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Christian Prayer

621

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.

33

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.

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.

34

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.

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 interven­

tion of the Savior God, the Lord of history.

36

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.

37

Thus the psalms were gradually

collected into the five books of the Psalter (or “Praises”), the

masterwork of prayer in the Old Testament.

2586

The Psalms both nourished and expressed the prayer of

the People of God gathered during the great feasts at Jerusalem and

each Sabbath in the synagogues. Their prayer is inseparably per­

sonal and communal; it concerns both those who are praying and

all men. The Psalms arose from the communities of the Holy Land

and the Diaspora, but embrace all creation. Their prayer recalls the

saving events of the past, yet extends into the future, even to the

33 Cf.

1 Kings

17:7-24.

34 Cf.

1 Kings

19:1-14; cf.

Ex

33:19-23.

35

2 Cor

4:6; cf.

Lk

9:30-35.

36 Cf.

Am

7:2, 5;

Isa

6:5, 8, 11;

Jer

1:6; 15:15-18; 20:7-18.

37

Ezra

9:6-15;

Neh

1:4-11;

Jon

2:3-10;

Tob

3:11-16;

Jdt

9:2-14.

696

555

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