Pope Benedict: Prayer Will 'Open the Door to God' and His Will
'We should entrust ourselves to the will of the Father, reading events in the perspective of his glory, of his plan of love, which is often a mystery to our eyes. ... In our prayer, request, praise and thanksgiving should fuse together, even when it seems to us that God does not respond to our expectations.'
VATICAN CITY (EWTN News/CNA)—Pope Benedict XVI says that people should trust in God’s loving plan for their lives even when events do not meet their expectations.
“When we ask the Lord for something in prayer, we must not expect an immediate fulfillment of our requests, of our will,” he said at his Dec. 14 general audience.
“Rather, we should entrust ourselves to the will of the Father, reading events in the perspective of his glory, of his plan of love, which is often a mystery to our eyes.”
The Pope continued his focus on the theme of prayer in his comments to the 7,000 pilgrims gathered in the Vatican’s Paul VI audience hall.
“In our prayer,” he said, “request, praise and thanksgiving should fuse together, even when it seems to us that God does not respond to our expectations.”
He added that “abandoning ourselves to the love of God” is a “fundamental principle in our dialogue with him” and leads to the “the greatest gift he can give us,” which is “his friendship, his presence, his love.”
To illustrate his point, the Pope reflected on two scenes from the Scriptures: Jesus healing a deaf man in the Gospel of St. Mark and the raising of Lazarus, as recounted in the Gospel of St. John.
Pope Benedict highlighted the individual care and love Christ gave the deaf man, noting that Jesus took the man away from the crowd and created “a unique relationship” with him.
He then cured the man with a particular “intensity of attention,” using his own fingers and saliva on the specific location of the disability. Then, Jesus looked up to heaven, sighed and said, “Ephphatha,” meaning “Be opened” in Aramaic.
The “central point” of the episode is “the fact that Jesus, at the very moment he works the cure, directly seeks his relationship with the Father” by looking up to heaven.
“The narrative shows, then, that human involvement with the sick man led Jesus into prayer,” said the Pope. In that moment of prayer, Jesus’ “unique relationship with the Father emerges once again, his identity as only begotten Son.”
Pope Benedict also saw the two-way relationship between Christ’s union with his Father and his individual love for each person at work in the raising of Lazarus from the dead. In fact, Jesus was so “deeply moved at the sight of the suffering of Martha and Mary and of all Lazarus’ friends” that he himself wept.
As with the deaf man, Christ again “prays directly to the Father,” this time in front of the tomb. The Gospel of St. John recounts how “Jesus looked upward and said, ‘Father, I thank you for having heard me.’”
This episode “shows us that Jesus had not for a moment ceased his prayer for Lazarus’ life,” said Pope Benedict. “That prayer was continuous; indeed, it strengthened Jesus’ bond with his friend and, at the same time, confirmed his decision to remain in communion with the will of the Father.”
Despite the apparent disaster of his friend’s death, it is in Christ’s “plan of love” that the glory of God was displayed, the Pope observed.
He concluded his discourse by teaching that while Christ’s concern for humanity “causes him to turn to the Father,” conversely, it is also this “communion with the Father” that leads him to be “attentive to the real-life situations of man.”
When Christians pray, the Pope said, they must share in this “profound bond between love for God and love for others.” This will allow them to “open the door to God” and learn “how to abandon our own selves in order to come close to others, especially in moments of trial, bringing them consolation, hope and light,” he said.
Before leading pilgrims in praying the Our Father and imparting his apostolic blessing, Pope Benedict also bestowed a particular Advent blessing.
“As we prepare to celebrate the Savior’s birth at Christmas, I cordially invoke upon you and your families his abundant blessings of joy and peace!”