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Quaker Queries

Quaker's often use what they call "queries" as a focus for individual and collective meditation, consideration and prayer, guiding Quaker seekers in their search for greater love, truth, and insight into how to serve humanity and live lives that are consistent with their core values. Queries can be self-created, group-created, or drawn up by higher Quaker authorities as official mandates for exploration. They are intended as questions to live with and into.

At a personal level, queries can be used to probe-in-depth into some issue or concern, seeking the truth of one's deepest responses to it. One writer suggests: "The object is to stir the conscience in a gentle but firm way, and, through self-examination, to bring about a change or reaffirmation of attitude or behavior." Others describe a query as a way of opening themselves to divine guidance and transformation which, as in other forms of earnest prayer, can happen instantly.

In some Quaker traditions, the queries are used collectively to derive a "sense of the meeting", an explicit, shared awareness of where they are at as a spiritual community of seekers, how they are doing, where they have fallen short, or where they want to go. Sometimes Quaker meetings (which are organizationally analogous to churches or temples) will share with each other their communal responses to the same queries, seeking support from each other in living more Quakerly lives.

Queries, suggests Quaker lecturer Martin Grundy, can provide an occasion "to take a piece of the spiritual life of the meeting and examine -- wrestle with -- our understanding of how we are called to live as Friends,.... an opportunity for a corporate discipline of paying attention to what God might have to teach us.... Careful and prayerful consideration of the queries can be the outward structure that melds the individuals and the faith community.... [providing] a checklist of how faithful we are as we trudge along on our journey, together."

See also

Quaker queries as collective self-discipline

Examples of Queries, from Tampa Friends Meeting

The Quaker Way of Discussing Business

Collective Intelligence and Quaker Practice

Clearness Committees


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