“Sometimes the answer to prayer is not that it changes life, but that it changes you.”
– James Dillet Freeman, poet
I think I stumbled upon this quote at least eight or nine years ago, but I don’t really remember for sure. It sums up my experience with prayer, though, and every time I sit down and think about it, it makes me shake my head.
I don’t know about you, but when I pray, I want to change OTHER THINGS: the health situation of a loved one, the possible outcome of a job search, the way a decision is made. I rarely sit down and look toward God and ask for change for myself.
It’s not that I think I’m perfect…it’s that these OTHER THINGS need the attention more urgently. The baby who might die if she doesn’t receive a heart transplant is waaaay more important than my own struggle with a certain virtue.
What this quote reminds me is that, really, sometimes that answer is found in a change in the person praying. Being pregnant makes me think in a special way of how I prayed before Logan was born and of our recent year of change. The praying I did in 2002 did change me; I believe it not only gave me a heart for those who lose children and those struggling with fertility issues, but it also chipped away at some of the very large ego keeping me away from God.
The praying I have done this year has also changed me. We’re too close to it for me to understand how, but I can feel the shift inside.
And so, once again, I find myself looking at a favorite quote and seeing it in a new light. I’m glad for that.
Do you have a favorite quote about prayer?
“It is better in prayer to have a heart without words than words without a heart.”
(I seem to have a Gandhi kick this week.) Anyway, I often don’t know how to pray, so I find consolation in this quote, that God knows my heart.
St. Augustine said something similar to this. Prayer purifies our desire and expands our hearts to want what God wants for us. God may not give us what we ask for because he wants us to ask for the greater things he wants to give us instead. As we wait, he purifies our desires to be more holy.
It seems like, in the practical day to day praying, I’m trying to change God’s mind. In reality, by having me pray for what I want, he’s changing my mind.
Perhaps I am in error but I do believe that the answer to our prayers is always “Yes.” but not how we would, but how we ought.
When the visible answer is “No.” it means this is something we must struggle with because the struggle itself will bring us closer to God, and others.
When the answer does not make sense, it means we must plunge deeper into the mystery that is our relationship with Christ, with the Divine Love that loves our finite ways and finite understandings.
Every time I pray, I know the answer is yes, and that it is my job to discern How the answer is yes and why.
Very well said. Yes, I believe you are right.
If you like this quote by James Dillet Freeman, then I think you will love his poem “I AM THERE,” which he received while in prayer for his wife, who was undergoing cancer surgery at the time. Though the attempts to save her were unsuccessful, James’ love and God’s promise live on eternally in this poem, which was later carried to and left on the moon by astronaut Jim Irwin during the Apollo 15 spaceflight.
The poem can be found at: http://www.unity.org/prayer/prayersAffirmations/iAmTherepoem.html