We do not know any religion without prayers, even the Jews had some,
although there was not among them any public form, until the time when
they sang canticles in their synagogues, which happened very late.
All men, in their desires and their fears, invoked the aid of a deity.
Some philosophers, more respectful to the Supreme Being, and less
condescending to human frailty, for all prayer desired only resignation.
It is indeed what seems proper as between creature and creator. But
philosophy is not made to govern the world; she rises above the common
herd; she speaks a language that the crowd cannot understand. It would
be suggesting to fishwives that they should study conic sections.
Even among the philosophers, I do not believe that anyone apart from
Maximus of Tyre has treated of this matter; this is the substance of
The Eternal has His intentions from all eternity. If prayer accords with
His immutable wishes, it is quite useless to ask of Him what He has
resolved to do. If one prays Him to do the contrary of what He has
resolved, it is praying Him to be weak, frivolous, inconstant; it is
believing that He is thus, it is to mock Him. Either you ask Him a just
thing; in this case He must do it, and the thing will be done without
your praying Him for it; entreating Him is even to distrust Him: or the
thing is unjust, and then you outrage Him. You are worthy or unworthy of
the grace you implore: if worthy, He knows it better than you; if
unworthy, you commit a crime the more in asking for what you do not
In a word, we pray to God only because we have made Him in our own
image. We treat Him like a pasha, like a sultan whom one may provoke and
In short, all nations pray to God: wise men resign themselves and obey
Let us pray with the people, and resign ourselves with the wise men.