An Alphabet of Prayer

Tuesday, February 22, 2022

The Reverend Dr. Katie Snipes Lancaster

Silence: I find myself struck by the practice of silence. In a way our tradition steers clear of silence. If you worship with us on Sunday mornings, we begin with a wall of sound from the organ, and then the entire service is word-music-word-music-word with very little room for silence. Protestant churches around the globe are like this. Maybe most Christian traditions are. We bolster our sacred practices with the Word of God (scripture) in order to seek the Word (Jesus Christ) and spend the rest of the time making commentary (prayer, sermon, music lyrics).

A friend of mine said that the practice of silence in worship was always profound for her. Growing up in a Methodist church in Michigan, she loved the part of the Pastoral Prayer where the liturgist offered time for silent prayer. The time of silence would begin, and she would feel that deepening, a sinking down into the presence of God. But soon (in less than a sixty seconds), the pastor would say “Lord, hear our prayers” and would move on to the wordier priorities. In adulthood she found herself drawn to worship traditions that honored silence, making room for the divine beyond-words (maybe Taizé services, Quaker worship, evening our mid-day prayer services, for example).

Does silence center you? Do you take time to sit silently in the presence of the divine? Do you find yourself distracted by your own unquieted thoughts when you take a chance at silence? Do you need the architecture of our wordy liturgy in order to be drawn into the Word incarnate? Where do you the find the silence you seek?

Praying the Alphabet
O Sacred Spark, shine in our midst.
Let us soak in your spirit like a sponge.
Stir us awake, even in the stillness.
Steward our silent search for you.
Sing to us your strength, sufficient, and swelling.
When we stumble,
when we suffer,
when worry surges,
sustain us,
summon us,
speak to us,
stich us back together.
Stand among us, O God.

February 22, 2022

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