The great philosopher Soren Kierkegaard once said, “Prayer does not change God, but it changes him who prays.” I resonate with this quote deeply. I often think that we as Americans have become so addicted to our thinking, so addicted to our reasoning, that we actually think that God needs our words, our thoughts. While this doesn’t eliminate our need to pray for others in our desire for God to liberate the world, I agree with Teresa of Avila that “more tears have been shed over answered prayers than unanswered ones.”
Prayer, in a beautiful sense, looks like Jacob when he wakes up from a dreams and says “that God was always there and was not aware of it.” Prayer becomes a practice of awareness. It becomes a necessity for the presence of God. Prayer becomes a method of self-emptying; it becomes a process of letting go. I think this is why Jesus calls us to pray for our enemies. It’s hard to pray blessings over someone we hate. God knew that those prayers would change us much. I think people become addicted to the prayers in which they’re in control. They prayer their words, they check off all of their requests, but they can’t handle the intimate silence in which God might actually respond. Our souls have been so long neglected that we can’t even begin to handle the silence of prayer. I think this is why Brother Lawrence is a poster child for practicing the presence of God,
“God alone is capable of making Himself known as He really is. We search in reasoning and in sciences, as in a poor copy. What we neglect to see is God’s painting Himself in the depth of our soul.”
Prayer is letting go of who we think we need to be and is in the developing of an actual relationship with the Christ who is in me. If we can endure the darkness of who we are, shortly behind that is the God of light to tell us who we really are. A God who will reveal to us who we really are.