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 Contents: UU World July/August 2002
Contents: July/August 2002

h e r i t a g e

Language of the Heart

by A. Powell Davies

Prayer is the language of the heart, akin to poetry. Its concern is not with exact description, as that of prose so often is, but with reality itself and with the power to evoke our spiritual resources. Prayer goes on where other language leaves off: It has to do with what is least known and yet most deeply felt. The truth it touches is too great for logical precision and is corroborated not by argument but in experience. Nevertheless, prayer of all things should never be careless. It should carry integrity to its highest intensity.

Everyone prays, although not everyone admits it. Even a curse is a kind of prayer — a prayer inverted. Under the strain of difficult conditions, or in severe loss or bereavement, or when emotionally moved by a scene of great beauty — as at many other times when we are deeply stirred — there is something within us that cries out for expression. Though we cannot understand the mystery of the world about us, we feel its kinship with the mystery within us. This mystery, too, we do not understand but we know it in our own aliveness. Something there is that will not allow it to be silent; it speaks out in our own voices.

The Rev. Dr. A. Powell Davies, born one hundred years ago, served as minister of All Souls Church, Unitarian, in Washington, D.C., from 1944 until his death in 1957. His many books include The Language of the Heart: A Book of Prayers (1956); this passage is excerpted from the book's preface. See profile, page 56.

 Contents: UU World July/August 2002
UU World XVI:4 (July/August 2002): 17

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