In his Angelus address today, Pope Francis focused on Jesus’ teaching on prayer, from the day’s Gospel.
When the Apostles asked the Lord to teach them to pray, Jesus responded, “When you pray, say ‘Father…’” This word, “Father,” the Pope said, is the “secret” of the prayer of Jesus – “it is the key that He Himself gives us so that we too can enter into that relationship of confidential dialogue with the Father.”
Moving on to the various petitions addressed to God in the Lord’s Prayer, Pope Francis said the first two petitions, “hallowed be Thy Name,” and “Thy kingdom come” are associated with the name “Father.” Jesus’ prayer – and thus Christian prayer – consists first of all in making room for God, allowing Him to act in our lives.
St Luke’s version of the Lord’s Prayer than continues with three more petitions, which express our fundamental needs: for bread, for forgiveness, and for help in temptations. We ask in prayer for bread which is necessary, not superfluous; we ask, in the first place, for forgiveness of our own sins, so that we might be capable of “concrete acts of fraternal reconciliation”; and we ask that we might not be lead into temptation, because we know we are weak, “always exposed to the snares of wickedness and of corruption.”
The two parables following the Lord’s Prayer teach us “to have full confidence in God, who is Father.” God does not need our prayer to discover what we need, or to be convinced to give it to us. Rather, Pope Francis said, we pray so that our faith and patience might be strengthened, so that we might “struggle” together with God for those things that are most important and necessary.
And that which is most important, but which, the Pope said, we almost never ask for, is the Holy Spirit. The gift of the Holy Spirit helps us to live well, to live with wisdom and love, doing the will of God. “What a beautiful prayer it would be,” Pope Francis said, if in the coming week, “each one of us would ask of the Father, “Father, give me the Holy Spirit.”