Letters - 23 July 2021

From God and worship to Centering Prayer

God and worship

In a sharing session we explored what we meant by the words ‘God’ and ‘Worship’. We saw God as a metaphor for life-giving energy, the seed within, love, generosity, compassion and light, all those things that enable creation. Others, I think, would see God as all that is, both in the seemingly destructive as well as in the creative elements that are in all of us and in the whole world. 

We then looked at worship, which we saw as an experience of awareness and awakening to the presence and power of this vast energy that is both within and beyond.
I think it is important that we talk to each other, to tease out what we think, to explore the gaps in our dividedness and to enrich one another. I suggest that this is vastly more rewarding than the kind of either/or discussions that tend to tear us apart.

We then reflected on the idea of worshipping God and agreed that it sounds very much the opposite of Quaker belief because that kind of worship implies a top-down religion, which gives God some kind of absolute power. It might also imply idolatry.

How, then, would Quakers describe their relationship with God or Spirit? Maybe we could start with the idea of equality and co-creation expressed in the phrase ‘that of God in all of us’. Some may say they surrender to divine will, meaning they are in some way immersing themselves in it, becoming at one with it. Others may prefer to say they are taught by and led by the inner light. Some may see this as a reminder to travel together.

With our different experiences and interpretations, what matters is that we are awakening to the promptings of love and truth in our hearts and doing our best to follow them. In all our diversity, surely this is our starting point?

What is important is that we listen to one another and share our understanding. Early Quakers believed that they had a pentecostal experience of speaking in tongues. Let us talk about our experience and interpretation with whoever we feel called to speak to, choose our words accordingly and enjoy our diversity.

Ruth Tod


Thank you, Geoffrey Durham (11 June), for your stark and challenging perspective.

I’m told that without my heart pacemaker I would slowly fade away and die. What is the equivalent device for the Religious Society of Friends?

Robert Gibson

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