It is not enough to ask ourselves how much we pray; we must also ask ourselves how we pray. This was the invitation made by Pope Francis today at the general audience when he reflected on the parable of the Pharisee and the Publican.
The passage, found in Luke 18:9-14, is Jesus’ lesson on “the right attitude with which to pray and to invoke the Father’s mercy,” the Pope explained.
Duration of prayer isn’t the only question, Francis said, but also “how our heart is: it is important to examine [our hearts] to evaluate our thoughts, our feelings, and to extirpate arrogance and hypocrisy.”
The Holy Father said that prayer should be a “putting ourselves before God as we are” and admitted that in order to pray, we have to “rediscover the way to our heart, to recover the value of intimacy and silence, because it is there that God meets us and speaks to us.”
“The Pharisee prays to God, but in truth he looks at himself. He prays to himself! Instead of having the Lord before his eyes, he has a mirror,” the Pope said. “[…] His attitude and his words are far from the way of acting and of speaking of God, who loves all men and does not scorn sinners.”
In contrast, the Publican prayed a very brief prayer, but his “gestures of penance and his few and simple words attest to his awareness of his miserable condition. […] He acts humbly, certain only of being a sinner in need of mercy.”
The Pope warned that “arrogance compromises every good action, empties prayer, distances one from God and from others.”
“If God favors humility,” he said, “it is not to humiliate us: rather humility is the necessary condition to be raised by Him, so as to experience the mercy that comes to fill our emptiness.”
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