For some of us, prayer and praying, is as close as our back pockets and knowing How Prayer Can Help is simply a given. For others, I realize that prayer, the concept of knowing and claiming it within, may be the farthest thing from their mind. That’s fine too. Obviously, my bias is that prayer is real, that it does matter and it can make a world of difference in our daily lives.
How Prayer Can Help doesn’t attempt to instruct the reader how to pray but rather offers insights into how prayer impacts our lives. Links at the end offer additional resources for exploring methods of prayer and online communities that focus on the practice of prayer and meditation itself. So here goes…and enjoy!
How Prayer Can Help
To pray is to be vulnerably open to God’s unpredictable grace.
– Patricia Loring
For me, prayer is more about listening than talking. Prayer is a way of being with God.
– Deborah Fisch
Prayers are tools not for doing or getting, but for being and becoming.
– Eugene H. Peterson
To pray is to change. Prayer is the central avenue God uses to transform us.
– Richard Foster
Thank you for the baby brother, but what I prayed for was a puppy.
-Stuart Hample in Children’s Letters to God
O God, make the door of this house wide enough to receive all who need human love and fellowship, narrow enough to shut out all envy, pride and strife. Make its threshold smooth enough to be no stumbling-block to children, nor to straying feet, but rugged and strong enough to turn back the tempter’s power. God, make the door of this house the gateway to Thine eternal kingdom.
– On the door of St. Stephen’s in London
Our rabbi once said “God always answers our prayers. It’s just sometimes the answer is ‘no.’”
– Barbara Feinstein
Perhaps the prayer we make here may find its fulfillment on the other side of the world. Perhaps the help we are given in a difficult moment came from a praying soul we never knew. It is all a deep mystery, and we should be careful not to lay down hard and fast rules.
– Evelyn Underhill
Be still, my heart, these great trees are prayers.
– Rabindranath Tagore
Never once in my life did I ask God for success or wisdom or power or fame. I asked for wonder, and he gave it to me.
– Abraham Joshua Heschel
Prayer, then, is communion, whether it takes the form of petition, intercession, thanksgiving, or whether it be just the quiet unveiling of the heart to a trusted friend, the outpouring of the soul to the one who is nearest of all.
– William Littleboy
To Pray is to know how to stand still and to dwell upon a word.
– Abraham Joshua Heschel
The place of prayer is a precious habitation:…..I saw this habitation to be safe, to be inwardly quiet, when there was great stirrings and commotions in the world.
Art has something to do with the achievement of stillness in the midst of chaos. A stillness which characterizes prayer, too — and the eye of the storm — an arrest of attention in the midst of distraction.
– Saul Bellow
When you pray, move your feet.
– African Proverb
(Thanks to my friend Gretchen Baker-Smith who compiled many of the quotes on prayer for a retreat theme.)
Resources on exploring prayer for yourself:
Lectio Divina: A Benedictine practice of prayer that approaches Scripture not as text to be studied, but to be read, prayed into and believed as God’s Word directly. It’s very powerful, somewhat rigorous that works for some but not everyone. Wordlive.org is a site dedicated to exploring Lectio Divina.
Note: Listing specific prayer sites is a slippery slope! And after considerable research I decided not to do so because there are just so many out there. Do use caution when connecting with sites that purport to be all about prayer. If the first page you get is “Please Donate,” then beware. Many of the established religious communities that embrace Judeo-Christian traditions, and Buddhist and Eastern forms of religious practices offer very meaningful prayer resources even though they will eventually ask you to consider donating. I have found that sites connected with monasteries and retreat communities to be especially enriching and Spirit-centered without trying to persuade or convert readers at all to their particular spiritual discipline.
Spirituality and Practice: (Disclosure: I participate in this organization and feel that they are the real deal and offer a variety of useful truly inter-denominational resources.) This site offers e-courses, workshops, reflection, articles, and books on a huge variety of topics that cover the spiritual and theological spectrum. If you’re seeking, do check them out.
Gratefulness.org: (Disclosure: I also participate regularly in this community.) My daily Rising Reflections are derived from Gratefulness.org. They offer e-cards, Daily Questions, a Daily Reflection that arrives in your inbox, blogs, articles and more. In my view the site and community is more about nurturing meditation than prayer, but it seems that many who participate in the community are no strangers to prayer, either! If you are not sure about any of this “prayer business” then I suggest starting with Gratefulness.org . You are also welcome to contact me using the form below, or email me, either way is fine.