“Prayer does not change God, but it changes him who prays.” - Søren Kierkegaard
Most people go through life having no clear sense of their true values. Instead, their desires are molded by the culture and the advertisements that bombard them each day from television, radio, magazines, and celebrities. As a result, they find no consistency in life. No unity. Their desires change as fast as the culture and they are quickly swept off their feet by the newest fashion, the most recent technology, or the latest diet fad.
In contrast, a firm conviction of your heart’s values leads to a single life. It is not tossed about by the culture. Instead, it is built on the things that you hold truest to your heart. And no new advertising campaign is able to shake it.
The simple life is found there – in the values you hold dearest. And that is why prayer matters.
Prayer slows our mind, calms our spirit, and centers our heart. It removes our mind from the culture of consumption that surrounds us and centers us on something greater and more important. It calls us to identify our desires and articulate our values.
It offers all the benefits of solitude with one added dimension: “the ask.” In prayer, we ask for the most important things – the most valuable. In prayer, our mind races to our deepest heart values. Consider the fact that rarely, in prayer, do we ask for bigger cars, nicer houses, or a larger wardrobe. Instead, we think of our families, our friends, our health, our significance, and our greatest ambitions.
And that is why prayer matters… even if God doesn’t.
I believe in a God that is cheering for me, helping me, and answering my prayers. For me, prayer is a win-win proposition. It centers my heart and attention on what is most important. It forces my eyes to focus on the invisible rather than the visible. It causes me to remember that true joy is not found in a department store, but is found in relationships with myself, others, and God. And it asks a God who loves answering those requests.
But even for those who do not believe in God, prayer is still a winning proposition. It still centers your heart and attention on what is most important. It still forces your eyes to focus on the invisible rather than the visible. It still causes you to remember that true joy is found in relationships. It still forces “the ask” and focuses your ambition on the most important things.
So find a quiet moment. Find a quiet place. And find a quiet heart. Search it for your greatest desires. And maybe for the first time, make “the ask.” Because it matters… even if God doesn’t.