Benedict of Nursia, 547, on prayer

Today is the feast day of St. Benedict of Nursia, the author of the Rule that has shaped Western monasticism for nearly fifteen hundred years (to call him the “founder” of the Benedictine order is somewhat misleading). While looking for something from the Rule to read for our mid-week Eucharist, I came across the following (from ch. 20, “On Reverence in Prayer”):

Whenever we want to ask some favor of a powerful man, we do it humbly and respectfully, for fear of presumption. How much more important, then, to lay our petitions before the Lord God of all things with the utmost humility and sincere devotion. We must know that God regards our purity of heart and tears of compunction, not our many words. Prayer should therefore be short and pure, unless perhaps it is prolonged under the inspiration of divine grace.