I was struck by the first reading this morning from 1 Samuel 1:9ff. Hannah, who is a type of Mary, prays before the Tabernacle of the Lord, her lips are moving but she only mutters so Eli the priest thinks she is drunk. The Psalms so often speak of 'crying out to the Lord' or 'shouting in his presence' or 'making a loud noise unto the Lord', that,I suspect, was how Jews prayed.
Eli's accusation of drunkenness is precisely what the disciples are accused of on Pentecoste morning, 'Amethystos' they cry, 'we are 'not drunk' but filled with the Holy Spirit', and so to this day bishops wear an amethyst ring as a sign that they are not drunk but filled with the Holy Spirit.
Is muttering prayer a sign of the being filled with the Holy Spirit? Is this one of the reasons why in both East and West the Canon or Eucharistic Prayer was said sotto voce or muttered. Is muttering prayer a sign of the Spirit? Is it all down to Hannah?
In the bitterness of her soul she prayed to the Lord with many tears and made a vow, saying, ‘O Lord of Hosts! If you will take notice of the distress of your servant, and bear me in mind and not forget your servant and give her a man-child, I will give him to the Lord for the whole of his life and no razor shall ever touch his head.’
While she prayed before the Lord which she did for some time, Eli was watching her mouth, for she was speaking under her breath; her lips were moving but her voice could not be heard. He therefore supposed that she was drunk and said to her, ‘How long are you going to be in this drunken state? Rid yourself of your wine.’ ‘No, my lord,’ Hannah replied ‘I am a woman in great trouble; I have taken neither wine nor strong drink – I was pouring out my soul before the Lord. Do not take your maidservant for a worthless woman; all this time I have been speaking from the depth of my grief and my resentment.’ Then Eli answered her: ‘Go in peace,’ he said ‘and may the God of Israel grant what you have asked of him.’ And she said, ‘May your maidservant find favour in your sight’; and with that the woman went away; she returned to the hall and ate and was dejected no longer.