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“The best thing for us is the union of our will with the will of our heavenly Father, because only in this way can we receive all his love, which brings salvation and the fullness of life,” Pope John Paul II told 7,000 pilgrims who gathered for his general audience July 9. The Holy Father was offering his reflections on Psalm 143 as he continued his series of teachings on the psalms and canticles of the Liturgy of the Hours.

Although Psalm 143, one of the seven penitential psalms found in the Book of Psalms, is characterized by a note of gloom as the psalmist cries out in distress, the psalm invokes God's promise of salvation and recalls God's marvelous deeds in the past, the Holy Father said. When God's people are faced with adversity and trials, they do not lose hope. On the contrary, they cry out to him, confident that he will help.

“The psalmist is aware of this and therefore expresses this desire,” John Paul noted. “He professes a faith that is genuine and fitting to God his savior, who rescues him from distress and gives him a zest for life.”

This is the true power of prayer, the Holy Father said. “When it arises from a situation that is particularly distressing, prayer leads to hope, joy and light, thanks to sincerely following God and his will, which is a will of love. This is the power of prayer, which generates life and salvation.”