It is striking how the two themes, the ‘promised Land’ and Israel’s obligation to ‘pray’, are always mentioned together. The land, where Israel lives, is described in graphic details. In view of this gift, as a reminder, it is not surprising that Israel must remember their liberation from Egypt.
Prayer and our physical world, it is not accidental, are closely related. The land, just as the Covenant, is cultivated also by prayer. It is powerfully shown in what happens when prayer ceases. ‘Wherefore hath the Lord done thus unto this land? What meaneth the heat of great anger? Then men shall say, Because they forsaken the covenant of the Lord God of their fathers, which he made with them when he brought them forth out of the land of Egypt: for they went and served other gods, and worshipped them, gods whom they knew not, and whom he had not given unto them: and the anger of the Lord was kindled against his land.’
There is an important reading of the ‘Land’ – ‘prayer’ relationship. The land was given to Israel so that they should turn bring it into the everlasting Presence of God. The land must be marked and nourished by his Glory (‘light’). Thus, prayer as ‘light’ is the purpose of each Jew. As the habitants of the Land, they have the vocation to transform their actual situations and environment into ‘light’. As Christians, we are given the same task. The ‘Land’, our life situations, needs to be transformed… The potential good, inherent in the Land, must be discerned and separated from evil, bad choices, and negative thoughts. The ‘cultivated’ or transformed Land is indeed returned to God in our thanksgiving. The ‘Kingdom of God’ is this transformed land; transformed through our prayers and Creedal commitment.
These are verbal Icons, expressions of how the world is seen from Saint Augustine's..