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In prayer you gotta play hard, says pope

© FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP
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Prayer that isn't courageous isn't Christian prayer, Francis proposes at Santa Marta today.

Prayer that is not courageous, even ready to challenge the Lord, is not Christian prayer, Pope Francis reflected today in his homily at Casa Santa Marta.

Calling on the examples given in the Gospel and the testimonies of the saints, the Holy Father said we have to pray with faith and with courage.

The pope noted that the Gospel reading from Mark tells of two healings, that of the leper and the  paralytic. Both pray to receive and both pray with faith.

The leper, underlined the Holy Father, challenged Jesus with courage, saying: “If you want you can purify me!” And the Lord’s answer is immediate: “I want.” Thus everything is, as the Gospel teaches, “possible for those who believe”

Always, when we approach the Lord to ask for something, we must start from faith and do it in faith: “I have faith that you can heal me, I believe you can do this” and have the courage to challenge, like this leper, this paralytic. Pray in faith.

Pope Francis went on to say that, the Gospel leads us to question ourselves on our way of praying. We can’t pray as “parrots,” without “interest” in what we ask.

If anything, suggested the pope, we beg the Lord to “help our little faith” even in the face of difficulties. He noted that many episodes in the Gospel show us someone approaching the Lord from their neediness, and this serves as an example to us.

The paralytic in today’s Gospel of Mark, for example, is lowered from the roof. “One’s will finds a solution,” underlined the pope, and “goes beyond the difficulties”:

Courage to fight to get to the Lord. Courage to have faith, at the beginning: “If you want you can heal me. If you want, I believe.” And courage to get closer to the Lord, when there are difficulties. That courage … Many times, it takes patience and knowing how to wait for the moment, but do not give up, always go forward. But if I go with faith to the Lord and say: “But if you want, you can give me this grace,” and then … as the grace after three days has not arrived … I forget.

If prayer is not courageous it is not Christian

Saint Monica, the mother of Augustine, said Pope Francis, prayed and “cried a lot” for the conversion of her son, and managed obtain it.  The pope pointed to her among the many saints who have had great courage in their faith. Courage “to challenge the Lord,” courage to “get involved,” even if you do not immediately get what you ask, because in “prayer you play hard” and “if prayer is not courageous it is not Christian”:

Christian prayer is born of faith in Jesus and always goes with faith beyond difficulties. A phrase to carry in our hearts today will help us, from our father Abraham, to whom the inheritance was promised, to have a child at the age of 100. The apostle Paul says: “Believe” and with this he was justified. Faith and to “set out” in faith. And do everything to get to that grace that I am asking for. The Lord told us: “Ask and it will be given to you.” We also take this Word and we trust, but always with faith and putting ourselves at stake. This is the courage that Christian prayer has. If prayer is not courageous it is not Christian.

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