Faced with the challenges of the world, why pray?

Feb 28, 2024 | Blog Articles

“As individuals, we also have the temptation of indifference. We are saturated with information and images that depict human suffering and, at the same time, we feel completely incapable of intervening. What can we do to avoid being absorbed by this spiral of horror and helplessness? First, we can pray in communion with the earthly and heavenly Church. Let us not forget the power of the prayer of so many people.” (Pope Francis, Lenten message 2015)

Faced with the many challenges of humanity and the mission of the Church, Pope Francis invites us every month to pray. True prayer opens us to others and to the world, it takes us out of ourselves and changes our heart. The Pope’s prayer intentions are not intended for an intimate prayer without taking into account the reality of our lives, they are intended to guide our day in the service of Christ’s mission. Through his Worldwide Prayer Network every month, Pope Francis invites us to open our hearts and become close to men and women who thirst and hunger for peace, justice and fraternity.

However, do we really believe that our prayer, along with that of others, can have an impact on world events? Or do we reduce prayer to a space of inner peace and an effective antidepressant? At a time when the world needs it most, we are experiencing a crisis in intercessory prayer for others and the world. In a society that seeks efficiency and output, we would like effective prayer, as if it were a magical act. But prayer is not of this order. Praying is above all a relationship of love, a communication with the Lord. Prayer is humble, like love, which never imposes itself. It is free. Prayer is not effective as if it could take, force or become an instrument to put pressure on God, but it can lead us to the source, that is to say to the communion of love of the Father and the Son, in the Spirit.

Jesus tells us: “do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard for their many words.” (Mt 6:7-8). Prayer is not effective or magical, but it is fruitful, like the seed fallen into the ground, which in the darkness, fragile and humble, acts. It is at the moment when we no longer expect it that its fragile shoot emerges from the ground and carries life. Prayer, like love, acts and transforms the world, even if it is not what makes the most noise. Prayer is like rain which nourishes the earth and produces fruit in its season (Is 55:10).

In a world that pushes for fragmentation, opposition and division, more than ever it is urgent to pray. Prayer takes us out of the “globalization of indifference.” Through prayer everyone can make themselves available to the mission of Christ, in the heart of the world. The Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network offers every morning to make ourselves available to the mission of Christ, through a prayer of offering which guides the whole day. What we experience, our activities and relationships, each of our daily gestures, however small, done with love, bring about the Reign of Christ today. In Click To Pray, the Pope’s prayer platform, you can find directions to pray three times a day, linked to the Pope’s monthly prayer intention, which is like a compass for the mission of the Church .

Pope Francis invites us every month to pray for the mission of the Church, for example with The Pope Video, because as he said during a meeting “Prayer is the greatest strength of the Church, which we must never let go, because the Church bears fruit when she does like Our Lady and the Apostles, who ‘with one heart were diligent in prayer’” (Acts 1:14). “Let us not forget the power of the prayers of so many people. ‘The heart of the Church ‘s mission is prayer, we can do many things, but without prayer it doesn’t work.’”

Prayer depends a lot on our image of God and our faith, our relationship with the Lord. It is our personal and deep relationship with Jesus Christ, in a heart to heart with Him, which gives fruitfulness to prayer. This means having familiarity with Him, by listening to His words and contemplating His gestures, to be as close as possible to the Heart of Christ, and to love like Him. It is by being close to his heart that we can experience his joys and his sufferings for the world, the challenges of humanity and the mission of the Church. Our prayer finds its fruitfulness in the Heart of Jesus, who awakens our heart to a mission of compassion for the world. But let us be attentive, like the sentinel who waits for the dawn, because as Jesus says, “when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8)

Fr. Frédéric Fornos, SJ

International Director
Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network

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