The Gracious Mystery

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Prayer . . . is either the primary fact or the worst delusion. If God is not, and the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short, prayer is the veriest self-deceit. If God is, yet is known only in vague rumor and dark coercion, prayer is whimpering folly: it were nobler to die. But if God is in some deep and eternal sense like Jesus, friendship with Him is our first concern, worthiest art, best resource, and sublimest joy.

Such prayer could brood over our modern disorder, as the Spirit once brooded over the void, to summon a new world. Prayer would not then dispel the Mystery: worship requires Mystery. . . . But the Mystery then would be a gracious Mystery, inviting and needing the friendship of our humanity, granting us light for life here and “authentic tidings” of life hereafter.

— George A. Buttrick,
Prayer

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