The following excerpts are taken from “Modern Spiritual Masters: Writing on Contemplation and Compassion” edited by Robert Ellsberg:
1. To Hear God Talk
And if we really want to pray we must first learn to listen, for in the silence of the heart God speaks. And to be able to hear that silence, to be able to hear God we need a clean heart, for a clean heart can see God, can hear God, can listen God, and then only from the fullness of our heart can we speak to God. But we cannot speak unless we have listened, unless we have made that connection with God in the silence of our heart. -Mother Teresa
2. To Strengthen Us in Our Mission
You whose mission in life is service of your fellow men and women will go to pieces if you do not impose on yourselves some sort of discipline, and prayer is a necessary spiritual discipline. It is discipline and restraint that separates us from the brute. If we want to be men and women walking with our heads erect and not walking on all fours, let us understand and put ourselves under voluntary discipline and restraint. –Mohandas Gandhi
3. To Be Able to Give
If we are to witness to Christ in today’s marketplaces, where there are constant demands of our whole person, we need silence. If we are to be always available , not only physically, but by empathy, sympathy, friendship, understanding, and boundless love, we need silence. To be able to give joyous, unflagging hospitality, not only of house and food, but of mind, heart, body and soul, we need silence.
True silence is the search of man for God.
True silence is a suspension bridge that a soul in love with God builds to cross the dark, frightening gullies of its own mind, the strange chasms of temptation, the depthless precipices of its won fears that impede its way to God. -Catherine de Hueck Doherty
4. To Renew the Spirit and Refresh the Heart
We must find sources of strength and renewal for our own spirits, lest we perish. There is a widespread recognition of the need for refreshment of the mind and heart….Such periods may be snatched from the greedy demands of one’s day’s work. They may be islanded in a sea of other human beings; they may come only at the end of the day, or in the quiet hush of the early morning. We must, each one of us, find his own time and develop his own peculiar art of being quiet. We must lose our fear of rest. -Howard Thurman
5. To Return to God
In prayer … we discover that the love we are looking for has already been given to us and that we can come to the experience of that love. Prayer is entering into communion with the One who molded our being in our mother’s womb with love and only love. There, in that first love, lies our true self, a self not made up of the rejections and acceptances of those with whom we live, but solidly rooted in the One who called us into existence. In the house of God we were created. To that house we are called to return. Prayer is the act of returning. –Henri Nouwen