The Back-and-Forth of Prayer

Some great thoughts on prayer from Thomas McDonald on God and the Machine, pointing out that prayer is not a monologue:

We may be fine with the idea that we initiate a conversation with God and he listens, but does not reply directly (unless we are gifted with a mystical experience).

Let’s turn that completely around. In fact, we’re not the initiator of the conversation in prayer: God has spoken, and we are responding.

Our prayer is not mere homage to the King, or a litany of things we need, or declarations of love or gratitude. These are, to be sure, part of prayer, but they are not its essence.

Its essence is our response to a conversation initiated by the Triune God. We cannot even be drawn to prayer unless prompted by grace, so an action has already occurred in the soul. The dialog is begun by God before we even open our mouths, minds, or hearts.

And more than grace is involved in this conversation. The very nature of each soul is such that it yearns to answer the call of its Creator. That same Creator has etched His message in every cloud and stone, every heart that beats and every touch of love. He gave us sacraments as channels of grace, and art as the expression of His glory; the word of the scripture, and the incarnate Word.

The entire world sings out with the conversation of God, and we think we’re the ones initiating a one-sided conversation? Pure hubris.

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