Day 33 – The Role of Scriptures
The descriptions of prayer that we find in Augustine’s works should not distract us from the idea that prayer is “your speaking with God: when you read (the Scriptures), God speaks to you, when you pray, you speak to God”(In Ps. 86). Christian prayer is a dialogue with God; it is a “speaking with” Him who is revealed in the Sacred Scriptures. In fact, the reading of Scriptures educates the Christian on how to relate with God: forming in him the right concept of God, teaching him His ways among His people, and instructing him in the proper way to speak to Him.
Father Agostino Trape describes the Augustinian way of reading the Scriptures in the following way: (I)t is not only reading which could be called a superficial activity, it is not only that study which is only an intellectual activity, not only that meditation which can be reduced to simple internal introspection…but also and above all, it is a combination of listening and dialogue. It involves listening in faith and docile obedience to Him who is present in man and speaks to him, and reveals his love to him and invites him to respond in love…In this listening-dialogue, which is the most beautiful and fruitful form of meditation, prayer takes on, equally spontaneously, the highest forms of contemplation which are, … wonder, admiration, gratitude, adoration, praise, expectation that faith will be replaced by vision and that the divine word of the Scripture, which sounds in time, will give way to the Word which sounds in eternity; which sounds, not through the mediation of signs and creatures, but by itself, immediately “Worded” prayers have their proper place in Augustine’s understanding of prayer as “speaking with God.”
The prayers of thanksgiving, adoration, praise, supplication and petition that we use in liturgical, para-liturgical rites and in our devotional practices have value only when the words used are in harmony with the desire of the heart. Augustine gives us this rule in prayer: “When you pray to God in psalms and songs, the words spoken by your lips should also be alive in your hearts.” In this way, our speaking with God becomes an expression of our desire for Him who alone is to be enjoyed and loved.