Daily Series on the Catechism

PART IV:  CHRISTIAN PRAYER

Section One:  Prayer in the Christian Life

Chapter 1:  The Revelation of Prayer

Article 1,  In the Old Testament

Elijah, the prophets and conversion of heart (cont’d)

§ 2582  Elijah is the “father” of the prophets, “the generation of those who seek him, who seek the face of the God of Jacob” (Psalm 24:6). Elijah’s name, “The Lord is my God,” foretells the people’s cry in response to his prayer on Mount Carmel (1 Kings 18:39). St. James refers to Elijah in order to encourage us to pray: “The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective…” (James 5:16b-18).

§ 2583  After Elijah had learned mercy during his retreat at the Wadi Cherith, he teaches the widow of Zarephath to believe in The Word of God and confirms her faith by his urgent prayer: God brings the widow’s child back to life (cf. 1 Kgs 17:7-24).

The sacrifice on Mount Carmel is a decisive test for the faith of the People of God. In response to Elijah’s plea, “Answer me, O LORD, answer me,” the Lord’s fire consumes the holocaust, at the time of the evening oblation. The Eastern liturgies repeat Elijah’s plea in the Eucharistic epiclesis [invocation of the Holy Spirit prior to the consecration of the Eucharistic bread and wine].

Finally, taking the desert road that leads to the place where the Living and True God reveals Himself to His people, Elijah, like Moses before him, hides “in a cleft of the rock” until the mysterious Presence of God has passed by (cf. 1 Kgs 19:1-14; cf. Exodus 33:19-23). But only on the mountain of the Transfiguration will Moses and Elijah behold the unveiled Face of Him whom they sought; “the light of the knowledge of the glory of God [shines] in the face of Christ,” Crucified and Risen (2 Corinthians 4:6; cf. Luke 9:30-35).

§ 2584  In their “one to one” encounters with God, the prophets draw light and strength for their mission. Their prayer is not flight from this unfaithful world, but rather attentiveness to The Word of God. At times, their prayer is an argument or a complaint, but it is always an intercession that awaits and prepares for the intervention of the Savior God, the Lord of history (cf. Amos 7:2, 5; Isaiah 6:5, 8, 11; Jeremiah 1:6; 15:15-18; 20:7-18).

The Psalms, the prayer of the assembly

§ 2585  From the time of David to the coming of the Messiah, texts appearing in these Sacred Books show a deepening in prayer for oneself and in prayer for others (Ezra 9:6-15; Nehemiah 1:4-11; Jonah 2:3-10; Tobit 3:11-16; Judith 9:2-14). Thus, the psalms were gradually collected into the five books of the Psalter (or “Praises”), the masterwork of prayer in the Old Testament.

Tomorrow – The Psalms, the prayer of the assembly (to be continued)

(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]”
Available in several languages

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A Sunday Blessing

May the Lord bless you and keep you!

May the Lord make His face to shine upon you and be gracious to you!

May the Lord lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace! †

(cf. Numbers 6:24-26)

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