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Alfred H. Miles, ed. The Sacred Poets of the Nineteenth Century. 1907.

By Miscellaneous Poems. IV. Prayer (“Prayer is the soul’s sincere desire”)

James Montgomery (1771–1854)


PRAYER is the soul’s sincere desire,

Uttered or unexpressed;

The motion of a hidden fire,

That trembles in the breast.

Prayer is the burthen of a sigh;

The falling of a tear;

The upward glancing of an eye,

When none but God is near.

Prayer is the simplest form of speech

That infant lips can try;

Prayer, the sublimest strains that reach

The Majesty on high.

Prayer is the contrite sinner’s voice,

Returning from his ways;

While angels in their songs rejoice,

And cry,—“Behold! he prays!”

Prayer is the Christian’s vital breath,

The Christian’s native air;

His watchword at the gates of death:

He enters heaven with prayer.

The saints in prayer appear as one

In word and deed and mind,

While with the Father and the Son

Sweet fellowship they find.

Nor prayer is made by man alone;

The Holy Spirit pleads;

And Jesus, on the eternal throne,

For sinners intercedes.

O Thou by whom we come to God,

The Life, the Truth, the Way;

The path of prayer Thyself hast trod

Lord, teach us how to pray.