By Devin Watkins
Pope Francis took up the age-old question about why, at times, it seems that God does not answer our prayers.
Speaking at the Wednesday General Audience, the Holy Father said Jesus reminds us in the Our Father of the need to persevere in prayer.
Jesus’ constant prayer
The Pope said Jesus’ entire life was “steeped in prayer”. “Every step of Jesus’ life was pushed by the breath of the Spirit, who guides him in each of his actions.”
Pope Francis said this is most visible in the events of his Passion. Jesus intercedes for Peter who will soon deny him. He prays for those who crucified him. His last words are a confession of trust in the will of the Father.
“Jesus’ prayer seems to cushion the most violent of emotions – the desire for revenge and retaliation – and to reconcile us with our most bitter enemy: death.”
God knows our needs
When the disciples ask Jesus to teach them to pray, the Pope said he offers them the Our Father prayer.
Pope Francis said Jesus adds two parables after the prayer that remind us to be constant in prayer and to trust unwaveringly that God will answer our prayers.
One is the friend who importunes his neighbor for some bread to offer a guest. Next, Jesus offers the example of a father who has a hungry child: “What father among you would hand his son a snake when he asks for a fish?”
“Jesus lets us know that God always responds, that no prayer goes unheard, and that God is a Father and never forgets His children who suffer.”
Pope Francis said this truth seems as if it is not borne out in our daily lives. “How many times have we asked and not received, knocked and found a closed door?” he mused.
In those moments of seeming defeat, the Pope said Jesus invites us “to insist and not to give up.”
“Prayer always transforms reality: if things around us do not change, at least our hearts are changed. Jesus promised the gift of the Holy Spirit to every man and woman who prays.”
In God’s time
Finally, Pope Francis said we can be absolutely positive that “God will respond.”
The only uncertainty, he noted, regards God’s timing.
“Nothing is more certain: the desire for happiness we all carry in our heart will be fulfilled.”