Read the Most Beautiful St. Therese of Lisieux Quotes on Prayer
Our dear childlike saint, St. Therese of Lisieux, knew that prayer was much more than folding one’s hands and reciting something from memorization to God. Prayer, for her, was an outpouring of her heart, an unspoken act of love and adoration to God that occurred throughout her day. Prayer can transition from rote, rehearsed Our Fathers to a beautiful gift of our hearts, too. When prayer changes into love, the heart never ceases its gaze toward Heaven. Even in the midst of everyday activities, prayer is central to one’s lifestyle. It is an ever-present, ever-prevailing song to God of gratitude, praise, and lamentation. Here are 10 truly beautiful St. Therese of Lisieux quotes on prayer.
1. “For me, prayer is a burst from my heart, it is a simple glance thrown toward Heaven, a cry of thanksgiving and love in times of trial as well as in times of joy.”
Have you ever experienced a “burst from the heart” when you speak to the Lord? It’s almost as if your heart swells to the point of feeling as if it will explode. This swelling of the heart is what happens when we love God with everything we have and are. Sometimes the only prayer we can muster, especially in times of extreme suffering, is, “Lord, please help me.” Even our tears can become a sweet oblation to God when words aren’t necessary. Intense tribulations and ineffable joy alike are cause for this bursting of the heart, because words are insufficient expressions of love.
2. “I (pray) like children who do not know how to read, I say very simply to God what I wish to say, without composing beautiful sentences, and He always understands me.”
We don’t have to be Biblical scholars or theologians in order for prayer to be deeply meaningful. Prayer is, quite simply, relationship with God. It’s the way we both talk and listen to Him. It’s the dialogue, the language, of the heart. When we become as children in our simplicity, there is no need for complex thinking when we pray. In this way, prayer becomes easy and constant.
3. “All my strength lies in prayer and sacrifice. They are my invincible weapons, and I know, by experience, that they can soften the heart much better than words.”
When we suffer, as St. Therese did (especially in the months preceding her death), we realize that we are truly empty, devoid of anything we could possibly offer to God or others. It is often during these times that prayer becomes more frequent. We realize that miracles happen through prayer, especially prayer that is heartfelt and confident in God’s vast mercy. Prayer becomes our weapon against discouragement and despair, against hatred and violence, against the snares of the devil.
4. “The nearer one gets to God, the simpler one becomes.”
Do we all really need high degrees in order to impress ourselves and the world? I used to think so. The world of academia was my home, it seemed, because I thrived in an environment where research, writing, reading, and critical thinking abounded. But now, years after the dust has settled on my diplomas, I see the fallacy in that stringent viewpoint. Now I realize that simplicity is the virtue exhibited in one who is truly pure of heart. We make life more complicated than it needs to be by our arguments, syllogisms and synopses. All we need is a receptive heart that is always listening, always open, always eager to respond to the One who calls us. This, truly, is what it means to be like a child who seeks nothing more than to please his Father.
5. “Don’t drag yourself any longer to His feet, follow that first impulse that draws you into His arms. That is where your place is.”
Again, we see the image of a child who thrusts herself into her mother’s or father’s arms. Imagine that security and comfort. There is such enveloping peace that washes over us when we throw ourselves into God’s embrace, knowing that we are always safe there, always protected and provided for. What better way to pray than in this way – to run, at the first inkling, to Jesus and remain nestled close to His heart?
6. “Joy isn’t found in the material objects surrounding us, but in the inner recesses of the soul. One can possess joy in a prison cell as well as in a palace.”
“The inner recesses of the soul” are the crevices of our hearts where our deepest longings reside. When they surface, we might consider them conscious prayer. But prayer is always a part of us, and it is manifested by the spiritual fruits of our lives – joy, peace, forgiveness, generosity, faithfulness. Lifting our hearts and souls – including the cracks and crevices themselves, which reveal our brokenness – is what the Lord asks of us.
7. “He guides and inspires me every moment of the day. Just when I need it, a new light shines on my problems.”
Sometimes I get really bogged down with worry. I know I’m not supposed to worry, but I start thinking those “what if” questions to the unanswered prayers or the lingering issues that have yet to be resolved. There are always messes that need to be cleaned up, always questions that need answers, and certainly mysteries that cannot be solved. But, if I am sensitive to His voice, I hear God speak to me through my problems and worries. He parts the clouds in my heart and shines the Son upon it. Light always reveals truth and sweeps the darkness away. Prayer, then, is listening to those inspirations as they arrive each day – perhaps in a whisper or maybe in a new, clear idea.
8. “Jesus, help me simplify my life by learning what you want me to be – and becoming that person.”
We become who we are meant to be when we foster a life rooted in prayer. Simplicity, again, is the solution to all of the distractions we surround ourselves with. I know I fall prey to these distractions – my cell phone, constant emails, paperwork, caring for small children, keeping up the house, etc. It is all too easy this day and age to be sucked into everything that diverts us from God. But simplicity enters in our interior lives like a housecleaner. It sweeps and dusts, vacuums and tidies. Simplicity gets rid of the excess, the emotional or mental clutter that holds us captive to distractions. Simplicity provides the space we need to silence our hearts and minds, so that we can enter into the sacred conversation with God and ultimately become the person God intended for us to be all along.
9. “For me, prayer means launching out from the heart toward God; a cry of grateful love from the crest of joy or through the trough of despair. It is a vast supernatural force that opens out my heart and binds me close to Jesus.”
St. Therese describes prayer as a “launching out from the heart toward God,” which is similar to her “burst from the heart” description. If we pay attention, we will notice how our hearts respond to God’s nudging. The Holy Spirit calls us by a gentle, persistent knocking on the door of our hearts, and if we are listening attentively, we will notice our heart’s response – to flutter with love or gratitude, to dance a bit with a fleeting moment of joy in the midst of pain. This is how prayer unites us to God’s own heart – through the subtle but persistent ways we respond to God throughout each day.
10. “We must abandon the future into the hands of God.”
I hate the unknown. In fact, one of my worst vices is my lack of trust in God. I have struggled with it since childhood, because fear seems to eclipse the transitory moments in which I've somehow come to a place of trust and confidence. Not knowing what the future holds can be quite frightening if we allow our thoughts to wander too far. But the devil knows this and pounces upon that fear if we open the door to it. The antithesis to fear is abandonment, or surrendering, to God’s divine providence. This differs from merely acquiescing to “whatever happens, happens” or “it is what it is.” It’s not about ambivalence. In fact, it’s actually an act of heroic faith – a confidence so great in God’s love for us that we know with certainty that “all things work together for our good.” This happens when our lives are entrenched in prayer, a prayer that moves beyond the motions and words.
We must speak this heart language more than just once a week or even once per day. If we really desire perfect union with God, we must cultivate a relationship with Him – getting to know Him, recognizing how the Holy Spirit speaks to us, and knowing how to respond to the Lord when He calls. Prayer is deeply centered in openness and receptivity. We must be always listening, acutely aware that God will speak and act when we least expect it. And, in the midst of waiting, we remain in a state of quiet confidence that His timing is always perfect. Prayer is the essence of our interior lives. Prayer is the essence of a life lived in love.