Pope explains origin of intercessory prayer
May 18, 2011
At his regular weekly public audience on May 18, Pope Benedict XVI spoke on prayers of intercession, using the biblical patriarch Abraham as a his model.
In the first two talks in his series on prayer, Pope Benedict had spoken of the universal human impulse to pray. Now he turned to the more specific forms of prayer that arise in response to God’s revelation.
When Abraham pleaded with God to spare the Sodom and Gomorrah, the Holy Father observed, he did not merely appeal for justice:
Abraham's thought, that seems almost paradoxical, can be summarized thus: of course the innocent cannot be treated like the guilty, that would be unjust; instead the guilty need to be treated as the innocent, applying a 'higher' justice, offering them the possibility of salvation because, if the evildoers accept God's forgiveness and confess their blame, letting themselves be saved, they will not continue doing evil but will also become just, no longer needing to be punished.
With this intercessory prayer, Abraham shows his understanding that “forgiveness breaks the spiral of sin,” the Pope said. The loving God shows his mercy, going far beyond the demands of justice, which will ultimately be made manifest in the Sacrifice of Christ.
Pope Benedict concluded his audience by expressing the hope “that in our daily prayer we might know how to desire the salvation of humanity and to ask for it with perseverance and with confidence in the Lord who is great in love.”
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