This dissertation aims to understand the nature of Biblical prayer. The study object and its scope focus on the characters of Moses from the Old Testament and Paul from the New Testament, and on Exodus 32-34 and Romans 9-11. The reason for selecting the prayers of Moses (Exodus 32-34) and of Paul (Romans 9-11) is that the latter imitates the “unreasonable” prayer of the former. Both of them willingly and desperately prayed to God for their people in order to “share the fate” of the people of Israel. In other words, both of them dared to use extreme rhetoric to express their affection for Israel — God’s people.
Through the prayers of Moses and of Paul the Lord was moved to reply to their petitions: The Hebrews who worshiped the Golden Calf could obtain God’s pardon. The Lord revoked the decision of sending his angel as representative to walk in front of the people, and He decided instead to accompany them in person. In addition, He summoned Moses once again onto Mount Sinai for forty days and nights to make the new tablets of the Law, and renewed the covenant with His people, considering them as His inheritance (Exodus 32-34). In the period of the New Testament, the Israelites who refused the gospel of Christ would not face the result of their stumbling, namely being broken off from the olive tree, as their final destiny. In the future glorious day, “all Israel will be saved” because “the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.” After receiving the honour of knowing this mystery, Paul’s prayer turned from sadness and wariness into praise (Romans 9-11). In fact, the prayers of Moses and Paul by which they obtained the Lord’s promise became an amazing spiritual experience. But the most moving aspect of these two scenarios is that both Moses and Paul desperately “stood in the breach before Him” (Psalm 106:23) to pray for their people, again and again. They never gave up praying.
The “point of view” element of this study refers to the use of the narrative method of Point-of-view Exegesis. On the one hand, through following the account from the point of view of the narrator in Exodus 32-34, we reach an understanding of the doubled scenario of the Lord meeting with Moses and we uncover the beautiful moment when Moses’ point of view and God’s point of view meet. On the other hand, through following the account from the point of view of the narrator in Romans 9-11, we observe the complete narrative of God and Israel; simultaneously we obtain insight into the “prayer-journal” written by Paul to his brethren. Paul’s use of the diatribe in writing to the Christians in Rome demonstrates the Lord’s “point of view” toward the Israelites, and finally his “prayer-journal” for his people can be published for all the world to read.
By using Point-of-view Exegesis to analyze the narrative of these two prayer scenes and to gain a deeper understanding of the interaction of the two intercessors (Moses and Paul) with God, I gradually realized the truth of prayer in the Bible: if you truly care for those you love, risk all and pray for them radically, right up to the end!