Henri Nouwen on prayer’s paradox in terms of gift and effort

The paradox of prayer is that it asks for a serious effort while it can only be received as a gift. We cannot plan, organize or manipulate God; but without a careful discipline, we cannot receive him either.

Henri Nouwen, Reaching Out: The Three Movements of the Spiritual Life, 126 quoted by Philip Yancey, Prayer: Does It Make Any Difference?, 157.

prayer for the seventeenth Sunday in Pentecost

O God, you declare your almighty power chiefly in showing mercy and pity: Grant us the fullness of your grace, that we, running to obtain your promises, may become partakers of your heavenly treasure; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Book of Common Prayer