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Part Four

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“If you knew the gift of God!”

7

The wonder of prayer is

revealed beside the well where we come seeking water: there,

Christ comes to meet every human being. It is he who first seeks

us and asks us for a drink. Jesus thirsts; his asking arises from the

depths of God’s desire for us. Whether we realize it or not, prayer

is the encounter of God’s thirst with ours. God thirsts that we may

thirst for him.

8

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“You would have asked him, and he would have given

you living water.”

9

Paradoxically our prayer of petition is a re­

sponse to the plea of the living God: “They have forsaken me, the

fountain of living waters, and hewn out cisterns for themselves,

broken cisterns that can hold no water!”

10

Prayer is the response

of faith to the free promise of salvation and also a response of love

to the thirst of the only Son of God.

11

Prayer as covenant

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Where does prayer come from? Whether prayer is ex­

pressed in words or gestures, it is the whole man who prays. But

in naming the source of prayer, Scripture speaks sometimes of the

soul or the spirit, but most often of the heart (more than a thousand

times). According to Scripture, it is the

heart

that prays. If our heart

is far from God, the words of prayer are in vain.

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The heart is the dwelling-place where I am, where I live;

according to the Semitic or Biblical expression, the heart is the place

“to which I withdraw.” The heart is our hidden center, beyond the

grasp of our reason and of others; only the Spirit of God can fathom

the human heart and know it fully. The heart is the place of

decision, deeper than our psychic drives. It is the place of truth,

where we choose life or death. It is the place of encounter, because

as image of God we live in relation: it is the place of covenant.

7

Jn

4:10.

8 Cf. St. Augustine,

De diversis quaestionibus octoginta tribus

64, 4: PL 40, 56.

9

Jn

4:10.

10

Jer

2:13.

11 Cf.

Jn

7:37-39; 19:28

; Isa

12:3; 51:1;

Zech

12:10; 13:1.

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