On Prayer

Then the priestess said, Speak to us of Prayer.
     And he answered, saying:
     You pray in your distress and in your need; would that you might pray also in the fullness of your joy and in your days of abundance.
     For what is prayer but the expansion of yourself into the living ether?
     And if it is for your comfort to pour your darkness into space, it is also for your delight to pour forth the dawning of your heart.
     And if you cannot but weep when your soul summons you to prayer, she should spur you again and yet again, though weeping, until you shall come laughing.
     When you pray you rise to meet in the air those who are praying at that very hour, and whom save in prayer you may not meet.
     Therefore let your visit to that temple invisible be for naught but ecstasy and sweet communion.
     For if you should enter the temple for no other purpose than asking you shall not receive:
     And if you should enter into it to humble yourself you shall not be lifted:
     Or even if you should enter into it to beg for the good of others you shall not be heard.
     It is enough that you enter the temple invisible.

     I cannot teach you how to pray in words.
     God listens not to your words save when He Himself utters them through your lips.
     And I cannot teach you the prayer of the seas and the forests and the mountains.
     But you who are born of the mountains and the forests and the seas can find their prayer in your heart, 
     And if you but listen in the stillness of the night your shall hear them saying in silence,
     “Our God, who are our winged self, it is thy will in us that willeth.
     It is thy desire in us that desireth.
     It is thy urge in us that would turn our nights, which are thine, into days which are thine also.
     We cannot ask thee for aught, for thou knowest our needs before they are born in us:
     Thou art our need; and in giving us more of thyself thou givest us all.”

From The Prophet (Knopf, 1923). This poem is in the public domain.