Pope Francis: God Answers All Our Prayers Even If It Takes ‘a Lifetime’

Pope Francis prays during a mass on Christmas eve marking the birth of Jesus Christ on December 24, 2016 at St Peter's basilica in the Vatican. / AFP / ANDREAS SOLARO (Photo credit should read ANDREAS SOLARO/AFP/Getty Images)
ANDREAS SOLARO/AFP/Getty
THOMAS D. WILLIAMS, PH.D.

God hears and answers every one of our prayers, Pope Francis said Wednesday, even though it may take him a very long time.

“Jesus teaches us that God always answers and that no prayer will remain unheard,” the pope told crowds gathered in Saint Peter’s Square for his weekly audience, “because he is a Father, and he does not forget his children who suffer.”

These hopeful statements can be tough to accept, Francis said, “since so many of our prayers seem to obtain no result. How many times have we asked and not received — we have all experienced it — how many times have we knocked and found a closed door?”

“Jesus urges us, in those moments, to persist and not give up,” he said. “Prayer always transforms reality, always. If things do not change around us, at least we change, our heart changes. Jesus promised the gift of the Holy Spirit to every man and every woman who prays.”

The question is not so much whether God will answer our prayers, the pope continued, but rather how and when.

“We can be sure that God will answer,” he said. “The only uncertainty is due to the timing but let us not doubt that He will answer. Maybe we will have to insist for a lifetime, but He will answer.”

Quoting Jesus’ words in the gospel, the pope reminded his hearers that God is a father and no good father gives his child a snake instead of a fish.

“There is nothing more certain: the desire for happiness that we all carry in our hearts will one day be fulfilled,” Francis said.

“Prayer is the victory over loneliness and despair,” he said, because “prayer changes reality.”

“At the end of prayer, at the end of a time of prayer, at the end of life: what is there?” he asked. “There is a Father waiting for everything and waiting for everyone with his arms wide open.”

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