General Audience Full Text: ‘A Prayer That Asks With Trust’

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    This morning’s General Audience was held at 9:20 in Paul VI Hall, where the Holy Father Francis met with groups of pilgrims and faithful from Italy and from all over the world.

    Continuing with the new series of catecheses on the “Our Father,” in his address in Italian the Pope focused his meditation on the theme: “A prayer that asks with trust” (Biblical passage: from the Gospel according to Luke 11:9-13).

    After summarizing his catechesis in several languages, the Holy Father expressed special greetings to groups of faithful present.

    The General Audience ended with the singing of the Pater Noster and the Apostolic Blessing.

    * * *

    The Holy Father’s Catechesis

    Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!

    We continue the course of catechesis on the “Our Father,” which we began last week. Jesus puts on the lips of His disciples a brief, daring prayer made up of seven questions — a number that isn’t accidental in the Bible <but that> indicates fullness. I say daring because, if Christ hadn’t suggested it, probably none of us — none of the most famous theologians — would dare to pray to God in this way. Jesus, in fact, invites His disciples to approach God and to make some requests with confidence: first of all regarding Him and then regarding us. There are no Preambles in the “Our Father.” Jesus doesn’t teach formulas to “ingratiate” the Lord, rather, He invites to pray to Him making the barriers fall of uneasiness and fear. He doesn’t say to address God calling him the “Almighty,” “Most High,” “You who are so far from us; I am a miserable one.” No, He doesn’t say this, but simply “Father,” with all simplicity, as children who turn to their father. And this word “Father” expresses filial confidence and trust.

    The “Our Father” prayer sinks its roots in man’s concrete reality. For instance, it makes us ask for bread, our daily bread, a simple but essential request, which says that faith isn’t something “decorative,” detached from life, which happens when all other needs have been satisfied. Rather, prayer begins with life itself. Prayer — Jesus teaches us — doesn’t begin in human existence after the stomach is full, rather, it nests wherever there is a man, any man who is hungry, who weeps, who struggles, who suffers and wonders “why.” In a certain sense, our first prayer was the cry that accompanied our first breath. Announced, in that newborn’s cry, was the destiny of our whole life: our constant hunger, our constant thirst <and> our constant quest for happiness.

    Jesus doesn’t want to extinguish what is human in prayer; He doesn’t want to anesthetize it. He doesn’t want us to dampen our questions and requests, learning to endure all. Instead, He wants every suffering, every anxiety to leap towards Heaven and become a dialogue.

    [​IMG]A person once said that to have faith is the habit to cry.

    We should all be like Bartimaeus of the Gospel (Cf. Mark 10:46-52) — we recall that passage of the Gospel, Bartimaeus, son of Timaeus –, that blind man that begged at the doors of Jericho. Around him were so many good people that ordered him to be quiet. “But shut up! The Lord is passing. Shut up. Don’t disturb. The Master has so much to do; don’t disturb Him. You are annoying with your cries. Don’t disturb.” However, he didn’t listen to that advice: with holy insistence, he hoped that his miserable condition would finally enable him to meet Jesus. And he cried louder! And the polite people <said>: “But no, He is the Teacher, we beg you! You make yourself look bad!” And he cried out because he wanted to see, he wanted to be healed.

    “Jesus, have mercy on me!” (v. 47) Jesus gives him back his sight, and says to him: “your faith has made you well” (v. 52), almost as if explaining that the decisive thing for his healing was that prayer, that invocation cried out with faith, stronger than the “good sense” of so many people who wanted him to be quiet. Not only does prayer precede salvation but it already contains it in some way, because it frees one from the despair of one who doesn’t believe in a way out of so many unbearable situations.

    Then, believers certainly also feel the need to praise God. The Gospels report to us the joyful exclamation that bursts from Jesus’ heart, full of grateful amazement to the Father (Cf. Matthew 11:25-27). The first Christians even felt the need to add a doxology to the text of the “Our Father”: ”For yours is the power and the glory forever” (Didache, 8, 2).

    However, none of us is asked to embrace the theory that someone in the past advanced, that, namely, the prayer of request is a weak form of faith, whereas the most genuine prayer is pure praise, that which seeks God without the weight of a request. No, this isn’t true. The prayer of request is genuine, is spontaneous, it’s an act of faith in God who is the Father, who is good, who is Almighty. It’s an act of faith within me, who am little, a sinner, needy. And, therefore, a prayer to ask for something is very noble. God is the Father who has immense compassion for us and wants His children to speak to Him without fear, directly, calling Him “Father,” or, in difficulties, saying: “But Lord, what have you done to me?” Therefore, we can tell Him everything, also the things in our life that are distorted and incomprehensible. And He promised us that He would be with us always, until the last day we spend on this earth. Let us pray the Our Father, beginning simply thus: “Father” or “Daddy.” And He understands us and loves us so much.

    © Libreria Editrice Vatican

    [Original text: Italian] [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]


    In Italian

    A warm welcome goes to the Italian-speaking faithful.

    I’m happy to receive the pilgrims of the Diocese of Sabina-Poggio Mirteto and the parish groups, in particular, those of Apice and of Perito.

    I greet the “Chaminade” group of Campobasso, accompanied by the Archbishop, Monsignor Giancarlo Maria Bregantini; the Military Men of the “Sirio” 2nd Army Aviation Regiment of Lamezia Terme; the Personnel of the Police Headquarters of Isernia; the St. Peter’s Cricket Club; the School Institutes, in particular that of Altamura, and of the Sick with the Multiple Chemical Sensibility syndrome.

    A particular thought goes to young people, the elderly, the sick and newlyweds.

    Today, in the liturgical celebration of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Guadalupe, we ask Her to accompany us to Christmas and to revive in us the desire to receive joyfully the light of her Son Jesus, to make it shine ever more in the night of the world.

    © Libreria Editrice Vatican

    [Original text: Italian] [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]
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