December 11, 2018

In a recent General Audience (December 5, 2018), Pope Francis made a special invitation to all the faithful during this Advent:

Jesus prayed like all men and women in the world pray. Yet his way of praying also contained a mystery, something that certainly did not escape the eyes of his disciples, since the Gospels contain that plea that was so simple and immediate: “Lord, teach us to pray” (Lk 11:1). They see Jesus praying and they want to learn how to pray: “Lord, teach us to pray”. And Jesus does not refuse, he is not possessive of his intimacy with the Father, but rather, he came precisely to introduce us to this relationship with the Father. And thus, he becomes the teacher of prayer to his disciples, as he undoubtedly wants to be so for all of us. We too should say: “Lord, teach me to pray. Teach me”.

Even if we may have been praying for many years, we still have to learn! Man’s prayer, this yearning which arises so naturally from his soul, is perhaps one of the deepest mysteries of the universe. And we do not even know whether the prayers that we address to God are effectively those that he wants to have addressed to him. The Bible also gives us testimonies of inappropriate prayers, which in the end are rejected by God: It is sufficient to recall the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector. Only the latter, the publican, goes home from the Temple justified, because the Pharisee was proud and he liked people to see him praying and he feigned prayer: the heart was cold. And Jesus says: this is not justified, “for every one who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted” (Lk 18:14). The first step to prayer 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 one knows what to say. But one always begins with humility, and the Lord listens. The Lord listens to humble prayer.

Therefore, on beginning this series of catechesis on the prayer of Jesus, the most beautiful and just thing that we all must do is to repeat the disciples’ appeal: “Teacher, teach us to pray!”. It would be beautiful during this Season of Advent to repeat: “Lord, teach me to pray”. We can all go somewhat beyond this and pray better; but asking the Lord: “Lord, teach me to pray”. Let us do this during this Season of Advent and he will certainly not allow our invocation to go unheard.
Liturgical Celebrations of the Christmas Season Presided by Pope Francis: