I leave for a seven day retreat on Sunday and have been prayerfully pondering my “intention” – my deepest desire for this time with God.
Christian Valters Painters in her new and wonderful book, The Soul of a Pilgrim, recommends:
“As a way of naming the grace you seek for this time, I intite you to open yourself to receive a seven word prayer to carry with you… Let this evolve over several days, sitting with whether the words that have emerged feel right for you.”
Here is my seven word prayer that have formed within me for this retreat:
“Deepen within me Your life and way.”
Pondering prayer and allowing its words to seep within the crevices of my soul reminded me of several of my favorite quotes about prayer and favorite prayers. I copied the following down in my journal to nourish me next week on my path into the heart of God.
God understands our prayers even when we can’t find the words to say them.
The value of persistent prayer is not that he will hear us . . . but that we will finally hear him.
For all that has been, thanks; to all that will be, yes.
Go where your best prayers take you.
Prayer is sitting in the silence until it silences us, choosing gratitude until we are grateful, praising God until we ourselves are a constant act of praise.
Fr. Richard Rohr, OFM
Give thanks for unknown blessings already on their way.
Native American prayer
To pray is to listen, to move through my own chattering to God, to that place where I can be silent and listen to what God may have to say.
The Samaritan woman at the well would never have met Jesus if she’d had a water supply at home.
It’s in what we lack that we are most open to all we can become.
Why do we bombard God with our prayers for what we lack to be provided? Perhaps we should be asking God not to supply our wants, but to dwell within them.
To pray is to take notice of the wonder, to regain a sense of the mystery that animates all beings, the divine margin in all attainments.
Prayer is our humble answer to the inconceivable surprise of living.
Abraham Joshua Heschel
God has created me to do Him some definite service.
He has committed some work to me
which He has not committed to another.
I have my mission.
I may never know it in this life,
but I shall be told it in the next.
I am a link in a chain, a bond of connection between persons.
He has not created me for naught.
I shall do good; I shall do His work.
I shall be an angel of peace, a preacher of truth in my own place,
while not intending it if I do but keep His commandments.
Therefore, I will trust Him, whatever I am, I can never be
If I am in sickness, my sickness may serve Him,
in perplexity, my perplexity may serve Him.
If I am in sorrow, my sorrow may serve Him.
He does nothing in vain. He knows what He is about.
He may take away my friends.
He may throw me among strangers.
He may make me feel desolate, make my spirits sink,
hide my future from me.
Still, He knows what He is about.
I do not ask to see; I do not ask to know;
I ask simply to be used.
John Henry Newman
You hollow us out, God, so that we may carry you, and you endlessly fill us only to be emptied again. Make smooth our inward spaces and sturdy, that we may hold you with less resistance and bear you with deeper grace.
Steer the ship of my life, good Lord,
to your quiet harbor,
where I can be safe
from the storms of sin and conflict.
Show me the course I should take.
Renew in me the gift of discernment,
so that I can always see
the right direction in which I should go.
And give me the strength and the courage
to choose the right course,
even when the sea is rough and the waves are high,
knowing that through enduring hardship and danger,
in your name we shall find comfort and peace. Amen.
Basil of Caesarea
Today, O Lord –
let me put right before interest;
let me put others before self;
let me put the things of the spirit
before the things of the body;
let me put the attainment of noble ends above the enjoyment of present pleasure.
let me put principle above reputation: let me put Thee above all else.
Give me a heart like Jesus Christ today ~~ a brave heart, a true heart, a tender heart, a heart with a great room in it, a heart fixed on Thyself; for his name’s sake. Amen
I am so afraid to open my clenched fists!
Who will I be when I have nothing left to hold on to?
Who will I be when I stand before you with empty hands?
Please help me to gradually open my hands
and to discover that I am not what I own,
but what you want to give me.
And what you want to give me is love,
unconditional, everlasting love.
May you be blessed forever, Lord, for not abandoning me when I abandoned you.
May you be blessed forever, Lord, for offering your hand of love in my darkest, most lonely moment.
May you be blessed forever, Lord, for loving me more than I love myself.
May you be blessed forever, Lord, for continuing to pour your blessings upon me, even though I respond so poorly.
May you be blessed forever, Lord, for drawing out the goodness in all people, even including me.
May you be blessed forever, Lord, for repaying our sin with your love.
May you be blessed forever, Lord, for being constant and unchanging, amidst all the changes of the world.
May you be blessed forever, Lord, for your countless blessings on me and on all your creatures.
Teresa of Avila
Please share a favorite prayer of yours or quote about prayer.
Lynn Mosher says
Oh, my! Some great quotes, Jean! Gotta save a few. Wonderful! Thanks so much. Praying the Lord blesses you with a special touch of His presence at your retreat. You’ll have to tell me about it. 😀
Jean Wise says
This retreat is feeding both my mind and my spirit, Lynn. It is about Ignatius spiritual exercise but updated for this century. Stretching me a bit but also gifted me with some silence to ponder, time to journal and rest too. Quite a gift.
Lynn Mosher says
Sounds wonderful, Jean! Stretch marks are good! So glad you’re being blessed! 😀
O God, early in the morning I cry to you.
Help me to pray and gather my thoughts to you, I cannot do it alone.
In me it is dark, but with you there is light;
I am lonely, but you do not desert me;
My courage fails me, but with you there is help;
I am restless, but with you there is peace;
in me there is bitterness, but with you there is patience;
I do not understand your ways, but you know the way for me.
Father in Heaven praise and thanks be to you for the night.
-Dietrich Bonhoeffer, A prayer written in Tegel prison, Berlin
Jean Wise says
love the Bonhoeffer quote! Thanks for sharing.
Nancy Ruegg says
That quote of William McGill spoke intently to my heart: “The value of persistent prayer is not that he will heart us…but that we will finally hear him.” AMEN! Here’a another prayer quote for your collection: “Nothing can so quickly cancel the frictions of life as prayer” — William McElroy. May you have a blessed and refreshing time at the retreat, Jean!
Jean Wise says
finally hear him – so true isn’t it, Nancy? Thanks for sharing that quote – that’s a keeper!
Martha Orlando says
Reading through these was such an amazing and uplifting experience for me, Jean. I’m afraid I can’t choose a favorite from among them. Thank you for sharing this inspiration!
Jean Wise says
I know these words lifted my sprit too, Martha. It was fun to gather them and ponder their meanings