20 Quotes from Paul Miller’s book ‘A Praying Life’


The book A Praying Life, by Paul Miller, has changed my life. God has opened my eyes to pride I didn’t know was there and a greater dependence on him in prayer I used to kind of dread. Here are 20 of my favorite quotes. Get the book everyone, you need it!


“Prayer is simply the medium through which we experience and connect to God. Oddly enough, many people struggle to learn how to prayer because they are focusing on prayer, not on God. Making prayer the center is like making conversation the center of a family mealtime. In prayer, focusing on the conversation is like trying to drive while looking at the windshield instead of through it. It freezes us, making us unsure of where to go. Conversation is only the vehicle through which we experience one another. Consequently, prayer is not the center of this book. Getting to know a person, God, is the center. (pg 20)

“If we love people and have the power to help, then we are going to be busy. Learning to pray doesn’t offer us a less busy life; it offers us a less busy heart. In the midst of outer busyness we can develop an inner quiet.” (pg 23)

“A needy heart is a praying heart. Dependency is the heartbeat of prayer.” (pg 24)

“The criteria for coming to Jesus is weariness. Come overwhelmed with life. Come with your wandering mind. Come messy.” (pg 32)

“Jesus is, without question, the most dependent human who ever lived… He is inviting us into his life of a living dependence on his heavenly Father. He is telling us to realize that, like him, we don’t have the resources to do life. When you know that you, like Jesus, can’t do life on your own, then prayer makes complete sense.” (pg 45)

“Jesus’ example teaches us that prayer is about relationship. When he prays, he is not performing a duty; he is getting close to his Father. Any relationship, if it is going to grow, needs private space, time together without an agenda, where you can get to know each other. This creates an environment where closeness can happen, where we can begin to understand each other’s hearts. You don’t create intimacy; you make room for it. This is true whether you are talking about your spouse, your friend, or God. You need space to be together. Efficiency, multitasking, and busyness all kill intimacy. In short, you can’t get to know God on the fly.” (pg 47)

“Another objection is busyness. When I first heart Martin Luther’s comment that he couldn’t get by unless he had three or four hours of prayer daily, I scratched my head. Knowing how busy Luther was, you’d think he would want to cut out prayer. Now, years later, it makes perfect sense. In fact, the more pressure, the more I need to pray. I pray in the morning because my life is so pressured. If you are not praying, then you are quietly confident that time, money, and talent are all you need in life.” Time in prayer makes you even more dependent on God because you don’t have as much time to get things done.” (pg 49)

“Prayer is bringing your helplessness to Jesus… We forget that helplessness is how the Christian life works… The gospel, God’s free gift of grace in Jesus, only works when we realize we don’t have it all together. The same is true for prayer. The very thing we are allergic to – our helplessness – is what makes prayer work. It works because we are helpless. We can’t do life on our own.” (pg 55)

“We tell ourselves, ‘Strong Christians prayer a lot. If I were a stronger Christian, I’d pray more.’ Strong Christians do pray more, but they pray more because they realize how weak they are. They don’t try to hide it from themselves. Weakness is the channel that allows them to access grace… In fact, God wanted me depressed about myself and encourage me about his Son. The gospel uses my weakness as the for to God’s grace.” (pg 56-57)

“If we think we can do life on our own, we will not take prayer seriously. Our failure to pray will always feel like something else – a lack of discipline or too many obligations. But when something is important to us, we make room for it. Prayer is simply not important to many Christians because Jesus is already an add-on. That is why we’ll see later, suffering is so important to the process of learning how to pray. It is God’s gift to us to show us what life is really like.” (pg 59)

“A principal source of cynicism comes from looking up at Christian leaders who have gotten Jesus’ kingdom mixed up with their own. Ministry itself can create a mask of performance, the projection of success. Everyone wants to be a winner. In contrast, Jesus never used his power to show off. He used his power for love. So he wasn’t immediately noticeable. Humility makes you disappear, which is why we avoid it.” (pg 97)

“We readily admit our lack of knowledge, but it would never occur to us that the speaker might have access to divine power. We don’t think it would make any difference. We are confident in science but not God. The issue of power – the ability to make a difference, to change something – is at the heart of asking.” (pg 113)

“But unlike these other kinds of experts, power in prayer comes from being in touch with your weakness. To teach us how to pray, Jesus told stories of weak people who knew they couldn’t do life on their own. The persistent widow and the friend at midnight get access, not because they are strong but because they are desperate. Learned desperation is at the heart of a praying life.” (pg 114)

“Majesty and humility are such an odd fit. This is one reason we struggle with prayer. We just don’t think God could are concerned with the puny details of our lives. We either believe he’s too big or that we’re not that important. No wonder Jesus told us to be like little children!” (pg 116)

“God makes us nervous when he gets too close. We don’t want a physical dependence on him. Deep down we just don’t like grace…. Our dislike of asking is rooted in our desire for independence. Reinhold Niebuhr put his finger on the problem, ‘The human ego assumes its self-sufficiency and self-mastery and imagines itself secure… It does not recognize the contingent and dependent character of its life and believes itself to be the author of its own existence.’ We don’t like being contingent, completely dependent on another. The little child that Jesus urged us to become is completely dependence on his parent for everything. What I lose when I have a praying life? Control. Independence. What do I gain? Friendship with God. A quiet heart.” (pg 125)

“Trying to dissect how prayer works is like using a magnifying glass to try to figure out why a woman is beautiful. If you turn God into an object, he has a way of disappearing.” (pg 128)

“My experience is that most people do not put God to the test.” (pg 138)

“A thankful heart is constantly extending grace because it has received grace. Love and grace are uneven. God poured out on his own Son the criticism I deserve. Now he invites me to pour out undeserving grace on someone who has hurt me. Grace begets grace. This husband is taking a journey into the heart of God.” (pg 152)

“If satan’s basic game plan is pride, seeking to draw us into his life of arrogance, then God’s basic game plan is humility, drawing us into the life of his Son. The Father can’t think of anything better to give us than his Son. Suffering invites us to join his Son’s life, death, and resurrection. Once you see that, suffering is no longer strange.” (pg 236)

“We are seldom aware of our impatience. What we feel is everyone else’s slowness. Because we are naturally the center of our own universes, we don’t feel irritable. We just notice everyone getting in our way. Here’s where a prayer journal can help.” (pg 252)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: