“If the Holy Spirit – God’s way of being with us, working through us, and speaking to us – is the way in which continuity is maintained between the life of Jesus and the life of Jesus’ community, prayer is the primary way in which the community actively receives and participates in that presence and working and speaking.
Prayer is our way of being attentively present to God who is present to us in the Holy Spirit….
Prayer is established as the common language of the community, the lingua franca if you will, as the conception, pregnancy, and birth stories (in Luke) of John and Jesus are set before us, these stories are the necessary groundwork for the gospel story. Five prayers articulate a language of listening and believing, a language of receptive and responsive participation as God speaks the life of Jesus and the Jesus community into existence.
The five prayers have been taken up by the community and used as a primer in forming the basic syntax of a people who owe their existence and identity to the presence and word of the Holy Spirit among them. They have been installed as basic elements in our life together, keeping us attentive and responsive to the Holy Spirit in and among us through the practice of prayer. They are commonly referred to in the church by the Latin word(s) that begin each prayer:
The Fiat mihi (Luke 1:38)
The Magnificat (1:46-55)
The Benedictus (1:68-79)
The Gloria in excelsis (2:14)
The Nunc dimittis (2:29-32)
These five prayers articulate the range of response to what the Holy Spirit does in creating and shaping community. These conception, pregnancy, and birth prayers provide a vocabulary, a syntax for participation in the way the Spirit has been, is, and will be speaking and working in our lives.”
Eugene Peterson, Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places, p.272-276