Patricia Hofer

Sören Kierkegaard

Excerpt from Yielding To Wonder, pages 50-51

My experience, though, is that as often as we may talk about praying, we really don’t get around to it that much, at least not in the devoted way we think we should.

Sören Kierkegaard—a 19th century Danish theologian and philosopher who wrote with the goal of revitalizing the Christian faith.

Maybe that’s because we have gotten the idea that real praying involves an earnestness that we don’t have. Or we may think it requires hours of concentrated effort, that we must grind on and on about something in order to get God’s attention or to prove our righteousness. Are these the things that make effective prayers? Kierkegaard doesn’t think so. He writes:

The earthly minded person thinks and imagines that when he prays, the important thing, the thing he must concentrate upon, is that God should hear what he is praying for. (Provocations. Charles E. Moore, Ed. 345)

I’ve been surprised at the number of people who think just that. And yet they yearn for more meaningful interaction with God, for communication that results in special closeness. I understand their feelings because I can feel this need myself at times. That’s why I found this thought from Kierkegaard so helpful. He continues:

… the true relation in prayer is not when God hears what is prayed for, but when the person praying continues to pray until he is the one who hears, who hears what God is asking for. (Provocations. Charles E. Moore, Ed. 345)