Pope's new Wednesday lecture series: St. Paul on prayer
May 16, 2012
At his weekly public audience on May 16, Pope Benedict XVI announced that he had completed his series of talks on prayer in the Acts of the Apostles, and would now begin a new series on prayer in the epistles of St. Paul.
The Holy Father reminded the 11,000 people gathered in St. Peter’s Square that these epistles always begin and end with prayers, and the Apostle’s thoughts provide a rich understanding of Christian prayer.
St. Paul takes pains to instruct his readers that real prayer is not “an action of our own,” but an impulse guided by the Holy Spirit. Left to ourselves, we can feel lost “before God’s omnipotence and transcendence.” But the Holy Spirit “helps us in our incapacity,” and when we learn to trust his lead, the Spirit “takes charge of our weakness and transforms us from persons who are bound to material reality into spiritual persons.”
When the Holy Spirit takes control of our prayer, the Pope continued, “our relationship with God becomes so deep that it is no longer affected by deeds or situations.” Our prayer is not merely a matter of asking favors from God, but of seeking union with Christ—even in his suffering.
God does hear our petitions, the Pope assured his audience. “In reality, there is no human cry that God does not hear.” But the prayer of a Christian does not always seek deliverance from suffering, since the believer wishes to share the sufferings of Christ. St. Paul, the Pope said, helps Christians to understand that prayer is a matter of opening ourselves up to the action of the Holy Spirit, and thus “to the horizons of humanity and the creation that 'is groaning in labor pains.”
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