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How Abraham’s prayer life changes when he encounters God


Domenichino | Public Domain

Philip Kosloski - published on 01/17/24

The Catechism explains how Abraham's prayer life changed over time, reflecting how he grew in his faith in God.
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Abraham is often called the “Father of Faith,” as his entire life revolves around the covenant relationship he makes with God.

The faith he possessed grew over time and deepened through his own prayer life, which changed when he encountered God.

The Catechism of the Catholic Churchhighlights Abraham in its section on prayer, highlighting how his prayer life developed over time:

When God calls him, Abraham goes forth “as the Lord had told him”; Abraham’s heart is entirely submissive to the Word and so he obeys. Such attentiveness of the heart, whose decisions are made according to God’s will, is essential to prayer, while the words used count only in relation to it. Abraham’s prayer is expressed first by deeds: a man of silence, he constructs an altar to the Lord at each stage of his journey. Only later does Abraham’s first prayer in words appear: a veiled complaint reminding God of his promises which seem unfulfilled. Thus one aspect of the drama of prayer appears from the beginning: the test of faith in the fidelity of God.

CCC 2570

His prayer deepens even more as he grows closer to God and his heart opens to others:

Because Abraham believed in God and walked in his presence and in covenant with him, the patriarch is ready to welcome a mysterious Guest into his tent. Abraham’s remarkable hospitality at Mamre foreshadows the annunciation of the true Son of the promise. After that, once God had confided his plan, Abraham’s heart is attuned to his Lord’s compassion for men and he dares to intercede for them with bold confidence.

CCC 2571

The culmination of Abraham’s prayer is in the absolute faith and trust in God when tested to sacrifice his only son.

As a final stage in the purification of his faith, Abraham, “who had received the promises,” is asked to sacrifice the son God had given him. Abraham’s faith does not weaken (“God himself will provide the lamb for a burnt offering”), for he “considered that God was able to raise men even from the dead.” And so the father of believers is conformed to the likeness of the Father who will not spare his own Son but will deliver him up for us all. Prayer restores man to God’s likeness and enables him to share in the power of God’s love that saves the multitude.

CCC 2572

Abraham shows us how the more we pray, the more we enter into a covenant relationship with God and how that relationship deepens our trust in God.

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