PART IV: CHRISTIAN PRAYER
Section One: Prayer in the Christian Life
Chapter 1: The Revelation of Prayer
Article 1, In the Old Testament
Moses and the prayer of the mediator (cont’d)
§ 2575 Here again the initiative is God’s. From the midst of the burning bush He calls Moses (Exodus 3:1-10). This event will remain one of the primordial images of prayer in the spiritual tradition of Jews and Christians alike. When “the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob” calls Moses to be His servant, it is because He is the Living God who wants men to live. God reveals Himself in order to save them, though He does not do this alone or despite them: He calls Moses to be His messenger, an associate in His compassion, His work of salvation.
There is something of a Divine plea in this mission, and only after long debate does Moses attune his own will to that of the Savior God. But in the dialogue in which God confides in him, Moses also learns how to pray: he balks, makes excuses, above all questions: and it is in response to his question that the Lord confides His ineffable Name, which will be revealed through His mighty deeds.
§ 2576 “Thus the LORD used to speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend” (Ex 33:11). Moses’ prayer is characteristic of contemplative prayer by which God’s servant remains faithful to his mission. Moses converses with God often and at length, climbing the mountain to hear and entreat Him and coming down to the people to repeat the words of His God for their guidance. Moses “is entrusted with all my house. With him I speak face to face, clearly, not in riddles,” for “Moses was very humble, more so than anyone else on the face of the earth” (Numbers 12:3, 7-8).
§ 2577 From this intimacy with the faithful God, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love (cf. Ex 34:6), Moses drew strength and determination for his intercession. He does not pray for himself but for the people whom God made His own. Moses already intercedes for them during the battle with the Amalekites and prays to obtain healing for Miriam (cf. Ex 17:8-12; Num 12:13-14). But it is chiefly after their apostasy that Moses “stands in the breach” before God in order to save the people (Psalm 106:23; cf. Ex 32:1-34:9).
The arguments of his prayer – for intercession is also a mysterious battle – will inspire the boldness of the great intercessors among the Jewish people and in the Church: God is Love; He is therefore righteous and faithful; He cannot contradict Himself; He must remember His marvelous deeds, since His Glory is at stake, and he cannot forsake this people that bears His Name.
Tomorrow – David and the prayer of the king
(Part IV, Section 1, Chapter 1, Article 1 – to be continued)
[Editor’s Note: The abbreviation in today’s posting is noted below.]
- “cf.” – “confer [compare or refer to]”