Prayer has to be a response to what God has said. The worshiping congregation – hearing the Word read and preached, and celebrating it in the sacraments – is the place where I learn how to pray and where I practice prayer. It is a center from which I pray. From it I go to my closet or to the mountains and continue to pray. A second thing about praying in community is that, when I pray in a congregation, my feelings are not taken into account. Nobody asks me when I enter the congregation, “How do you feel today? What do you feel like praying about?” So the congregation is a place where I’m gradually learning that prayer is not conditioned or authenticated by my feelings. Nothing is more devastating to prayer than when I begin to evaluate prayer by my feelings, and think that in order to pray I have to have a certain sense, a certain spiritual attentiveness or peace or, on the other side, anguish. That’s virtually impossible to learn by yourself. But if I’m in a congregation, I learn over and over again that prayer will go on whether I feel like it or not, or even if I sleep through the whole thing.
…Prayer is subversive activity. It involves a more or less open act of defiance against any claim by the current regime…. [As we pray,] slowly but surely, not culture, not family, not government, not job, not even the tyrannous self can stand against the quiet power and creative influence of God’s sovereignty. Every natural tie of family and race, every willed commitment to person and nation is finally subordinated to the rule of God.
Eugene H. Peterson from an interview with Rodney Clapp published in a forward to Peterson’s book, The Contemplative Pastor: Returning to the Art of Spiritual Direction.