The Discipline of Prayer

pray the hours
Psalm 5:3 NIV
In the morning, O LORD, you hear my voice;
in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation.

Psalm 63:6-8 NIV
On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night.
Because you are my help, sing in the shadow of your wings.
My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.

O begin! Fix some part of every day for private exercises. You may acquire the taste which you have not: what is tedious at first, will afterwards be pleasant. Whether you like it or not, read and pray daily. It is for your life; there is no other way; else you will be a trifler all your days … Do justice to your own soul; give it time and means to grow. Do not starve yourself any longer. Take up your cross and be a Christian altogether.
– John Wesley

We take a giant step forward in Christian devotion when we see it more as a life to be lived than as a time to be observed. Consequently, it is more appropriate to speak of a “devotional life” than a “devotional time.”
– Rueben P. Job and Norman Shawchuck, A Guide to Prayer for All God’s People

When you pray, I think what happens is that you are steadfastly refusing to abandon this place that knows and believes, loves and trusts. You’re going to this place saying, “I’m staying here. I’m standing here. I’m going to believe this.” That’s daily prayer, that’s eating the daily bread to again believe the Gospel, to again believe the divine indwelling, to again trust and draw upon who you most deeply are. You gradually learn how to live there, how to draw your strength and solace from there, how to draw your dignity from this abundance. – Richard Rohr

Every “form” of prayer (whether liturgical or charismatic) is only the doorway into the presence of God. To equate or define prayer according to the form is to miss the essence. No matter when you pray, where you pray, or how you pray—praying is “just being with Jesus.” – Steve Harper, Just Be With Jesus

Prayer, fasting, watching may be good in themselves; yet it is not in these practices alone that the goal of our Christian life is found, though they are necessary means for its attainment. The true goal consists in our acquiring the Holy Spirit of God.
-Seraphim of Sarov

Prayer is the practice by which all that we are, all that we believe and do, is transformed into the action of the Spirit working his will in the details of our dailiness. Prayer consists in the transformation of what we do in the name of Jesus to what the Holy Spirit does in us as we follow Jesus. – Eugene Peterson, Tell It Slant  

Where shall we sense the fragrance of obedience, if not in prayer? Where strip ourselves of the self-love that makes us impatient when insulted or made to suffer? Or put on a divine love that will make us patient, and ready to glory in the cross of Christ crucified? In prayer. – Catherine of Siena, A Life of Total Prayer

On the palm of your hand you write my name, O God.
Through the pages of creation, my life unfolds.
In the chambers of your heart, I have a home, O God,
where every cry is heard, every tear seen,
every thanks
whispered in the dark or sung to the morning
is known to you.
And still, I am slow to thank, to ask, to trust.
O God, who is great and good,
help me to pray.
-Pamela C. Hawkins, The Awkward Season: Prayers for Lent

Click here for an excellent essay by Rachel Held Evans on the values of structured/liturgical prayer entitled “Give us this day” (some thoughts on structured prayer).

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