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21 Prayer: Listening to God

Prayer is sometimes defined as ‘talking to God’ and, on the face of it, that sounds as if it might be a helpful definition. What we’re doing when we’re talking to God is praying. The Oxford English Dictionary defines prayer as ‘a solemn and humble request to God… a supplication, petition, or thanksgiving, usually expressed in words’.17 But the idea that prayer is ‘talking to God’ is actually seriously misleading or, at any rate, only part of the truth. Instead, I suggest that prayer should be thought of primarily as ‘listening to God’, ‘being in God’s presence’ or ‘attending to God’. When we think of prayer, the emphasis is too often on talking. Prayer is first of all coming into God’s presence in silence and humility and ‘listening’…

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