Who one believes God to be is most accurately revealed … in the way one speaks to God when no one else is listening.

Nancy Mairs, Ordinary Time

Prayer is not asking. Prayer is putting oneself in the hands of God, at his disposition, and listening to his voice in the depths of our hearts.

Mother Teresa

There's more gossip passed around under the guise of prayer request than anything I know.

James T. "Jimmy" Draper, quoted by Baptist Press

Prayer, as St. Theresa tells us, consists not in speaking a lot, but in loving a lot.

Charles de Foucauld, Silent Pilgrimage to God

We pray best when we are no longer aware of praying.

Cassian, quoted in John Howard Griffin, The Hermitage Journals

As the floor is swept everyday, so is the soul cleansed everyday by confession.

Hugh Connolly, The Irish Penitentials

Those people who pray know what most around them either don't know or choose to ignore: centering life in the insatiable demands of the ego is the sure path to doom . …They know that life confined to the self is a prison, a joy-killing, neurosis-producing, disease-fomenting prison.

Eugene Peterson, Earth and Altar: The Community of Prayer in a Self-Bound Society

I am reminded that one old saint was asked, "Which is the more important: reading God's Word or praying?" To which he replied, "Which is more important to a bird: the right wing or the left?"

A.W. Tozer, Jesus, Our Man in Glory

Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach: "Full experiences of God can never be planned or achieved. They are spontaneous moments of grace, almost accidental."
Bo Lozoff: "Rabbi, if God-realization is just accidental, why do we work so hard doing all these spiritual practices?"
Rabbi Carlebach: "To be as accident-prone as possible."

Bo Lozoff, It's a Meaningful Life—It Just Takes Practice

We must distinguish prayer from prayers. Saying prayers is one activity among others. But prayer is an attitude of the heart that can transform every activity. We cannot say prayers at all times, but we ought to "pray without ceasing" (1 Thess. 5:17). That means we ought to keep our heart open for the meaning of life. Gratefulness does this, moment by moment. Gratefulness is, therefore, prayerfulness.

David Stendl-Rast, Gratefulness, The Heart of Prayer

Prayer is not a convenient device for imposing our will upon God, or for bending his will to ours, but the prescribed way of subordinating our will to his. It is by prayer that we seek God's will, embrace it and align ourselves with it. Every true prayer is a variation on the theme, "Your will be done." Our Master taught us to say this in the pattern prayer he gave us, and added the supreme example of it in Gethsemane.

John Stott, The Letters of John

Related Elsewhere

See Christianity Today'sPrayer and Spirituality archive.

Past Reflections columns include:

Suffering and Grief (May 20, 2002)
Writers and Words (April 18, 2002)
Crucifixion (March 28, 2002)
God's Mission (February 13, 2002)
On Enemies (January 8, 2002)
Life After Christmas (December 26, 2001)
Love & Marriage (November 13, 2001)
The Word of God (October 22, 2001)
Leadership (October 11, 2001)
Suffering (September 13, 2001)
Change (August 14, 2001)
Living Tradition (July 18, 2001)
Sacred Spaces (June 11, 2001)
Friendship (May 17, 2001)

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