fbpx

Sermon Quotes

Prayer

Karl Barth

To clasp the hands in prayer is the beginning of an uprising against the disorder of the world.

 

Mark Batterson

Prayer is the difference between seeing with our physical eyes and seeing with our spiritual eyes.

Draw the Circle: The 40 Day Prayer Challenge

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

I can no longer condemn or hate a brother for whom I pray; no matter how much trouble he causes me. His face, that hitherto may have been strange and intolerable to me, is transformed in intercession into the countenance of a brother for whom Christ died.”

Life Together

E.M. Bounds

Trouble and prayer are closely related. Trouble often drives men to God in prayer, while prayer is but the voice of men in trouble.

 

John Bunyan

In prayer it is better to have a heart without words than words without a heart.

 

John Calvin

Our prayer must not be self-centered. It must arise not only because we feel our own need as a burden we must lay upon God, but also because we are so bound up in love for our fellow men that we feel their need as acutely as our own. To make intercession for men is the most powerful and practical way in which we can express our love for them.

Institutes of the Christian Religion, I.i.1-2.

 

Ralph Douglas

There are walls that need to come down. You can pray unity but then you have to work unity by demonstrating what unity really looks like.

 

Craig Groeschel

Your prayer for someone may or may not change them, but it always changes YOU.

D. Edmond Hiebert

Prayer does not merely consist in our speaking to God. It is not a monologue but rather a dialogue.

 

Martin Luther

Pray, and let God worry.

 

Henri Nouwen

Prayer, therefore, is not introspection. It does not look inward but outward. Introspection easily can entangle us in the labyrinth of inward-looking analysis of our own ideas, feelings, and mental processes and can lead to paralyzing worries, self-absorption, and despair. Prayer is an outward, careful attentiveness to the One who invites us to an unceasing conversation. Prayer is the presentation of all thoughts as well as daydreams and nightmares-to our loving Father who can see them and respond to them with divine compassion. Prayer is the joyful affirmation that God knows our minds and hearts without anything being hidden.

Spiritual Direction: Wisdom for the Long Walk of Faith

Henri Nouwen

When we say to people, ‘I will pray for you,’ we make a very important commitment. The sad thing is that this remark often remains nothing but a well-meant expression of concern.

The Way of the Heart, Darton, Longman and Todd, London, 1981, p.87

Eugene Peterson

Tell it Slant: A Conversation on the Language of Jesus in his Stories and Prayers

 

Eugene Peterson

The model prayer that Jesus gives them is surprisingly, maybe even insultingly, brief. They ask to be taught to pray. They have sifted through the possibilities of what they want from Jesus. They have narrowed the options down to this one request, teach us to pray. They have arrived at the heart of the matter and are motivated to engage in this central action that undergirds and shapes and motivates Jesus’ life. They sign up and assemble. Jesus begins to teach. He has barely started before he is finished. The prayer he teaches them is composed of thirty-eight words. Prayed slowly and meditatively  it takes a mere twenty-two seconds. and then it’s over. Class dismissed.

Tell it Slant: A Conversation on the Language of Jesus in his Stories and Prayers

 

Frederick Buechner

Go where your best prayers take you

Andrew Murray

God cannot at times hear the prayer of your lips because the desires of your heart after the world cry out to Him much more strongly and loudly.

Source Unknown

If your prayers were always answered, you’d have reason to doubt the Wisdom of God.

Emo Philips (For Contrast)

When I was a kid I used to pray for a bicycle. Then I realized the Lord doesn’t work that way, so I stole one and asked him to forgive me.

Marsha Doble

I don’t pray because I don’t want God to know where I am.

The Onion

Christian Celebrates One Billionth Unanswered Prayer!

Hans Urs Von Balthasar

Contemplative prayer . . . neither can nor should be self-contemplation, but [rather] a reverent regard and listening to . . . the Not-me, namely, the Word of God.

Prayer (Ignatius Press, 1986)

John Murray

It is necessary for us to recognize that there is an intelligent mysticism in the life of faith . . . of living union and communion with the exalted and ever-present Redeemer. . . . He communes with his people and his people commune with him in conscious reciprocal love. . . . The life of true faith cannot be that of cold metallic assent. It must have the passion and warmth of love and communion because communion with God is the crown and apex of true religion.

Redemption: Accomplished and Applied, Eerdmans, 1955.

Giuseppe Giordan and William H. Swatos Jr.

In virtually all studies of the sociology of religious behavior it is clearly apparent that a very high percentage of people declare they pray every day—and many say even many times a day.

Toward a Sociology of Prayer, in Religion, Spirituality and Everyday Practice, ed. Springer

P. T. Forsyth

It is a difficult and even formidable thing to write on prayer, and one fears to touch the Ark. . . . But perhaps also the effort . . . may be graciously regarded by Him who ever liveth to make intercession as itself a prayer to know better how to pray.

The Soul of Prayer, reprint of the 1916 edition, Eerdmans, 2012.

Brennan Manning

We cannot will ourselves to accept grace. There are no magic words, preset formulas, or esoteric rites of passage. Only Jesus Christ sets us free from indecision. The Scriptures offer no other basis for conversion than the personal magnetism of the Master.

The Ragamuffin Gospel

Frank Laubach

A mystic is anyone who believes that, when you talk to God, God talks back.

Letters by a Modern Mystic, Revell.

Theophan the Recluse 

To pray is to descend with the mind into the heart, and there to stand before the face of the Lord, ever-present, all seeing, within you.

Therese of Lisieux

Talking to God, I felt, is always better than talking about God; those pious conversations—there’s always a touch of self-approval about them.

Autobiography of a Saint, trans. Ronald Knox, Fontana Books.

Source Unknown

Lex orandi, lex credendi: what the church prays is what the church believes.

John Onwuchekwa

Prayer was never meant to be a merely personal exercise with personal benefits, but a discipline that reminds us how we’re personally responsible for others. This means that every time we pray, we should actively reject an individualistic mindset. We’re not just individuals in relationship with God, but we are part of a community of people who have the same access to God. Prayer is a collective exercise.

Prayer: How Praying Together Shapes the Church, Crossway.

 

John Onwuchekwa

Jesus stared death square in the face, knowing his fate was inescapable. How did he face it? On his knees in prayer.

Prayer: How Praying Together Shapes the Church, Crossway

Jen Pollock Michel

We all have a tendency to use prayer to dictate to God.

 Teach Us to Want: Longing, Ambition & the Life of Faith

 

Baltimore Catechism

Prayer is the raising of the mind and the heart to God.

Theophan the Recluse

Find a place in your heart and speak there with the Lord. It is the Lord’s reception room. Everyone who meets the Lord, meets Him there; He has fixed no other place for meeting souls.

The Art of Prayer

C.S. Lewis

Prayers are not always…“granted.” This is not because prayer is a weaker kind of causality, but because it is a stronger kind. When it “works” at all it works unlimited by space and time. That is why God has retained a discretionary power of granting or refusing it. Except on that condition prayer would destroy us. It is not unreasonable for a headmaster to say, “Such and such things you may do according to the fixed rules of this school. But such and such other things are too dangerous to be left to general rules. If you want to do them you must come and make a request and talk over the whole matter with me in my study. And then—we’ll see.

God in the Dock, Eerdmans.

Eugene Peterson

Prayer is the act in which we approach God as living person, a thou to whom we speak, not an it that we talk about. Prayer is the attention that we give to the one who attends to us. It is the decision to approach God as the personal center, as our Lord and our Savior, our entire lives gathered up and expressed in the approach.

Taken from Run with the Horses by Eugene H. Peterson. ©2009, 2019 by Eugene H. Peterson.  Used by permission of InterVarsity Press, P.O. Box 1400, Downers Grove  IL  60515-1426. www.ivpress.com

C.S. Lewis

Prayers are not always…“granted.” This is not because prayer is a weaker kind of causality, but because it is a stronger kind. When it “works” at all it works unlimited by space and time. That is why God has retained a discretionary power of granting or refusing it. Except on that condition prayer would destroy us. It is not unreasonable for a headmaster to say, “Such and such things you may do according to the fixed rules of this school. But such and such other things are too dangerous to be left to general rules. If you want to do them you must come and make a request and talk over the whole matter with me in my study. And then—we’ll see.

God in the Dock, Eerdmans.

Eugene Peterson

Prayer is the act in which we approach God as living person, a thou to whom we speak, not an it that we talk about. Prayer is the attention that we give to the one who attends to us. It is the decision to approach God as the personal center, as our Lord and our Savior, our entire lives gathered up and expressed in the approach.

Taken from Run with the Horses by Eugene H. Peterson. ©2009, 2019 by Eugene H. Peterson.  Used by permission of InterVarsity Press, P.O. Box 1400, Downers Grove  IL  60515-1426. www.ivpress.com

Jeffrey D. Imbach

Prayer is essentially the expression of our heart longing for love. It is not so much the listing of our requests but the breathing of our one deepest request, to be united with God as fully as possible.

The Recovery of Love: Christian Mysticism and the Addictive Society (Crossroad, 1992), 62–63.

Martin Luther

I have so much business I cannot get on without spending three hours daily in prayer.

Dom Chapman

Pray as you can, not as you can’t.

Timothy Keller

To fail to pray, then, is not to merely break some religious rule—it is a failure to treat God as God.

Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God (New York: Penguin, 2014), Kindle Electronic Version, Loc. 376-77.

Phyllis Tickle

When one prays the hours, one is using the exact words, phrases, and petitions that informed our faith for centuries…We are using the exact words, phrases, and petitions that were offered just an hour earlier by our fellow Christians in the prior time zone, and that, in an hour will be picked up and offered again in the next time zone. The result is a constant cascade before the throne of God of the “unceasing prayer” to which St. Paul urges us.

Eastertide: Prayers for Lent Through Easter from the Divine Hours (New York: Random House, 2004), xi-xii.

Carlo Carretto

Prayer is like love. Words pour at first. Then we are more silent and can communicate in monosyllables. In difficulties a gesture is enough, a word, or nothing at all—love is enough. Thus the time comes when words are superfluous. . . . The soul converses with. God with a single loving glance, although this may often be accompanied by dryness and suffering.

John Climacus

When you pray, do not try to express yourself in fancy words, for often it is the simple repetitious phrases of a little child that our Father in heaven finds most irresistible. Do not strive for verbosity lest your mind be distracted by a search for words. Single words by their very nature tend to concentrate the mind. When you find satisfaction in a certain word of your prayer, stop at that point.

Thomas Watson

God will fill the hungry because He Himself has stirred up the hunger. As in the case of prayer, when God prepares the heart to pray, He prepares His ear to hear (Ps. 10:17). So in the case of spiritual hunger, when God prepares the heart to hunger, He will prepare His hand to fill.

Philip Yancey

Prayer helps correct myopia, calling to mind a perspective I daily forget.

Prayer: Does it Make any Difference?, Zondervan, 2006, p.21.

Philip Yancey

We pray because we can’t help it. The very word prayer comes from the Latin root precarius — a linguistic cousin to precarious.

Prayer: Does it Make any Difference?, Zondervan, 2006, p.13.

Thomas Merton

Prayer is an expression of who we are…. We are a living incompleteness. We are a gap, an emptiness that calls for fulfillment.

Taken from Mark E. Thibodeaux, S.J., Armchair Mystic (Cincinnati: St. Anthony Messenger, 2001), ix.

Ole Hallesby

To pray is nothing more involved than to open the door, giving Jesus access to our needs and permitting Him to exercise His own power in dealing with them.

Mark Batterson

Who you become is determined by how you pray. Ultimately, the transcript of your prayers becomes the script of your life.

The Circle Maker: Praying Circles Around Your Biggest Dreams and Greatest Fears, Zondervan, 2016, p.25.

W. David O. Taylor

The primary use of prayer, as the Psalter sees it, is not for expressing ourselves but in becoming ourselves, and we cannot do that alone. In praying the Psalms with others, then, we learn to become more and more ourselves in the company of the faithful.

The Open and Unafraid: The Psalms as a Guide to Life, Thomas Nelson, 2020.

Henri Nouwen

Prayer is first of all listening to God. It’s openness. God is always sneaking, always doing something. Prayer is to enter into that activity…Convert your thoughts into prayer.  As we are involved in unceasing thinking, so we are called to unceasing prayer.  The difference is not that prayer is thinking about other things, but that prayer is thinking, in dialogue … a conversation with God.

Eugene Peterson

All prayers, by definition, are directed to God, and this aim brings them, finally into the presence of God where “everything that has breath” praises the Lord. Praise is the deep, even if often hidden, eschatological dimension in prayer.

Answering God: The Psalms as Tools for Prayer (New York: HarperCollins, 1989), p.123.

Catherine La Cugna

Praise generates more praise; glory adds to glory. Praise works by overflow and contagion; it invites others to join in.

God for Us (San Francisco: Harper, 1973), p.338–39.

Dorothy Day

Whenever I felt the beauty of the world in song or story, in the material universe around me, or glimpsed it in human love, I wanted to cry out with joy. The Psalms were an outlet for this enthusiasm of joy or grief.

The Long Loneliness (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1952), 29.

Thomas Kelly

How, then, shall we lay hold of that Life and Power, and live the life of prayer without ceasing? By quiet, persistent practice in turning all of our being, day and night, in prayer and inward worship and surrender, toward him who calls in the deeps of our souls.

A Testament of Devotion (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1996), p.15.

W. H. Auden

To pray is to pay attention to something or someone other oneself. Whenever a man so concentrates his attention-on a landscape, a poem, a geometrical problem, an idol, or the True God-that he completely forgets his own ego and desires, he is praying.

Theofan the Recluse

Prayer is descending with the mind into your heart, and there standing before the face of the Lord, ever present, all seeing, within you…It is only when our hearts appeal to God that our reading prayers becomes a true prayer, otherwise it is not yet a prayer.

Quoted in The Art of Prayer, ed. Igumen Chariton, Faber and Faber, 1936.

Oswald Chambers

Prayer means that we get into union with God’s view of other people.

Prayer—A Holy Occupation (Grand Rapids: Discovery House, 1992), p.97.

Karl Barth

It is not possible for us to say, I will pray, or I will not pray, as if it were a question of pleasing ourselves. Prayer is a necessity, as breathing is necessary to life.

Prayer and Preaching (London: SCM, 1964), 19.

Lewis Carroll

I have had prayers answered – most strangely so sometimes – but I think our Heavenly Father’s loving-kindness has been even more evident in what He has refused me.

The Selected Letters of Lewis Carroll.

Still Looking for inspiration?

Consider checking out our illustrations page on Prayer. 

Follow us on social media: