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

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Source: This quote is from ” Purity of Heart is to Will One Thing; spiritual preparation for the office of confession” (1956) by Søren Kierkegaard, translated from Danish by Douglas Van Steere; Chapter 3: Barriers to Willing One Thing: Variety and Great Moments Are Not One Thing.

Complete Sentence: The person making the confession is not like a servant that gives account to his lord for the management which is given over to him because the lord could not manage all or be present in all places. The all-knowing One was present at each instant for which reckoning shall be made in the account. The account of what is done is not made for the lord’s sake but for the servant’s sake, who must even render account of how he used the very moment of rendering the account. Nor is the person confessing like one that confides in a friend to whom sooner or later he reveals things that the friend did not previously know. The all-knowing One does not get to know something about the maker of the confession, rather the maker of confession gets to know about himself. Therefore, do not raise the objection against the confession that there is no point in confiding to the all-knowing One that which He already knows. Reply first to the question whether it is not conferring a benefit when a man gets to know something about himself which he did not know before. A hasty explanation could assert that to pray is a useless act, because a man’s prayer does not alter the unalterable. But would this be desirable in the long run? Could not fickle man easily come to regret that he had gotten God changed? The true explanation is therefore at the same time the one most to be desired. The prayer does not change God, but it changes the one who offers it. It is the same with the substance of what is spoken. Not God, but you, the maker of the confession, get to know something by your act of confession.

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One Response

  1. Scott Robertson says:

    This quote does not come from chapter 3 of Purity of Heart but chapter 2 – Sorry to be pedantic.

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