all times. For Him everything is in order at every moment. He who is the object of injustice will not be affected in his true being if he does not allow himself to be carried away by the same injustice. Human justice is imposed by the judiciary. When we ask God to impose “justice” we are asking him to act to restore an imbalance. For God everything is always in absolute balance, he does not need to balance anything. God cannot act against anyone no matter how bad they are. God is always with the oppressed, but never against the oppressors.
In the Bible “to do justice” is to liberate the oppressed. This was the most proper action of God. The people of Israel interpreted the favorable events as God’s action on their behalf. But when things went badly for them, they had to conclude that it was because they had not been loyal to the Alliance. The truth is that in the face of the greatest injustices of then and now, God is silent. It is very difficult to harmonize this silence of God with the insistence on the efficacy of prayer. God cannot do justice, as we humans understand it.
This is not about prayer but about asking God for justice for the oppressed. We must not wait for the specific action of God, but discover his presence in all events and in all situations. It is much more important to know how to endure injustice than to achieve our justice. It is much more important to always be “fair” than to get justice from others. The justice of God is an attitude that allows us to discover all that I can hope for at the present moment, without God having to do anything, much less having to lay hold of his power.
I do not pray for God to hear it, but to listen to it myself and give me the opportunity to deepen the knowledge of my profound being. All of this will lead me to make sense of the apparent nonsense. God’s silence forces me to delve into the reality that overwhelms me and to look for the true way out, not the easy way out of an external solution to the problem, but the search for the true meaning of my life in that circumstance. I have to do my justice in myself. The injustice of the other must not make me unjust.
Asking God for justice, here or hereafter, is to maintain the idol that we have created for us. Justice in the afterlife was invented precisely to harmonize the idea of a just God in the human way with the reality of a present injustice. In the time of the Maccabees, it was seen that the evils that afflicted human beings could not be explained as punishment from God, because Antiochus was sacrificing precisely those who were most faithful to the Law. To overcome this contradiction, he pulled out a punishment and a prize for after death.
The message of Jesus is brand new. To whom of us has it ever occurred to us to give the tunic to the one who steals our cloak? Who has turned the other cheek once when they have been slapped? We do not even admit the possibility of entering the dynamics of the gospel. On the contrary, we try by all means to make God accommodate our way of thinking and act as we do. The only way to be fair is not to do any injustice. This is the sense that “justice” almost always has in the Bible.