“If you knew the gift of God!”
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.
“You would have asked him, and he would have given
you living water.”
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!”
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.
Prayer as covenant
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
that prays. If our heart
is far from God, the words of prayer are in vain.
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.
8 Cf. St. Augustine,
De diversis quaestionibus octoginta tribus
64, 4: PL 40, 56.