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Pope Francis: prayer requires courage, tenacity
(Vatican Radio) We must pray with courage to the Lord, and with tenacity just as Abraham did. That’s what Pope Francis said to the faithful gathered for early morning Mass in the chapel of the Vatican guest house Santa Marta Monday. The Pope reiterated that praying is also “negotiating with the Lord,” even coming “out of left field” as Jesus teaches us.
Listen to Tracey McClure's report:
Cardinal Kurt Koch, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and Secretary Bishop Brian Farrell concelebrated today’s mass which was attended by members and staff of the same council.
In his homily, Pope Francis referred to Abraham’s courage and tenacity in appealing to the Lord to spare the city of Sodom from destruction. Pope Francis drew from the First Reading, observing that “Abraham is a courageous man and prays with courage.” Abraham, he said, “finds the strength to speak face to face with the Lord and attempts to defend that city.” And he does it with tenacity. In the Bible therefore, the Pope said, we can see that “prayer must be courageous.”
“When we speak of courage we always think of apostolic courage – going out to preach the Gospel, these sort of things…But there’s also (the kind of) courage (demonstrated) before the Lord. That sense of paralysis before the Lord: going courageous before the Lord to request things. It makes you laugh a bit; this is funny because Abraham speaks with the Lord in a special way, with this courage, and one doesn’t know: is this a man who prays or is this a‘phoenician deal’ because he’s bartering the price, down, down…And he’s tenacious: from fifty he’s succeeded in lowering the price down to ten. He knew that it wasn’t possible. Only that it was right…. But with that courage, with that tenacity, he went ahead.”
Sometimes, the Pope said, one goes to the Lord “to ask something for someone;” one asks for a favor and then goes away. “But that,” he warned, “is not prayer,” because if “you want the Lord to bestow a grace, you have to go with courage and do what Abraham did, with that sort of tenacity.” The Pope recalled that Jesus himself tells us that we must pray as the widow with the judge, like the man who goes in the middle of the night to knock on his friend’s door. With tenacity.
In fact, he observed, Jesus himself praised the woman who tenaciously begged for the healing of her daughter. Tenacity, said the Pope, even though it’s tiring, is really “tiresome.” But this, he added, “is the attitude of prayer.” Saint Teresa, he recalled, “speaks of prayer as negotiating with the Lord” and this “is possible only when there’s familiarity with the Lord.” It is tiring, it’s true, he repeated, but “this is prayer, this is receiving a grace from God.” The Pope stressed here the same sort of reasoning that Abraham uses in his prayer: “take up the arguments, the motivations of Jesus’ own heart.”
“To convince the Lord with the Lord’s own virtues! That is beautiful! Abraham’s appeal goes to the heart of the Lord and Jesus teaches us the same: ‘the Father knows things. The Father – don’t worry – sends rain down on the just and the sinners, the sun for the just and for the sinners.’ With that argumentation, Abraham forges ahead. I will stop here: praying is negotiating with the Lord, even becoming inappropriate with the Lord. Praying is praising the Lord in the beautiful things he shares and telling him that he bestow these beautiful things on us. And (appealing to him) who is so merciful, so good, to help us!”
Pope Francis then urged everyone to spend no more than five minutes each day to read Psalm 102:
‘Bless the LORD, O my soul;
and all my being, bless his holy name.
Bless the LORD, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits.
He pardons all your iniquities,
he heals all your ills.
He redeems your life from destruction,
he crowns you with kindness and compassion.’
“Pray all of this psalm and with this we learn the things we must say to the Lord when we request a grace. ‘You who are Merciful and forgiving, grant me this grace:’ just as Abraham did and as Moses did. We forge ahead in prayer, courageous, and with these motivations which come right from the heart of God himself.”