Pope Francis spoke on prayer during his weekly General Audience at the Vatican on May 13.
The pontiff characterized prayer as “universal, intimate, and entirely trusting in God.”
He said prayer is common to all people, no matter what their religion, and “probably even to those who profess no religion.”
Pope Francis has earlier endorsed the call for a day of prayer, fasting, and acts of charity for the end of the coronavirus pandemic on May 14.
The pontiff said “believers of all religions will unite spiritually … in a day of prayer and fasting and works of charity to implore God to help humanity overcome the coronavirus pandemic.”
In his catechesis, Pope Francis said prayer involves the most intimate mystery of our being.
Christian writers have always said prayer is “born within the secrecy of our beings, in that interior place called the ‘heart.'”
Our emotions, intelligence, and body all participate in prayer, though prayer cannot be identified with any one aspect of our being. “Every part of the human person prays,” he said.
The pope said prayer is a yearning that takes us beyond ourselves as we seek some “other.” It is an “I” in search of a “You.”
He said a Christian’s prayer begins with the revelation that the “You” we seek is not shrouded in mystery.
“The prayer of the Christian enters into relation with the God whose face is most tender, who does not want to instill any fear in men and women,” said the pontiff in his catechesis.
It is the first characteristic of Christian prayer, he said.
He said Christianity has banished from the connection with God any type of “feudal” relationship.
“In the patrimony of our faith, expressions such as ‘subjection,’ ‘slavery,’ or ‘vassalage’ are not present; but words such as ‘covenant,’ ‘friendship,’ ‘communion’ and ‘proximity’ are,” he said.
“God is the friend, the ally, the bridegroom. One can establish a relationship built on confidence with Him in prayer,” he added.
The pope said people can ask God for anything.
“It does not matter if we feel lacking in our relationship with God: That we are not great friends, that we are not grateful children, that we are not faithful spouses,” he said.
“He continues loving us,” said Pope Francis.
He ended his reflection by urging the faithful to try to pray “thus, entering into the mystery of the Covenant.”
“Let us place ourselves in prayer between the merciful arms of God to feel embraced by that mystery of happiness,” he said.