For nearly two millennia Christian prayer was within the daily rhythms of individual and social life, had its deadlines, its rituals, its prescriptions, but also its hypocrisy. For example, we can think to the medieval rite of Carroccio. In that period, the Italian municipalities, before joining a battle, deployed a wagon on which the Eucharist was celebrated, and immediately afterwards war began killing each other. This example reminds us that symbols and rites are not enough to identify prayer.
Jesus’ words say what prayer is. Jesus gives us the model of prayer, a simple thing, that in its simplicity casts light on our often complicated way of praying. Praying means recognizing our needs and our fragility to be creatures. In fact, strong and superb men do not pray but rather they are praying. Prayer then expresses humility before God and in front of other men. “When you pray, say, Father” is the simple imperative of Jesus. All the prayers of Jesus begin with this word Father. With God we have not to use the words of His divinity (eg the omnipotent). The word divine and human is Father, because Jesus has come to restore the relationship between the Father and us children in the Son. Jesus then gave us a single guarantee as a fruit of prayer; The Father will give the Holy Spirit. What does the Spirit need? The Spirit is the love of the Father and of the Son for each of us. God responds to our prayers by not leaving us the laws to obey and by giving his Spirit, guiding us infallibly in our daily lives. In this regard, the liturgy today offers two significant verses:
“I must go down and see whether or not their actions fully correspond to the cry against them that comes to me. I mean to find out “(Gen 18,21). We have to learn looking at our personal history, and we have to see the world with the eyes of the Spirit and not with those of the law. We find every day that confidence and serenity that the Lord promised us giving His Spirit.
In Christ, God also gave life to us, “obliterating the bond against us, with its legal claims, which was opposed to us, he also removed it from our midst, nailing it to the cross (Col 2:14). We ask the Lord in prayer to help us to remove the prescriptions that humiliate man and are a barrier to mercy. Be humble people who are preventing mercy, appealing to pseudo-doctrine or to a pseudo-tradition that instead represents men’s precepts as Jesus told. These people are not able to pray and do not know how to love.