Pope Francis warned the faithful of the “risk of not living an authentic experience of faith” when they ask why God seems not to answer their prayers.
“When we pray we can fall into the risk of not being the ones to serve God, but of expecting him to serve us,” said the pontiff as he continued his week catechism on prayer on Wednesday, May 26.
Pope Francis said “prayer is not a magic wand” but “a dialogue with the Lord.”
He said there is “a radical challenge to prayer” that leads people to stop praying because “at times our prayers seem to remain unheard: what we have asked — for us or for others — has not come true.”
The pope noted that there is “a prayer that always demands, that wants to direct the events according to our plan, that does not admit other projects than our desires.”
“And if the reason why we prayed was noble (as can be the intercession for the health of a sick person, or why a war ceases), the non-fulfillment seems scandalous to us,” he added.
Pope Francis cited the prayers for wars to end as an example. He said people have been praying for the end of the conflict in Yemen or Syria for years already but the wars continue.
He asked the faithful to reflect whether their prayers are “convenient to ask” the Lord and examine their “first attitude” when praying.
He cited St. Paul who said “that we do not even know what it is convenient to ask.”
“We ask for our needs, our needs, the things we want, but is this more convenient or not?”
Pope Francis said that everyone “must be humble so that our words are actually prayers and not nonsense that God rejects.”
“We must tell ourselves, before prayer, what is most convenient, may God give me what suits me best,” he said.
He said people might also be praying “for the wrong reasons,” citing as example “to defeat the enemy in a war, without wondering what God thinks of that war.”
“It’s easy to write ‘God is with us’ on a banner; many are anxious to ensure that God is with them, but few are concerned with verifying whether they are indeed with God,” said the pontiff.
Pope Francis urged the faithful to be humble when praying and ask the Lord to “convert my heart to ask for what is convenient, ask for what will be best for my spiritual health.”
He said there are times that prayer seems unheard even if it was said with humility and done to serve others especially the poor or the sick.
The pope said that there are “occasions the solution of the drama is not immediate.”
“We have some memory: how many times have we asked for a grace, a miracle, let’s put it this way, and nothing has happened,” he said.
“Then, with time, things settled down but according to God’s way, the divine way, not according to what we wanted at that moment. God’s time is not our time,” said Pope Francis.
He said that even Jesus’ prayer in Gethsemane seems to remain unheard when He said, “Father, if possible, take away from me what awaits me.”
The pontiff, however, said that the Passion of Christ did not end on Holy Saturday because “God is the Lord of the last day” and “on the third day, that is Sunday, there is the resurrection.”
“We learn this humble patience to wait for the grace of the Lord, to wait for the last day,” he said.
“Many times, the penultimate day is very bad, because human suffering is bad. But the Lord is there and on the last day He solves everything,” said Pope Francis.