Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

There is a radical objection to prayer, which derives from an observation that we all make: we pray, we ask, and yet sometimes our prayers seem to go unheard: what we have asked for — for ourselves or for others — is not fulfilled. We have this experience, very often… If the reason for which we prayed was noble (such as intercession for the health of a sick person, or for the end of a war, for instance), the non-fulfilment seems scandalous. For example,, for wars: we are praying for wars to end, these wars in so many parts of the world. Think of Yemen, think of Syria, countries that have been at war for years, for years, ravaged by wars, and we pray, but they do not come to an end. But how can this be? “Some even stop praying because they think their petition is not heard” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2734). But if God is Father, why does He not listen to us? He who has assured us that He gives good things to the children who ask Him for them (cf. Mt 7: 10), why does He not respond to our requests? We all have experience of this: we have prayed, prayed, for the illness of a friend, of a father, of a mother, and so it went. But God did not grant our request! It is an experience we have all had.

The Catechism offers us a good summary of the matter. It puts us on guard against the risk of not living an authentic experience of faith, but of transforming the relationship with God into something magical. Prayer is not a magic wand: it is a dialogue with the Lord. Indeed, when we pray we can give in to the risk of not being the ones to serve God, but of expecting Him to serve us (cf. 2735). This is, then, a prayer that is always demanding, that wants to direct events according to our own design, that admits no plans other than our own desires. Jesus, on the other hand, had great wisdom in teaching us the Lord’s Prayer. It is a prayer of questions only, as we know, but the first ones we utter are all on God’s side. They ask for the fulfilment not of our plan, but of His will for the world. Better to leave it to Him: “Hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done” (Mt 6:9-10).

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