CNS photo/Vatican Media

November 11, 2020

At the General Audience, Pope Francis considers three of Jesus’ parables that emphasis the importance of praying constantly.

By Christopher Wells

Pope Francis continued his catechesis on prayer on Wednesday, focusing on the quality of perseverance in prayer. Jesus Himself, the Pope said, “has given an example of continual prayer, practiced perseveringly.”

Parables on persevering prayer

The Pope notes that the Catechism of the Catholic Church sees three parables that especially highlight this characteristic of prayer. In the parable of the unexpected guest who arrives in the middle of the night, we learn that prayer must be tenacious. “Our Father knows well what we need,” the Pope says. “Insistence is necessary not to inform Him or to convince Him, but is necessary to nurture the desire and expectation in us.”

The parable of the unjust judge helps us understand “that faith is not a momentary choice, but a courageous decision to call on God, even to ‘argue with Him,’ without resigning oneself to evil and injustice.”

And in the parable of the pharisee and the publican, Jesus shows that “God does not listen to the prayer of those who are proud,” but “He does grant the prayer of the humble.” Pope Francis adds, “There is no true prayer without a spirit of humility.”

We must pray always

“The teaching of the Gospel is clear,” says Pope Francis: “We need to pray always, even when everything seems vain.” Even when it is difficult to pray, and even when it seems God is not listening, it is necessary to persevere in prayer.

“During those nights, the one who prays is never alone,” the Pope says. Jesus is always present with those who pray, welcoming us “in His prayer, so that we might pray in Him and through Him. This is the work of the Holy Spirit.” Pope Francis says this connection to the prayer of Jesus “gives the wings that the human person’s prayer has always desired to possess.”

The Christian who prays fears nothing

The Holy Father recalls the words of Psalm 91, a psalm of confidence and trust. “It is in Christ that this stupendous prayer is fulfilled, in Him that it finds its complete truth.” The Pope warns that, apart from Christ, “our prayer risks being reduced to human effort. But [Jesus] has taken upon Himself… every human prayer.”

Jesus Christ, says Pope Francis, “is everything for us, even in our prayer life.” The Pope quotes St Augustine, in a citation from the Catechism: Jesus “prays for us as our priest, prays in us as our Head, and is prayed to by us as our God. Therefore, let us acknowledge our voice in Him and His in us”. This, the Pope says, “is why the Christian who prays fears nothing.”

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