Thoughts on the Process of Prayer

Thoughts On the Process of Prayer is a collection of different people’s experiences of what prayer means to them. Most of the quotes in this collection are not prayers per se, but reflections and reveal, it seems, how similar individual reactions are to prayer across different cultural and ethnic backgrounds. I return to this collection from time to time when I need to be reminded of the place and purpose of prayer in my own life and daily devotions. I hope that you enjoy this collection.

Thoughts On the Process of Prayer

To pray is to be vulnerably open to God’s unpredictable grace.
– Patricia Loring

Do we pray, or does God pray through us?  I know not.  All I can say is, prayer is taking place, and we are graciously permitted to be within the orbit.
– Thomas KellyImage of bibles. Thoughts On the Process of Prayer

For me, prayer is more about listening than talking. Prayer is a way of being with God.
– Deborah Fisch

To pray is to change. Prayer is the central avenue God uses to transform us.
– Richard Foster

Dear God,
Thank you for the baby brother, but what I prayed for was a puppy.
– Stuart Hample in Children’s Letters to God

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

To survive we must begin to know sacredness.
– Madeleine L’Engle in Walking on Water

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.
– John Woolman

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 for sharing some of her collections on prayer, of which some are included here.)

Related Resources on prayer

A Short Course on Prayer, by J.J. O’Leary, SJ, in Ignatian Spirituality, offers a terrific, thoughtful and in-depth exploration of what prayer is and can mean to individuals. Ignatian Spirituality is of course Christian, so be aware of that heading in. But the discussion about our human need to connect with God can, in my view, apply to people of other religious traditions. is a repository site of prayer traditions from around the world. Their collection is immense! A visitor could spend days on this site. Covers a variety of religious traditions, etc.

The Purpose of Prayer, on the site Thoughts-About-God, offers a useful (Christian) perspective on the place and value of prayer through history.


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