Pope: Don’t Pray Like a Parrot
Christians are not better than other people, but they do know that God is their Father and they are called “to reflect a ray of his goodness in this world thirsting for goodness, waiting for good news”, Pope Francis has said.
“God does not want to be appeased with long streams of adulation, as the pagans did to win the benevolence of the deity; it is enough to talk to him like a father who knows what we need before we even tell him,” he said at his first general audience of 2019.
“The Christian is not someone who tries to be better than others, but one who knows he or she is a sinner,” the pope said. A Christian knows how to stand before God with awe, to call upon him as Father, and try to reflect his goodness in the world.
Jesus urges his followers not to be like the hypocrites who pray just to be seen, the pope said. “How often have we seen the scandal of those people who go to church, spend the whole day there or go every day, and then they live hating others or speaking badly of others—this is a scandal. It would be better not to go to church.”
He added: “If you go to church, live like a child [of God] and like a brother or sister” to others, Pope Francis said.
In teaching the Our Father, Jesus was helping his followers learn the essence of prayer and the importance of not thinking that using more words makes for a better prayer, he said.
“The pagans thought that by speaking, speaking, speaking, they were praying,” the pope said. But praying isn’t like being “a parrot” who repeats an endless stream of words, Pope Francis said. “No, praying comes from the heart, from inside.”
“It even could be a silent prayer. Basically, it is enough to put yourself under God’s gaze, recognise his fatherly love—and that’s enough to be heard,” he said.
“How beautiful it is to think that our God does not need sacrifices to win his favour. He needs nothing,” the pope said. “He asks only that we keep open a channel of communication with him to discover continually that we are his beloved children.”— By Cindy Wooden, CNS