Justice and Prayer
"The kindhearted God gives us what we ask for not because of our prayers; rather does He nourish us according to His compassion, for it is He who created us. Without our asking, the Supreme Majesty granted us His own Son who for our sake appeared on earth and, although we did not ask Him to do so, he offered Himself as a sacrifice for our salvation. For who asked the Father to give His own Son up to death on the cross? Or who entreated the Son to die for sinners? To which righteous man did the thought occur to ask the Father to give up His Son for transgressors? It is truly an unprecedented event, and the thought occurred to no one. The Father gave up His Son to death on the cross, and through his death sinners obtained life. And if he gave away his greatest treasure, can there be any obstacle to prevent a man who asks such a Lover of mankind from receiving all that he needs? So let us ask Him, for He does give. Let us announce to Him our wishes, for He will not refuse us. Let us entreat Him, for He wants to satisfy our needs in every possible way. But in accordance with His justice, He expects our prayer to come to His door, and this prayer has reconciled justice and sinners.
If kindness were to forgive transgressions without prayer, it would be a violation of justice, and no one would contemplate justice any more. Mankind would gradually be given up to lawlessness, for the Judge would fail to apply the staff of correction. Each man would joyfully continue to sin, for there would be no one to correct him. Such kindness, however beneficial it might be for us, would soon turn to harm, for it would give sinners cause to ever multiply their sins. And it is a good thing that in the world also, justice prompts us the use of punishment. For punishment causes the sinner to shudder and put an end to his sinful ways. It brings the sinner to contrition of heart, for it is he who has brought punishment upon himself. and thus the sinner puts aside his iniquities, if only for a short while, and seeks forgiveness for his sins."
by St. Ephrem the Syrian (+ 373) — deacon and hermit