The function of prayer is not to influence God, but rather to change the nature of the one who prays. ― Søren Kierkegaard*
A reflection by Christina Brennan Lee for July 9, 2023.
Dear God, Almighty, Everlasting, and Eternal!
Of course I want to influence You. Of course I want You to do what I want You to do. Of course I’m not happy when things don’t go my way. Sometimes I get angry. I’m human; it’s my nature. SO, if I walk away in anger and blame, am I just acting as a spoiled child who is never satisfied?
But eventually I stop and I remember. I have Free Will. I have choices. I can choose to use prayer to demand, require, and exert an ultimatum for a requested outcome and be frustrated and angry when it doesn’t come to pass. Or I can exclaim “Thank God!” when something good happens as a cursory nod for the expected.
I can also choose to pray through conversation with You to express my wants, needs, and desires, as well as my hopes and fears. When I pray without expecting You to fix or give something in return, I feel less agitated, perhaps no less in need or want, but more comforted from merely knowing You are present, listening, aware. The nature of my prayer becomes a visit with a trusted and cherished Friend, a Sacred Elder who knows more about me than I do and who embraces my heart, soothes my soul, and is simply present and available whatever the outcome.
And within the visit, through my prayer, I am transformed. I am calmer, I am more composed, and I am ready to work through all that life brings. I, the Pray-er, am changed. amen.
*Søren Kierkegaard [1813-1855] was a Danish philosopher, theologian, poet, social critic and wrote extensively on Christian ethics, psychology, and the philosophy of religion. He often focused on personal choice and commitment, and, the art of Christian love.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Every week, Christina Brennan Lee writes the Prayers of the People we use in our worship services on Sundays. She also leads weekday prayer services and serves on the SsAM Vestry. Click here to see her People’s Prayers website.