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speech, silence, action!

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Most of the discussion of prayer I had ever heard centered on whether God answers prayer and how we can know that he does.  But during the past decade I have come to believe that prayer is not a matter of my calling in an attempt to get God’s attention, but of my finally listening to the call of God, which has been constant, patient, and insistent in my inner being.  In relationship to God, I am not the seeker, the initiator, the one who loves more greatly.  In prayer, as in the whole salvation story unfolded by Scripture, God is reaching out to me, speaking to me, and it is up to me to learn to be polite enough to pay attention.  When I do have something to say to God, I am rendering a response to the divine initiative.  So the questions of whether or not and how God answers prayer now seem to me bogus questions.  God speaks, all right.  The big question is do I answer, do I respond, to an invitation that is always open.

prayer-groupI do not mean to imply that I have no use for liturgical and communal prayer, which serves as a concrete enactment of my oneness with the other members of the family of God.  But I know; and I think every honest person knows that communal prayers are sometimes real to my inner experience, and sometimes not, and that difference lies in the kind of internal focus I am able to give to them.  I think that those who attack traditional liturgy, ritual, and communal prayer as meaningless to modern humanity are bogging themselves down in a great muddle.  Religious communal celebrations enact, reinforce, and incarnate the human sense of mortal interrelationship, divine interrelationship, and divine-human interrelationship.

—From Speech, Silence, Action! By Virginia Ramey Mollenkott

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