Prayer: Nag, Kvetch and Change

Question

My question is about prayer. How can my prayer work if God knows what’s good for me and has plans for me anyway? If I nag and kvetch to God about what I want does it really change anything?

1 week

Answers

  1. Yes, it can change you as a person, and therefore it can change God’s “decision” about what is good for you. Prayer is not a way of nagging God until He changes His mind about our fate. Rather, it is a means of changing ourselves.

    So, by praying, you change yourself. Thus, God’s “decision” about what is good for you changes. It now becomes good, for example, for Bob to have a child, or to have health, or money or whatever, whereas before it was good for him not to have those things.

    Why change from one good to another? There are different levels of good. For some people, chemotherapy might be good. But being healthy is a better good.

    Bad times can prompt a person to pray and develop a greater awareness of, and a closer relationship to, God. Imagine a mother of two teenage daughters. The mother senses that the older daughter will benefit greatly from a close relationship to the mother, while the younger daughter will benefit from more “space.” What does she do? To the younger daughter she gives a car and a credit card to buy gas and get out more. To the older daughter she gives none of these. Which daughter do you think she will end up spending more time with?

    Best wishes from the AskTheRabbi.org Team