As my prayer become more attentive and inward
I had less and less to say.
I finally became completely silent.
I started to listen
– which is even further removed from speaking.
I first thought that praying entailed speaking.
I then learnt that praying is hearing,
not merely being silent.
This is how it is.
To pray does not mean to listen to oneself speaking,
Prayer involves becoming silent,
And being silent,
And waiting until God is heard.
—Søren Kierkegaard, quoted by Joachim Berendt in The Third Ear, translated by Tim Nevill (Shaftsbury, England: Element Books, 1988).
Wisdom in our Summer 1990 issue on attention. This issue is available to purchase here. If you have enjoyed this piece, consider subscribing.