By Devin Watkins
Pope Francis invited the faithful at Mass on Thursday to pray face-to-face to the Lord, bringing all our lives to Him with courage.
Prayer, he said, is one of three ways – along with fasting and acts of charity – with which we prepare ourselves for Lent.
Pray with boldness
“Much courage is needed to pray. And we are often lukewarm… True prayer is this: with the Lord. And when I need to intercede, I need to do so with courage. In common parlance, people use an expression that I really like when they have a goal: ‘I put it all on the line’… But perhaps the doubt may arise: ‘I do it, but how do I know the Lord listens to me?’ We have a certainty: Jesus. He is the great intercessor.”
Pope Francis said prayer requires parrhesia – boldness or freedom of speech – to address the Lord with courage.
The Pope gave the examples of several Biblical figures who excelled at intercessory prayer: Moses, Abraham, Hannah, and the Canaanite woman.
He said they laid it all on the line to obtain their desires. “At times, when we see how these people struggle with the Lord to obtain something, we think it’s as if they were arm-wrestling with God, but they arrive at what they are requesting.”
They pray so forcefully, said the Pope, because they have faith that the Lord can fulfill their desires.
Jesus intercedes for us
Pope Francis reminded the faithful that Jesus has ascended to Heaven and intercedes for us before the Father, just as he had promised Peter before the Passion.
“Jesus prays for us, in this moment. And when I pray – whether I am convinced or pray like a mercantilist or stutter or struggle with the Lord – it is He who takes my prayer and presents it to the Lord. Jesus has no need of speaking before the Father: He shows Him His wounds. The Father sees His wounds and extends His grace. When we pray, let us recall that we do so with Jesus. Jesus is our courage. Jesus is our security, who in this moment intercedes for us.”