Pope Benedict XVI used his weekly general audience to explain that there is no such thing as wasted prayer.
“We can be sure that there is no such thing as a superfluous or useless prayer. No prayer is lost,” said the Pope to more than 8,000 pilgrims in the Vatican’s Paul VI hall Sept. 12.
“When faced with evil, we often have the sensation that we can do nothing, but our prayers are, in fact, the first and most effective response we can give; they strengthen our daily commitment to goodness. The power of God makes our weakness strong.”
Pope Benedict was continuing his weekly exploration of prayer in the story of salvation, with a particular focus on the second part of the Book of the Apocalypse, the concluding book of the Bible.
Within its passages, he explained, the Christian assembly is called “to undertake a profound interpretation of the history in which it lives,” so that it may learn “to discern events with faith” and thus “collaborate in the advancement of the Kingdom of God.”
Thus the assembly is invited to ascend into heaven “in order to see reality with the eyes of God.” God’s plan for history and mankind, however, is contained in a scroll which is “hermetically sealed with seven seals, and no one can read it.”
It ultimately requires “Christ, the Lamb, who immolated in the sacrifice of the cross, but stands in sign of his resurrection” to “progressively open the seals, so as to reveal the plan of God, the profound meaning of history.”
This episode, said the Pope, should remind us all “of the path we must follow to interpret the events of history and of our own lives.” Both as individuals and as a community, we should realize that in “raising our gaze to God’s heaven in an unbroken relationship with Christ” in prayer we can learn “to see things in a new way and to grasp their most authentic significance.”
While this “realistic examination of the present time in which they are living” can lead to the discovery of great evil and injustice in the world, the Church “is invited never to lose hope,” said Pope Benedict, as “the power of God has entered man's history, a power capable not only of counterbalancing evil, but also of overcoming it.”
“God became so close as to descend into the darkness of death and illuminate it with the splendor of divine life. He took the evil of the world upon himself to purify it with the fire of his love.”
This is why, as Christians, “we can never be pessimists,” concluded Pope Benedict, as prayer “educates us to see the signs of God, his presence and his action”; or, rather, “it educates us to become lights of goodness, spreading hope and indicating that the victory is God’s.”
The Pope then addressed the enthusiastic gathering in several different languages before leading pilgrims in the singing of the Our Father in Latin and imparting his apostolic blessing.