2573 God renews his promise to Jacob, the ancestor of the twelve tribes of Israel. Before confronting his elder brother Esau, Jacob wrestles all night with a mysterious figure who refuses to reveal his name, but who blesses him before leaving him at dawn. From this account, the spiritual tradition of the Church has retained the


symbol of prayer as a battle of faith and as the triumph of persever


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’.’9 2575 Here again the initiative is God’s. From the midst of the


burning bush he calls Moses.2° 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 Saviour 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.’2’ 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