Prayer in the Catechism of the Catholic Church #5

January 28, 1996
Brother John Raymond

	Prayer is not something totally new that we need to explore all
 by ourselves with no clue as to where we are going or how to
 proceed. Man from the very beginning has prayed. The Old Testament
 gives us examples of people of prayer. The Catechism of the Catholic
 Church highlights some of them, like for instance Moses. Now some of
 us may be familiar with the Hollywood Moses of "The Ten
 Commandments" movie played by Charlton Heston. I must say that in
 this movie we have much fiction mixed in with fact. But for all that
 one cannot help seeing the familiar relationship Moses had with God.
 But did this friendship begin with any initiative by Moses? No, it
 was God Who revealed Himself to Moses beginning with the burning
 bush on the mountain. God reveals Himself to save His people. Now
 obviously God did not need Moses to help Him. Yet, He chose to
 associate Moses in His saving work. Moses at first is not too keen
 on cooperating in God's plan. He enters into a dialogue with God Who
 confides in him. Moses, somewhat reluctant to carry out God's plan
 at first, enters into debate with God. Finally, he agrees to be
 God's "messenger, an associate in His compassion, His work of
 salvation." (#2575)
	It is interesting how amazed the people were concerning the
 relationship between God and Moses. We are told that, "The Lord used
 to speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend." (Ex.
 33,11) This was something new for people who thought of God as
 distant and to be feared. Perhaps this attitude prevails among some
 even today. From the initial hesitancy of Moses we see a progressive
 growth in intimacy with God. So much so that Moses actually begins
 to take on God's likeness. He becomes compassionate, interceding for
 the stiff-necked people he led out of exile from Egypt. The people
 rebelled repeatedly - against God and himself. From his intimacy
 with God "Moses drew strength and determination for his
 intercession. He does not pray for himself but for the people God
 made His own." (#2577) This transforming prayer-relationship between
 God and Moses made him "very humble, more so than anyone else on the
 face of the earth." (Num. 12:3,7-8) Ultimately, "the prayer of Moses
 becomes the most striking example of intercessory prayer, which will
 be fulfilled in 'the one mediator between God and men, the man Jesus
 Christ.'" (#2574)
	It is amazing the degree of self-forgetfulness and self-sacrifice
 Moses reached in His relationship with God. After Aaron made a
 molten calf for the people to worship instead of the true God Moses
 intercedes for the people. Moses goes so far as to tell God that if
 He will forgive this sin of the people, he will be willing to have
 his own name blotted out of the book God has written (perhaps the
 Book of Life). (Ex. 32,32) Also, Moses went back up Mount Sinai, ate
 and drank nothing for forty days and nights and obtained a renewed
 covenant between God and the people. (Ex. 34:27,28) This all was
 after God had told Moses that He would still make a great nation out
 of him without these stiff-necked people. (Ex. 32,10)
	From what has been said here we certainly can learn a lot about
 prayer from Moses. Perhaps we could make it a point to read the Book
 of Exodus concentrating on Moses' relationship with God asking
 ourselves the following questions: How was Moses relationship unique
 from others? How was Moses like the rest of us? What can we learn in
 our own relationship with God from his example? What similarities
 can we find between Moses and Jesus? With these suggested
 reflections and others that may come to our minds let us look to
 this great Old Testament man of prayer as an inspiration to our own
 life of prayer.