Hoyt & Roberts, comps. Hoyt’s New Cyclopedia of Practical Quotations. 1922.


Yet then from all my grief, O Lord,
Thy mercy set me free,
Whilst in the confidence of pray’r
My soul took hold on thee.
Addison—Miscellaneous Poems. Divine Ode, made by a Gentleman on the Conclusion of his Travels. Verse 6.

Prayer is the spirit speaking truth to Truth.
Bailey—Festus. Sc. Elsewhere.

And from the prayer of Want, and plaint of Woe,
O never, never turn away thine ear!
Forlorn, in this bleak wilderness below,
Ah! what were man, should Heaven refuse to hear!
Beattie—Minstrel. Bk. I. St. 29.

God answers sharp and sudden on some prayers,
And thrusts the thing we have prayed for in our face,
A gauntlet with a gift in ’t.
E. B. Browning—Aurora Leigh. Bk. II.

Every wish
Is like a prayer—with God.
E. B. Browning—urora Leigh. Bk. II.

Hope, he called, belief
In God,—work, worship***therefore let us pray!
E. B. Browning—Aurora Leigh. Bk. III.

She knows omnipotence has heard her prayer
And cries, “It shall be done—sometime, somewhere.”
Ophelia G. Browning—Unanswered.

Just my vengeance complete,
The man sprang to his feet,
Stood erect, caught at God’s skirts, and prayed!
So, I was afraid!
Robert Browning—Instans Tyrannus. VII.

They never sought in vain that sought the Lord aright!
Burns—The Cotter’s Saturday Night. St. 6.

Father! no prophet’s laws I seek,—
Thy laws in Nature’s works appear;—
I own myself corrupt and weak,
Yet will I pray, for thou wilt hear.
Byron—Prayer of Nature.

Father of Light! great God of Heaven!
Hear’st thou the accents of despair?
Can guilt like man’s be e’er forgiven?
Can vice atone for crimes by prayer?
Byron—Prayer of Nature.

Pray to be perfect, though material leaven
Forbid the spirit so on earth to be;
But if for any wish thou darest not pray,
Then pray to God to cast that wish away.
Hartley Coleridge—Poems. (Posthumous.) Prayer.

He prayeth best who loveth best
All things, both great and small.
Coleridge—Ancient Mariner. Pt. VII.

He prayeth well who loveth well
Both man and bird and beast.
Coleridge—Ancient Mariner. Pt. VII.

The saints will aid if men will call:
For the blue sky bends over all.
Coleridge—Christabel. Conclusion to Pt. 1.

But maybe prayer is a road to rise,
A mountain path leading toward the skies
To assist the spirit who truly tries.
But it isn’t a shibboleth, creed, nor code,
It isn’t a pack-horse to carry your load,
It isn’t a wagon, it’s only a road.
And perhaps the reward of the spirit who tries
Is not the goal, but the exercise!
Edmund Vance Cooke—Prayer. The Uncommon Commoner.

Not as we wanted it,
But as God granted it.
Quiller-Couch—To Bearers.

And Satan trembles when he sees
The weakest saint upon his knees.
Cowper—Hymns. Exhortation to Prayer.

I ask not a life for the dear ones,
All radiant, as others have done,
But that life may have just enough shadow
To temper the glare of the sun;
I would pray God to guard them from evil,
But my prayer would bound back to myself:
Ah! a seraph may pray for a sinner,
But a sinner must pray for himself.
Charles M. Dickinson—The Children.

Our vows are heard betimes! and Heaven takes care
To grant, before we can conclude the prayer:
Preventing angels met it half the way,
And sent us back to praise, who came to pray.
Dryden—Britannia Rediviva. First lines.

Grant folly’s prayers that hinder folly’s wish,
And serve the ends of wisdom.
George Eliot—The Spanish Gypsy. Bk. IV

Almighty Father! let thy lowly child,
Strong in his love of truth, be wisely bold,—
A patriot bard, by sycophants reviled,
Let him live usefully, and not die old!
Ebenezer Elliott—Corn Law Rhymes. A Poet’s Prayer.

Though I am weak, yet God, when prayed,
Cannot withhold his conquering aid.
Emerson—The Nun’s Aspiration.

To pray,***is to desire; but it is to desire what God would have us desire.
He who desires not from the bottom of his heart, offers a deceitful prayer.
Fénelon—Pious Thoughts. Advice Concerning Prayer. Mrs. Mant’s trans.

Ejaculations are short prayers darted up to God on emergent occasions.
Fuller—Good Thoughts in Bad Times. Meditations on all Kinds of Prayers. Ejaculations, their Use. V.

So a good prayer, though often used, is still fresh and fair in the ears and eyes of Heaven.
Fuller—Good Thoughts in Bad Times. Meditations on all Kinds of Prayers. XII.

O Lord of Courage grave,
O Master of this night of Spring!
Make firm in me a heart too brave
To ask Thee anything.
John Galsworthy.

At church, with meek and unaffected grace,
His looks adorn’d the venerable place;
Truth from his lips prevailed with double sway,
And fools, who came to scoff, remain’d to pray.
Goldsmith—The Deserted Village. L. 177.

He that will learn to pray, let him go to Sea.
Herbert—Jacula Prudentum. No. 89.

Who goes to bed, and doth not pray,
Maketh two nights to every day!
Herbert—Temple. The Church. Charms and Knots. St. 4.

Resort to sermons, but to prayers most:
Praying’s the end of preaching.
Herbert—Temple. The Church Porch. St. 69.

In prayer the lips ne’er act the winning part
Without the sweet concurrence of the heart.
Herrick—Hesperides. The Heart.

The prayer of Noah,
He cried out in the darkness, Hear, O God,
Hear HIM: hear this one; through the gates of death,
If life be all past praying for, O give
To Thy great multitude a way to peace;
Give them to HIM.
Jean Ingelow—A Story of Doom. Bk. IX. St. 6.

Is there never a chink in the world above
Where they listen for words from below?
Jean Ingelow—Supper at the Mill.

O God, if in the day of battle I forget Thee, do not Thou forget me.
William King attributes the prayer to a soldier, in his Anecdotes of his own time. P. 7. (Ed. 1818).

My brother kneels, so saith Kabir,
To stone and brass in heathen-wise,
But in my brother’s voice I hear
My own unanswered agonies.
His God is as his fates assign
His prayer is all the world’s—and mine.
Kipling—Song of Kabir.

I ask and wish not to appear
More beauteous, rich or gay:
Lord, make me wiser every year,
And better every day.
Lamb—A Birthday Thought.

You know I say
Just what I think, and nothing more nor less,
And, when I pray, my heart is in my prayer.
I cannot say one thing and mean another:
If I can’t pray, I will not make believe!
Longfellow—Christus. Pt. III. Giles Corey. Act II. Sc. 3.

Let one unceasing, earnest prayer
Be, too, for light,—for strength to bear
Our portion of the weight of care,
That crushes into dumb despair
One half the human race.
Longfellow—Goblet of Life. St. 10.

Like one in prayer I stood.
Longfellow—Voices of the Night. Prelude. St. 11.

Vigilate et orate.
Watch and pray.
Mark. XIII. 33. (From the Vulgate.)

O Domine Deus! speravi in te;
O care mi Jesu! nunc libera me.
In dura catena, in misera poena,
Disidero te.
Languendo, jemendo, et genuflectendo,
Adoro, imploro, ut liberes me!
O Lord, my God,
I have trusted in Thee;
O Jesu, my dearest One,
Now set me free.
In prison’s oppression,
In sorrow’s obsession,
I weary for Thee.
With sighing and crying,
Bowed down in dying,
I adore Thee, I implore Thee, set me free.
Mary, Queen of Scots. Written in her Book of Devotion before her execution. Trans. by Swinburne, in Mary Stuart.

God warms his hands at man’s heart when he prays.
Masefield—Widow in the Bye Street. Pt. VI.

Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.
Matthew. VII. 7.

Every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth.
Matthew. VII. 8.

Not what we wish, but what we want,
Oh! let thy grace supply,
The good unask’d, in mercy grant;
The ill, though ask’d, deny.

Hear his sighs though mute;
Unskillful with what words to pray, let me
Interpret for him.
Milton—Paradise Lost. Bk. XI. L. 31.

But that from us aught should ascend to Heav’n
So prevalent as to concern the mind
Of God, high-bless’d, or to incline His will,
Hard to belief may seem; yet this will prayer.
Milton—Paradise Lost. Bk. XI. L. 143.

And if by prayer
Incessant I could hope to change the will
Of Him who all things can, I would not cease
To weary Him with my assiduous cries.
Milton—Paradise Lost. Bk. XI. L. 307.

Prayer is the soul’s sincere desire,
Uttered or unexpressed,
The motion of a hidden fire
That trembles in the breast.
James Montgomery—Original Hymns. What is Prayer?

Prayer moves the arm
Which moves the world,
And brings salvation down.
James Montgomery—Prayer.

As down in the sunless retreats of the ocean
Sweet flowers are springing no mortal can see,
So deep in my soul the still prayer of devotion
Unheard by the world, rises silent to Thee.
Moore—As Down in the Sunless Retreats.

O sad estate
Of human wretchedness; so weak is man,
So ignorant and blind, that did not God
Sometimes withhold in mercy what we ask,
We should be ruined at our own request.
Hannah More—Moses in the Bulrushes. Pt. I.

Now I lay me down to take my sleep,
I pray thee, Lord, my soul to keep;
If I should die before I wake,
I pray thee, Lord, my soul to take.
New England Primer. (1814).

He pray’d by quantity,
And with his repetitions, long and loud,
All knees were weary.
Pollok—Course of Time. Pt. VIII. L. 628.

Father of All! in every age,
In every clime ador’d,
By saint, by savage, and by sage,
Jehovah, Jove, or Lord!
Pope—Universal Prayer.

If I am right, Thy grace impart,
Still in the right to stay;
If I am wrong, O teach my heart
To find that better way!
Pope—Universal Prayer.

In all thou dost first let thy Prayers ascend,
And to the Gods thy Labours first commend,
From them implore Success, and hope a prosperous End.
Pythagoras—Golden Verses. L. 49. See M. Dacier’s Life of Pythagoras.

They were ordinary soldiers, just the common Jean and Hans,
One from the valley of the Rhine and one from fair Provence.
They were simple-hearted fellows—every night each said his prayer:
The one prayed Vater Unser and the other Notre Père.
C. A. Richmond—Lord’s Prayer.

At the muezzin’s call for prayer,
The kneeling faithful thronged the square,
And on Pushkara’s lofty height
The dark priest chanted Brahma’s might.
Amid a monastery’s weeds
An old Franciscan told his beads;
While to the synagogue there came
A Jew to praise Jehovah’s name.
The one great God looked down and smiled
And counted each His loving child;
For Turk and Brahmin, monk and Jew
Had reached Him through the gods they knew.
Harry Romaine—Ad Cœlum. In Munsey’s Mag. Jan. 1895.

I pray the prayer the Easterners do,
May the peace of Allah abide with you;
Wherever you stay, wherever you go,
May the beautiful palms of Allah grow;
Through days of labor, and nights of rest,
The love of Good Allah make you blest;
So I touch my heart—as the Easterners do,
May the peace of Allah abide with you.
Salaam Alaikum. (Peace be with you). Author unknown.

In vota miseros ultimus cogit timor.
Fear of death drives the wretched to prayer.
Seneca—Agamemnon. 560.

Nulla res carius constat quam quæ precibus empta est.
Nothing costs so much as what is bought by prayers.
Seneca—De Beneficiis. II. 1.

The first petition that we are to make to Almighty God is for a good conscience, the next for health of mind, and then of body.
Seneca—Epistles. XIV.

Bow, stubborn knees; and, heart, with strings of steel,
Be soft as sinews of the new-born babe.
Hamlet. Act III. Sc. 3. L. 70.

All his mind is bent to holiness,
To number Ave-Maries on his beads.
Henry VI. Pt. II. Act I. Sc. 3. L. 58.

Rather let my head
Stoop to the block than these knees bow to any
Save to the God of heaven and to my king.
Henry VI. Pt. II. Act IV. Sc. 1. L. 124.

Go with me, like good angels, to my end;
And, as the long divorce of steel falls on me,
Make of your prayers one sweet sacrifice,
And lift my soul to heaven.
Henry VIII. Act II. Sc. 1. L. 75.

My prayers
Are not words duly hallow’d nor my wishes
More worth than empty vanities; yet prayers and wishes
Are all I can return.
Henry VIII. Act II. Sc. 3. L. 67.

Stuck in my throat.
Macbeth. Act II. Sc. 2. L. 32.

When I would pray and think, I think and pray
To several subjects; Heaven hath my empty words.
Measure for Measure. Act II. Sc. 4. L. 1.

His worst fault is, that he is given to prayer; he is something peevish that way; but nobody but has his fault; but let that pass.
Merry Wives of Windsor. Act I. Sc. 4. L. 13.

Well, if my wind were but long enough to say my prayers, I would repent.
Merry Wives of Windsor. Act IV. Sc. 5. L. 104.

If you bethink yourself of any crime
Unreconcil’d as yet to heaven and grace,
Solicit for it straight.
Othello. Act V. Sc. 2. L. 26.

Earth bears no balsams for mistakes;
Men crown the knave, and scourge the tool
That did his will: but thou, O Lord,
Be merciful to me, a fool.
Edward Rowland Sill—The Fool’s Prayer.

Four things which are not in thy treasury,
I lay before thee, Lord, with this petition:—
My nothingness, my wants,
My sins, and my contrition.
Southey—Occasional Pieces. XIX. Imitated from the Persian.

Prayers are heard in heaven very much in proportion to our faith. Little faith will get very great mercies, but great faith still greater.
Spurgeon—Gleanings Among the Sheaves. Believing Prayer.

To pray together, in whatever tongue or ritual, is the most tender brotherhood of hope and sympathy that men can contract in this life.
Madame de Staël—Corinne. Bk. X. Ch. V.

Holy Father, in thy mercy,
Hear our anxious prayer.
Keep our loved ones, now far absent,
’Neath Thy care.
Isabella S. Stephenson—Hymn. Sung universally among the British troops in the Great War.

Lord, thy most pointed pleasure take,
And stab my spirit broad awake;
Or, Lord, if too obdurate I,
Choose Thou, before that spirit die,
A piercing pain, a killing sin,
And to my dead heart turn them in.
Stevenson—Celestial Surgeon.

My debts are large, my failures great, my shame secret and heavy; yet when I come to ask for my good, I quake in fear lest my prayer be granted.
Rabindranath Tagore—Gitanjali. 28.

Speak to Him thou for He hears, and spirit with spirit can meet—
Closer is He than breathing, and nearer than hands and feet.
Tennyson—Higher Pantheism.

More things are wrought by prayer
Than this world dreams of. Wherefore, let thy voice
Rise like a fountain for me night and day.
For what are men better than sheep or goats
That nourish a blind life within the brain,
If, knowing God, they lift not hands of prayer
Both for themselves and those who call them friend?
Tennyson—Morte d’Arthur. L. 247.

Battering the gates of heaven with storms of prayer.
Tennyson—St. Simeon Stylites. L. 7.

“’Twas then belike,” Honorious cried,
“When you the public fast defied,
Refused to heav’n to raise a prayer,
Because you’d no connections there.”
John Trumbull—McFingal. Canto I. L. 541.

From compromise and things half done,
Keep me with stern and stubborn pnde;
And when at last the fight is won,
God, keep me still unsatisfied.
Louis Untermeyer—Prayer.

God, though this life is but a wraith,
Although we know not what we use,
Although we grope with little faith,
Give me the heart to fight—and lose.
Louis Untermeyer—Prayer.

Prayer is
The world in tune,
A spirit-voyce,
And vocall joyes,
Whose Eccho is heaven’s blisse.
Henry Vaughan—The Morning Watch.

Desine fata deum flecti sperare precando.
Cease to think that the decrees of the gods can be changed by prayers.
Vergil—Æneid. VI. 376.

Audiit, et voti Phœbus succedere partem
Mente didit, partem volucres dispersit in auras.
Ae half the prayer wi’ Phœbus grace did find
The t’other half he whistled down the wind.
Vergil—Æneid. XI. 794. Trans. by Scott—Waverley. Ch. XLIII. Same idea in Homer—Iliad. XVI. 250.

Prayer moves the Hand which moves the world.
John Aikman Wallace—There is an Eye that Never Sleeps. L. 19.

Who is this before whose presence idols tumble to the sod?
While he cries out—“Allah Akbar! and there is no god but God!”
Wm. Ross Wallace—El Amin. The Faithful.

Making their lives a prayer.
Whittier—To A. K. on Receiving a Basket of Sea Mosses.

Though smooth be the heartless prayer, no ear in heaven will mind it;
And the finest phrase falls dead, if there is no feeling behind it.
Ella Wheeler Wilcox—Art and Heart. St. 2.

The imperfect offices of prayer and praise.
Wordsworth—Excursion. Bk. I.

“What is good for a bootless bene?”
With these dark words begins my Tale;
And their meaning is, whence can comfort spring
When Prayer is of no avail?
Wordsworth—Force of Prayer.

The bells of Ryleston seemed to say,
While she sat listening in the shade,
With vocal music, “God us ayde!”
And all the hills were glad to bear
Their part in this effectual prayer.
Wordsworth—White Doe of Rylstone. Canto VII. St. 11.

Prayer ardent opens heaven.
Young—Night Thoughts. Night VIII. L. 721.

Doubt not but God who sits on high,
Thy secret prayers can hear;
When a dead wall thus cunningly
Conveys soft whispers to the ear.
Verse inscribed in the Whispering Gallery of Gloucester Cathedral.