Prayer Is Our Response

“God has the first word. Prayer is answering speech; it is not primarily ‘address’ but ‘response’ . . .

“We learn language by being spoken to . . . slowly, syllable by syllable, we acquire the capacity to answer: mama, papa, bottle, blanket, yes, no. Not one of these words was a first word. Hundreds of thousands of words, for days and weeks and months, were spoken to us before we began to answer, to speak our own words. All speech is answering speech. We were all spoken to before we spoke . . .

“At some point we find ourselves answering God; the usual way to describe this use of language is with the word prayer. Prayer is language used to respond . . . with the potential for saying all that is in us. Prayer is . . . language in process of being adequate to answer the one who has spoken most comprehensively to us, namely, God.”

— excerpts from Working the Angles by Eugene Peterson

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