How does grace work? I lean toward thinking grace has no efficacy without our wills. Yet, we do not create grace. Grace is like love; it may be given but doesn’t have to be received. When it is received a bond is completed.
So often we pray that a person be given a certain grace. Understood properly, I think the grace is always there whether we pray for it or not. The better prayer is that the person accepts the grace. But it is here that I have a problem: isn’t the disposition to accept a particular grace a grace in itself? Yet the disposition can’t come from God. It comes from the will and in this sense we have power over the gifts and graces of God.
If, regarding the gifts and graces of God to each individual, there is indeed parity, then how else can we account for the disparity in the world other than that it is a result of our own choices (dispositions)? To say, There but for the grace of God go I, is not to say that God graces some more than others but rather that my own openness and receptivity to those graces makes the difference.
In the all-important work of diminishing the self there would seem to be a real conflict here; for it cannot be denied that we control by our wills the gifts and graces we accept. If the self that keeps us apart from You is the false-self then we might presume that the choices against the openness and acceptance of Your gifts and graces is a prime factor in the building up of the false-self; whereas the openness and acceptance of them nurtures the true-self.
Like Your grace our true-self is always there – somewhere – but it doesn’t show up unless we dispose ourselves to it. The gift to be able to do this is aslo already there for us to accept or ignore.