This was one of the questions a journalist asked Pope Francis on the plane ride back to Rome from Korea:
Given what has happened in Gaza, was the Prayer for Peace held in the Vatican on June 8 a failure?
Pope Francis answered, in part (according to the English transcript reporter Gerald O’Connell wrote up, first published in America:
You ask me, was it a failure? No, the door remains open …. the door of prayer was opened. And it was said we must pray, peace is a gift of God. It is a gift but we merit it with our work. And to say to humanity that the path of dialogue is important, negotiation is important, but there is also that of prayer. Then after that, we saw what happened. But it was just a matter of coincidence. That encounter for prayer was not conjuncture. It is a fundamental step of the human attitude, now the smoke of the bombs and the war do not let one see the door, but the door was left open from that moment. And as I believe in God, I look at that door and the many who pray and who ask that He helps us. I liked that question. Thank you!
We ought to be asking ourselves: Where are our prayers? The door is open, are we walking through?
I wrote a little about this for the Knights of Columbus Catholic Pulse website Friday. When we look at the world — whether it is Iraq, Robin Williams, our borders, the Mideast, Missouri, our hearts, our homes … do we despair, or fall into indifference or cynicism or skepticism? Or do we pray? Pray! This is what this shepherd is showing us. What did Pope Francis do before leaving Rome for Korea, and then yet again upon return, as he always does before and after his international apostolic journeys? He went to Our Lady in petition and thanksgiving for her intercession, making a point of going to St. Mary Major Basilica each time.
About our prayers, Pope Benedict XVI said during a general audience in September 2012 during his catechesis on prayer:
all our prayers — with every possible limitation, effort, poverty, dryness and imperfection they may have — are … purified and reach God’s heart… [W]e can be sure that there is no such thing as superfluous or useless prayers; no prayer is wasted. And prayers are answered, even if the answer is sometimes mysterious, for God is Love and infinite Mercy…. God is not indifferent to our entreaties, he intervenes and makes his power felt and his voice heard on the earth, he causes the system of the Evil One to tremble and collapse. Often when confronting evil we have the feeling that we are powerless, but our prayers themselves are the first and most effective response we can give and they strengthen our daily commitment to spread goodness. God’s might makes our weakness fruitful (cf. Rom 8:26-27).
So why aren’t we praying more? Why aren’t we packing adoration chapels and churches? Why aren’t we organizing holy hours and dedicated time for prayer as families, friends, parishes, schools, groups?
I remember being at a conference on the Church in the Americas at the Vatican two years ago. People talked about their “New Evangelization” projects. And then person after person said simply: Get in front of the Blessed Sacrament. The Holy Spirit does there things we can’t do or plan.
Oremus, as we say. Let us pray!
We have the power of God to call upon for peace in hearts and minds and lives. And we know no prayer is wasted. How can we not pray?