Why Do We Pray?

“Prayer is our humble answer to the inconceivable surprise of living.” – Abraham Joshua Heschel

Many of my prayers are inspired by moments of need, or fear, or frustration, or worry.  I come to God asking for something.  For security, protection, peace, money, a solution.

Or I’ll  be driven to prayer by the needs of others.  I hear someone is sick, or sad, or in need and I will pray.  In these moments prayer is an act of compassion.  It is a confession that the problems others face are to big for me to handle.   This maybe the closest I get to what Heschel is talking about.

While these are fine reasons to pray they aren’t awe inspired or humble.

I long to see the world as Heschel saw it.  I long to be in wonder of life, in awe of things around me.  Sadly though I typically am to consumed with what is in front of my own nose to see what God has made or is up to.  When I was a child I used to love to look at the clouds and imagine them to be different things: a dragon, a dog, a tree, a monster eating ice cream.  I don’t look at the clouds any more.

Heschel’s quote reminds me of what prayer should be – an act of worship.  He calls me to discover what it means to be in awe of life and respond by speaking to the creator about it.  When I think on Heschel’s statement I am ashamed at how much I take for granted and how much I act like I deserve.


This post is the 4th in a series I’m calling 60in60 – 60 quotes that have inspired me in 60 days.

Why Do We Pray?