From my daily Bible reading:
“And whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, so that they may be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” — Matthew 6:5-6 NRSV.
“προσευχη, prayer, is compounded of προς with, and ευχη a vow, because to pray right, a man binds himself to God, as by a vow, to live to his glory, if he will grant him his grace, &c. ευχομαι signifies to pour out prayers or vows, from ευ well, and χέω, I pour out; probably alluding to the offerings or libations which were poured out before, or on the altar. A proper idea of prayer is, a pouring out of the soul unto God, as a free-will offering, solemnly and eternally dedicated to him, accompanied with the most earnest desire that it may know, love, and serve him alone. He that comes thus to God will ever be heard and blessed. Prayer is the language of dependence; he who prays not, is endeavoring to live independently of God: this was the first curse, and continues to be the great curse of mankind. In the beginning, Satan said, Eat this fruit; ye shall then be as God; i. e. ye shall be independent: the man hearkened to his voice, sin entered into the world, and notwithstanding the full manifestation of the deception, the ruinous system is still pursued; man will, if possible, live independently of God; hence he either prays not at all, or uses the language without the spirit of prayer.
“The following verses contain so fine a view, and so just a definition, of prayer, that I think the pious reader will be glad to find them here.
“WHAT IS PRAYER?
“Prayer is the soul’s sincere desire,
Unuttered or expressed,
The motion of a hidden fire
That trembles in the breast.
“Prayer is the burden of a sigh,
The falling of a tear,
The upward gleaming 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 Christian’s vital breath,
The Christian’s native air,
His watch-word at the gates of death,
He enters heaven by prayer.
“Prayer is the contrite sinner’s voice,
Returning from his ways,
While angels in their songs rejoice,
And say, Behold he prays!
“The saints in prayer appear as one,
In word, in deed, in mind,
When with the Father and the Son
Their fellowship they find.
“Nor prayer is made on earth alone:
The Holy Spirit pleads;
And Jesus, on th’ 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!”
— James Montgomery (1771–1854).
— Comments by Adam Clarke (1760–1832).