December 7, 2015 Gathering
On prayer, Martin Buber said, “What distinguishes… prayer from all magic? Magic wants to be effective without entering into any relationship and performs its arts in the void, while… prayer step[s] ‘before the countenance.'” There are ways of praying, without really entering into relationship with God, or with those for whom we pray. We pray at a distance – sending out a wish for magical intervention, without feeling connected.
Another way to understand prayer, then, is that it’s primary purpose is to keep us in relationship with God, ourselves, and others. Soren Kierkegaard said, “The purpose of prayer is not to influence God, but to change the nature of the one who prays.” When we pray by thinking of the situations of those for whom we pray – when we use the power of ethical imagination to consider what they’re experiencing – we come into relationship with them. We are transformed, even if in just some small way, by having spent time, spirit-to-spirit with others. [Read more…]