A few days ago, I saw posted on Facebook this question: “Do you believe prayer works?” I think what the person was asking is whether prayer will get us what we want. I responded by saying that we should pray for what is God’s will, as Jesus did, because that is what is going to happen anyway.
This idea that we can coerce God in some way is naïve. It is like a child thinking that by nagging a parent they will eventually get their way. Unfortunately, that sometimes works which has a tendency to give nagging more endurance. A good parent would have the child’s best interest in mind and when they want something, say either yes or no according to that. A child will get along best with a parent when they trust their parent’s wisdom and love. This doesn’t preclude desire and want. It just puts these in perspective.
I read this morning some thoughts about prayer that express neatly what I believe. “We pray about …things not so we can get our way, but so that we can bring our will regarding them into alignment with God’s will.” The quote is followed by this reflection: “So this is where I am supposed to be. I may want something but I no longer need to translate it into a false need. I do my best, and then let it go. If I can’t be doing exactly what I want, I do what is right in front of me, accepting my Higher Power’s will.” (from Voices of Recovery: A Daily Reader)
My mother would recoil whenever people talked about praying for this or that to happen. She used to say, “Praying is not about changing God. It is about changing the pray-er.” I see this now. The best prayer for me is to simply sit in silence and let my will be transformed into the will of my Higher Power.