Quotations on Prayer and Spirituality


For a full list of quotes on this page which come from the Bible click here.


Subjects covered Change Community Compassion Discipleship Downward-Mobility Faith Fasting Forgiveness Godliness Goodness Grace Humility Integrity Intimacy Lifestyle Listening Love Meditation Mindfulness Patience Peace Prayer Pride Self-Knowledge Servanthood Seeing Silence Simplicity Solitude Spiritual-Hunger Spirituality Spiritual Maturity Stillness Suffering Thanksgiving Truth Weakness Wealth Wisdom

“At that time Jesus said, ‘I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children.'” Matthew 11 : 25



Change

We cannot change the world by a new plan, project or idea. We cannot even change other people by our convictions, stories, advice and proposals, but we can offer a space where people are encouraged to disarm themselves, to lay aside their occupations and preoccupations and to listen with attention and care to the voices in their own centre.

— Henry J. M. Nouwen, Reaching Out

To pray is to change.

— Richard Foster, Prayer – Finding the hearts true home

The primary purpose of prayer is to bring us into such a life of communion with the Father that, by the power of the Spirit, we are increasingly conformed to the image of the Son.

— Richard Foster, Prayer – Finding the hearts true home

If you really change your ways and your actions and deal with each other justly, if you do not oppress the foreigner, the fatherless or the widow and do not shed innocent blood in this place, and if you do not follow other gods to your own harm, then I will let you live in this place, in the land I gave your ancestors for ever and ever. But look, you are trusting in deceptive words that are worthless.

— Jeremiah 7 : 5-8, Today’s NIV Bible

And [Jesus] said: ‘Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.’

— Matthew 18 : 3, Today’s NIV Bible

Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality.

— 1 Corinthians 15 : 51-53, Today’s NIV Bible

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

— James 1 : 2 – 4, Today’s NIV Bible

If one’s relationship with God is to grow, one must be willing to be transparent before God in the complicated mystery that is the human emotional life.

— Joan M. Nuth, ‘Emotions’ The New SCM Dictionary of Christian Spirituality

Being a Christian is more than just an instantaneous conversion – it is like a daily process whereby I grow to be more and more like Christ.

— Billy Graham, The Enduring Classics of Billy Graham

The various disciplines of the spiritual life, such as abstinence, fasting, methods of prayer, making retreat, are properly understood not as ends but as means of growing to fuller maturation in the Spirit, being conformed to the person of Christ, brought into deeper communion with God and others.

— Michael Downey, ‘Lay People and Spirituality’ The New SCM Dictionary of Christian Spirituality

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Community

Hospitality…means primarily the creation of a free space where the stranger can enter and become a friend instead of an enemy. Hospitality is not to change people, but to offer them space where change can take place.

— Henri J. M. Nouwen, Reaching Out

A friend of mine once defined community as the place where the one you least want to live with always lives.

— Henri J. M. Nouwen, The Road to Peace

There is a close connection between fruitfulness and stability, and no monk can grow in love if he does not sink his roots in his community. The tree planted by the waters of wisdom will bring forth fruit if we give it time, if we keep silence, if we have the humility to see that we cannot do everything ourselves.

— Esther De Waal, The Way of Simplicity

Spirituality is not a formula; it is not a test. It is a relationship. Spirituality is not about competency; it is about intimacy. Spirituality is not about perfection; it is about connection. The way of the spiritual life begins where we are now in the mess of our lives.

— Michael Yaconelli, Messy Spirituality

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Compassion

Jesus’ compassion is characterised by a downward pull. That is what disturbs us. We cannot even think about ourselves in terms other than those of an upward pull, an upward mobility in which we strive for better lives, higher salaries, and more prestigious positions.

— Henri J. M. Nouwen, Compassion

Here we see what compassion means. It is not a bending toward the underprivileged from a privileged position; it is not a reaching out from on high to those who are less fortunate below; it is not a gesture of sympathy or pity for those who fail to make it in the upward pull. On the contrary, compassion means going directly to those people and places where suffering is most acute and building a home there.

— Henri J. M. Nouwen, Compassion

But you are a forgiving God, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love.

— Nehemiah 9 : 17, Today’s NIV Bible

But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.

— Psalm 86 : 15, Today’s NIV Bible

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

— Ephesians 4 : 32, Today’s NIV Bible

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.

— Colossians 3 : 12, Today’s NIV Bible

Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble.

— 1 Peter 3 : 8, Today’s NIV Bible

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Discipleship

The more you listen to God speaking within you, the sooner you will hear that voice inviting you to follow the way of Jesus.

— Henri J. M. Nouwen, Letters to Marc About Jesus

Being a Christian is more than just an instantaneous conversion – it is like a daily process whereby I grow to be more and more like Christ.

— Billy Graham, The Enduring Classics of Billy Graham

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Downward Mobility

Those who walk in the way of the Cross through lives of self-surrender become weak in the eyes of the world but capable of being freed and filled with a power the world does not possess. Faith is rooted in the paradox that God works his liberation through those who recognise their own weakness.

— Philip Sheldrake, Theology of the Cross

It is…not surprising that living out of the experience of faith, of Israel, of Jesus and of Paul we too are led to the crucible of vulnerability, and there in the place of our powerlessness and weakness, we discover the place par excellence of the encounter with God.

— Dermot Power, The Pain and Potential of Powerlessness

Jesus’ compassion is characterised by a downward pull. That is what disturbs us. We cannot even think about ourselves in terms other than those of an upward pull, an upward mobility in which we strive for better lives, higher salaries, and more prestigious positions.

— Henri J. M. Nouwen, Compassion

Here we see what compassion means. It is not a bending toward the underprivileged from a privileged position; it is not a reaching out from on high to those who are less fortunate below; it is not a gesture of sympathy or pity for those who fail to make it in the upward pull. On the contrary, compassion means going directly to those people and places where suffering is most acute and building a home there.

— Henri J. M. Nouwen, Compassion

But who will be our robber when everything he wants to steal from us becomes our gift to him?

— Henri J. M. Nouwen, Jesus, A Gospel

But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.

— Matthew 19 : 30, Today’s NIV Bible

Each one of us has to seek out his or her own descending way of love.

— Henri J. M. Nouwen, Letters to Marc About Jesus

To follow the poor life of St Francis of Assisi…does not mean that one must acquire sandals, a brown religious habit, and a rope for the waist. Such garb may well have been peasant wear in the thirteenth century but today such a costume might symbolise religion and not poverty.

— L. S. Cunningham & K. J. Egan, Christian Spirituality

In your relationships with one another, have the same attitude of mind Christ Jesus had: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a human being, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!

— Philippians 2 : 5-8, Today’s NIV Bible

And [Jesus] said: ‘Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.’

— Matthew 18 : 3, Today’s NIV Bible

Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

— 2 Corinthians 12 : 7-10, Today’s NIV Bible

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Faith

Today, as much as at any time, we need men of great faith and men who are great in prayer. These are the two cardinal virtues which make men great in the eyes of God, the two things which create conditions of real spiritual success in the life and work of the church.

— E. M. Bounds, The Necessity of Prayer

It is…not surprising that living out of the experience of faith, of Israel, of Jesus and of Paul we too are led to the crucible of vulnerability, and there in the place of our powerlessness and weakness, we discover the place par excellence of the encounter with God.

— Dermot Power, The Pain and Potential of Powerlessness

Truly I tell you, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will be done. If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.

— Matthew 21 : 21-22, Today’s NIV Bible

Have faith in God,” Jesus answered. “Truly I tell you, if you say to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and do not doubt in your heart but believe that what you say will happen, it will be done for you. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.

— Mark 11 : 22-26, Today’s NIV Bible

Faith gives wings to prayer, and without it no one can fly upward to heaven.

— John Climacus, The Ladder of Divine Ascent

One litmus test of spiritual maturity is whether our dreams are getting bigger or smaller. The older you get, the more faith you should have because you’ve experienced more of God’s faithfulness. And it is God’s faithfulness that increases our faith and enlarges our dreams.

— Mark Batterson, The Circle Maker

Faith is the willingness to look foolish.

— Mark Batterson, The Circle Maker

Faith is a personal reliance on God expressed in actions.

— Steve Hawthorne and Graham Kendrick, Awaking our Cities for God: A guide to Prayer-Walking

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Fasting

So we fasted and petitioned our God about this, and he answered our prayer.

— Ezra 8 : 23, Today’s NIV Bible

Paul and Barnabas appointed elders for them in each church and, with prayer and fasting, committed them to the Lord, in whom they had put their trust.

— Acts 14 : 23, Today’s NIV Bible

…fasting is one way by which a believer may keep the balance between the things which are spiritual and those which are only physical.

— David Rushworth-Smith, Fasting – A Neglected Discipline

For the value of [fasting] lies not in its immediate effect, but in the results which flow from its practice, and in the gradual effect which it has upon the individual believer.

— David Rushworth-Smith, Fasting – A Neglected Discipline

If we use fasting in order to obtain some benefit, as though it were a tool in our hands, we may find ourselves in spiritual extremism or suffering frustration. If we fast for the right reasons, we shall notice that we have gained some benefits unawares.

— David Rushworth-Smith, Fasting – A Neglected Discipline

When the stomach is full, it is easy to talk of fasting.

— St Jerome

When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

— Matthew 6 : 16 – 18, Today’s NIV Bible

The various disciplines of the spiritual life, such as abstinence, fasting, methods of prayer, making retreat, are properly understood not as ends but as means of growing to fuller maturation in the Spirit, being conformed to the person of Christ, brought into deeper communion with God and others.

— Michael Downey, ‘Lay People and Spirituality’ The New SCM Dictionary of Christian Spirituality

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Forgiveness

Have faith in God,” Jesus answered. “Truly I tell you, if you say to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and do not doubt in your heart but believe that what you say will happen, it will be done for you. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.

— Mark 11 : 22-26, Today’s NIV Bible

Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make them well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.

— James 5 : 13-16, Today’s NIV Bible

But you are a forgiving God, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love.

— Nehemiah 9 : 17, Today’s NIV Bible

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

— Ephesians 4 : 32, Today’s NIV Bible

God’s forgiveness of us is indeed an act of gracious generosity. But the spiritual challenge is to appropriate it in a way that treats it as the beginning, not the end, of a process. Hence the importance of repentance and amendment of life. To appropriate God’s forgiveness of us means that we grow, change and are transformed. We are not mere consumers of God’s forgiveness, but participants in God’s work of reconciling the world.

— L. William Countryman, ‘Forgiveness’ – The New SCM Dictionary of Christian Spirituality

Christian piety has committed at least two major errors in speaking about forgiveness. One is the attempt to enhance and magnify the grace of forgiveness by elaborating on the depravity of humanity, which it portrays as being utterly without any goodness until the gift of divine goodness transforms it. This is a betrayal of the doctrine of creation. Nothing in Scripture indicates that the fall absolutely erased all value in the original creation. Sin does deserve to be taken very seriously…But the teaching of forgiveness is not enhanced by exaggerating human sinfulness. The other grave error has been the tendency to treat forgiveness purely as a duty and, worse yet, to impose it on the weak.

— L. William Countryman, ‘Forgiveness’ – The New SCM Dictionary of Christian Spirituality

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Godliness

The LORD has rewarded me according to my righteousness, according to the cleanness of my hands in his sight.

— Psalm 18 : 24, Today’s NIV Bible

For the LORD God is a sun and shield;the LORD bestows favor and honour; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless.

— Psalm 84 : 11, Today’s NIV Bible

Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

— Matthew 5 : 48, Today’s NIV Bible

During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission.

— Hebrews 5 : 7, Today’s NIV Bible

If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened; but God has surely listened and has heard my prayer.

— Psalm 66 : 18-19, Today’s NIV Bible

Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from him anything we ask, because we keep his commands and do what pleases him.

— 1 John 3 : 21-22, Today’s NIV Bible

The Lord is far from the wicked but he hears the prayer of the righteous.

— Proverbs 15 : 29, Today’s NIV Bible

And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.

— Philippians 1 : 9-11, Today’s NIV Bible

Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make them well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.

— James 5 : 13-16, Today’s NIV Bible

For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want.

— Galatians 5 : 17, Today’s NIV Bible

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

— Philippians 4 : 8, Today’s NIV Bible

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

— Galatians 5 : 22, Today’s NIV Bible

When you spread out your hands in prayer, I will hide my eyes from you; even if you offer many prayers, I will not listen. Your hands are full of blood; wash and make yourselves clean. Take your evil deeds out of my sight! Stop doing wrong, learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow.

— Isaiah 1 : 15-17, Today’s NIV Bible

Godliness is a life-long business. The working out of the salvation that the Lord, himself, works in you is not a matter of certain hours, or of a limited period of life. Salvation is unfolded throughout our entire sojourn here.

— Charles Spurgeon, The Watchword for today ‘stand fast’ – sermon 1888

For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.

— 1 Timothy 4 : 8, Today’s NIV Bible

A ‘godly’ person is one who ceases to be self-centred in order to become God-centred.

— Charles Swindoll, So you want to be like Christ?

The various disciplines of the spiritual life, such as abstinence, fasting, methods of prayer, making retreat, are properly understood not as ends but as means of growing to fuller maturation in the Spirit, being conformed to the person of Christ, brought into deeper communion with God and others.

— Michael Downey, ‘Lay People and Spirituality’ The New SCM Dictionary of Christian Spirituality

Christian holiness is not (as people often imagine) a matter of denying something good. It is about growing up and grasping something even better.
Made for spirituality, we wallow in introspection. Made for joy, we settle for pleasure. Made for justice, we clamour for vengeance. Made for relationship, we insist on our own way. Made for beauty, we are satisfied with sentiment. But new creation has already begun. The sun has begun to rise. Christians are called to leave behind, in the tomb of Jesus Christ, all that belongs to the brokenness and incompleteness of the present world. It is time, in the power of the Spirit, to take up our proper role, our fully human role, as agents, heralds and stewards of the new day that is dawning. That, quite simply, is what it means to be a Christian, to follow Jesus Christ into the new world, God’s new world, which he has thrown open before us.

— Tom Wright, Simply Christian

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Goodness

The mark of a good prayer life is not abundant consolation but growth in the virtues.

— Thomas H. Green SJ, When the Well Runs Dry

For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.

— 1 Peter 3 : 12, Today’s NIV Bible

Acquire the habit of prayer and it will be easy for you to do good.

— Unknown, The Way of a Pilgrim

Badness is only spoiled goodness.

— C.S. Lewis, The Case for Christianity

But the Bible taught me that goodness, for humans, is a mistake overcome rather than the perfect avoidance of all mistakes.

— Richard Rohr, Adam’s Return

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Grace

Grace is not the result of our own efforts and merits, but rather a gift from God, who can only give it to those who acknowledge their need and their impotence. Any trace of self-sufficiency makes us impermeable to the experience of the gratuity of grace.

— Eduardo Lopez Azpitarte SJ, From Guilt to Gratitude

Regardless of what we learn about prayer, regardless of how we discipline ourselves in prayer, any deepening of intimacy with God depends entirely on God’s grace and on his initiative. Christian prayer demands discipline, but there is no mechanistic guarantee of mystical insight or dramatic transformation.

— Kenneth Swanson, Uncommon Prayer – Approaching Intimacy with God

So the Christian life is lived out in the tension between self-discipline and the free gift of grace.

— Kenneth Swanson, Uncommon Prayer – Approaching Intimacy with God

Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

— 2 Corinthians 12 : 7-10, Today’s NIV Bible

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Humility

We must enter the future fields of freedom not proudly through guarded gates with our special passes, but humbly, on our knees, in a company of fellow failures, quite unable to believe how, in our sins, we are so undeservedly loved.

— Daniel O’Leary, The Tablet

That which brings the praying soul near to God is humility of heart. That which gives wings to prayer is lowliness of mind. That which gives ready access to the throne of grace is self-depreciation. Pride, self-esteem, and self-praise effectually shut the door of prayer. He who would come to God must approach him with self hid from his eyes. He must not be puffed-up with self-conceit, nor be possessed with an over-estimate of his virtues and good works.

— E. M. Bounds, The Essentials of Prayer

Humility means to live as close to the truth as possible.

— Richard Foster, Prayer – Finding the hearts true home

There is a close connection between fruitfulness and stability, and no monk can grow in love if he does not sink his roots in his community. The tree planted by the waters of wisdom will bring forth fruit if we give it time, if we keep silence, if we have the humility to see that we cannot do everything ourselves.

— Esther De Waal, The Way of Simplicity

In your relationships with one another, have the same attitude of mind Christ Jesus had: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a human being, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!

— Philippians 2 : 5-8, Today’s NIV Bible

Now Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth.

— Numbers 12 : 3, Today’s NIV Bible

Humility is nothing more than an accurate self-assessment , an awareness of oneself as one really is. And surely, anyone seeing himself for what he really is, must be truly humble.

— Unknown, The Cloud of Unknowing

He has shown all you people what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God

— Micah 6 : 8, Today’s NIV Bible

And [Jesus] said: ‘Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.’

— Matthew 18 : 3, Today’s NIV Bible

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.

— Colossians 3 : 12, Today’s NIV Bible

Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble.

— 1 Peter 3 : 8, Today’s NIV Bible

When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.

— Proverbs 11 : 2, Today’s NIV Bible

These are the ones I look on with favor: those who are humble and contrite in spirit, and who tremble at my word.

— Isaiah 66 : 2b, Today’s NIV Bible

Perfect humility dispenses with modesty.

— C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory

If one’s relationship with God is to grow, one must be willing to be transparent before God in the complicated mystery that is the human emotional life.

— Joan M. Nuth, ‘Emotions’ The New SCM Dictionary of Christian Spirituality

I can usually sense that a leading is from the Holy Spirit when it calls me to humble myself, serve somebody, encourage somebody or give something away. Very rarely will the evil one lead us to do those kinds of things.

— Bill Hybels, How to Hear God

Genuine humility is not to be confused with humiliation. It does not involve rejection, hatred of oneself or lack of self-esteem and assertiveness. It does not demand that one become a doormat. Rather, humility is linked with truth about oneself and the world. To be humble is to accept one’s creatureliness, gifts and sinfulness. Both reason and psychological knowledge can be assets in discovering one’s true self, but humility is ultimately the fruit of openness to God’s generous love and mystery. To be humble is to be free of pretence, to have oneself in perspective in order to resist exaggeration of either one’s gifts or one’s faults.

— Elizabeth A. Dreyer, ‘Humility’ – The New SCM Dictionary of Christian Spirituality

To practise humility is to assume a counter-cultural stance against a status quo that encourages arrogance and self-aggrandisement at the expense of others (Rom. 12:16Rom. 12:16
English: Good News Bible (UK) - GNB-UK

16 Have the same concern for everyone. Do not be proud, but accept humble duties. accept humble duties; or make friends with humble people. Do not think of yourselves as wise. :

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). In a world rife with conflict, humbleness points the way to forgiveness and reconciliation.

— Elizabeth A. Dreyer, ‘Humility’ – The New SCM Dictionary of Christian Spirituality

What is humility? It is that habitual quality whereby we live in the truth of things: the truth that we are creatures and not the Creator; the truth that our life is a composite of good and evil, light and darkness; the truth that in our littleness we have been given extravagant dignity…. Humility is saying a radical ‘yes’ to the human condition.

— Robert F. Morneau, Humility: 31 Reflections on a Christian Virtue

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Integrity

Consonance between the inner and outer self is the meaning of integrity.

— Joan H. Timmerman, “Body & Spirituality” The New SCM Dictionary of Christian Spirituality

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Intimacy

Progress in intimacy with God means progress towards silence.

— Richard Foster, Prayer – Finding the hearts true home

From a biblical perspective, the motive for prayer is to enter the Kingdom of God, a kingdom that is defined solely in terms of intimacy with God. Human beings were created to live in that intimacy. Why do we pray? Prayer is the doorway to that kingdom.

— Kenneth Swanson, Uncommon Prayer – Approaching Intimacy with God

Regardless of what we learn about prayer, regardless of how we discipline ourselves in prayer, any deepening of intimacy with God depends entirely on God’s grace and on his initiative. Christian prayer demands discipline, but there is no mechanistic guarantee of mystical insight or dramatic transformation.

— Kenneth Swanson, Uncommon Prayer – Approaching Intimacy with God

If one’s relationship with God is to grow, one must be willing to be transparent before God in the complicated mystery that is the human emotional life.

— Joan M. Nuth, ‘Emotions’ The New SCM Dictionary of Christian Spirituality

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Lifestyle

At the end of the fourth century, the British monk Jovinian was excommunicated and anathematised for saying that, for progress in Christian life, marriage was an equally viable lifestyle with celibacy.

— Margaret R. Miles, The Image and Practice of Holiness

There is…something appropriately subversive about responsible experiment, allowing ourselves to enter into the novel, the strange, even the threatening edges of our world, in order to open up the mystery and beauty of God’s creation and question the all too human tendency to presume to ‘know’ everything.

— Michael Barnes, The Public, the Private and the Personal

God asks the majority of us…to make our Christian journeys outside a monastic setting, in the ‘world’, with all its many and varied attractions, experiences, demands and influences. So if God wants us in some sense to be contemplatives, it is in the world and somehow by means of the world that this comes about.

— David Lonsdale, Contemplative in Everyday Life

What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.

— James 4 : 1-3, Today’s NIV Bible

For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.

— 1 Peter 3 : 12, Today’s NIV Bible

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.

— Romans 12 : 12, Today’s NIV Bible

Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.

— 1 Peter 3 : 7, Today’s NIV Bible

If you really change your ways and your actions and deal with each other justly, if you do not oppress the foreigner, the fatherless or the widow and do not shed innocent blood in this place, and if you do not follow other gods to your own harm, then I will let you live in this place, in the land I gave your ancestors for ever and ever. But look, you are trusting in deceptive words that are worthless.

— Jeremiah 7 : 5-8, Today’s NIV Bible

For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want.

— Galatians 5 : 17, Today’s NIV Bible

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

— Philippians 4 : 8, Today’s NIV Bible

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

— Galatians 5 : 22, Today’s NIV Bible

We have a strange illusion that mere time cancels sin. But mere time does nothing either to the fact or to the guilt of a sin.

— C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain

The way of the spiritual life begins where we are now in the mess of our lives. Accepting the reality of our broken, flawed lives is the beginning of spirituality not because the spiritual life will remove our flaws but because we let go of seeking perfection and, instead, seek God, the one who is present in the tangledness of our lives. Spirituality is not about being fixed; it is about God’s being present in the mess of our unfixedness.

— Michael Yaconelli, Messy Spirituality

Spirituality is not a formula; it is not a test. It is a relationship. Spirituality is not about competency; it is about intimacy. Spirituality is not about perfection; it is about connection. The way of the spiritual life begins where we are now in the mess of our lives.

— Michael Yaconelli, Messy Spirituality

We want to be a saint, but we also want to feel every sensation experienced by sinners; we want to be innocent and pure, but we also want to be experienced and taste all of life; we want to serve the poor and have a simple lifestyle, but we also want all the comforts of the rich; we want to have the depth afforded by solitude, but we also do not want to miss anything; we want to pray, but we also want to watch television, read, talk to friends, and go out.

— Ronald Rolheiser, The Holy Longing

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Listening

The more you listen to God speaking within you, the sooner you will hear that voice inviting you to follow the way of Jesus.

— Henri J. M. Nouwen, Letters to Marc About Jesus

The less we are mesmerised by human voices, the more we are able to hear the Divine Voice. The less we are manipulated by the expectations of others, the more we are open to the expectations of God.

— Richard Foster, Prayer – Finding the hearts true home

We must silence every creature, we must silence ourselves, to hear in the deep hush of the whole soul the ineffable voice of the spouse. We must bend the ear, because it is a gentle and delicate voice, only heard by those who no longer hear anything else.

— Francis Fenelon, Christian Perfection

It is within the inner stillness, within this utter quietness, within this sweet solitude, that the Spirit of the living God speaks most clearly to our spirits. It is there, alone with him, that he makes himself real to us. It is there we ‘see’ him most acutely with the inner eyes of our awakened conscience. It is there he communes with us calmly through the inner awareness of his presence, speaking to us with ever-deepening conviction by his own wondrous word.

— W. Philip Keller, Solitude for Serenity and Strength

The LORD said, ‘Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by.’ Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a voice said to him, ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?’

— 1 Kings 19 : 11-13, Today’s NIV Bible

Silence is not merely negative – a pause between words, a temporary cessation of speech – but, properly understood, it is highly positive: an attitude of attentive alertness, of vigilance, and above all of listening. The hesychast, the person who has attained hesychia, inner stillness or silence, is par excellence the one who listens. He listens to the voice of prayer in his own heart, and he understands that this voice is not his own but that of Another speaking within him.

— Bishop Kallistos of Diokleia, The Power of the Name

True inner prayer is to stop talking and to listen to the wordless voice of God within our heart; it is to cease doing things on our own, and to enter into the action of God.

— Bishop Kallistos of Diokleia, The Power of the Name

The purpose of prayer can be summarized in the phrase, ‘Become what you are’. Become, consciously and actively, what you already are potentially and secretly, by virtue of your creation according to the divine image and your re-creation at Baptism. Become what you are: more exactly, return into yourself; discover him who is yours already, listen to him who never ceases to speak within you; possess him who even now possesses you.

— Bishop Kallistos of Diokleia, The Power of the Name

Pay attention, Job, and listen to me; be silent, and I will speak. If you have anything to say, answer me; speak up, for I want to vindicate you. But if not, then listen to me; be silent, and I will teach you wisdom.

— Job 33 : 31-33, Today’s NIV Bible

The LORD is in his holy temple; let all the earth be silent before him.

— Habakkuk 2 : 20, Today’s NIV Bible

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Love

Jesus came to lead us into a totally new order where the barriers would drop, where the poor, the marginalised and the broken hearts would be at the centre. To love someone is to reveal to them that they have a value, that they are beautiful, that there is a light shining in them.

— Jean Vanier, The Poor as a Source of Life

Prayer may then become less an effort to love God and more a matter of letting him love you. Relax, because he loves you. To be preoccupied with your unworthiness is not only pointless but obstructive. It is very humbling to be loved by someone who knows everything and still loves you, as Peter discovered on the lakeside after the resurrection. The love that knows us is creative, and so to let ourselves be known and loved in prayer is to allow ourselves to be changed.

— Maria Boulding, Marked for Life

We must enter the future fields of freedom not proudly through guarded gates with our special passes, but humbly, on our knees, in a company of fellow failures, quite unable to believe how, in our sins, we are so undeservedly loved.

— Daniel O’Leary, The Tablet

If you wish to learn the love of God, you have to begin by praying for your enemies.

— Henri J. M. Nouwen, Letters to Marc About Jesus

Each one of us has to seek out his or her own descending way of love.

— Henri J. M. Nouwen, Letters to Marc About Jesus

A mystic is one whose single minded love of God and love of neighbour leads to an awareness of the presence of God.

— L. S. Cunningham & K. J. Egan, Christian Spirituality

Prayer is the inner bath of love into which the soul plunges itself.

— St John Vianney

There is a close connection between fruitfulness and stability, and no monk can grow in love if he does not sink his roots in his community. The tree planted by the waters of wisdom will bring forth fruit if we give it time, if we keep silence, if we have the humility to see that we cannot do everything ourselves.

— Esther De Waal, The Way of Simplicity

But you are a forgiving God, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love.

— Nehemiah 9 : 17, Today’s NIV Bible

But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.

— Psalm 86 : 15, Today’s NIV Bible

Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble.

— 1 Peter 3 : 8, Today’s NIV Bible

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

— Galatians 5 : 22, Today’s NIV Bible

Love is something more stern and splendid than mere kindness.

— C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain

Love is not affectionate feeling, but a steady wish for the loved person’s ultimate good as far as it can be obtained.

— C.S. Lewis, Answers to Questions on Christianity

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Meditation

The essential elements of meditation consist of silence, stillness and simplicity. Silence is more than the absence of words; it is the slowing and eventual transcending of thought… Stillness is the freedom from desire that follows the silence of mental thoughts and images. Simplicity is the condition of being in the present moment.

— Laurence Freeman, ‘Meditation’ The New SCM Dictionary of Christian Spirituality

The best definition I know for contemplation is as follows: Contemplation is a long, loving look at what really is. The essential element in this experience is time. There is a qualitative difference between ten minutes and ten hours, and even more, of course, between ten hours and ten days. We have to find a place where we can receive all our experiences without repressing anything. We need a place where there’s room to consider everything that we’ve done – and not done – in our life, a place that’s bigger than Yes and No, a place bigger than the judgments we pass. At this all-embracing place God becomes quite clear. Here there is room for every part of you and for God’s presence.

— Richard Rohr, Simplicity: The Freedom of Letting Go

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Mindfulness

Much of what is sacred is hidden in the ordinary, everyday moments of our lives. To see something of the sacred in those moments takes slowing down so we can live our lives more reflectively.

— Ken Gire, Seeing What is Sacred: Becoming More Spiritually Sensitive to the Everyday Moments of Life

The essential elements of meditation consist of silence, stillness and simplicity. Silence is more than the absence of words; it is the slowing and eventual transcending of thought… Stillness is the freedom from desire that follows the silence of mental thoughts and images. Simplicity is the condition of being in the present moment.

— Laurence Freeman, ‘Meditation’ The New SCM Dictionary of Christian Spirituality

The best definition I know for contemplation is as follows: Contemplation is a long, loving look at what really is. The essential element in this experience is time. There is a qualitative difference between ten minutes and ten hours, and even more, of course, between ten hours and ten days. We have to find a place where we can receive all our experiences without repressing anything. We need a place where there’s room to consider everything that we’ve done – and not done – in our life, a place that’s bigger than Yes and No, a place bigger than the judgments we pass. At this all-embracing place God becomes quite clear. Here there is room for every part of you and for God’s presence.

— Richard Rohr, Simplicity: The Freedom of Letting Go

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Patience

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.

— Colossians 3 : 12, Today’s NIV Bible

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

— Galatians 5 : 22, Today’s NIV Bible

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Peace

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Prayer

The spiritual director is confronted with the problem of helping people to the enjoyment of God when much of their past experience of prayer is one of labour, seriousness, brooding, and self-absorption.

— William A. Barry SJ, The Contemplative Attitude in Spiritual Direction

A person who is controlled by fear, anger, a fixed idea of his future, finds himself incapable of more than superficial prayer. When he begins to be freed of that control, he becomes capable of a deeper prayer.

— William J. Connolly SJ, Freedom and Prayer in Directed Retreats

He asked for strength that he might achieve;
he was made weak that he might obey.
He asked for health that he might do greater things;
he was given infirmity that he might do better things.
He asked for riches that he might be happy;
he was given poverty that he might be wise.
He asked for power that he might have the praise of men;
he was given weakness that he might feel the need of God.
He asked for all things that he might enjoy life;
he was given life that he might enjoy all things.
He has received nothing that he asked for, but all that he hoped for.
His prayer is answered.

— Col. R. H. Fitzhugh, The Paradox of Prayer

Lord, it is my chief complaint
That my love is weak and faint;
Yet I love thee, and adore;
O for grace to love thee more!

— William Cowper

When I pray, coincidences happen; when I don’t pray, they don’t.

— William Temple

Prayer may then become less an effort to love God and more a matter of letting him love you. Relax, because he loves you. To be preoccupied with your unworthiness is not only pointless but obstructive. It is very humbling to be loved by someone who knows everything and still loves you, as Peter discovered on the lakeside after the resurrection. The love that knows us is creative, and so to let ourselves be known and loved in prayer is to allow ourselves to be changed.

— Maria Boulding, Marked for Life

The mark of a good prayer life is not abundant consolation but growth in the virtues.

— Thomas H. Green SJ, When the Well Runs Dry

Prayer is not simply to get things from God, but to make those things holy which already have been received from him. It is not merely to get a blessing, but also to be able to give a blessing. Prayer makes common things holy and secular things sacred. It receives things from God with thanksgiving and hallows them with thankful hearts and devoted service.

— E. M. Bounds, The Necessity of Prayer

Today, as much as at any time, we need men of great faith and men who are great in prayer. These are the two cardinal virtues which make men great in the eyes of God, the two things which create conditions of real spiritual success in the life and work of the church.

— E. M. Bounds, The Necessity of Prayer

That which brings the praying soul near to God is humility of heart. That which gives wings to prayer is lowliness of mind. That which gives ready access to the throne of grace is self-depreciation. Pride, self-esteem, and self-praise effectually shut the door of prayer. He who would come to God must approach him with self hid from his eyes. He must not be puffed-up with self-conceit, nor be possessed with an over-estimate of his virtues and good works.

— E. M. Bounds, The Essentials of Prayer

Much time spent with God is the secret of all successful praying.

— E. M. Bounds, Power Through Prayer

Those who know God the best are the richest and most powerful in prayer. Little acquaintance with God, and strangeness and coldness to him, make prayer a rare and feeble thing.

— E. M. Bounds, Prayer and Praying Men

If you wish to learn the love of God, you have to begin by praying for your enemies.

— Henri J. M. Nouwen, Letters to Marc About Jesus

The more you listen to God speaking within you, the sooner you will hear that voice inviting you to follow the way of Jesus.

— Henri J. M. Nouwen, Letters to Marc About Jesus

God’s acquaintance is not made hurriedly. He doesn’t bestow his gifts on the casual or hasty comer and goer. Spending time with him is the secret to knowing him, and having influence with him.

— E. M. Bounds, The Best of E. M. Bounds on Prayer

The prayers of an understanding intercessor WILL create a meeting. And when the meeting comes to a close, something will have changed.

— Dutch Sheets, Intercessory Prayer

We are ‘birthers’ for God. The Holy Spirit wants to ‘bring forth’ through us. Jesus said in John 7 : 38, ‘From his innermost being shall flow rivers of living water.’ ‘Innermost being’ is the word koilia, which means ‘womb’. We are the womb of God upon the earth. We are not the source of life, but we are carriers of the source of life. We do not generate life, but we release, through prayer, Him who does.

— Dutch Sheets, Intercessory Prayer

St John Vianney, the patron saint of parish priests, once asked an old peasant whom he saw sitting in church each evening what he was doing. The farmer replied: ‘I look at the Good God and the Good God looks at me.’ That is about as good a description as one can articulate of this silent prayer, which so easily leads to contemplation.

— L. S. Cunningham & K. J. Egan, Christian Spirituality

To pray is to change.

— Richard Foster, Prayer – Finding the hearts true home

We will discover that by praying we learn to pray.

— Richard Foster, Prayer – Finding the hearts true home

Prayer is the inner bath of love into which the soul plunges itself.

— St John Vianney

The primary purpose of prayer is to bring us into such a life of communion with the Father that, by the power of the Spirit, we are increasingly conformed to the image of the Son.

— Richard Foster, Prayer – Finding the hearts true home

Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; those who seek find; and to those who knock, the door will be opened.

— Matthew 7 : 7-8, Today’s NIV Bible

Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!

— Luke 11 : 11-13, Today’s NIV Bible

This, then, is how you should pray: ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come,
your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.’

— Matthew 6 : 9-13, Today’s NIV Bible

What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.

— James 4 : 1-3, Today’s NIV Bible

For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.

— 1 Peter 3 : 12, Today’s NIV Bible

From a biblical perspective, the motive for prayer is to enter the Kingdom of God, a kingdom that is defined solely in terms of intimacy with God. Human beings were created to live in that intimacy. Why do we pray? Prayer is the doorway to that kingdom.

— Kenneth Swanson, Uncommon Prayer – Approaching Intimacy with God

Regardless of what we learn about prayer, regardless of how we discipline ourselves in prayer, any deepening of intimacy with God depends entirely on God’s grace and on his initiative. Christian prayer demands discipline, but there is no mechanistic guarantee of mystical insight or dramatic transformation.

— Kenneth Swanson, Uncommon Prayer – Approaching Intimacy with God

If you want a life of prayer, the way to get it is by praying.

— Thomas Merton

Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.

— Colossians 4 : 2, Today’s NIV Bible

If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

— 2 Chronicles 7 : 14, Today’s NIV Bible

So we fasted and petitioned our God about this, and he answered our prayer.

— Ezra 8 : 23, Today’s NIV Bible

Silence is not merely negative – a pause between words, a temporary cessation of speech – but, properly understood, it is highly positive: an attitude of attentive alertness, of vigilance, and above all of listening. The hesychast, the person who has attained hesychia, inner stillness or silence, is par excellence the one who listens. He listens to the voice of prayer in his own heart, and he understands that this voice is not his own but that of Another speaking within him.

— Bishop Kallistos of Diokleia, The Power of the Name

In prayer, the principle thing is to stand before God with the mind in the heart, and to go on standing before Him unceasingly day and night, until the end of life.

— Bishop Theophan the Recluse, The Art of Prayer: An Orthodox Anthology

To pray is to stand before God, to enter into an immediate and personal relationship with him; it is to know at every level of our being, from the instinctive to the intellectual, from the sub- to the supra-conscious, that we are in God and he is in us. To affirm and deepen our personal relationship with other human beings, it is not necessary to be continually presenting requests or using words; the better we come to know and love one another, the less need there is to express our mutual attitude verbally. It is the same in our personal relationship with God.

— Bishop Kallistos of Diokleia, The Power of the Name

And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

— Matthew 6 : 5-6, Today’s NIV Bible

Truly I tell you, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will be done. If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.

— Matthew 21 : 21-22, Today’s NIV Bible

Have faith in God,” Jesus answered. “Truly I tell you, if you say to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and do not doubt in your heart but believe that what you say will happen, it will be done for you. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.

— Mark 11 : 22-26, Today’s NIV Bible

One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.’

— Luke 11 : 1, Today’s NIV Bible

They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.

— Acts 1 : 14, Today’s NIV Bible

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.

— Acts 2 : 42, Today’s NIV Bible

Paul and Barnabas appointed elders for them in each church and, with prayer and fasting, committed them to the Lord, in whom they had put their trust.

— Acts 14 : 23, Today’s NIV Bible

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.

— Romans 12 : 12, Today’s NIV Bible

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.

— Ephesians 6 : 18, Today’s NIV Bible

And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.

— Philippians 1 : 9-11, Today’s NIV Bible

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

— Philippians 4 : 6, Today’s NIV Bible

Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make them well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.

— James 5 : 13-16, Today’s NIV Bible

Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.

— 1 Peter 3 : 7, Today’s NIV Bible

True inner prayer is to stop talking and to listen to the wordless voice of God within our heart; it is to cease doing things on our own, and to enter into the action of God.

— Bishop Kallistos of Diokleia, The Power of the Name

The purpose of prayer can be summarized in the phrase, ‘Become what you are’. Become, consciously and actively, what you already are potentially and secretly, by virtue of your creation according to the divine image and your re-creation at Baptism. Become what you are: more exactly, return into yourself; discover him who is yours already, listen to him who never ceases to speak within you; possess him who even now possesses you.

— Bishop Kallistos of Diokleia, The Power of the Name

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

— 1 Thessalonians 5 : 17, Today’s NIV Bible

That is what the world needs above all else: not people who ‘say prayer’ with greater or less regularity, but people who are prayers.

— Bishop Kallistos of Diokleia, The Power of the Name

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.

— Romans 8 : 26-27, Today’s NIV Bible

Acquire the habit of prayer and it will be easy for you to do good.

— Unknown, The Way of a Pilgrim

According to Christian authors, prayer is the most central practice for the definition and exercise of a religious self. Although practices of prayer have taken a variety of forms, prayer, understood most broadly, is a habit of interior attentiveness, an activity that creates a formerly unknown self, a self neither imagined nor sought by secular culture.

— Margaret R. Miles, The Image and Practice of Holiness

When you spread out your hands in prayer, I will hide my eyes from you; even if you offer many prayers, I will not listen. Your hands are full of blood; wash and make yourselves clean. Take your evil deeds out of my sight! Stop doing wrong, learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow.

— Isaiah 1 : 15-17, Today’s NIV Bible

When the fire of prayer goes out, the barrenness of busyness takes over.

— George Carey (former Archbishop of Canterbury)

In itself prayer is nothing else than a devout setting of our will in the direction of God in order to get good, and remove evil.

— Unknown, The Cloud of Unknowing

Faith gives wings to prayer, and without it no one can fly upward to heaven.

— John Climacus, The Ladder of Divine Ascent

Prayer does not mean simply to pour out one’s heart. It means rather to find the way to God and to speak with him, whether the heart is full or empty.

— Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Psalms: The Prayer Book of The Bible

Praying is changing your operating system!

— Richard Rohr, Breathing Under Water: Spirituality and the twelve steps

Whenever the insistence is on the point that God answers prayer, we are off the track. The meaning of prayer is that we get hold of God, not of the answer.

— Oswald Chambers, Run Today’s Race

Oh, men and women, pray through; pray through; PRAY THROUGH! Do not just begin to pray and praise a little while and throw up your hands and quit, but pray, and pray, and pray, until God bends the heavens and comes down!

— R. A. Torrey, The Power of Prayer and the Prayer of Power

Every time we pray our horizon is altered, our attitude to things is altered, not sometimes but every time, and the amazing thing is that we don’t pray more.

— Oswald Chambers, Unknown

In sin a person declares his or her independence of God. In prayer we declare our dependence upon God.

— Dr S. M. Lockridge, Sermon entitled: That’s My King

Beware in your prayer, above everything, of limiting God, not only by unbelief, but by fancying that you know what He can do.

— Andrew Murray, Helps to Intercession

We want to be a saint, but we also want to feel every sensation experienced by sinners; we want to be innocent and pure, but we also want to be experienced and taste all of life; we want to serve the poor and have a simple lifestyle, but we also want all the comforts of the rich; we want to have the depth afforded by solitude, but we also do not want to miss anything; we want to pray, but we also want to watch television, read, talk to friends, and go out.

— Ronald Rolheiser, The Holy Longing

Prayer is the way we escape the gravitational pull of the flesh and enter God’s orbit. It’s the way we escape our atmosphere and enter His space. It’s the way we overcome our human limitations and enter the extra-dimensional realm where all things are possible.

— Mark Batterson, The Circle Maker

For [Thomas Aquinas], wisdom means knowing that we do not know God. We are viatores or travellers who live in a tension towards that which is and is not yet ours. We live then by hope, a virtue whose characteristic act is prayer, which Thomas describes as ‘the interpreter of desire’. Prayer is the struggle of mind and mouth to find words for what the heart wants.

— Vivian Boland, ‘Thomist Spirituality’ The New SCM Dictionary of Christian Spirituality

The mysteries of why and how He involves His children with Him by their praying has never been fully comprehended. Though hard to grasp, it’s wonderfully true: God is at work with us when we pray.

— Steve Hawthorne and Graham Kendrick, Awaking our Cities for God: A guide to Prayer-Walking

Anytime I sin, I must remove any thought of the presence of God from my conscious awareness. Then when I pray, I have to put him back in my mind’s focus. The goal of prayer is not to get good at praying, as many people think. The goal of prayer is to live all of my life and speak all of my words in the joyful awareness of the presence of God.

— John Ortberg, The Me I Want to Be: Becoming God’s best version of you

When I pray, I end up praying about things I think I should be concerned about: missionaries, world peace, and global warming. But my mind keeps wandering toward stuff I am genuinely concerned about. The way to let my talking flow into praying is this: I must pray what is in me, not what I wish were in me.

— John Ortberg, The Me I Want to Be: Becoming God’s best version of you

The first time I preached a proper sermon, my mentor gave me some good advice: your praying and your preaching should be of the same length. You don’t want to find yourself limping, with one leg shorter than the other. God works as a result of prayer and faithfulness, not technique and cleverness.

— Tom Wright, Surprised by Hope

Now you might ask: ‘What does this have to do with God? I thought prayer was supposed to be talking to God or searching for God. You seem to be saying that prayer is first of all about me and getting myself out of the way?’ That is exactly what I am saying. God is already present. God’s Spirit is dwelling within you. You cannot search for what you already have. You cannot talk God into ‘coming’ into you by longer and more urgent prayers. All you can do is become quieter, smaller, and less filled with your own self and its flurry of ideas and feelings. Then God will be obvious in the very now of things. It is so simple that it is actually hard to teach.

— Richard Rohr, Simplicity: The Freedom of Letting Go

The best definition I know for contemplation is as follows: Contemplation is a long, loving look at what really is. The essential element in this experience is time. There is a qualitative difference between ten minutes and ten hours, and even more, of course, between ten hours and ten days. We have to find a place where we can receive all our experiences without repressing anything. We need a place where there’s room to consider everything that we’ve done – and not done – in our life, a place that’s bigger than Yes and No, a place bigger than the judgments we pass. At this all-embracing place God becomes quite clear. Here there is room for every part of you and for God’s presence.

— Richard Rohr, Simplicity: The Freedom of Letting Go

For many, spirituality is a closed book, best classified in your internal Dewey system under Piffle, between Pan, Peter, and Potter, Harry. My own scepticism is deep and automatic. Yet – how can I put this? – when I pray I have a suspicion that Someone is listening.

— Tony Collins, Taking My God For A Walk

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Pride

That which brings the praying soul near to God is humility of heart. That which gives wings to prayer is lowliness of mind. That which gives ready access to the throne of grace is self-depreciation. Pride, self-esteem, and self-praise effectually shut the door of prayer. He who would come to God must approach him with self hid from his eyes. He must not be puffed-up with self-conceit, nor be possessed with an over-estimate of his virtues and good works.

— E. M. Bounds, The Essentials of Prayer

One of man’s strongest temptations is to identify his own limited perspective with universal truth.

— Valerie Saiving Goldstein, The Human Situation: A Feminine View

There is…something appropriately subversive about responsible experiment, allowing ourselves to enter into the novel, the strange, even the threatening edges of our world, in order to open up the mystery and beauty of God’s creation and question the all too human tendency to presume to ‘know’ everything.

— Michael Barnes, The Public, the Private and the Personal

When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.

— Proverbs 11 : 2, Today’s NIV Bible

[God] is not proud…He will have us even though we have shown that we prefer everything else to Him.

— C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain

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Self Knowledge

We are not who we know ourselves to be, but who we are known to be by God.

— Henri J. M. Nouwen, Solidarity with the Human Family

For whatever else the religious life may be, it is the fountain of self-knowledge and disillusion, the safest form of psychoanalysis.

— C.S. Lewis, Review of English Studies

If one’s relationship with God is to grow, one must be willing to be transparent before God in the complicated mystery that is the human emotional life.

— Joan M. Nuth, ‘Emotions’ The New SCM Dictionary of Christian Spirituality

Genuine humility is not to be confused with humiliation. It does not involve rejection, hatred of oneself or lack of self-esteem and assertiveness. It does not demand that one become a doormat. Rather, humility is linked with truth about oneself and the world. To be humble is to accept one’s creatureliness, gifts and sinfulness. Both reason and psychological knowledge can be assets in discovering one’s true self, but humility is ultimately the fruit of openness to God’s generous love and mystery. To be humble is to be free of pretence, to have oneself in perspective in order to resist exaggeration of either one’s gifts or one’s faults.

— Elizabeth A. Dreyer, ‘Humility’ – The New SCM Dictionary of Christian Spirituality

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Servanthood

That which brings the praying soul near to God is humility of heart. That which gives wings to prayer is lowliness of mind. That which gives ready access to the throne of grace is self-depreciation. Pride, self-esteem, and self-praise effectually shut the door of prayer. He who would come to God must approach him with self hid from his eyes. He must not be puffed-up with self-conceit, nor be possessed with an over-estimate of his virtues and good works.

— E. M. Bounds, The Essentials of Prayer

Giving of self is a discipline because it is something that does not come spontaneously. As children of the darkness that rules through fear, self-interest, greed, and power, our great motivators are survival and self-preservation. But as children of the light who know that perfect love casts out all fear, it becomes possible to give away all that we have for others.

— Henri J. M. Nouwen, Return of the Prodigal Son

Servanthood is God’s self-revelation.

— Henri J. M. Nouwen, Compassion

For those who want to proclaim God’s presence in the world, servanthood becomes a natural response.

— Henri J. M. Nouwen, Compassion

Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

— Philippians 2 : 1-4, Today’s NIV Bible

In your relationships with one another, have the same attitude of mind Christ Jesus had: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a human being, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!

— Philippians 2 : 5-8, Today’s NIV Bible

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Seeing

We are called to be contemplatives, that is see-ers, men and women who see the coming of God.

— Henri J. M. Nouwen, Solidarity with the Human Family

And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.

— Philippians 1 : 9-11, Today’s NIV Bible

The best definition I know for contemplation is as follows: Contemplation is a long, loving look at what really is. The essential element in this experience is time. There is a qualitative difference between ten minutes and ten hours, and even more, of course, between ten hours and ten days. We have to find a place where we can receive all our experiences without repressing anything. We need a place where there’s room to consider everything that we’ve done – and not done – in our life, a place that’s bigger than Yes and No, a place bigger than the judgments we pass. At this all-embracing place God becomes quite clear. Here there is room for every part of you and for God’s presence.

— Richard Rohr, Simplicity: The Freedom of Letting Go

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Silence

We must silence every creature, we must silence ourselves, to hear in the deep hush of the whole soul the ineffable voice of the spouse. We must bend the ear, because it is a gentle and delicate voice, only heard by those who no longer hear anything else.

— Francis Fenelon, Christian Perfection

Progress in intimacy with God means progress towards silence.

— Richard Foster, Prayer – Finding the hearts true home

There is a close connection between fruitfulness and stability, and no monk can grow in love if he does not sink his roots in his community. The tree planted by the waters of wisdom will bring forth fruit if we give it time, if we keep silence, if we have the humility to see that we cannot do everything ourselves.

— Esther De Waal, The Way of Simplicity

The LORD said, ‘Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by.’ Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a voice said to him, ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?’

— 1 Kings 19 : 11-13, Today’s NIV Bible

Silence is not merely negative – a pause between words, a temporary cessation of speech – but, properly understood, it is highly positive: an attitude of attentive alertness, of vigilance, and above all of listening. The hesychast, the person who has attained hesychia, inner stillness or silence, is par excellence the one who listens. He listens to the voice of prayer in his own heart, and he understands that this voice is not his own but that of Another speaking within him.

— Bishop Kallistos of Diokleia, The Power of the Name

True inner prayer is to stop talking and to listen to the wordless voice of God within our heart; it is to cease doing things on our own, and to enter into the action of God.

— Bishop Kallistos of Diokleia, The Power of the Name

Pay attention, Job, and listen to me; be silent, and I will speak. If you have anything to say, answer me; speak up, for I want to vindicate you. But if not, then listen to me; be silent, and I will teach you wisdom.

— Job 33 : 31-33, Today’s NIV Bible

The LORD is in his holy temple; let all the earth be silent before him.

— Habakkuk 2 : 20, Today’s NIV Bible

Teresa [of Avila] taught that the spiritual journey requires single-heartedness and a measure of silence and solitude.

— J. Mary Luti, Teresa of Avila’s Way

Not all men are called to be hermits, but all men need enough silence and solitude in their lives to enable the deep inner voice of their own true self to be heard at least occasionally. When that inner voice is not heard, when man cannot attain to the spiritual peace that comes from being perfectly at one with his own true self, his life is always miserable and exhausting. For he cannot go on happily for long unless he is in contact with the springs of spiritual life which are hidden in the depths of his own soul.

— Thomas Merton, The Silent Life

The essential elements of meditation consist of silence, stillness and simplicity. Silence is more than the absence of words; it is the slowing and eventual transcending of thought… Stillness is the freedom from desire that follows the silence of mental thoughts and images. Simplicity is the condition of being in the present moment.

— Laurence Freeman, ‘Meditation’ The New SCM Dictionary of Christian Spirituality

We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature—trees, flowers, grass—grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence… . We need silence to be able to touch souls.

— Mother Teresa

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Simplicity

I remembered reading an account of a spiritual seeker who interrupted a busy life to spend a few days in a monastery. ‘I hope your stay is a blessed one,’ said the monk who showed the visitor to his cell. ‘If you need anything, let us know and we’ll teach you how to live without it.’

— Philip Yancey, Prayer – Does it make any Difference?

But who will be our robber when everything he wants to steal from us becomes our gift to him?

— Henri J. M. Nouwen, Jesus, A Gospel

For what does the desire to possess, accumulate, do? It will fill up that inner void which keeps a person open to the experience of God.

— Esther De Waal, The Way of Simplicity

The essential elements of meditation consist of silence, stillness and simplicity. Silence is more than the absence of words; it is the slowing and eventual transcending of thought… Stillness is the freedom from desire that follows the silence of mental thoughts and images. Simplicity is the condition of being in the present moment.

— Laurence Freeman, ‘Meditation’ The New SCM Dictionary of Christian Spirituality

We want to be a saint, but we also want to feel every sensation experienced by sinners; we want to be innocent and pure, but we also want to be experienced and taste all of life; we want to serve the poor and have a simple lifestyle, but we also want all the comforts of the rich; we want to have the depth afforded by solitude, but we also do not want to miss anything; we want to pray, but we also want to watch television, read, talk to friends, and go out.

— Ronald Rolheiser, The Holy Longing

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Solitude

We find that solitude gives us power not to win the rat race but to ignore the rat race altogether.

— Richard Foster, Prayer – Finding the hearts true home

It is within the inner stillness, within this utter quietness, within this sweet solitude, that the Spirit of the living God speaks most clearly to our spirits. It is there, alone with him, that he makes himself real to us. It is there we ‘see’ him most acutely with the inner eyes of our awakened conscience. It is there he communes with us calmly through the inner awareness of his presence, speaking to us with ever-deepening conviction by his own wondrous word.

— W. Philip Keller, Solitude for Serenity and Strength

Teresa [of Avila] taught that the spiritual journey requires single-heartedness and a measure of silence and solitude.

— J. Mary Luti, Teresa of Avila’s Way

Not all men are called to be hermits, but all men need enough silence and solitude in their lives to enable the deep inner voice of their own true self to be heard at least occasionally. When that inner voice is not heard, when man cannot attain to the spiritual peace that comes from being perfectly at one with his own true self, his life is always miserable and exhausting. For he cannot go on happily for long unless he is in contact with the springs of spiritual life which are hidden in the depths of his own soul.

— Thomas Merton, The Silent Life

We want to be a saint, but we also want to feel every sensation experienced by sinners; we want to be innocent and pure, but we also want to be experienced and taste all of life; we want to serve the poor and have a simple lifestyle, but we also want all the comforts of the rich; we want to have the depth afforded by solitude, but we also do not want to miss anything; we want to pray, but we also want to watch television, read, talk to friends, and go out.

— Ronald Rolheiser, The Holy Longing

The best definition I know for contemplation is as follows: Contemplation is a long, loving look at what really is. The essential element in this experience is time. There is a qualitative difference between ten minutes and ten hours, and even more, of course, between ten hours and ten days. We have to find a place where we can receive all our experiences without repressing anything. We need a place where there’s room to consider everything that we’ve done – and not done – in our life, a place that’s bigger than Yes and No, a place bigger than the judgments we pass. At this all-embracing place God becomes quite clear. Here there is room for every part of you and for God’s presence.

— Richard Rohr, Simplicity: The Freedom of Letting Go

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Spiritual Hunger

We pursue God because, and only because, he has first put an urge within us that spurs us on to the pursuit.

— A. W. Tozer, Pursuit of God

God thirsts to be thirsted after.

— St Augustine

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Spirituality

Grace is not the result of our own efforts and merits, but rather a gift from God, who can only give it to those who acknowledge their need and their impotence. Any trace of self-sufficiency makes us impermeable to the experience of the gratuity of grace.

— Eduardo Lopez Azpitarte SJ, From Guilt to Gratitude

The spiritual director is confronted with the problem of helping people to the enjoyment of God when much of their past experience of prayer is one of labour, seriousness, brooding, and self-absorption.

— William A. Barry SJ, The Contemplative Attitude in Spiritual Direction

Jesus came to lead us into a totally new order where the barriers would drop, where the poor, the marginalised and the broken hearts would be at the centre. To love someone is to reveal to them that they have a value, that they are beautiful, that there is a light shining in them.

— Jean Vanier, The Poor as a Source of Life

But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.

— Matthew 19 : 30, Today’s NIV Bible

Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

— Philippians 2 : 1-4, Today’s NIV Bible

So the Christian life is lived out in the tension between self-discipline and the free gift of grace.

— Kenneth Swanson, Uncommon Prayer – Approaching Intimacy with God

Christian spirituality, then, is intensely practical, earthed, and real, for it is the way we live out our professed beliefs. It is a spirituality of relationship: not simply our relationship with God, but very human, embodied relationships in the here and now.

— Margaret Guenther, The Practice of Prayer

Relationship with our own deepest self is also fundamental to Christian spirituality. To know ourselves and then to embrace that self as our true identity in Christ is a major, primary task of the individual Christian.

— Margaret Guenther, The Practice of Prayer

To know the unknowable God is the impossible yet irresistible undertaking of a lifetime. To embark on that adventure is not to undertake a course in self-improvement or self-discovery (although both will inevitably occur). Rather, what we are about is the cultivation of attentiveness as we risk living into an openness to God. It is accepting the freedom that comes with letting go our defences and living into the questions.

— Margaret Guenther, The Practice of Prayer

The way of the spiritual life begins where we are now in the mess of our lives. Accepting the reality of our broken, flawed lives is the beginning of spirituality not because the spiritual life will remove our flaws but because we let go of seeking perfection and, instead, seek God, the one who is present in the tangledness of our lives. Spirituality is not about being fixed; it is about God’s being present in the mess of our unfixedness.

— Michael Yaconelli, Messy Spirituality

Spirituality is not a formula; it is not a test. It is a relationship. Spirituality is not about competency; it is about intimacy. Spirituality is not about perfection; it is about connection. The way of the spiritual life begins where we are now in the mess of our lives.

— Michael Yaconelli, Messy Spirituality

True spirituality is not taught; it is caught, once our sails have been unfurled to the spirit.

— Richard Rohr, Adam’s Return

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Spiritual Maturity

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

— Galatians 5 : 22, Today’s NIV Bible

Spiritual maturity…often comes to those whose spirit grows through faithful forbearance of the circumstances God has given them. Rarely, if ever, is this particular path straightforward and undemanding.

— Andrew Clitherow, Prayer – the Embrace of Love

What characterises the final phase of spiritual development in this life are not ecstasies and raptures but a constant awareness of the Trinity dwelling within, coupled with total availability to the neighbour without.

— Steven Payne O.C.D., Spiritual Traditions for the Contemporary Church

I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.

— Philippians 4 : 12-13, Today’s NIV Bible

An unconcern about reputation and dignity is a sure sign – one of the few practically infallible signs in Teresa’s eyes – of spiritual maturity.

— Rowan Williams, Teresa of Avila

Spiritual maturity is finding our own voice, the capacity to stand one’s ground as a reflection of a genuine inner belief.

— Joan H. Timmerman, “Body & Spirituality” The New SCM Dictionary of Christian Spirituality

With spiritual maturity comes the ability to discern between the trials that are a normal part of living under the cross and the injustices of an evil world that demand correction.

— Richard Foster, Prayer – Finding the hearts true home

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

— James 1 : 2 – 4, Today’s NIV Bible

Letting go is not in anybody’s program for happiness, and yet all mature spirituality, in one sense or another, is about letting go or unlearning.

— Richard Rohr, Breathing Under Water: Spirituality and the twelve steps

If one’s relationship with God is to grow, one must be willing to be transparent before God in the complicated mystery that is the human emotional life.

— Joan M. Nuth, ‘Emotions’ The New SCM Dictionary of Christian Spirituality

Being a Christian is more than just an instantaneous conversion – it is like a daily process whereby I grow to be more and more like Christ.

— Billy Graham, The Enduring Classics of Billy Graham

To regard the spiritual life holistically is to assert the truth of two central beliefs: first, the pursuit of holiness is in no way [contrary,unfavourable] to healthy human growth; and, second, those who strive to be religious are not exempt from the human condition, but must, like everyone else, work out their growth into wholeness in the context of human struggle. A spiritual life not built on solid human development born of struggle is liable to be superficial and escapist. Thus, authentic spiritual development requires a commitment to ongoing human growth.

— Wilkie Au, Holistic Spirituality – The New SCM Dictionary of Christian Spirituality

When I speak of a man growing in grace, I mean simply this: that his sense of sin is becoming deeper, his faith stronger, his hope brighter, his love more extensive, his spiritual mindedness more marked. He feels more of the power of godliness in his own heart; he manifests more of it in his life; he is going on from strength to strength, from faith to faith, and from grace to grace. I leave it to others to describe such a man’s condition by any words they please. For myself, I think the truest and best account of him is this: he is growing in grace.

— J. C. Ryle, Growth in Grace

The various disciplines of the spiritual life, such as abstinence, fasting, methods of prayer, making retreat, are properly understood not as ends but as means of growing to fuller maturation in the Spirit, being conformed to the person of Christ, brought into deeper communion with God and others.

— Michael Downey, ‘Lay People and Spirituality’ The New SCM Dictionary of Christian Spirituality

One litmus test of spiritual maturity is whether our dreams are getting bigger or smaller. The older you get, the more faith you should have because you’ve experienced more of God’s faithfulness. And it is God’s faithfulness that increases our faith and enlarges our dreams.

— Mark Batterson, The Circle Maker

One of our fundamental misunderstandings of spiritual maturity is thinking that it should result in self-sufficiency. It’s the exact opposite. The goal isn’t independence; the goal is co-dependence on God. Our desire for self-sufficiency is a subtle expression of our sinful nature. It’s a desire to get to a place where we don’t need God, don’t need faith, and don’t need to pray. We want God to provide more so we need Him less.

— Mark Batterson, The Circle Maker

Spiritual maturity is largely a growth in seeing; and full seeing seems to take most of our lifetime, with a huge leap in the final years, months, weeks, and days of life, as any hospice volunteer will tell you.

— Richard Rohr, Falling Upward

Christian holiness is not (as people often imagine) a matter of denying something good. It is about growing up and grasping something even better.
Made for spirituality, we wallow in introspection. Made for joy, we settle for pleasure. Made for justice, we clamour for vengeance. Made for relationship, we insist on our own way. Made for beauty, we are satisfied with sentiment. But new creation has already begun. The sun has begun to rise. Christians are called to leave behind, in the tomb of Jesus Christ, all that belongs to the brokenness and incompleteness of the present world. It is time, in the power of the Spirit, to take up our proper role, our fully human role, as agents, heralds and stewards of the new day that is dawning. That, quite simply, is what it means to be a Christian, to follow Jesus Christ into the new world, God’s new world, which he has thrown open before us.

— Tom Wright, Simply Christian

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Stillness

The essential elements of meditation consist of silence, stillness and simplicity. Silence is more than the absence of words; it is the slowing and eventual transcending of thought… Stillness is the freedom from desire that follows the silence of mental thoughts and images. Simplicity is the condition of being in the present moment.

— Laurence Freeman, ‘Meditation’ The New SCM Dictionary of Christian Spirituality

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Suffering

If we want to understand the darkness of our world, we have to realise that the world continues to see suffering and death as ways to destruction to be avoided at all costs, and refuses to see them as ways to glory to be embraced without fear.

— Henri J. M. Nouwen, The Road to Peace

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.

— Romans 12 : 12, Today’s NIV Bible

Try to exclude the possibility of suffering which the order of nature and the existence of free-wills involve, and you find that you have excluded life itself.

— C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

— James 1 : 2 – 4, Today’s NIV Bible

Generally speaking for Christians through the centuries, experiences of suffering, rejection, persecution and the threat of death denote the possibility of the loss of those things which one holds dear, to which one is inordinately attached, or through which one grasps one’s very identity. Suffering is redemptive when it shatters idols and allows God to draw one to himself alone.

— Elisabeth Koenig, ‘Jesus and Spirituality’ The New SCM Dictionary of Christian Spirituality

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Thanksgiving

Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.

— Colossians 4 : 2, Today’s NIV Bible

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

— Philippians 4 : 6, Today’s NIV Bible

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

— 1 Thessalonians 5 : 17, Today’s NIV Bible

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Truth

One of man’s strongest temptations is to identify his own limited perspective with universal truth.

— Valerie Saiving Goldstein, The Human Situation: A Feminine View

There is…something appropriately subversive about responsible experiment, allowing ourselves to enter into the novel, the strange, even the threatening edges of our world, in order to open up the mystery and beauty of God’s creation and question the all too human tendency to presume to ‘know’ everything.

— Michael Barnes, The Public, the Private and the Personal

Genuine humility is not to be confused with humiliation. It does not involve rejection, hatred of oneself or lack of self-esteem and assertiveness. It does not demand that one become a doormat. Rather, humility is linked with truth about oneself and the world. To be humble is to accept one’s creatureliness, gifts and sinfulness. Both reason and psychological knowledge can be assets in discovering one’s true self, but humility is ultimately the fruit of openness to God’s generous love and mystery. To be humble is to be free of pretence, to have oneself in perspective in order to resist exaggeration of either one’s gifts or one’s faults.

— Elizabeth A. Dreyer, ‘Humility’ – The New SCM Dictionary of Christian Spirituality

What is humility? It is that habitual quality whereby we live in the truth of things: the truth that we are creatures and not the Creator; the truth that our life is a composite of good and evil, light and darkness; the truth that in our littleness we have been given extravagant dignity…. Humility is saying a radical ‘yes’ to the human condition.

— Robert F. Morneau, Humility: 31 Reflections on a Christian Virtue

The best definition I know for contemplation is as follows: Contemplation is a long, loving look at what really is. The essential element in this experience is time. There is a qualitative difference between ten minutes and ten hours, and even more, of course, between ten hours and ten days. We have to find a place where we can receive all our experiences without repressing anything. We need a place where there’s room to consider everything that we’ve done – and not done – in our life, a place that’s bigger than Yes and No, a place bigger than the judgments we pass. At this all-embracing place God becomes quite clear. Here there is room for every part of you and for God’s presence.

— Richard Rohr, Simplicity: The Freedom of Letting Go

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Weakness

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.

— Romans 8 : 26-27, Today’s NIV Bible

Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

— 2 Corinthians 12 : 7-10, Today’s NIV Bible

If one’s relationship with God is to grow, one must be willing to be transparent before God in the complicated mystery that is the human emotional life.

— Joan M. Nuth, ‘Emotions’ The New SCM Dictionary of Christian Spirituality

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Wealth

Have you never noticed that to be rich always means an impoverishment on another level?

— Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh, School for Prayer

For what does the desire to possess, accumulate, do? It will fill up that inner void which keeps a person open to the experience of God.

— Esther De Waal, The Way of Simplicity

Spiritual growth does not come from condemning this world as bad but from seeing it as God-given, and therefore so precious that we must rigorously discipline ourselves to be non-possessive about it.

— John Dalrymple, Simple Prayer

We want to be a saint, but we also want to feel every sensation experienced by sinners; we want to be innocent and pure, but we also want to be experienced and taste all of life; we want to serve the poor and have a simple lifestyle, but we also want all the comforts of the rich; we want to have the depth afforded by solitude, but we also do not want to miss anything; we want to pray, but we also want to watch television, read, talk to friends, and go out.

— Ronald Rolheiser, The Holy Longing

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Wisdom

There is a close connection between fruitfulness and stability, and no monk can grow in love if he does not sink his roots in his community. The tree planted by the waters of wisdom will bring forth fruit if we give it time, if we keep silence, if we have the humility to see that we cannot do everything ourselves.

— Esther De Waal, The Way of Simplicity

When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.

— Proverbs 11 : 2, Today’s NIV Bible

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. Those who doubt should not think they will receive anything from the Lord; they are double-minded and unstable in all they do.

— James 1 : 5 – 8, Today’s NIV Bible

For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.

— 1 Corinthians 1 : 25, Today’s NIV Bible

For [Thomas Aquinas], wisdom means knowing that we do not know God. We are viatores or travellers who live in a tension towards that which is and is not yet ours. We live then by hope, a virtue whose characteristic act is prayer, which Thomas describes as ‘the interpreter of desire’. Prayer is the struggle of mind and mouth to find words for what the heart wants.

— Vivian Boland, ‘Thomist Spirituality’ The New SCM Dictionary of Christian Spirituality

The best definition I know for contemplation is as follows: Contemplation is a long, loving look at what really is. The essential element in this experience is time. There is a qualitative difference between ten minutes and ten hours, and even more, of course, between ten hours and ten days. We have to find a place where we can receive all our experiences without repressing anything. We need a place where there’s room to consider everything that we’ve done – and not done – in our life, a place that’s bigger than Yes and No, a place bigger than the judgments we pass. At this all-embracing place God becomes quite clear. Here there is room for every part of you and for God’s presence.

— Richard Rohr, Simplicity: The Freedom of Letting Go

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