Desert Wisdom: Audible Prayer

If you have been to the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem, you will be able to connect with today’s post.  As you stand there, you can detect a kind of murmuring–a whispering of prayer.

The early Christians usually prayed like that—in sotto voce—an undertone that engaged their vocal cords as well as their minds.  Bunge writes about this on pages 123-126.  He believes that this may account for why biblical prayers and those from Christian antiquity often include phrases like, “hear my supplication.”

Interestingly, Bunge notes that many of the early desert fathers and mothers would not speak words to those who came to them for advice, but they would allow inquirers to hear them pray.  These early Christians apparently believed that the greatest thing they could reveal to someone else was how to pray.

Audible prayer also helps us deal with distractions.  The mind can wander, but the mouth usually stays on track.  If you find yourself “going all over the place” when you practice mental prayer, try adding a low whisper or voice and see if that helps.

Audible prayer also makes prayer seem more like a conversation, which it actually is.  When we talk with other people, we can actually hear ourselves and that helps us to frame and express our thoughts.  Why should it be less in prayer?


About Steve Harper

Dr. Steve Harper is retired seminary professor, who taught for 32 years in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies. Author and co-author of 45 books. He is also a retired Elder in The Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.
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2 Responses to Desert Wisdom: Audible Prayer

  1. Gene Maddox says:

    Thank you so much! As much as I love hearing a seminary professor teach, even better is to hear him or her pray!

  2. Ellen Steinberg says:

    Dr. Harper, This posting reminds me of a place and time in my life when I was seeking to have more of the Holy Spirit in my life. My husband and I were at a conference and I wanted some private time so I went back to our room and just started thanking the Lord and suddenly I was mouthing words I did not understand but knew it was from the Lord. In my life journey I have not had this happen a lot but at times it just flows. I believe it is when I am in a thankful spirit.

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