The Persian Sufi poet Rumi (1207-73) tells the story of a man who always prayed earnestly and most devoutly, late into the night. One night, when he was beginning to tire, Satan put into his mind the question: "For all your calling out 'O God!' have you ever heard God reply 'Here I am'?"

The man admitted he had never heard even a whisper. Then God sent a messenger to tell him that all the fear and love he had been pouring into his prayer had been God's gift to him in the first place. "Beneath every 'O Lord' of yours lies many a 'Here I am' from me."

Jennifer Westwood, On Pilgrimage