Pope Francis on May 22, 2019, concluded his series of catecheses on the “Our Father” by reminding the faithful gather for his General Audience in St. Peter’s Square that when praying to the Father it isn’t so much following a formula but an expression of intimacy.
“We can say that Christian prayer is born of the audacity to call God with the name of ‘Father.’ It’s not so much a formula as it is a filial intimacy, in which we are introduced by grace: Jesus is the Revealer of the Father and He grants us familiarity with Him,” the Holy Father explained. He cited the Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2766: “He doesn’t leave us a formula to repeat mechanically. As with any vocal prayer, it’s through the Word of God that the Holy Spirit teaches God’s children to pray to their Father.”
The Pope went on to note that in the Gospels Jesus uses several expressions when praying to the Father. Sometimes it is “Father” but also “Abba” in times of darkness such as the night in Gethsemane. And on the cross, Jesus called out to “My God, My God.”
“Jesus stresses to His disciples that they must cultivate a spirit of prayer. Prayer must be insistent, and it must include above all remembrance of brothers, especially when we experience difficult relations with them,” Francis said. “Considering the New Testament as a whole, seen clearly is that the first protagonist of every Christian prayer is the Holy Spirit, who breathes in the heart of the disciple. The Spirit makes us able to pray as children of God, which we really are by Baptism. The Spirit makes us pray in the ‘furrow”’that Jesus has dug for us. This is the mystery of Christian prayer: by grace, we are attracted in that dialogue of love of the Most Holy Trinity.”
The Pope concluded by reminding those listening in the square and around the world by radio and television that they can use the many prayers of the Bible from the Psalms and the Gospel. He especially cited Jesus’ prayer from Luke 10:21: “I thank Thee, Father, Lord of Heaven and earth, that Thou hast hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to babes.”