The Quote Garden

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 Est. 1998

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Quotations about Prayer


Pythagoras said that the time when men are honestest, is when they present themselves before the gods. If we can overhear the prayer, we shall know the man. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Prayers," in The Dial, July 1842

If you ask, "What is the use of praying?" I answer, "Woe is me if I do not pray!" I pray on the principle that wine knocks the cork out of a bottle. There is an inward fermentation, and there must be a vent somewhere. I pray because it is easier to pray than not to pray. It is the soul that prays first: the tongue wags afterwards. It is no small privilege that we have of talking with God, and of laying our troubles upon him so as to feel relieved of them. ~Henry Ward Beecher

Pray! Have I prayed! When I'm worn with all my praying!
When I've bored the blessed angels with my battery of prayer!
~G. A. Studdert Kennedy, "Temptation," The Sorrows of God and Other Poems, 1924

Practical prayer is harder on the soles of your shoes than on the knees of your trousers. ~Austin O'Malley, Keystones of Thought, 1914

As long as there are tests, there will be prayer in schools. ~Author unknown

If you talk to God, you are praying; if God talks to you, you have schizophrenia. If the dead talk to you, you are a spiritualist; if God talks to you, you are a schizophrenic. ~Thomas Szasz, The Second Sin, 1973

Prayer is when you talk to God; meditation is when you listen to God. ~Author unknown

Prayer is that hunger for union which never lets go of us. It beats into our blood with the very beat of our hearts. It is a thirst that can be quenched by nothing except God. It is as if one's whole body is poised on tiptoe, our hands stretching upward as if to touch the cosmos. ~Catherine de Hueck Doherty, Soul of My Soul: Reflections from a Life of Prayer, 1985

Some have been to the mountain. I have been to my knees by the side of my bed. ~Robert Brault,

Never trust to prayer without using every means in your power, and never use the means without trusting in prayer. ~Harriet Beecher Stowe, "Last Days in Cloudland," Oldtown Folks, 1869

      I used to think the Lord's Prayer was a short prayer; but as I live longer, and see more of life, I begin to believe there is no such thing as getting through it. If a man, in praying that prayer, were to be stopped by every word until he had thoroughly prayed it, it would take him a lifetime. "Our Father" — there would be a wall a hundred feet high in just those two words to most men. If they might say, "Our Tyrant," or "Our Monarch," or even "Our Creator," they could get along with it; but "Our Father" — why, a man is almost a saint who can pray that.
      You read, "Thy will be done," and you say to yourself, "Oh, I can pray that;" and all the time your mind goes round and round in immense circuits and far-off distances; but God is continually bringing the circuits nearer to you, till He says, "How is it about your temper and your pride? How is it about your business and your daily life?"
      This is a revolutionary petition. It would make many a man's shop and store tumble to the ground to utter it. Who can stand at the end of the avenue along which all his pleasant thoughts and wishes are blossoming like flowers, and send these terrible words, "Thy will be done," crashing down through it? I think it is the most fearful prayer to pray in the world. ~Henry Ward Beecher

And I about made up my mind to pray, and see if I couldn't try to quit being the kind of a boy I was and be better. So I kneeled down. But the words wouldn't come. Why wouldn't they? It warn't no use to try and hide it from Him. Nor from me, neither. I knowed very well why they wouldn't come. It was because my heart warn't right; it was because I wasn't square; it was because I was playing double. I was letting on to give up sin, but away inside of me I was holding on to the biggest one of all. I was trying to make my mouth say I would do the right thing and the clean thing... but deep down in me I knowed it was a lie, and He knowed it. You can't pray a lie — I found that out. ~Mark Twain, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, 1884

If we refuse to pray until we can elucidate the mystery of prayer, we are as foolish as a man would be who would shut off the rain from his garden until he understands the balancings of the clouds. ~Alfred Rowland, "The Clouds: God's Angels of the Sea," in The Sunday Magazine (London), 1884

Let your prayers be humble, short, but energick. ~Countess Dowager of Carlisle, Thoughts in the Form of Maxims addressed to Young Ladies, on their First Establishment in the World, 1790  [Isabella Howard (1721–1795) —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]

I do not always bend the knee to pray:
I often pray in crowded city street
In some hard crisis of a busy day—
Prayer is my sure and comforting retreat...
~George Elliston, "Prayer," Through Many Windows, 1924

I take deep pleasure in prayer — and making intimate and intense contact with the mysterious life of God. There is nothing in the world that can substitute the joy of prayer. ~Clarice Lispector (1920–1977), A Breath of Life: Pulsations, written 1974–1977, published posthumously 1978, edited by Olga Borelli and Benjamin Moser, translated from the Portuguese by Johnny Lorenz, 2012  [Angela —tg]

      I tried to sweat my life into beauty, and then one day I thought I would sit me down in the furrows. I would stop the wheels long enough to enlist God. I would stop the mad rush that hour, that moment, and sit me down and pray.
      I would come with tranquility, with repose of the flesh, with the institution of easement and peace.... I would lift with my yearning that which I could not lift with my arms. The potency of my prayer would be mightier than brawn and swifter than feet. ~Muriel Strode (1875–1964), "A Soul's Faring: XXVI," A Soul's Faring, 1921

I believe in God, and that there are pieces of him, called love and goodness, in everyone. I also believe in prayer, not the memorized type mumbled in church but the spontaneous kind spoken, ironically, in the last breath of the day, when the lamp has been dimmed and the bedspread drawn down, and it's just you and those pieces of God in you, alone.... I suspect that when a man grows too big to kneel, then he is destined to fall. ~Joseph Kita, "God," Wisdom of Our Fathers, 1999

On her knees so, she could pray a powerful prayer, for the lower down one got, the higher the prayer went. ~Cid Ricketts Sumner, Tammy Out of Time, 1958

Perils pale in the presence of prayer. ~William Arthur Ward, Thoughts of a Christian Optimist, 1968

We thank
on our knees
with folded hands
for full bellies
and fuller hearts
~Terri Guillemets, "Whole body, whole spirit," 2019

In times of steady calm and extraordinary change alike, Americans of all walks of life have long turned to prayer to seek refuge, demonstrate gratitude, and discover peace. Sustaining us through great uncertainty and moments of sorrow, prayer allows us an outlet for introspection, and for expressing our hopes, desires, and fears. ~Barack Obama, 2016 May 4th, of National Day of Prayer

Oft my prayers are only sighs... ~Emily C. Huntingdon, "Two on Earth and Two in Heaven"

Saying one's prayers isn't exactly the same thing as praying.... ~L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

Prayer is communication with the Divine. It can be whispered or chanted or written or expressed in the work you do. However it is expressed, it is never in vain. ~Donna Wilk Cardillo

You don't always have to pray for something, or to someone — you can just, simply, pray. ~Terri Guillemets

It is not well for a man to pray cream and live skim-milk. ~Henry Ward Beecher

I cannot pray!—
My soul is at war with God!
~Edgar A. Poe, Politian, 1835 (Lalage)

You pray in your distress and in your need; would that you might pray also in the fullness of your joy and in your days of abundance. For what is prayer but the expansion of yourself into the living ether? And if it is for your comfort to pour your darkness into space, it is also for your delight to pour forth the dawning of your heart. ~Khalil Gibran, The Prophet, 1923

To one who has been long in city pent,
'T is very sweet to look into the fair
And open face of heaven,—to breathe a prayer
Full in the smile of the blue firmament...
~John Keats (1795–1821)  ["Breathing prayer" phrases go back at least to 1772 and the concept centuries prior to that. —tg]

Namiko:  Wait, I think a bowl of rice will do you good.
Yasui:  If you will permit me, I will pray first and eat the rice afterward.
~"The Daimyo," Plays of Old Japan, translated by Leo Duran, 1921

Prayer is for the grateful and for the grateful-to-be. ~Terri Guillemets

I jest flopped down on my marrow-bones,
Crotch-deep in the snow, and prayed.
~John Hay (1838–1905), "Little Breeches"

It is not eloquence, but earnestness, not the definition of helplessness, but the feeling of it; not figures of speech, but compunction of soul. ~Hannah More, "Prayer," Practical Piety

Forgetting God all Day, Men deem it right
To ask Him to remember them at Night.
~Arthur Guiterman, "Of Prayer," A Poet's Proverbs, 1924

PRAY, v.  To ask that the laws of the universe be annulled in behalf of a single petitioner confessedly unworthy. ~Ambrose Bierce

God answers first the prayers we should have prayed. ~Robert Brault,

God always answers our prayers, but sometimes the answer is no. ~Author unknown

Sometimes, praying is releasing our pent-up, used-up life and making room in ourselves for new life. ~Terri Guillemets, "Knees down, heart open, head up," 2021

Have I the courage of my prayers? I pray for a thing, but if it came, am I sure I should have the fortitude to accept it? Have I the capacity to accept truth? We pray, and have not the courage to accept the answer to our prayers — and still we pray.
We invite a thing to depart, and then nail it down for fear it will. We pray for our misery to go, and when it gets up to do so, we go over and lock the door. We cry for freedom, and we cry harder when we get it. ~Muriel Strode (1875–1964), "A Soul's Faring: LXXVII," A Soul's Faring, 1921

Divine Protector! let my prayer
      Be wafted on the morning air,
      Bright as the bird that soars on high,
      Light as the breeze which fans the sky,
      Swift as the light'ning through the air...
All nature flows in rapturous lay,
      Life beams in one eternal ray...
The prayer of soul—the soul of prayer,
      How unrestrained upon the air,
      As perfume from the beauteous flower
      Is breathed in sweetness more than power,
      So let our incense fill the air
      With deep humility and prayer.
~"The Prayer of Soul," written from impression by the spirit of Mrs. Hemans, by Mrs. H.A. Adams (medium), in The Sacred Circle, Volume I, edited by Judge Edmonds, Dr. Dexter, and O.G. Warren, 1855

When we pray, our hearts glow a glorious joy that lights our souls and all the world around us. ~Terri Guillemets

When prayers go up, blessings come down. ~Author unknown

Our prayers make beggars of us all. We pray for blessings, when they can only be evolved; for peace when it is a result; and for grace when it is a growth.
We ask as alms that which is ours by divine diligence. We pray for things to be bestowed that have their origin only in us, and for things to be given that are already in our possession. ~Muriel Strode (1875–1964), "A Soul's Faring: LXXXVII," A Soul's Faring, 1921

Common people do not pray, my lord: they only beg. ~Bernard Shaw (1856–1950), Misalliance, 1910

Grow flowers of gratitude in the soil of prayer. ~Terri Guillemets

Prayer puts pressing problems into proper perspective. ~William Arthur Ward (1921–1994)

It is of course possible to dance a prayer. ~Terri Guillemets

Teach me, Father, how to go
Softly as the grasses grow;
Hush my soul to meet the shock
Of the wild world as a rock;
But my spirit, propt with power,
Make as simple as a flower.
Let the dry heart fill its cup,
Like a poppy looking up;
Let life lightly wear her crown,
Like a poppy looking down,
When its heart is filled with dew,
And its life begins anew...
~Edwin Markham, "A Prayer"

Pray so hard that your words glow in the dark. ~Terri Guillemets

Sometimes the answer to our prayers is to become the answer to someone else's prayers. ~Robert Brault,

...prayer draws us near to our own souls, and purifies our thoughts. ~Herman Melville, Mardi, 1849

Just pray for a tough hide and a tender heart. ~Ruth Graham, quoted in The Reader's Digest, 1992

when it's a glorious day
I pray
it's a glorious day
when I pray
~Terri Guillemets

Prayer is the balloon of faith by which the soul rises heavenward. ~James Lendall Basford (1845–1915), Seven Seventy Seven Sensations, 1897

Who rises from Prayer a better man, his prayer is answered. ~George Meredith, "The Blossoming Season," The Ordeal of Richard Feverel: A History of a Father and Son, 1859

❧ When I was a slave I tried praying for three years. I prayed that God would emancipate me, but it was not till I prayed with my legs that I was emancipated.
❧ We want practical religion — religion that will do something. When I commenced praying with my legs, I felt the answer coming down.
❧ Do not trust to Providence and prayer, but go to work honestly, systematically, and conscientiously. I had prayed for three long years that freedom might come to me, but it never came until prayers got down into my legs and carried me away.
~Frederick Douglass, speeches, 1859–1879, transcribed and paraphrased by various reporters

The man who gets on his knees has not learned the right use of his legs. ~Lemuel K. Washburn

Oh! none are so absorb'd, as not to feel
Sweet thoughts like music coming o'er the mind:
When prayer, the purest incense of a soul,
Hath risen to the throne of heaven, the heart
Is mellow'd, and the shadows that becloud
Our state of darken'd being, glide away;...
~Robert Montgomery, "Beautiful Influences," A Universal Prayer; Death; A Vision of Heaven; and A Vision of Hell; &c. &c., 1829

Prayer lights our souls through dark times. ~Terri Guillemets

And then with one long, wild, appealing glance skyward, as though looking a prayer which she dared not utter even in her heart... ~Bram Stoker, The Watter's Mou', 1895

Pray on the shadowy hillsides of hardship and on the sunny highlands of happiness. ~Terri Guillemets

Am I a person of prayer? That depends — is it prayer when you find yourself thinking aloud in places where only God could be listening? ~Robert Brault,

Prayer is a triumph, in whatever form. ~Terri Guillemets

...with a truly righteous amen upon his lips. ~Alwyn M. Thurber, Quaint Crippen, 1896

Some days my prayer is a rainfall of tears, other days the sunshine of joy, and sometimes it's a sheltering umbrella — but no matter what I'm weathering in my life, my prayer is first and always the infinite horizon of gratitude. ~Terri Guillemets

Prayer is exhaling the spirit of man and inhaling the spirit of God. ~Edwin Keith

Prayer is the spirit speaking truth to Truth;
The expiration of the thing inspired...
~Philip James Bailey, Festus: A Poem, 1839

Pleads he in earnest? look upon his face;
His eyes do drop no tears, his prayers are in jest;
His words come from his mouth, ours from our breast:
He prays but faintly and would be denied;
We pray with heart and soul and all beside:
His weary joints would gladly rise, I know;
Our knees shall kneel till to the ground they grow:
His prayers are full of false hypocrisy;
Ours of true zeal and deep integrity.
Our prayers do out-pray his; then let them have
That mercy which true prayer ought to have.
~William Shakespeare, Richard II, c.1595  [V, 3, Duchess of York]

Sometimes prayers collide and miracles are born. ~Terri Guillemets, "Jane & the sun," 1988

Some knees bend only under the load of a heavy heart; some eyes are opened only after the head is bowed. ~William Arthur Ward

Prayer helps hold together a broken soul. ~Terri Guillemets

Prayer is a joy and a privilege, available to all of God's children. The Lord longs to hear all of our concerns — any concern too small to be turned into a prayer is too small to be made into a burden. ~Corrie ten Boom, "The Power of Prayer," Clippings from My Notebook, 1982

The candle of prayer answers the darkness. ~Terri Guillemets

Call on God, but row away from the rocks. ~Proverb

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published 2000 Dec 23
revised 2021 Jul 12
last saved 2022 Aug 20