Soren Kierkegaard (1813-1855) ON PRAYER

[This is another in a series of posts featuring a saint, mystic, or writer to include some of their thoughts on prayer as well as a prayer written by or ascribed to him or her.  This Danish writer was deservedly called a Christian philosopher by some.]  


The function of prayer is not to influence God, 
but rather to change the nature of the one who prays.

It is wondeful how God’s love overwhelms me – 
alas, ultimately I know of no truer prayer 
than what I pray over and over again, 
that God will allow me and not be angry with me 
because I continuously thank him for having done 
and for doing, yes, and for doing 
so indescribably much more for me than I ever expected.

Just as in earthly life lovers long for the moment when 
they are able to breathe forth their love for each other, 
to let their souls blend in a soft whisper, 
so the mystic longs for the moment when in 
prayer he can, as it were, creep into God.

Seek first God’s Kingdom, that is, become like the lilies and the birds, become perfectly silent — then shall the rest be added unto you.

A Prayer Written by Soren Kierkegaard
From your hand, O Lord, we receive everything.
You stretch out your hand, 
and turn worldly wisdom into holy folly.
You open your gentle hand,
and offer the gift of inner peace. 
If sometimes it seems as if your arm is shortened,
then you increase our faith and trust,
so that we may reach out to you. 
And if sometimes it seems 
that you withdraw your hand from us,
then we know it is only to conceal 
the eternal blessing which you have promised —
that we may yearn even more fervently for that blessing.

 [The illustration of Kierkegaard is a faithful photographic reproduction of an original two-dimensional work of art. The work of art itself is in the public domain because its copyright has expired.]



About Paul Wharton

I am a cradle Catholic, a native West Virginian, and a priest since April 24, 1982. Spiritual Direction has made a tremendous difference in my life and I encourage people to try it out. My motto is "Progress not perfection." I am grateful that God has done for me what I could not do for myself.
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2 Responses to Soren Kierkegaard (1813-1855) ON PRAYER

  1. Anne Comeaux says:

    Thanks for this, Paul. A nugget that will stay with me: “…creep into God.” Powerful yet gentle.

  2. Kelly Rose says:

    So I give myself a refresher course. Who’d of thought I’d give such time to a 19th century Danish philosopher this morning? I’ve got things to do! But he’s so interesting, and it’s Mystic Monday! I like the thought of him walking the streets of Copenhagen purposely to be able to interact with the everyday man. But they say he battled with depression, and then I read a quote like this, and I think he’s hilarious, but that only makes him a text book case, I suppose?
    “Listen to the cry of a woman in labor at the hour of giving birth — look at the dying man’s struggle at his last extremity, and then tell me whether something that begins and ends thus could be intended for enjoyment.”

    I don’t get word prayer? Words get in my way of “creeping into god.” It seems like added work and a distraction to come up with words. I have to think to find words, when I would rather just feel and, hopefully, lose all thought. I like others’ prayers, prayers that I can read like poetry and recite for inspiration. And I am always in awe at the calvacade of words of prayer that can stream from others’ mouths so spontaneously. But in seeking communion with god, I need silence and stillness. My favorite part of mass, is the silence at the end of the homily: ) And the music. Once, when Deacon Don sang at Saturday mass, I found myself having to suppress the desire to clap! : )

    Once, riding my bike at the park, I witnessed a young man throw his arms up into the air in the face of an orange setting sun and coast for a while. He seemed in prayer?

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