– a few extracts from Pope Francis’ comments on prayer at his general audience last week .
It is in Luke’s Gospel that the disciples ask Jesus to teach them to pray. And from this request is born Christ’s teaching on the words to use in addressing God. He is to be addressed as “Father.”
Jesus explains also some things to give us confidence. They emphasise the attitudes of the praying believer.
For instance, there is the parable of the importunate friend, who goes to disturb a whole family that is sleeping, because a person arrived suddenly from a trip and he has no bread to offer him. What does Jesus say to this man who knocks on the door and wakes his friend? ‘I tell you, though he will not get up to give the bread to him because he is a friend, yet because of his persistence he will rise and give him whatever he needs'(Luke 11:9).”
There follows the story of the father and hungry son, in which Jesus suggests that a father would not give a serpent to a son who is hungry and asks for a fish. Thus, God will not forget his children.
But why is it that sometimes prayers seem to go unanswered? “We’ve all experienced this — how many times have we knocked and found a closed door, Pope Francis asked. “In those moments, Jesus recommends that we insist and not give up. Prayer always transforms the reality — always. If the things around us don’t change, at least we change, our heart changes. Jesus has promised the gift of the Holy Spirit to every man and every woman who prays.”
“We can be certain that God will answer. The only uncertainty is due to the timing, but we must not doubt that He will respond. Perhaps we’ll have to insist our whole life, but He will answer.”