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.
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
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.
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.
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.
The Psalms, the prayer of the assembly
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.
Thus the psalms were gradually
collected into the five books of the Psalter (or “Praises”), the
masterwork of prayer in the Old Testament.
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
6:5, 8, 11;
1:6; 15:15-18; 20:7-18.