Quotes about prayer from throughout Christian History.
Let us pray, therefore, and implore of His mercy, that we may live blameless in love, free from all human partialities for one above another. (First Clement 50)
Let us then also pray for those who have fallen into any sin, that meekness and humility may be given to them, so that they may submit, not to us, but to the will of God. For in this way they shall secure a fruitful and perfect remembrance from us, with sympathy for them, both in our prayers to God, and our mention of them to the saints [meaning living ones, not dead ones; all Christians were still called saints in the first century]. Let us receive correction, beloved, on account of which no one should feel displeased. Those exhortations by which we admonish one another are both good and highly profitable, for they tend to unite us to the will of God. (First Clement 56)
Let no one deceive himself. If anyone is not within the altar, he is deprived of the bread of God. For if the prayer of one or two possesses such power, how much more that of the bishop and the whole church! He, therefore, that does not assemble with the church, has even by this revealed his pride and condemned himself. (Letter to the Ephesians 5)
Pray without ceasing on behalf of everyone. For in them there is hope of repentance so that they may attain to God. Permit them, then, to be instructed by your works, if in no other way. Be meek in response to their wrath, humble in opposition to their boasting; to their blasphemies return your prayers; in contrast to their error be steadfast in the faith; and for their cruelty display your gentleness. (Letter to the Ephesians 10)
Pray also for me, for I need your love along with the mercy of God so that I may be worthy of the duty for which I am destined and so that I will not be found reprobate. (Letter to the Trallians 12)
You shall not go to prayer with an evil conscience. (ch. 19)
Teach the widows to be discreet as respects the faith of the Lord, praying continually363 for all, being far from all slandering, evil-speaking, false-witnessing, love of money, and every kind of evil; knowing that they are the altar364 of God, that He clearly perceives all things, and that nothing is hid from Him, neither reasonings, nor reflections, nor any one of the secret things of the heart. (Letter to the Philippians 4)
Therefore, forsaking the vanity of many, and their false doctrines, let us return to the word which has been handed down to us from the beginning, watching in prayer, persevering in fasting, beseeching in our supplications the all-seeing God not to lead us into temptation. (Letter to the Philippians 7)
Pray for all the saints. Pray also for kings, for those in power, for princes, for those that persecute and hate you, and for the enemies of the cross, so that your fruit may be apparent to everyone and that you may be perfect in Him. (Letter to the Philippians 12)
The most admirable Polycarp, when he first heard [that the authorities were looking for him], was not in the least disturbed, but resolved to stay in the city. However, in deference to the wish of many, he was persuaded to leave it. He departed, therefore, to a country house not far from the city. There he stayed with a few [friends], engaged in nothing else night and day than praying for everyone and for the Churches throughout the world, according to his usual custom. And while he was praying, a vision presented itself to him three days before he was taken; and, behold, the pillow under his head seemed to him on fire. Upon this, turning to those that were with him, he said to them prophetically, "I must be burnt alive." (Martyrdom of Polycarp 5)
[Polycarp] ordered that something to eat and drink should be set before [the guards who came to arrest him]. In fact, [he provided] as much as they cared for, while he requested they allow him an hour to pray without disturbance. When they gave him permisson, he stood and prayed, so full of the grace of God that he could not stop for two full hours. Those who heard him were so astonished that many began to repent that they had come out against so godly and venerable an old man.
Now, as soon as he had stopped praying, having made mention of all that had at any time come in contact with him, both small and great, illustrious and obscure, as well as the whole catholic Church throughout the world, the time of his departure having arrived, they put him on an donkey and led him into the city.(Martyrdom of Polycarp 7 & 8)
Put away doubting from you, and do not hesitate to ask of the Lord, saying to yourself, "How can I ask of the Lord and receive from him, since I have sinned so much against him?"
Do not reason with yourself in this way, but turn to the Lord with all your heart and ask of him without doubting, and you will know the multitude of his tender mercies; that he will never leave you, but fulfill the request of your soul. He is not like men, who remember evils done against them. He does not remember evils and has compassion on his own creation. Cleanse, therefore, your heart from all the vanities of the world and from the words already mentioned and ask of the Lord and you will receive all. In none of your requests will you be denied, which you make to the Lord without doubting. But if you doubt in your heart, you will receive none of you requests, for those who doubt are double-souled and obtain not one of their requests. Those who are perfect in faith ask everything, trusting in the Lord, and they obtain because they ask nothing doubting, not being double-souled. ...
If at any time, after you have asked of the Lord, you are slower in obtaining your request, do not doubt because you have not soon obtained the request of your soul. Invariably, it is because of some temptation or some sin of which you are ignorant that you are slower in obtaining your request. Therefore do not cease to make the request of your soul, and you will obtain it. If you grow weary and waver in your request, blame yourself, and not him who did not give it to you. (Shepherd of Hermas. Commandment 9th. Ch. 1.)
[To heaven] we lift our eyes, with hands outstretched because free from sin; with head uncovered, for we have nothing of which to be ashamed. ... Without ceasing, for all our emperors we offer prayer. We pray for life prolonged, for security to the empire, for protection to the imperial house, for brave armies, a faithful senate, a virtuous people, the world at rest; whatever, as man or Cæsar, an emperor would wish.
With our hands thus stretched out and up to God, rend us with your iron claws, hang us up on crosses, wrap us in flames, take our heads from us with the sword, let loose the wild beasts on us. The very attitude of a Christian praying is one of preparation for all punishment. (Apology 30)
We are a body knit together ... by a common religious profession, by unity of discipline, and by the bond of a common hope. We meet together as an assembly and congregation, that, offering up prayer to God with united force, we may wrestle with him in our supplications. This violence God delights in.
We pray, too, for the emperors, for their ministers, and for all in authority, for the welfare of the world, for the prevalence of peace, for the delay of the final consummation. (Apology 39)
The faithful, as soon as they wake and are risen, before they betake themselves to their work shall pray to God, and so let them hurry to their work.
But if there should be instruction in the word, he shall put this first, to go and hear the word of God for the strengthening of his soul. And they shall be zealous to go too the assembly where the Spirit abounds. (Apostolic Tradition III:31)
He who prays as he ought will endeavour to live as he prays. (unknown)
Christ was in an agony at prayer (Luke 22: 44). Many when they pray are rather in a lethargy, than in an agony. When they are about the world they are all fire; when they are at prayer, they are all Ice." (unknown source, cited by Revival List)
That, which begins not with prayer, seldom winds up with comfort. (See JohnFlavelQuotes.com for more from John Flavel)
We have not been men of prayer. The spirit of prayer has slumbered among us. The closet has been too little frequented and delighted in. We have allowed business, study or active labor to interfere with our closet-hours. And the feverish atmosphere in which both the church and the nation are enveloped has found its way into our prayer closets. (unknown, cited by Revival List)
Prayer will make you leave off sinning, or sinning will make you leave off praying. (Cited by J. Lee Grady, "7 Ways to Stop the Adultery Epidemic"; CharismaMag.org; accessed May 8, 2013)
Only a life of prayer and meditation will render a vessel ready for the Master's use. (unknown)
True prayer MUST be a flame
It is not the thing on which we spend most time that molds us, but the thing that exerts the greatest power. Five minutes with God and His word is worth more than all the rest of the day. (unknown)
Satan dreads nothing but prayer... He fears nothing from prayerless studies, prayerless work, and prayerless religion. He laughs at our toil, mocks at our wisdom, but trembles when we pray. (Cited by Revival list newsletter)
If you are strangers to prayer, you are strangers to power. (Cited by Revival list newsletter)
Praying without faith is like trying to cut with a blunt knife - much labor expended to little purpose.
I do not think [the devil] minds our praying about things if we leave it at that. What he minds, and opposes steadily, is the prayer that prays on until it is prayed through, assured of the answer. (unknown, [They That Sow?])
Have you noticed how much praying for revival has been going on of late - and how little revival has resulted? I believe the problem is that we have been trying to substitute praying for obeying, and it simply will not work. To pray for revival while ignoring the plain precept laid down in Scripture is to waste a lot of words and get nothing for our trouble. Prayer will become effective when we stop using it as a substitute for obedience. (unknown)
It is my conviction that much, very much, prayer for and talk about revival these days is wasted energy. Ignoring the confusion of figures, I might say that it is hunger that appears to have no object; it is dreamy wishing that is too weak to produce moral action. It is fanaticism on a high level for, according to John Wesley, "a fanatic is one who seeks desired ends while ignoring the constituted means to reach those ends." ("The Size of the Soul" as cited by RevivalSchool.com Mailing List)
It is almost unbelievable how far we will go to avoid obeying God. We call Jesus "Lord" and beg Him to rejuvenate our souls, but we are careful to do not the things He says. When faced with a sin, a confession or a moral alteration in our life, we find it much easier to pray half a night than to obey God. ("The Size of the Soul" as cited by RevivalSchool.com Mailing List
The neglected heart will soon be a heart overrun with worldly thoughts; the neglected life will soon become a moral chaos; the church that is not jealously protected by mighty intercession and sacrificial labors will before long become the abode of every evil bird and the hiding place for unsuspected corruption. The creeping wilderness will soon take over that church that trusts in its own strength and forgets to watch and pray. (unknown, cited by RevivalSchool.com and used with permission)
We are too busy to pray, and so we are too busy to have power. (unknown, cited by RevivalSchool.com and used with permission)
Prayer is beyond any question the highest activity of the human soul. ... Ultimately, therefore, a man discovers the real condition of his spiritual life when he examines himself in prayer, when he is alone with God. it is not only the highest activity of the human soul, it is the ultimate test of our true spiritual condition. ... You will find the most outstanding characteristic of all the most saintly people the world has ever known has been that they have not only spent much time in private prayer, but have also delighted in it. (Studies in the Sermon on the Mount II, p. 47)
Is prayer your steering wheel or your spare tire? (Cited by Revival List)
Friend, you will never stumble as long as you are on your knees! (Cited by Revival School)