Last modified on 6 October 2014, at 14:00

Prayer

To feel the supreme and moving beauty of the spectacle to which Nature invites her ephemeral guests! ... that is what I call prayer. ~ Claude Debussy

Prayer is the act of attempting to communicate, commonly with a sequence of words, with a deity or spirit for the purpose of worshipping, requesting guidance, requesting assistance, confessing sins, as an act of reparation or to express one's thoughts and emotions. The words of the prayer may take the form of intercession, a hymn, incantation or a spontaneous utterance in the person's praying words. Secularly, the term can also be used in referring too "hope".

QuotesEdit

Prayer invites the Eternal Presence to suffuse or spirits and let God's will prevail in our lives. ~ Shaarei Tefillah
Alphabetized by author

A-DEdit

  • PRAY, v. To ask that the laws of the universe be annulled in behalf of a single petitioner confessedly unworthy.
  • God answers sharp and sudden on some prayers,
    And thrusts the thing we have prayed for in our face,
    A gauntlet with a gift in 't.
  • When the mind is not dissipated upon extraneous things, nor diffused over the world about us through the senses, it withdraws within itself, and of its own accord ascends to the contemplation of God.
  • Suppose your prayers aren't answered. What do you say? "Well, it's God's will." "Thy will be done." Fine, but if it's God's will, and He's going to do what He wants to anyway, why the fuck bother praying in the first place? Seems like a big waste of time to me! Couldn't you just skip the praying part and go right to His will? It's all very confusing.
  • I noticed that all the prayers I used to offer to God, and all the prayers I now offer to Joe Pesci, are being answered at about the same 50% rate. Half the time I get what I want, half the time I don't. Same as God, 50-50. Same as the four-leaf clover and the horseshoe, the wishing well and the rabbit's foot, same as the Mojo Man, same as the Voodoo Lady who tells you your fortune by squeezing the goat's testicles, it's all the same: 50-50. So just pick your superstition, sit back, make a wish, and enjoy yourself.
  • Say your prayers. And I'll say mine. Because I really think it helps.
  • You pray for yourself and just ask God to give you strength.
    • Ben Carson, Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story (p. 46)
  • When I don't have an answer, I pray. God is the only alternative source of help.
  • So I'm going to say my prayers tonight before I go to sleep. I hope you'll do the same. I believe if we do that, we'll all have less to worry about tomorrow.
  • He prayeth well who loveth well
    Both man and bird and beast.
  • To feel the supreme and moving beauty of the spectacle to which Nature invites her ephemeral guests! ... that is what I call prayer.
    • Claude Debussy, quoted in Claude Debussy: His Life and Works (1933) by Léon Vallas.

E - HEdit

  • Prayer that craves a particular commodity, — any thing less than all good, — is vicious.
  • In memorizing the prayer, it may be helpful to remind yourself that you are not addressing some extraterrestrial being outside you. The kingdom of heaven is within us, and the Lord is enshrined in the depths of our own consciousness. In this prayer we are calling deep into ourselves, appealing to the spark of the divine that is our real nature.
  • Reader, pray that soon this Iron Age
    Will crumble, and Beauty escape the rusting cage.
    • Philip José Farmer, in "Beauty in This Iron Age" in Starlanes #11 (Fall 1953); re-published in Pearls From Peoria (2006)
  • Prayer is not an asking. It is a longing of the soul. It is a daily admission of one's weakness.
  • In spite of despair staring me in the face on the political horizon, I have never lost my peace. In fact, I have found people who envy my peace. That peace, I tell you, comes from prayer; I am not a man of learning, but I humbly claim to be a man of prayer. I am indifferent as to the form. Every one is a law unto himself in that respect. But there are some well-marked roads, and it is safe to walk along the beaten tracks, trod by the ancient teachers. Well, I have given my personal testimony. Let every one try and find that as a result of daily prayer, he adds some thing new to his life, something which nothing can be compared.
  • Nothing fails like prayer.
    • Attributed to Anne Nicol Gaylor in Dan Barker, The Good Atheist (2011), p. 98
  • At church, with meek and unaffected grace,
    His looks adorn'd the venerable place;
    Truth from his lips prevailed with double sway,
    And fools, who came to scoff, remain'd to pray.
  • What returns does prayer show? None, if it is real prayer. For prayer is for growth. We can therefore, never return to what we were thank heaven, for we are growers. So prayer is a call. And it's answered by a call. We call up and we are called on. We're summoned, told to advance, to grow. That's the nerve of prayer, as prayer is the nerve of religion.
  • He that will learn to pray, let him go to Sea.
  • In prayer the lips ne'er act the winning part
    Without the sweet concurrence of the heart.
  • Prayer invites the Eternal Presence to suffuse or spirits and let God's will prevail in our lives. Prayer cannot bring water to parched fields, or mend a broken bridge, or rebuild a ruined city; but prayer can water an arid soul, mend a broken heart, and rebuild a weakened will.
    • Prayer based on statements of Abraham Joshua Heschel in Shaarei Tefillah (Gates of Prayer, a siddur). Quoted in The Jewish Moral Virtues (1999) by Eugene B. Borowitz and Frances Weinman Schwartz.

I - LEdit

  • If prayer know how much covered by the mercy of God, he will never remove his head from prostration.
    • Ali ,Ghurar al-Hikam wa Durar al-Kalim . P 261
  • It may be that ministers really think that their prayers do good, and it may be that frogs imagine that their croaking brings spring.
  • Who is a worshiper? What is prayer? What is real religion? Let me answer these questions.
    Good, honest, faithful work, is worship.
    The man who ploughs the fields and fells the forests; the man who works in mines, the man who battles with the winds and waves out on the wide sea, controlling the commerce of the world; these men are worshipers. The man who goes into the forest, leading his wife by the hand, who builds him a cabin, who makes a home in the wilderness, who helps to people and civilize and cultivate a continent, is a worshiper.
    Labor is the only prayer that Nature answers; it is the only prayer that deserves an answer, — good, honest, noble work.
  • The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.
  • But petitional prayer is only one department of prayer; and if we take the word in the wider sense as meaning every kind of inward communion or conversation with the power recognized as divine, we can easily see that scientific criticism leaves it untouched. Prayer in this wide sense is the very soul and essence of religion.
    • William James, Varieties of Religious Experience (1902), Lecture XIX, "Other Characteristics".
  • For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith. Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.
  • He spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint.
    • Luke 18:1 (KJV)
    • Variant: Then Jesus told his disciples…that they should always pray and not give up.

M - PEdit

  • Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.
  • Hear his sighs though mute;
    Unskillful with what words to pray, let me
    Interpret for him.
  • But that from us aught should ascend to Heav'n
    So prevalent as to concern the mind
    Of God, high-bless'd, or to incline His will,
    Hard to belief may seem; yet this will prayer.
  • And if by prayer
    Incessant I could hope to change the will
    Of Him who all things can, I would not cease
    To weary Him with my assiduous cries.
  • Mein einziges Gebet ist das um Vertiefung. Durch sie allein kann ich wieder zu Gott gelangen. Vertiefung! Vertiefung!
    • My only prayer is a prayer for depth. Through depth alone can I come closer to God. Depth! Depth!
  • Praying without ceasing is not ritualized, nor are there even words. It is a constant state of awareness of oneness with God; it is a sincere seeking for a good thing; and it is a concentration on the thing sought, with faith that it is obtainable.
    • Peace Pilgrim, in Peace Pilgrim: Her Life and Work in Her Own Words‎ (1994), p. 75.
  • He pray'd by quantity,
    And with his repetitions, long and loud,
    All knees were weary.

Q - TEdit

  • Prayer is the expression of desire; its value comes from our inward aspirations, from their tenor and their strength. Take away desire, the prayer ceases; increase or diminish its intensity, the prayer soars upward or has no wings. Inversely, take away the expression while leaving the desire, and the prayer in many ways remains intact. Has a child who says nothing but looks longingly at a toy in a shop-window, and then at his smiling mother, not formulated the most moving prayer? And even if he had not seen the toy, is not the desire for play, innate in the child as is the thirst for movement, in the eyes of his parents a standing prayer which they grant?
    • Antonin Sertillanges, The Intellectual Life (1920), translated by Mary Ryan. Cork: The Mercier Press, 1948, p. 57.
  • Bow, stubborn knees; and, heart, with strings of steel,
    Be soft as sinews of the new-born babe.
  • My words fly up, my thoughts remain below;
    Words without thoughts never to heaven go.
  • Rather let my head
    Stoop to the block than these knees bow to any
    Save to the God of heaven and to my king.
  • Go with me, like good angels, to my end;
    And, as the long divorce of steel falls on me,
    Make of your prayers one sweet sacrifice,
    And lift my soul to heaven.
  • My prayers
    Are not words duly hallow'd nor my wishes
    More worth than empty vanities; yet prayers and wishes
    Are all I can return.
  • His worst fault is, that he is given to prayer; he is something peevish that way; but nobody but has his fault; but let that pass.
  • If you bethink yourself of any crime
    Unreconcil'd as yet to heaven and grace,
    Solicit for it straight.
  • Supplication, worship, prayer are no superstition; they are acts more real than the acts of eating, drinking, sitting or walking. It is no exaggeration to say that they alone are real.
    • Mahatma Gandhi, quoted in The Ways and Power of Love: Types, Factors, and Techniques of Moral Transformation (2002) by Pitirim Aleksandrovich Sorokin, Ch. 18: The Techniques of Altruistic Transformation (concluded), p. 339.
  • Prayer needs no speech. I have not the slightest doubt that prayer is an unfailing means of cleansing the heart of passions. But it must be combined with the utmost humility.
    • Mahatma Gandhi, quoted in The Ways and Power of Love: Types, Factors, and Techniques of Moral Transformation (2002) by Pitirim Aleksandrovich Sorokin, Ch. 18: The Techniques of Altruistic Transformation (concluded), p. 339.
  • Children are the keys of Paradise … They alone are good and wise, Because their thoughts, their very lives, are prayer.
  • At the highest level of consciousness, an individual is alone. Such solitude can seem strange, unusual, even difficult. Foolish people try to escape it by means of various dissipations in order to get away from this high point, to some lower point, but wise people remain at this high point, with the help of prayer.
    • Leo Tolstoy, A Calendar of Wisdom, P. Sekirin, trans. (1997)
  • Not prayer without faith, nor faith without prayer, but prayer in faith, is the cost of spiritual gifts and graces.
  • It is best to read the weather forecast before we pray for rain.
    • Mark Twain, in Merle Johnson (ed.), More Maxims of Mark (1927), p. 8

V - ZEdit

  • School children and students who love God should never say: “For my part I like mathematics”; “I like French”; “I like Greek.” They should learn to like all these subjects, because all of them develop that faculty of attention which, directed toward God, is the very substance of prayer.
  • Rapt into still communion that transcends
    The imperfect offices of prayer and praise,
    His mind was a thanksgiving to the power
    That made him; it was blessedness and love!
  • Prayer ardent opens heaven.
    • Edward Young, Night Thoughts (1742-1745), Night VIII, line 721.

Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical QuotationsEdit

Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 625-29.
  • Yet then from all my grief, O Lord,
    Thy mercy set me free,
    Whilst in the confidence of pray'r
    My soul took hold on thee.
    • Joseph Addison, Miscellaneous Poems, Divine Ode, made by a Gentleman on the Conclusion of his Travels, Verse 6.
  • And from the prayer of Want, and plaint of Woe,
    O never, never turn away thine ear!
    Forlorn, in this bleak wilderness below,
    Ah! what were man, should Heaven refuse to hear!
    • James Beattie, The Lay of the Last Minstrel (1805), Book I, Stanza 29.
  • She knows omnipotence has heard her prayer
    And cries, "It shall be done—sometime, somewhere."
  • Just my vengeance complete,
    The man sprang to his feet,
    Stood erect, caught at God's skirts, and prayed!
    So, I was afraid!
  • They never sought in vain that sought the Lord aright!
    • Robert Burns, The Cotter's Saturday Night (1786), Stanza 6.
  • Father! no prophet's laws I seek,—
    Thy laws in Nature's works appear;—
    I own myself corrupt and weak,
    Yet will I pray, for thou wilt hear.
  • Father of Light! great God of Heaven!
    Hear'st thou the accents of despair?
    Can guilt like man's be e'er forgiven?
    Can vice atone for crimes by prayer?
  • Pray to be perfect, though material leaven
    Forbid the spirit so on earth to be;
    But if for any wish thou darest not pray,
    Then pray to God to cast that wish away.
  • The saints will aid if men will call:
    For the blue sky bends over all.
  • But maybe prayer is a road to rise,
    A mountain path leading toward the skies
    To assist the spirit who truly tries.
    But it isn't a shibboleth, creed, nor code,
    It isn't a pack-horse to carry your load,
    It isn't a wagon, it's only a road.
    And perhaps the reward of the spirit who tries
    Is not the goal, but the exercise!
  • I always pray before any of the operation. I think God help me know what to do.
    • Ben Carson, Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story. (p. 194)
  • And Satan trembles when he sees
    The weakest saint upon his knees.
  • I ask not a life for the dear ones,
    All radiant, as others have done,
    But that life may have just enough shadow
    To temper the glare of the sun;
    I would pray God to guard them from evil,
    But my prayer would bound back to myself:
    Ah! a seraph may pray for a sinner,
    But a sinner must pray for himself.
  • Our vows are heard betimes! and Heaven takes care
    To grant, before we can conclude the prayer:
    Preventing angels met it half the way,
    And sent us back to praise, who came to pray.
  • Grant folly's prayers that hinder folly's wish,
    And serve the ends of wisdom.
  • Almighty Father! let thy lowly child,
    Strong in his love of truth, be wisely bold,—
    A patriot bard, by sycophants reviled,
    Let him live usefully, and not die old!
  • Though I am weak, yet God, when prayed,
    Cannot withhold his conquering aid.
  • * True prayer is only another name for the love of God. Its excellence does not consist in the multitude of our words; for our Father knoweth what things we have need of before we ask Him. The true prayer is that of the heart, and the heart prays only for what it desires. To pray, then, is to desire — but to desire what God would have us desire.
    He who desires not from the bottom of his heart, offers a deceitful prayer.
  • Ejaculations are short prayers darted up to God on emergent occasions. They are the artillery of devotion, and their principal use is against the fiery darts of the devil.
    • Thomas Fuller, Good Thoughts in Bad Times, Meditations on all Kinds of Prayers, Ejaculations, their Use, V.
  • So a good prayer, though often used, is still fresh and fair in the ears and eyes of Heaven.
    • Thomas Fuller, Good Thoughts in Bad Times, Meditations on all Kinds of Prayers, XII.
  • O Lord of Courage grave,
    O Master of this night of Spring!
    Make firm in me a heart too brave
    To ask Thee anything.
  • Who goes to bed, and doth not pray,
    Maketh two nights to every day!
    • George Herbert, The Temple (1633), The Church, Charms and Knots, Stanza 4.
  • Resort to sermons, but to prayers most:
    Praying's the end of preaching.
  • The prayer of Noah,
    He cried out in the darkness, Hear, O God,
    Hear HIM: hear this one; through the gates of death,
    If life be all past praying for, O give
    To Thy great multitude a way to peace;
    Give them to HIM.
  • Is there never a chink in the world above
    Where they listen for words from below?
  • O God, if in the day of battle I forget Thee, do not Thou forget me.
    • William King attributes the prayer to a soldier, in his Anecdotes of his own time, p. 7. (Ed. 1818).
  • My brother kneels, so saith Kabir,
    To stone and brass in heathen-wise,
    But in my brother's voice I hear
    My own unanswered agonies.
    His God is as his fates assign
    His prayer is all the world's—and mine.
  • I ask and wish not to appear
    More beauteous, rich or gay:
    Lord, make me wiser every year,
    And better every day.
  • You know I say
    Just what I think, and nothing more nor less,
    And, when I pray, my heart is in my prayer.
    I cannot say one thing and mean another:
    If I can't pray, I will not make believe!
  • Let one unceasing, earnest prayer
    Be, too, for light,—for strength to bear
    Our portion of the weight of care,
    That crushes into dumb despair
    One half the human race.
  • Vigilate et orate.
    • Watch and pray.
    • Mark, XIII. 33. (From the Vulgate).
  • O Domine Deus! speravi in te;
    O care mi Jesu! nunc libera me.
    In dura catena, in misera poena,
    Disidero te.
    Languendo, jemendo, et genuflectendo,
    Adoro, imploro, ut liberes me!
    • O Lord, my God,
      I have trusted in Thee;
      O Jesu, my dearest One,
      Now set me free.
      In prison's oppression,
      In sorrow's obsession,
      I weary for Thee.
      With sighing and crying,
      Bowed down in dying,
      I adore Thee, I implore Thee, set me free.
    • Mary, Queen of Scots; written in her Book of Devotion before her execution. Translation by Swinburne, in Mary Stuart.
  • God warms his hands at man's heart when he prays.
  • Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.
    • Matthew, VII. 7.
  • Every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth.
    • Matthew, VII. 8.
  • Not what we wish, but what we want,
    Oh! let thy grace supply,
    The good unask'd, in mercy grant;
    The ill, though ask'd, deny.
  • Prayer is the soul's sincere desire,
    Uttered or unexpressed,
    The motion of a hidden fire
    That trembles in the breast.
  • Prayer moves the arm
    Which moves the world,
    And brings salvation down.
  • As down in the sunless retreats of the ocean
    Sweet flowers are springing no mortal can see,
    So deep in my soul the still prayer of devotion
    Unheard by the world, rises silent to Thee.
  • O sad estate
    Of human wretchedness; so weak is man,
    So ignorant and blind, that did not God
    Sometimes withhold in mercy what we ask,
    We should be ruined at our own request.
  • Now I lay me down to take my sleep,
    I pray thee, Lord, my soul to keep;
    If I should die before I wake,
    I pray thee, Lord, my soul to take.
    • New England Primer (1814).
  • I talk to God but the sky is empty.
    • Sylvia Plath, Draft of letter to Richard Sassoon (1950-02-19), collected in Karen V. Kukil (ed.), The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath (2000)
  • Father of All! in every age,
    In every clime ador'd,
    By saint, by savage, and by sage,
    Jehovah, Jove, or Lord!
  • If I am right, Thy grace impart,
    Still in the right to stay;
    If I am wrong, O teach my heart
    To find that better way!
  • In all thou dost first let thy Prayers ascend,
    And to the Gods thy Labours first commend,
    From them implore Success, and hope a prosperous End.
    • Pythagoras, Golden Verses, line 49. See M. Dacier's Life of Pythagoras.
  • They were ordinary soldiers, just the common Jean and Hans,
    One from the valley of the Rhine and one from fair Provence.
    They were simple-hearted fellows—every night each said his prayer:
    The one prayed Vater Unser and the other Notre Père.
  • At the muezzin's call for prayer,
    The kneeling faithful thronged the square,
    And on Pushkara's lofty height
    The dark priest chanted Brahma's might.
    Amid a monastery's weeds
    An old Franciscan told his beads;
    While to the synagogue there came
    A Jew to praise Jehovah's name.
    The one great God looked down and smiled
    And counted each His loving child;
    For Turk and Brahmin, monk and Jew
    Had reached Him through the gods they knew.
  • I pray the prayer the Easterners do,
    May the peace of Allah abide with you;
    Wherever you stay, wherever you go,
    May the beautiful palms of Allah grow;
    Through days of labor, and nights of rest,
    The love of Good Allah make you blest;
    So I touch my heart—as the Easterners do,
    May the peace of Allah abide with you.
    • Salaam Alaikum (peace be with you). Author unknown.
  • In vota miseros ultimus cogit timor.
    • Fear of death drives the wretched to prayer.
    • Seneca, Agamemnon, 560.
  • Nulla res carius constat quam quæ precibus empta est.
    • Nothing costs so much as what is bought by prayers.
    • Seneca, De Beneficiis, II. 1.
  • The first petition that we are to make to Almighty God is for a good conscience, the next for health of mind, and then of body.
  • Earth bears no balsams for mistakes;
    Men crown the knave, and scourge the tool
    That did his will: but thou, O Lord,
    Be merciful to me, a fool.
  • Four things which are not in thy treasury,
    I lay before thee, Lord, with this petition:—
    My nothingness, my wants,
    My sins, and my contrition.
  • Prayers are heard in heaven very much in proportion to our faith. Little faith will get very great mercies, but great faith still greater.
  • To pray together, in whatever tongue or ritual, is the most tender brotherhood of hope and sympathy that men can contract in this life.
  • Holy Father, in thy mercy,
    Hear our anxious prayer.
    Keep our loved ones, now far absent,
    'Neath Thy care.
  • Lord, thy most pointed pleasure take,
    And stab my spirit broad awake;
    Or, Lord, if too obdurate I,
    Choose Thou, before that spirit die,
    A piercing pain, a killing sin,
    And to my dead heart turn them in.
  • My debts are large, my failures great, my shame secret and heavy; yet when I come to ask for my good, I quake in fear lest my prayer be granted.
  • Speak to Him thou for He hears, and spirit with spirit can meet—
    Closer is He than breathing, and nearer than hands and feet.
  • More things are wrought by prayer
    Than this world dreams of. Wherefore, let thy voice
    Rise like a fountain for me night and day.
    For what are men better than sheep or goats
    That nourish a blind life within the brain,
    If, knowing God, they lift not hands of prayer
    Both for themselves and those who call them friend?
  • Battering the gates of heaven with storms of prayer.
  • "'Twas then belike," Honorious cried,
    "When you the public fast defied,
    Refused to heav'n to raise a prayer,
    Because you'd no connections there."
  • From compromise and things half done,
    Keep me with stern and stubborn pnde;
    And when at last the fight is won,
    God, keep me still unsatisfied.
  • God, though this life is but a wraith,
    Although we know not what we use,
    Although we grope with little faith,
    Give me the heart to fight—and lose.
  • Prayer is
    The world in tune,
    A spirit-voyce,
    And vocall joyes,
    Whose Eccho is heaven's blisse.
  • Desine fata deum flecti sperare precando.
    • Cease to think that the decrees of the gods can be changed by prayers.
    • Virgil, Æneid (29-19 BC), VI. 376.
  • Audiit, et voti Phœbus succedere partem
    Mente didit, partem volucres dispersit in auras.
    • Ae half the prayer wi' Phœbus grace did find
      The t'other half he whistled down the wind.
    • Virgil, Æneid (29-19 BC), XI. 794. Translation by Scott—Waverley, Chapter XLIII. Same idea in Homer, Iliad, XVI, 250.
  • J'ai toujours fait une prière à Dieu, qui est fort courte. La voici: Mon Dieu, rendez nos ennemis bien ridicules! Dieu m'a exaucé.
    • I always made one prayer to God, a very short one. Here it is: "O Lord, make our enemies quite ridiculous!" God granted it.
      • Voltaire, Letter to Étienne Noël Damilaville, 1767-05-16
  • Prayer moves the Hand which moves the world.
  • Who is this before whose presence idols tumble to the sod?
    While he cries out—"Allah Akbar! and there is no god but God!"
  • Though smooth be the heartless prayer, no ear in heaven will mind it;
    And the finest phrase falls dead, if there is no feeling behind it.
  • "What is good for a bootless bene?"
    With these dark words begins my Tale;
    And their meaning is, whence can comfort spring
    When Prayer is of no avail?
  • The bells of Ryleston seemed to say,
    While she sat listening in the shade,
    With vocal music, "God us ayde!"
    And all the hills were glad to bear
    Their part in this effectual prayer.
  • Doubt not but God who sits on high,
    Thy secret prayers can hear;
    When a dead wall thus cunningly
    Conveys soft whispers to the ear.
    • Verse inscribed in the Whispering Gallery of Gloucester Cathedral.

Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895)Edit

Quotes reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895).
  • A certain joyful, though humble, confidence becomes us when we pray in the Mediator's name. It is due to Him; when we pray in His name it should be without wavering. Remember His merits, and how prevalent they must be. " Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace."
  • The reason why we obtain no more in prayer, is because we expect no more. God usually answers us according to our own hearts.
  • Let your prayers be composed of thanksgiving, praise, confession, and petition, without any argument or exhortation addressed to those who are supposed to be praying with you. Adopt no fixed forms of expression, except such as you obtain from Scripture. Express your desire in the briefest, simplest form, without circumlocution. Hallow God's name by avoiding its unnecessary repetition. Adopt the simple devotional phrases of Scripture; but avoid the free use of its figures, and all quaint and doubtful application of its terms to foreign subjects. Pray to God and not to man.
  • Like an echo from a ruined castle, prayer is an echo from the ruined human soul of the sweet promise of God.
  • In the primitive church were not prayers simple, unpremeditated, united; prayers of the well-taught apostle; prayers of the accomplished scholar; prayers of the rough but fervent peasant; prayers of the new and zealous convert; prayers which importuned and wrestled with an instant and irrepressible urgency; — were they not an essential part of that religion, which holy fire had kindled; and which daily supplications alone could fan?
  • He that loveth little prayeth little; he that loveth much prayeth much.
  • Any heart turned Godward feels more joy
    In one short hour of prayer, than e'er was raised
    By all the feasts of earth since its foundation.
  • A good man's prayers
    Will from the deepest dungeon climb to heaven's height,
    And bring a blessing down.
  • Every praying Christian will find that there is no Gethsemane without its angel.
  • A prayer in its simplest definition is merely a wish turned Godward.
  • Prayer is not conquering God's reluctance, but taking hold upon God's willingness.
  • The best and sweetest flowers of paradise God gives to His people when they are upon their knees. Prayer is the gate of heaven.
  • Cold prayers shall never have any warm answers. God will suit His returns to our requests. Lifeless services shall have lifeless answers. When men are dull, God will be dumb.
  • "Continuing instant in prayer." The Greek is a metaphor taken from hunting dogs that never give over the game till they have got their prey.
  • Private prayer is so far from being a hindrance to a man's business, that it is the way of ways to bring down a blessing from heaven upon it.
  • If any prayer be a duty, then secret prayer must be superlatively so, for it prepares and fits the soul for all other supplication.
  • God's hearing of our prayers does not depend upon sanctifi- cation, but upon Christ's intercession; not upon what we are in ourselves, but what we are in the Lord Jesus; both our persons and our prayers are accepted in the Beloved.
  • Unanswered yet? Faith cannot be unanswered.
    Her feet were firmly planted on the Rock;
    Amid the wildest storms she stands undaunted,
    Nor quails before the loudest thunder shock.
    She knows Omnipotence has heard her prayer,
    And cries, "It shall be done," sometime, somewhere.
    Unanswered yet? Nay, do not say ungranted;
    Perhaps your part is not yet wholly done.
    The work began when first your prayer was uttered,
    And God will finish what He has begun.
    If you will keep the incense burning there,
    His glory you shall see sometime, somewhere.
  • Prayer will make a man cease from sin, or sin will entice a man to cease from prayer.
  • When Christ went up into a mountain apart to pray, He dismissed the multitude, to teach us that when we address ourselves to God, we must first dismiss the multitude. We must send away the multitude of worldly cares, worldly thoughts, worldly concerns and business, when we would call upon God in duty.
  • Let faith each meek petition fill,
    And waft it to the skies;
    And teach our heart 'tis goodness still
    That grants it or denies.
  • Let family worship be short, savory, simple, plain, tender, heavenly.
  • Consider how august a privilege it is, when angels are present, and archangels throng around, when cherubim and seraphim encircle with their blaze the throne, that a mortal may approach with unrestrained confidence, and converse with heaven's dread Sovereign! O, what honor was ever conferred like this?
  • Be not afraid to pray — to pray is right.
    Pray if thou canst with hope; but ever pray,
    Though hope be weak or sick with long delay;
    Pray in the darkness, if there be no light.
  • He prayeth best who loveth best
    All things both great and small:
    For the dear God who loveth us,
    He made and loveth all,
  • True prayer is an earnest soul's direct converse with its God.
  • Wise is that Christian parent who begins every morning with the word of God and fervent prayer.
  • Answered prayers cover the field of providential history as flowers cover western prairies.
  • In eternity it will be a terrible thing for many a man to meet his own prayers. Their very language will condemn him; for he knew his duty, but he did it not.
  • When we pray to God with entire assurance, it is Himself who has given us the spirit of prayer.
  • Are we to suppose that the only being in the universe who cannot answer prayer is that One who alone has all power at His command? The weak theology that professes to believe that prayer has merely a subjective benefit is infinitely less scientific than the action of the child who confidently appeals to a Father in heaven.
  • Saviour, breathe an evening blessing
    Ere repose our spirits seal;
    Sin and want we come confessing;
    Thou canst save, and Thou canst heal.
  • Lord! Thou art with Thy people still; they see Thee in the night-watches, and their hearts burn within them as Thou talkest with them by the way. And Thou art near to those that have not known Thee; open their eyes that they may see Thee — see Thee weeping over them, and saying, "Ye will not come unto me that ye might have life"— see Thee hanging on the cross and saying, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do"—see Thee as Thou wilt come again in Thy glory to judge them at the last. Amen.
  • Prayer, then, does not consist in sweet feelings, nor in the charms of an excited imagination, nor in that illumination of the intellect that traces with ease the sublimest truths of God; nor even in a certain consolation in the view of God; all these things are external gifts from His hand, in the absence of which love may exist even more purely, as the soul may then attach itself immediately and solely to God, instead of to His mercies.
  • For "we know not what we should pray for as we ought; " but love leads us on, abandons us to all the operations of grace, puts us entirely at the disposal of God's will, and thus prepares us for all His designs.
  • Prayer is so necessary, and the source of so many blessings, that he who has discovered the treasure cannot be prevented from having recourse to it, whenever he has an opportunity.
  • Ah! well it is for us that God is a loving Father, who takes our very prayers and thanksgivings rather for what we mean than for what they are; just as parents smile on the trailing weeds that their ignorant little ones bring them for flowers.
  • Good prayers never come creeping home. I am sure I shall receive what I ask for or what I should ask.
  • Your child is falling from a window. By the action of a natural law he will be killed. But he cries out for help, "Father! father!" Hearing his call, in this his day of trouble, you rush forth and catch him in your arms. Your child is saved. Natural law would have killed him, but you interposed, and, without a miracle, saved him. And cannot the great Father of all do what an earthly parent does?
  • Prayer is the breath of a new-born soul, and there can be no Christian life without it.
  • I like ejaculatory prayer; it reaches heaven before the devil can get a shot at it.
  • There it is — in such patient silence — that we accumulate the inward power which we distribute and spend in action; that the soul acquires a greater and more vigorous being, and gathers up its collective forces to bear down upon the piecemeal difficulties of life and scatter them to dust; there alone can we enter into that spirit of self-abandonment by which we take up the cross of duty, however heavy, with feet however worn and bleeding.
  • I have lived to thank God that all my prayers have not been answered.
  • If I were an impenitent child of godly parents, and should die so, I would rather go into eternity facing a legion of devils than my mother's prayers.
  • He who has a pure heart will never cease to pray; and he who will be constant in prayer, shall know what it is to have a pure heart.
  • Worship is the earthly act by which we most distinctly recognize our personal immortality; men who think that they will be extinct a few years hence do not pray. In worship we spread out our insignificant life, which yet is the work of the Creator's hands, and the purchase of the Redeemer's blood, before the Eternal and All-Merciful, that we may learn the manners of a higher sphere, and fit ourselves for companionship with saints and angels, and for the everlasting sight of the face of God.
  • Prayer is the act by which man, detaching himself from the embarrassments of sense and nature, ascends to the true level of his destiny.
  • I have been driven many times to my knees, by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere else to go. My own wisdom, and that of all about me seemed insufficient for that day.
  • The church converteth the whole world by blood and prayer.
  • Ah, what is it we send up thither, where our thoughts are either a dissonance or a sweetness and a grace?
  • O Lord, we rejoice that we are Thy making, though Thy handiwork is not very clear in our outer man as yet. We bless Thee that we feel Thy hand making us. What if it be in pain? Evermore we hear the voice of the potter above the hum and grind of His wheel. Father, Thou only knowest how we love Thee. Fashion the clay to Thy beautiful will.
  • If you are in the spirit of prayer, do not be long, because other people will not be able to keep pace with you in such unusual spirituality, and if you are not in the spirit of prayer, do not be long, because you will be sure to weary the listeners.
  • The prayer that begins with trustfulness, and passes on into waiting, even while in sorrow and sore need, will always end in thankfulness and triumph and praise.
  • There is no such thing in the long history of God's kingdom as an unanswered prayer. Every true desire from a child's heart finds some true answer in the heart of God.
  • Whatever we are directed to pray for, we are also exhorted to work for; we are not permitted to mock Jehovah, asking that of Him which we deem not worth our pains to acquire.
  • Religion is no more possible without prayer than poetry without language, or music without atmosphere.
  • A house without family worship has neither foundation nor covering.
  • Trouble and perplexity drive me to prayer, and prayer drives away perplexity and trouble.
  • Prayer is so mighty an instrument that no one ever thoroughly mastered all its keys. They sweep along the infinite scale of man's wants and God's goodness.
  • O Thou by whom we come to God —
    The Life, the Truth, the Way;
    The path of prayer Thyself hast trod;
    Lord, teach us how to pray.
  • Prayer is not eloquence, but earnestness; not the definition of helplessness, but the feeling of it; not figures of speech, but compunction of soul.
  • There is no burden of the spirit but is lightened by kneeling under it. Little by little, the bitterest feelings are sweetened by the mention of them in prayer. And agony itself stops swelling, if we can only cry sincerely, " My God, my God!"
  • Not every hour, nor every day, perhaps, can generous wishes ripen into kind actions; but there is not a moment that cannot be freighted with prayer.
  • Then let us earnest be,
    And never faint in prayer;
    He loves our importunity,
    And makes our cause His care.
  • In presenting the Divine promises at the throne of grace, we present the best of names at a bank that is solvent. Let us, when we would pray, consider well whether we have a promise for our plea.
  • Expect an answer. If no answer is desired, why pray? True prayer has in it a strong element of expectancy.
  • Ask in simplicity. True need forgets to be formal. Its utterances fly from the heart as sparks from a blacksmith's anvil. Set phrases, long sentences, polysyllabic words, find little favor with the soul that is athirst for God and His grace. How brief are the sentences of the immortal and immutable prayer, which Christ taught His disciples! Not a long word is there. Temptation is the longest, and the majority of the words are of one syllable. Do you essay to lead others in prayer? Utter no word that any that hear you cannot understand. Express their need as well as your own. Do not go to the mercy-seat on stilts.
  • Prayer, with our Lord, was a refuge from the storm; almost every word He uttered during that last tremendous scene was prayer; prayer the most earnest, the most urgent, repeated, continued, proceeding from the recesses of the soul, private, solitary; prayer for deliverance, prayer for strength; above every thing prayer for resignation.
  • As in poetry, so in prayer, the whole subject matter should be furnished by the heart, and the understanding should be allowed only to shape and arrange the effusions of the heart in the manner best adapted to answer the end designed. From the fullness of a heart overflowing with holy affections, as from a copious fountain, we should pour forth a torrent of pious, humble, and ardently affectionate feelings; while our understandings only shape the channel and teach the gushing streams of devotion where to flow, and when to stop.
  • I think that if we would, every evening, come to our Master's feet, and tell Him where we have been, what we have done, what we have said, and what were the motives by which we have been actuated, it would have a salutary effect upon our whole conduct.
  • Our public prayers too often consist almost entirely of passages of Scripture—not always judiciously chosen or well arranged — and common-place phrases, which have been transmitted down for ages, from one generation to another, selected and put together just as we would compose a sermon or essay, while the heart is allowed no share in the performance; so that we may more properly be said to make a prayer than to pray.
  • We lay it down as an elemental principle of religion, that no large growth in holiness was ever gained by one who did not take time to be often and long alone with God. No otherwise can the great central idea of God enter into a man's life, and dwell there supreme.
  • Have you never observed how free the Lord's Prayer is of any material that can tempt to subtle self-inspection in the art of devotion? It is full of an outflowing of thought and of emotion toward great objects of desire, great necessities, and great perils.
  • I used to pray to recover you."
  • Patience and perseverance are never more thoroughly Christian graces than when features of prayer.
  • Happy are they who freely mingle prayer and toil till God responds to the one and rewards the other.
  • The Divine Wisdom has given us prayer, not as a means whereby to obtain the good things of earth, but as a means whereby we learn to do without them; not as a means whereby we escape evil, but as a means whereby we become strong to meet it.
  • Faithful prayer always implies correlative exertion; and no man can ask honestly and hopefully to be delivered from temptation, unless he has himself honestly and firmly determined to do the best he can to keep out of it.
  • When does the building of the Spirit really begin to appear in a man's heart? It begins, so far as we can judge, when he first pours out his heart to God in prayer.
  • Are we silent to Jesus? Think! Have you nothing to ask Him? Nothing to thank Him for? Nothing to praise Him for? Nothing to confess? Oh, poor soul, go back to Bethlehem — to Gethsemane, to Calvary, and remember at what a cost the vail before the Holies was rent in twain that thou mightest enter it.
  • Prayer pulls the rope below, and the great bell rings above in the ears of God. Some scarcely stir the bell, for they pray so languidly; others give but an occasional pluck at the rope; but he who wins with heaven is the man who grasps the rope boldly and pulls continuously, with all his might.
  • Sometimes a fog will settle over a vessel's deck and yet leave the topmast clear. Then a sailor goes up aloft and gets a lookout which the helmsman on deck cannot get. So prayer sends the soul aloft; lifts it above the clouds in which our selfishness and egotism befog us, and gives us a chance to see which way to steer.
  • For spiritual blessings, let our prayers be importunate, perpetual, and persevering; for temporal blessings, let them be general, short, conditional, and modest.
  • Easiness of desire is a great enemy to the success of a good man's prayer. Our prayers upbraid our spirits when we beg tamely for those things for which we ought to die; which are more precious than imperial sceptres, richer than the spoils of the sea or the treasures of Indian hills.
  • There is something in every act of prayer that for a time stills the violence of passion, and elevates and purifies the affections.
  • From the violence and rule of passion, from a servile will, and a commanding lust, from pride and vanity, from false opinion and ignorant confidence; from improvidence and prodigality, from envy and the spirit of slander; from sensuality, from presumption and from despair; from a state of temptation and a hardened spirit; from delaying of repentance and persevering in sin; from unthankfulness and irreligion, and from seducing others; from all infatuation of soul, folly, and madness; from willfulness, self-love, and vain ambition; from a vicious life and an unprovided death, good Lord, deliver us.
  • When we pray for any virtue, we should cultivate the virtue as well as pray for it; the form of your prayers should be the rule of your life; every petition to God is a precept to man.
  • Prayers born out of murmuring are always dangerous. When, therefore, we are in a discontented mood, let'us take care what we cry for, lest God give it to us, and thereby punish us.
  • They tell us of the fixed laws of nature! but who dares maintain that He who fixed these laws cannot use them for the purpose of answering His people's prayers?
  • We kneel, how weak; we rise, how full of power!
    Why, therefore, should we do ourselves this wrong,
    Or others — that we are not always strong,
    That we are ever overborne with care,
    That we should ever weak or heartless be,
    Anxious or troubled, when with us is prayer,
    And joy and strength and courage are with Thee?
  • Prayer is the pulse of the renewed soul; and the constancy of its beat is the test and measure of the spiritual life.

Respectfully Quoted: A Dictionary of Quotations (1989)Edit

  • I Pray Heaven to Bestow The Best of Blessing on THIS HOUSE, and on All that shall hereafter Inhabit it. May none but Honest and Wise Men ever rule under This Roof!
    • John Adams, letter to his wife Abigail, November 2, 1800, the day after he moved into the White House. Letters of John Adams Addressed to His Wife, ed. Charles Francis Adams, p. 267 (1841). President Franklin D. Roosevelt had this lettered in gold in the marble over the fireplace in the State Dining Room of the White House. The quotation above follows the capitalization used in the inscription.
  • Grant us a common faith that man shall know bread and peace—that he shall know justice and righteousness, freedom and security, an equal opportunity and an equal chance to do his best not only in our own lands, but throughout the world. And in that faith let us march toward the clean world our hands can make.
    • Stephen Vincent Benét, Prayer, concluding sentences (1942). Archibald MacLeish, poet and Librarian of Congress, asked Benét to write "The United Nations Prayer" to be used in the celebration of Flag Day, 1942. President Franklin D. Roosevelt used it to close his radio address on Flag Day, June 14, 1942. Adlai E. Stevenson used this final section of the prayer on his Christmas cards in 1964.
  • For Mercy has a human heart
    Pity, a human face:
    And Love, the human form divine,
    And Peace, the human dress.
    Then every man of every clime,
    That prays in his distress,
    Prays to the human form divine
    Love Mercy Pity Peace.
    • William Blake, "The Divine Image", stanzas 3 and 4, lines 9–16, The Complete Poetry and Prose of William Blake, ed. David V. Erdman (1982), p. 12–13. First published in 1789.
  • "God bless us every one!" said Tiny Tim, the last of all.
    • Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol (1963), stave 3, p. 74. First published in 1843.
  • Lord, make me a channel of your peace.
    Where there is hatred, let me bring love.
    Where there is offense, forgiveness.
    Where there is discord, reconciliation.
    Where there is doubt, faith.
    Where there is despair, hope.
    Where there is sadness, joy.
    Where there is darkness, your light.
    we give, we are made rich.
    If we forget ourselves, we find peace.
    If we forgive, we receive forgiveness.
    we die, we receive eternal resurrection.
    Give us peace, Lord.
    • Attributed to Francis of Assisi, in Auspicius van Corstanje, Francis: Bible of the Poor (1977), p. 203. "This prayer cannot be found in any of the early texts written by Francis. In its present form, it is probably not even a hundred years old. All the same, it clearly reflects the spirit of Francis. He could have written it, and that is why it is generally attributed to him" (p. 203). A slightly different version ("Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace") can be found in Masterpieces of Religious Verse, ed. James Dalton Morrison, p. 130 (1948).
  • There is nothing I can give you which you have not got; but there is much, very much, that, while I cannot give it, you can take. No Heaven can come to us unless our hearts find rest in it to-day. Take Heaven! No peace lies in the future which is not hidden in this present little instant. Take peace!

    The gloom of the world is but a shadow. Behind it, yet within our reach, is joy. There is radiance and glory in the darkness, could we but see; and to see, we have only to look. Contessina I beseech you to look.

    Life is so generous a giver, but we, judging its gifts by their covering, cast them away as ugly or heavy or hard. Remove the covering, and you will find beneath it a living splendour, woven of love, by wisdom, with power. Welcome it, grasp it, and you touch the Angel's hand that brings it to you. Everything we call a trial, a sorrow, or a duty: believe me, that angel's hand is there; the gift is there, and the wonder of an overshadowing Presence. Our joys, too: be not content with them as joys, they too conceal diviner gifts.

    Life is so full of meaning and of purpose, so full of beauty—beneath its covering—that you will find that earth but cloaks your heaven. Courage, then to claim it: that is all! But courage you have; and the knowledge that we are pilgrims together, wending through unknown country, home.

    And so, at this Christmas time, I greet you; not quite as the world sends greetings, but with profound esteem, and with the prayer that for you, now and forever, the day breaks and the shadows flee away.
    • "Fra Giovanni", A Letter to the Most Illustrious the Contessina Allagia Dela Aldobrandeschi, Written Christmas Eve Anno Domini 1513 (193?) The British Museum stated in 1970 that it had "proved impossible" to identify Fra Giovanni, the purported author of this letter. This was published, probably in the 1930s, "with Christmas Greetings" from Greville MacDonald, son of novelist George MacDonald, and Mary MacDonald.
  • Almighty God, who hast given us this good land for our heritage; We humbly beseech Thee that we may always prove ourselves a people mindful of Thy favor and glad to do Thy will. Bless our land with honourable industry, sound learning, and pure manners. Save us from violence, discord, and confusion; from pride and arrogancy, and from every evil way. Defend our liberties, and fashion into one united people the multitudes brought hither out of many kindreds and tongues. Endure with the spirit of wisdom those to whom in Thy Name we entrust the authority of government, that there may be justice and peace at home, and that, through obedience to Thy law, we may show forth Thy praise among the nations of the earth. In the time of prosperity, fill our hearts with thankfulness, and in the day of trouble, suffer not our trust in Thee to fail; Amen.
    • George L. Locke, prayer, c. 1880. President Franklin D. Roosevelt included it as "an old prayer" without attribution, in his final radio speech of the 1940 presidential campaign, November 4, 1940. The Public Papers and Addresses of Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1940, p. 557–58 (1941). Life magazine reproduced the prayer in its issue of November 18, 1940, and in a letter to the editor in the December 9 issue, p. 4, the Rev. Mr. Locke's daughter wrote about his authorship and the circumstances of his composing the prayer.
  • Build me a son, O Lord, who will be strong enough to know when he is weak, and brave enough to face himself when he is afraid; one who will be proud and unbending in honest defeat, and humble and gentle in victory. Build me a son whose wishes will not take the place of deeds; a son who will know Thee—and that to know himself is the foundation stone of knowledge. Lead him, I pray, not in the path of ease and comfort, but under the stress and spur of difficulties and challenge. Here let him learn to stand up in the storm; here let him learn compassion for those who fail. Build me a son whose heart will be clear, whose goal will be high; a son who will master himself before he seeks to master other men; one who will reach into the future, yet never forget the past. And after all these things are his, add, I pray, enough of a sense of humor, so that he may always be serious, yet never take himself too seriously. Give him humility, so that he may always remember the simplicity of true greatness, the open mind of true wisdom, and the meekness of true strength. Then, I, his father, will dare to whisper, "I have not lived in vain".
    • Douglas MacArthur, "A Father's Prayer". Courtney Whitney, MacArthur, His Rendevous with History (1956), p. 547. Written "during the early days of the desperate campaigns in the Far East in World War II".
  • Our earnest prayer is that God will graciously vouchsafe prosperity, happiness, and peace to all our neighbors, and like blessings to all the peoples and powers of earth.
    • William McKinley, speech delivered at the Pan-American Exposition, Buffalo, New York, September 5, 1901.—Modern Eloquence, ed. Ashley H. Thorndike, rev. Adam Ward, vol. 11, p. 401 (1936). This was McKinley's last speech, as he was mortally wounded the next day at the Exposition. He served in Congress 1877–1884 and 1885–1891.
  • The things, good Lord, that I pray for, give me thy grace to labour for. Amen.
    • Thomas More, English Prayers and Treatise on the Holy Eucharist, ed. Philip E. Hallett, p. 20 (1938). His English works were published in 1557.
  • God give me the serenity to accept things which cannot be changed;
    Give me courage to change things which must be changed;
    And the wisdom to distinguish one from the other.
    • Attributed to Reinhold Niebuhr, The A.A. Grapevine, January 1950, p. 6–7; also June Bingham, Courage to Change, p. iii (1961), where the version differs somewhat: "O God, give us serenity to accept what cannot be changed, courage to change what should be changed, and wisdom to distinguish the one from the other". Alcoholics Anonymous has used this prayer, with minor changes in wording, since about 1940. According to the first source, Dr. Niebuhr said, "It may have been spooking around for years, even centuries, but I don't think so. I honestly do believe that I wrote it myself". The Anglican publishing house, Mobray of London, for more than a century has identified it as a General or Common Prayer of fourteenth-century England, according to a reader of American Notes and Queries, June 1970, p. 154. He added that "Reinhold Niebuhr has acknowledged, more than once, both in seminar and publicly that he was not the original author of the Serenity Prayer". In Ausblick von der Weibertreu by Christoph Duncker, p. 1 (1973), the following lines are attributed to a Johann Christoph Oetinger, deacon in Weinsberg from 1762 to 1769: "Gib mir Gelassenheit, Dinge hinzunehmen, die ich nicht ändern kann, Den Mut, Dinge zu ändern, die ich ändern kann, und die Weisheit, das eine vom andern zu untersheiden", which can be translated as above. Another reader of American Notes and Queries, October 1969, p. 25, gives a nearly identical quotation and states that it can be traced to Friedrich Christoph Oetinger (1702–1782), German theologian and theosophist, without giving a source. Whatever the original source or wording, Niebuhr and A.A. have made the prayer well-known in the United States.
  • Almighty and most merciful Father, we humbly beseech Thee, of Thy great goodness, to restrain these immoderate rains with which we have had to contend. Grant us fair weather for Battle. Graciously hearken to us as soldiers who call upon Thee that, armed with Thy power, we may advance from victory to victory, and crush the oppression and wickedness of our enemies, and establish Thy justice among men and nations. Amen.
    • James H. O'Neill, prayer for good weather, December 1944. Ladislas Farago, Patton, Ordeal and Triumph (1964), chapter 36, p. 690. General George S. Patton, Jr., ordered Colonel O'Neill, chaplain of the Third Army, to produce this prayer.
  • Stars above our cornfields,
    Morning-colored wind,
    Snow, and wood-fires burning
    On hearths we leave behind.
    (Shine for us, dear beacons.)

    God of the hidden purpose,
    Let our embarking be
    The prayer of proud men asking
    Not to be safe, but free.
    • Henry Morton Robinson, "Litany for D-Day: 1944", stanzas 4 and 5, The Enchanted Grindstone and Other Poems (1952), p. 93.
  • Give us courage and gaiety and the quiet mind. Spare to us our friends, soften to us our enemies. Bless us, if it may be, in all our innocent endeavors. If it may not, give us the strength to encounter that which is to come, that we be brave in peril, constant in tribulation, temperate in wrath, and in all changes of fortune and down to the gates of death, loyal and loving one to another.
    • Robert Louis Stevenson, prayer "For Success", Vailima Papers and a Footnote to History (1925), p. 7. This was used by Adlai E. Stevenson on his Christmas card in 1962.
  • I now make it my earnest prayer, that God would have you, and the State over which you preside, in his holy protection, that he would incline the hearts of the Citizens to cultivate a spirit of subordination and obedience to Government, to entertain a brotherly affection and love for one another, for their fellow Citizens of the United States at large, and particularly for their brethren who have served in the Field, and finally, that he would most graciously be pleased to dispose us all, to do Justice, to love mercy, and to demean [i.e., comport] ourselves with that Charity, humility and pacific temper of mind, which were the Characteristicks of the Divine Author of our blessed Religion, and without an humble imitation of whose example in these things, we can never hope to be a happy Nation.
    • George Washington, circular to the states, Newburgh, New York, June 8, 1783. The Writings of George Washington, ed. John C. Fitzpatrick (1938), vol. 26, p. 496.
  • I asked God for strength, that I might achieve
    I was made weak, that I might learn humbly to obey …
    I asked for health, that I might do greater things
    I was given infirmity, that I might do better things …
    I asked for riches, that I might be happy
    I was given poverty, that I might be wise …
    I asked for power, that I might have the praise of men
    I was given weakness, that I might feel the need of God …
    I asked for all things, that I might enjoy life
    I was given life that I might enjoy all things …
    I got nothing that I asked for—but everything I had hoped for
    Almost despite myself, my unspoken prayers were answered.
    I am, among all men, most richly blessed.
    • Author unknown. As "A Creed for Those Who Have Suffered", this has been used by rehabilitation centers. Adlai E. Stevenson used these lines on his Christmas card, 1955.
  • May the road rise to meet you.
    May the wind be ever at your back
    May the Good Lord keep you in the hollow of His hand.
    May your heart be as warm as your hearthstone.
    And when you come to die
    may the wail of the poor
    be the only sorrow
    you'll leave behind.
    May God bless you always.
    • Author unknown, "An Irish Wish".— Ralph L. Woods, A Third Treasury of the Familiar (1970), p. 644. Another version of this popular Irish blessing: May the road rise to meet you,
      May the wind be always at your back,
      May the sun shine warm upon your face,
      May the rain fall soft upon your fields,
      And, until we meet again,
      May God hold you in the palm of His hand.
  • O God, thy sea is so great, and my boat is so small.
    • Author unknown. Prayer of Breton fishermen. President John F. Kennedy had on his desk a plaque with these words, given to him by Admiral Hyman Rickover, who gave one like it to the commanding officer of each new Polaris submarine. Tazewell Taylor Shepard, Jr., John F. Kennedy, Man of the Sea (1965), p. 23.
  • Slow me down, Lord! Ease the pounding of my heart by the quieting of my mind. Steady my hurried pace with a vision of the eternal reach of time. Give me, amidst the confusion of my day, the calmness of the everlasting hills. Break the tensions of my nerves and muscles with the soothing music of singing streams that live in my memory. Teach me the art of taking minute vacations … of slowing down to look at a flower, to chat with a friend, to pat a dog, to read a few lines from a good book. Remind me each day of the fable of the hare and the tortoise, that I may know that the race is not always to the swift; that there is more to life than measuring its speed. Let me look upward into the branches of the towering oak and know that it grew great and strong because it grew slowly and well. Slow me down, Lord, and inspire me to send my roots deep into the soil of life's enduring values that I may grow toward the stars of my greater destiny.
    • Author unknown. Reported in Respectfully Quoted: A Dictionary of Quotations (1989).

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