Peterson on How Prayer Is Answering Speech

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.


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. 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.

(Originally posted 11/9/1999)

To find out more about Chip Stam and his Worship Quote of the Week, click below.