PART IV: CHRISTIAN PRAYER
Section One: Prayer in the Christian Life
Chapter 1: The Revelation of Prayer
Article 1, In the Old Testament (cont’d)
God’s promise and the prayer of Faith
§ 2570 When God calls him, Abraham goes forth “as the Lord had told him” (Genesis 12:4); Abraham’s heart is entirely submissive to the Word and so he obeys. Such attentiveness of the heart, whose decisions are made according to God’s will, is essential to prayer, while the words used count only in relation to it. Abraham’s prayer is expressed first by deeds: a man of silence, he constructs an altar to the Lord at each stage of his journey. Only later does Abraham’s first prayer in words appear: a veiled complaint reminding God of His promises which seem unfulfilled (cf. Gen 15:2 ff). Thus, one aspect of the drama of prayer appears from the beginning: the test of faith in the fidelity of God.
§ 2571 Because Abraham believed in God and walked in His Presence and in covenant with Him (cf. Gen 15:6; 17:1 ff), the patriarch is ready to welcome a mysterious Guest into his tent. Abraham’s remarkable hospitality at Mamre foreshadows the Annunciation of the True Son of the promise (cf. Gen 18:1-15; Luke 1:26-38). After that, once God had confided His plan, Abraham’s heart is attuned to his Lord’s compassion for men and he dares to intercede for them with bold confidence (cf. Gen 18:16-33).
§ 2572 As a final stage in the purification of his faith, Abraham, “who had received the promises” (Hebrews 11:17), is asked to sacrifice the son God had given him. Abraham’s faith does not weaken (“God himself will provide the lamb for a burnt offering”), for he “considered that God was able to raise men even from the dead” (Gen 22:8; Heb 11:19). And so the father of believers is conformed to the likeness of the Father who will “not spare His own Son, but will deliver Him up for us all” (Romans 8:32a). Prayer restores man to God’s likeness and enables him to share in the power of God’s Love that saves the multitude (cf. Rom 8:16-21).
§ 2573 God renews His promise to Jacob, the ancestor of the twelve tribes of Israel (cf. Gen 28:10-22). Before confronting his elder brother Esau, Jacob wrestles all night with a mysterious figure who refuses to reveal his name, but who blesses him before leaving him at dawn. From this account, the spiritual tradition of the Church has retained the symbol of prayer as a battle of faith and as the triumph of perseverance (cf. Gen 32:24-30; Lk 18:1-8).
Moses and the prayer of the mediator
§ 2574 Once the promise begins to be fulfilled (Passover, the Exodus, the gift of the Law, and the ratification of the Covenant), the prayer of Moses becomes the most striking example of intercessory prayer, which will be fulfilled in “the one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5).
Tomorrow – Moses and the prayer of the mediator (to be continued)
(Part IV, Section 1, Chapter 1, Article 1 – to be continued)
[Editor’s Note: The abbreviations in today’s posting are noted below.]
- “cf.” – “confer [compare or refer to]”
- “ff” – “filios [and the following verses, paragraphs or pages]”