Today’s Catechism sections discuss the prayers of Moses and David. Supporting material comes from Pope Benedict XVI’s “Jesus of Nazareth”.

Moses and the prayer of the mediator

2574 Once the promise begins to be fulfilled (Passover, the Exodus, the gift of the Law, and the ratification of the covenant), 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 Christ Jesus."19

2575 Here again the initiative is God's. From the midst of the burning bush he calls Moses.20 This event will remain one of the primordial images of prayer in the spiritual tradition of Jews and Christians alike. When "the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob" calls Moses to be his servant, it is because he is the living God who wants men to live. God reveals himself in order to save them, though he does not do this alone or despite them: he calls Moses to be his messenger, an associate in his compassion, his work of salvation. There is something of a divine plea in this mission, and only after long debate does Moses attune his own will to that of the Savior God. But in the dialogue in which God confides in him, Moses also learns how to pray: he balks, makes excuses, above all questions: and it is in response to his question that the Lord confides his ineffable name, which will be revealed through his mighty deeds.

2576 "Thus the Lord used to speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend."21 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, climbing 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."22

2577 From this intimacy with the faithful God, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love,23 Moses drew strength and determination 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.24 But it is chiefly after their apostasy that Moses "stands in the breach" before God in order to save the people.25 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 remember his marvelous deeds, since his glory is at stake, and he cannot forsake this people that bears his name.

David and the prayer of the king

2578 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."26 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."27

2579 David is par excellence the king "after God's own heart," the shepherd who prays for his people and prays in their name. His submission to the will of God, his praise, and his repentance, will be a model for the prayer of the people. His prayer, the prayer of God's Anointed, is a faithful adherence to the divine promise and expresses a loving and joyful trust in God, the only King and Lord.28 In the Psalms David, inspired by the Holy Spirit, is the first prophet of Jewish and Christian prayer. The prayer of Christ, the true Messiah and Son of David, will reveal and fulfill the meaning of this prayer.

2580 The Temple of Jerusalem, the house of prayer that David wanted to build, will be the work of his son, Solomon. The prayer at the dedication of the Temple relies on God's promise and covenant, on the active presence of his name among his People, recalling his mighty deeds at the Exodus.29 The king lifts his hands toward heaven and begs the Lord, on his own behalf, on behalf of the entire people, and of the generations yet to come, for the forgiveness of their sins and for their daily needs, so that the nations may know that He is the only God and that the heart of his people may belong wholly and entirely to him.

IN BRIEF

2593 The prayer of Moses responds to the living God's initiative for the salvation of his people. It foreshadows the prayer of intercession of the unique mediator, Christ Jesus.

2594 The prayer of the People of God flourished in the shadow of the dwelling place of God's presence on earth, the Ark of the Covenant and the Temple, under the guidance of their shepherds, especially King David, and of the prophets.

The parallels between Moses and Jesus are discussed by Benedict XVI in Jesus of Nazareth: From the Baptism in the Jordan to the Transfiguration.

Jesus sits on the cathedra of Moses. But he does so not after the manner of teachers who are trained for the job in a school; he sits there as the greater Moses, who broadens the Covenant to include all nations. This also explains the significance of the mountain. The Evangelist does not tell us which of the hills of Galilee it was. But the very fact that it is the scene of Jesus' preaching makes it simply "the mountain"—the new Sinai. The "mountain" is the place where Jesus prays—where he is face-to-face with the Father. And that is exactly why it is also the place of his teachings, since his teaching comes forth from this most intimate exchange with the Father. The "mountain," then, is by the very nature of the case established as the new and definitive Sinai. (p. 66)

Footnotes

19 ⇒ 1 Tim 2:5.
20 ⇒ Ex 3:1-10.
21 ⇒ Ex 33:11.
22 ⇒ Num 12:3,7-8.
23 Cf. ⇒ Ex 34:6.
24 Cf. ⇒ Ex 17:8-12; ⇒ Num 12:13-14.
25 ⇒ Ps 106:23; cf. ⇒ Ex 32:1- ⇒ 34:9.
26 ⇒ 1 Sam 3:9-10; cf. ⇒ 1:9-18.
27 ⇒ 1 Sam 12:23.
28 Cf. ⇒ 2 Sam 7:18-29.
29 ⇒ 1 Kings 8:10-61.