question that the Lord confides his ineffable name, which will be re
vealed through his mighty deeds.
“Thus the Lord used to speak to Moses face to face, as a
man speaks to his friend.”
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, climb
ing 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.”
From this intimacy with the faithful God, slow to anger
and abounding in steadfast love,
Moses drew strength and deter
mination 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.
But it is chiefly after their apostasy that Moses
“stands in the breach” before God in order to save the people.
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 re
member his marvellous deeds, since his glory is at stake, and he
cannot forsake this people that bears his name.
David and the prayer of the king
The prayer of the People of God flourishes in the shadow
of God’s dwelling place, first the ark of the covenant and later the
Temple. At first the leaders of the people—the shepherds and the
prophets—teach them to pray. The infant Samuel must have
learned from his mother Hannah how “to stand before the Lord”
and from the priest Eli how to listen to his word: “Speak, Lord, for
your servant is listening.”
Later, he will also know the cost and
consequence of intercession: “Moreover, as for me, far be it from
me that I should sin against the Lord by ceasing to pray for you;
and I will instruct you in the good and the right way.”
3:9-10; cf. 1:9-18.