Prayer must be free, insistent and with arguments.
This was the central theme of Pope Francis’ homily today at Casa Santa Marta. The Holy Father spoke about the relationship between God and Moses, which mirrors the life of prayer that one should have with God.
The first reading from the Book of Exodus recounts God’s wish to destroy the people for creating and worshipping the golden calf. Moses pleads with God to have mercy. The Holy Father said that Moses’ way of praying, fearlessly and freely, teaches us how to pray to God. Prayer, he noted, is “a negotiation with God.”
After Moses prayed to God for mercy for His people, God relented. But, the Holy Father asked, “who changed here? Has the Lord changed? I think not.”
“Moses is the one who has changed, because Moses believed that the Lord would do this. He believed that the Lord would have destroyed the people and he searches, he tries to remember, how good the Lord has been to His people, how he led them from slavery in Egypt and guided them with a promise,” the Pope said.
“With these arguments, he tries to convince God, but in doing so, he rediscovers the memory of his people, and God’s mercy. This Moses, who was afraid, afraid that God would do this thing, in the end comes down from the mountain with something great in his heart: Our God is merciful. He knows how to forgive. He can go back on His decisions. He is a Father.”
The Pope went on to say that Moses rediscovers the mercy of God through prayer, thus changing his heart. This change allows us to understand God and to speak with him not with empty words but with our own personal reality.
Moses knew all of this – Pope Francis observes – “but he vaguely knew it. Instead he rediscovers it in prayer. This is what prayer does to us: it changes our heart”.
“‘Look, Lord, I have this problem, in my family, with my child, with this, with that… What can you do? You cannot leave me like this!’,” the Pope said. “This is prayer! Does this prayer take a long time? Yes, it takes time.”
The Holy Father also said that one’s prayer to God should be like that of Moses, who the Bible says prayed to God as a friend.
Prayer, he said, must be “free, insistent, with arguments, even rebuking the Lord a little: ‘You promised me this but you didn’t do it… ‘, just like talking with a friend. Open your heart to this prayer.”
Concluding his homily, Pope Francis prayed that the Lord would give all the invigorating grace of prayer.
“Let us ask the Holy Spirit to teach us to pray, as Moses prayed, to negotiate with God, with freedom of spirit, with courage. And may the Holy Spirit, who is always present in our prayer, lead us on this path,” he said. (J.A.E.)