Speaking via livestream from the library of the Apostolic Palace due to coronavirus restrictions, the pope cited the example of the Our Father, the prayer that Jesus taught his disciples.
He said that in the Our Father “we implore God for the highest gifts: the sanctification of His name among men, the advent of His lordship, the realization of His will for good in relation to the world.”
Referring to the Catechism, he observed that in the Our Father we pray first for the coming of God’s Kingdom and then for what we require to welcome it.
“But in the Our Father we also pray for the simplest gifts, for the most of everyday gifts, such as ‘daily bread’ -- which also means health, home, work, everyday things; and it also means for for the Eucharist, necessary for life in Christ; and we also pray for the forgiveness of sins -- which is a daily matter; we are always in need of forgiveness -- and therefore peace in our relationships; and finally, that He may help us face temptation and free us from evil,” he said.
The pope noted that at times we can feel self-sufficient and believe we do not need anything from God. But sooner or later, this illusion vanishes, he said.
“We all experience, at some time or another in our existence, the time of melancholy, of solitude. The Bible is not ashamed of showing our human condition, marked by disease, injustice, the betrayals of friends, or the threat of enemies. At times it seems that everything collapses, that the life lived so far has been in vain,” he said.
“And in these situations, when it seems that everything is falling apart, there is only one way out: the cry, the prayer ‘Lord, help me!’ Prayer can open up a sliver of light in the densest darkness. ‘Lord, help me!’ This opens: it opens up the road, it opens up the path.”
Human beings are not alone in praying, he said,
“There resounds in us the multiform cry of creatures: of trees, of rocks, of animals. Everything yearns for fulfillment,” he said, quoting St. Paul’s words in his Letter to the Romans that “the whole creation has been groaning in travail together until now.”
“But we are the only ones to pray consciously, knowing that we are addressing the Father, and entering into dialogue with the Father,” he said.
The pope suggested that many people felt ashamed of asking for help.
He said: “Do not be ashamed to pray. ‘Lord, I need this,’ ‘Lord, I am in difficulty,’ ‘Help me!’: the cry, the cry of the heart to God who is the Father.”
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He continued: “The Lord always gives to us, always, and everything is grace, everything. The grace of God. However, we must not suffocate the supplication that rises up in us spontaneously.”
“Prayer of petition goes in step with acceptance of our limit and our nature as creatures. One may even not reach the point of belief in God, but it is difficult not to believe in prayer: it simply exists, it presents itself to us as a cry; and we all know this inner voice that may remain silent for a long time, but one day awakens and cries out.”
He emphasized that God will always respond to our supplications.
“There is no prayer in the Book of Psalms that raises a lament that remains unheard,” he said. “God alway answers: maybe today, tomorrow, but he always answers, in one way or another. He always answers.”
“The Bible repeats it countless times: God listens to the cry of those who invoke Him. Even our reluctant questions, those that remain in the depths of our heart, that we are ashamed to express: the Father listens to them and wishes to give us the Holy Spirit, which inspires every prayer and transforms everything.”
He underlined that prayer requires patience and that learning to pray is also learning to wait.