God always hears our prayers and will answer them…the only question is one of timing. And persistence is required.
Pope Francis recalled this reality during his January 9, 2019, General Audience in Paul VI Hall. He stressed that prayer was at the core of Christ’s life, the central activity in all the major events of the Gospel. He referenced the Gospel of Luke in particular.
“In fact, it’s especially this Gospel, from the childhood accounts, that describes the figure of Christ in an atmosphere dense with prayer. In it are contained the three hymns that mark the Church’s prayer every day: the Benedictus, the Magnificat, and the Nunc dimittis.
“And in this catechesis on the Our Father we go on, we see Jesus as a man of prayer. Jesus prays.”
In fact, the Pope points out, Jesus prayed at every important moment of his earthly life: before the Transfiguration, before the Passion, during the Passion.
“Even the Messiah’s death is immersed in an atmosphere of prayer, so much so that the hours of the Passion seem marked by a surprising calm: Jesus consoles the women, prays for His crucifiers, promises Paradise to the good thief,” Francis said. “Jesus’ prayer seems to deaden the most violent emotions, the desires of vendetta and revenge, reconciles man with his severest enemy, reconciles man with this enemy, which is death.”
It is in Luke’s Gospel that the disciples ask Jesus to teach them to pray, Francis continued. And from this request is born Christ’s teaching on the words to use in addressing God. He is to be addressed as “Father.”
“In this teaching that Jesus gives to His disciples, it’s interesting to pause on some instructions that crown the prayer’s text,” the Pope said. “Jesus explains some things to give us confidence. They emphasize the attitudes of the praying believer.
“For instance, there is the parable of the importunate friend, who goes to disturb a whole family that is sleeping, because a person arrived suddenly from a trip and there are no loaves to offer him. What does Jesus say to this man who knocks on the door and wakes his friend?: ‘I tell you — explains Jesus — though he will not get up to give them to him because he is a friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him whatever he needs'(Luke 11:9).”
There follows the story of the father and hungry son, in which Jesus suggests that a father would not give a serpent to a son who is hungry and asks for a fish. Thus, the Holy Father explained, that God will not forget his children. But why is it that sometimes prayers seem to go unanswered?
“We’ve all experienced this — how many times have we knocked and found a closed door?” Francis asked. “In those moments, Jesus recommends that we insist and not give up. Prayer always transforms the reality — always. If the things around us don’t change, at least we change, our heart changes. Jesus has promised the gift of the Holy Spirit to every man and every woman who prays.
“We can be certain that God will answer. The only uncertainty is due to the times, but we must not doubt that He will respond. Perhaps we’ll have to insist our whole life, but He will answer.”