The Worship Quote of the Week for (11/09/1999):

Prayer Is Answering Speech
Today's WORSHIP QUOTE is another that shares an important insight about the
nature of prayer. These words are easy to understand and hard to practice.
Eugene Peterson is writing to pastors.

Prayer is never the first word. It is always the second word. God has the
first word. Prayer is answering speech; it is not primarily "address" but
"response." Essential to the practice of prayer is to fully realize this
secondary quality . . . .

One of the indignities to which pastors are routinely subjected is to be
approached, as a group of people are gathering for a meeting or meal, with
the request, "Reverend, get things started for us with a little prayer, will
ya?" It would be wonderful if we [this book is written to pastors] would
counter by bellowing William McNamara's fantasized response: "I will not!
There are no LITTLE prayers! Prayer enters the lion's den, brings us before
the holy where it is uncertain whether we will come back alive or sane, for
'it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of a living God.'"

. . . Prayer is not something we think up to get God's attention or enlist
his favor. Prayer is ANSWERING speech. The first word is God's word. Prayer
is a human word and is never the first word, never the primary word, never
the initiating and shaping word simply because WE are never first, never
primary. We do not honor prayer by treating it as something that it is not,
even when that something is, as we suppose, sacred and exalted.

Chapter Two, "Praying by the Book," Eerdmans, page 32.

[For a little more on the "lion's den" aspect of prayer, you may want to
refer to this wonderful passage from THE SILVER CHAIR

Have a great week,

Chip Stam
Pastor of Worship and Music
Chapel Hill Bible Church
Chapel Hill, North Carolina