An image that leaps off the pages of the Gospels is Jesus as a man of prayer. And he is a man of prayer who is not jealous about His intimacy with the Father, but came precisely to introduce us as well to this relationship with the Father.
No matter how long we’ve been praying, we can always learn to pray better, and Our Lord is the one to teach us.
With these reflections, Pope Francis opened a new Wednesday catechesis series, focusing on prayer and the Our Father.
Jesus prayed. Despite the urgency of His mission and the persistence of the people who claim His attention, Jesus feels the need to seclude Himself in solitude and to pray.
The pope explained how for Christ, everything happens in prayer. His intimacy with the Father governs everything.
Both public and private prayer
Francis noted how Jesus prayed with the liturgy of the Jewish people, but also in seclusion “apart from the whirlwind of the world,” where he was able to “descend into the secret of His soul.”
“Jesus’ last words, before expiring on the cross, are words of Psalms, that is, of prayer, of the prayer of the Jews: He prayed with the prayers that His mother had taught Him,” the pope said.
Jesus prayed like others pray, the Holy Father continued, and yet, “in His way of praying, a mystery was also enclosed, something that certainly did not escape the eyes of His disciples, … we find that plea, so simple and immediate: ‘Lord, teach us to pray.'”
They saw Jesus pray and they wanted to learn to pray: “Lord, teach us to pray.” And Jesus did not refuse; He is not jealous about His intimacy with the Father, but came precisely to introduce us to this relationship with the Father. And in this way He becomes a teacher of prayer for His disciples, as certainly He wants to be for all of us. We too should say, “Lord, teach me to pray. Teach me.”
The Bishop of Rome affirmed that we can — and must — always continue to learn to pray!
“Even if perhaps we have prayed for many years, we must always learn!,” he said.
And it is possible to say prayers that fail to please God, because they come from a cold or haughty heart, as in the case of the Pharisee and the publican, Francis noted.
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“The first step for praying is to be humble, to go to the Father and to say, ‘Look at me, I am a sinner, I am weak, I am bad,’ each person knows what to say. But one begins always with humility, and the Lord listens. Humble prayer is listened to by the Lord,” Francis assured.
Therefore, beginning this cycle of catechesis on Jesus’ prayer, the most beautiful and just thing we must all do is to repeat the disciples’ invocation: “Lord, teach us to pray.” We can all go a little further, and pray better; but ask the Lord, “Lord, teach me to pray.” Let us do this, in this time of Advent, and He surely will not let our invocation fall to nothing.
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