Madeleine L'Engle

Madeleine L'Engle on Words and Prayer

Today's Worship Quote is a poem about prayer-specifically, about the inadequacy of words when it comes to communion with God.

I, who live by words, am wordless when
I try my words in prayer. All language turns
To silence. Prayer will take my words and then
Reveal their emptiness. The stilled voice learns
To hold its peace, to listen with the heart
To silence that is joy, is adoration.
The self is shattered, all words torn apart
In this strange patterned time of contemplation
That, in time, breaks time, breaks words, breaks me,
And then, in silence, leaves me healed and mended.
I leave, returned to language, for I see
Through words, even when all words are ended.
   I, who live by words, am wordless when
   I turn me to the Word to pray. Amen.

-Madeleine L'Engle, The Weather of the Heart, Harold Shaw Publishers, 1978, 60.


Sometimes words fall short. My response to God in worship and prayer is not necessarily limited by the power of my vocabulary or the eloquence of my "prayer logic." Sometimes being moved to silence, awe and wonder is an appropriate response to God's mystery and majesty.

Have a great week!

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

L'Engle on the Other Side of Silence

Appropriate moments of silence contribute to the rhythm of revelation and response in worship by providing "waiting space" for the revelatory work of God's Spirit. Writing in WALKING ON WATER, Madeleine L'Engle said: "Deepest communion with God is beyond words, on the other side of silence." A church that takes seriously the concept of worship as dialogue must also take seriously the role of silence within the context of worship.

- Madeleine L'Engle in WALKING ON WATER, as quoted in THE DIALOGUE OF WORSHIP: CREATING SPACE FOR REVELATION AND RESPONSE by Gary A. Furr and Milburn Price, Smyth & Helwys, 1998.


What is your experience? Are you nervous when there is an extended time of silence in your worship service? I'm not talking about a quiet time with soft background music - that's something different. I'm talking about several minutes of real silence, real time to listen to God and to respond to him "on the other side of silence."

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