A Quaker attempt to use words to explain silent prayer
Prayer is the way ‘that of God within me’ responds to God.
During the Summer School on different mornings, various ones of us led prayers from our tradition. Not so easy coming from a Quaker tradition that largely does silent prayer. This is my attempt.
So our prayer might be that we will be open to all that is given to us.
In prayer, we open ourselves.
Our prayers are expressions of our desires, our hopes and our fears.
We acknowledge these in prayer to ourselves, the divine and each other.
God is listening but with vocal prayer so too is everybody who hears.
This gives us a privileged place as we are hearing the prayers of a person to God, as God listens so are we.
I pray in the model of Eashoa ( Jesus) who prayed to his Father.
So if I were thinking of a prayer it would be,
“Father, we have come together in this place, this curious place called zoom.
We come from within ourselves, from our homes, from the landscapes that we live.
And as Jesus sat by Jacob’s well and had a conversation with ‘the woman’ so we have come and sat with one another in conversation. Conversations can change us.
Hearing our own words to another can be a prayer that we too had never heard.
Hearing the words of another can be as a prayer for us.
In our gathering, our bodies and our will have become a prayer as we seek to bring ourselves to this gathering and together we begin to answer our prayers through this process. Returning to our place changed by the experience and extending to others what we have become.
Our concerns, our prayers is how we as people can respond to this crisis and the crises across the world, whether COVID 19, Black Lives Matter, inequalities, injustices, conflicts.
Into our minds will come those matters which cause us concern.
While we listen to scholars and study texts may we have ourselves attuned to what you are saying to us as individuals and collectively.
We allow space — silence — should someone wish to pray — should someone feel moved to express what the spirit may be saying.
A Checklist to ask yourself before praying,
Is this me?
Is this spirit?
Is this for me alone?
Is this for the assembled?
After you check yourself proceed if you believe this to be spoken aloud otherwise the prayers will be in silence.
We bring all of ourselves into this moment who we are and all to who we are connected.
Together we attempt to bring the whole world together.
We recognise that as we speak different languages of faith yet we know that language is only the expression of the inner life.
So in that, we unite knowing that you are the source of all life and we are part of that life.
Thank you, friends.