Who Does Prayer Change? God or Us?

I admit that my first prayer language was asking God for things that were important to me. As I matured, I realized Jesus had lots to say about prayer. But I suspect my focus remained all too often on what I wanted from God.

Then came the deeper realization that the birth of Jesus changed everything! I began to connect some dots. I began to ask a question about that change. What did God really change by being born among us?

I began to wrestle with the responses to the question what or who did Jesus really change

  • Did Jesus come to change God’s mind?
  • Or did Jesus come to change our minds?

There seem to be two street level approaches to the question.

Some would claim Jesus came to change God’s mind about us. But I now realize that God’s mind did not need changing!

Jesus did not tell us about an angry old man who needed to be placated. He told us of a father who loves from beginning to end, no matter what. “God has first loved us!” We didn’t earn God’s love any more than a baby earned the gift of life or loving parents.

In this perspective Jesus came to change us, to change our minds.

Jesus urges us to change our minds

  • About God – demonstrating that God really does identify with us and knows intimately our day-to-day problems… and their worst manifestations, even the horrible reality of death on a cross.
  • About one another – demonstrating what it’s like to be sons and daughters of God who cares for everyone, especially the lowest.
  • About what the kingdom of God looks like – “an eternal and universal kingdom, a kingdom of truth and life” rather than a kingdom ruled by a few.
  • About all creation – demonstrating what it means to be sons and daughters of God who not only cares for everyone but everything in a still-unfolding universe.

If this is not a call to change my way of thinking I don’t know what is. This is the ultimate challenge and opportunity of prayer.

I now realize that Jesus came to wake us up! Lent is a time to wake up. The root meaning of “repent” is change your way of thinking.

Prayer in Motion

Against this backdrop, I was hooked when I heard Fr. Aidan Rooney’s description of the “Prayer in Motion“  Lenten video series produced by the team at Mary’s Miraculous Medal Shrine.

  • Real love is dangerous. Real prayer is transformative for the pray-er. Only then can the pray-er bring transformation.
  • Prayer is movement. Let this Lent be a time when prayer transforms you. Set your prayer in motion.

For the 40 days of Lent, they will feature brief two minute videos in which religious and lay, men and women and children – will share their personal stories of the transformative power of open communication with God.

They were asked

  • Are you ready to move this Lent?
  • When you pray, do you share yourself with God? your fears, your hopes, your strengths, your weaknesses?
  • When you pray, do you share your worries and dreams about the world with Jesus?
  • Are you willing to be transformed by your relationship with Jesus?
  • Can you echo the Blessed Mother’s most profound prayer, “Let it be done to me according to your word”?
  • Can you pray the phrase of the Lord’s Prayer, “Thy will be done,” and mean it for yourself?
  • Will you set your prayer in motion?

These are questions I must continually ask myself.

Click below for an audio version of this Vincentian Mindwalk

Who does Prayer change? God or us?