The twentieth-century lecturer, researcher and writer, Evelyn Underhill, while a noted academic, was also well-known for her personal insights and devotional life. In her book, The Essentials of Mysticism, she encourages us to apply diligence and a single-minded determination to our spiritual growth, specifically in the area of prayer. Ms. Underhill applies the metaphor of a wind-driven ship to our spiritual journey and warns us that theological thoughts and spiritual emotions, though useful, should not be trusted to get us to our destination.

The determined fixing of our will upon God, and pressing toward him steadily and without deflection; this is the very center and the art of prayer. The most theological of thoughts soon becomes inadequate; the most spiritual of emotions is only a fairweather breeze. Let the ship take advantage of it by all means, but not rely in it. She must be prepared to beat to windward if she would reach her goal.