The Cloud of Unknowing, ed. by Evelyn Underhill,  Of the special prayers of them that be continual workers in the word of this book AND right as the meditations of them that continually work in this grace and in this work rise suddenly without any means, right so do their prayers. I mean of their special prayers, not of those prayers that be ordained of Holy Church. For they that be true workers in this work, they worship no prayer so much: and therefore they do them, in the form and in the statute that they be ordained of holy fathers before us. But their special prayers rise evermore suddenly unto God, without any means or any premeditation in special coming before, or going therewith. And if they be in words, as they be but seldom, then be they but in full few words: yea, and in ever the fewer the better. Yea, and if it be but a little word of one syllable, me think it better than of two: and more, too, according to the work of the spirit, since it so is that a ghostly worker in this work should evermore be in the highest and the sovereignest point of the spirit. That this be sooth, see by ensample in the course of nature. A man or a woman, afraid with any sudden chance of fire or of man’s death or what else that it be, suddenly in the height of his spirit, he is driven upon haste and upon need for to cry or for to pray after help. Yea, how? Surely, not in many words, nor yet in one word of two syllables. And why is that? For him thinketh it over long tarrying for to declare the need and the work of his spirit. And therefore he bursteth up hideously with a great spirit, and cryeth a little word, but of one syllable: as is this word “fire,” or this word “out!” And right as this little word “fire” stirreth rather and pierceth more hastily the ears of the hearers, so doth a little word of one syllable when it is not only spoken or thought, but privily meant in the deepness of spirit; the which is the height, for in ghostliness all is one, height and deepness, length and breadth. And rather it pierceth the ears of Almighty God than doth any long psalter unmindfully mumbled in the teeth. And herefore it is written, that short prayer pierceth heaven.
Table of Contents
Of The Special Prayers Of Them That Be Continual Workers In The Work Of This Book