But for some, prayer can be intimidating and often difficult, especially if they feel their prayers in the past were offered in vain. In this sense, instead of bringing them closer to God, it can lead to estrangement.
That is exactly what the Archbishop addresses. He states that often, we try to impose our will on God and convince Him that what we are asking for is what we need:
Too often, however, we fall into a “Pagan way” of prayer: negotiating with God, we seek to “bribe” him by making promises we know that we cannot or will not fulfill; or we seek to wear him down with our insistent pleadings. How many times do we come across a person who has lost faith because of a prayer that apparently went unanswered? More likely, prayers were answered but not the way the person wanted them answered. If we pray: “My will be done”, the Lord who knows better than us what we truly need, might answer: “No”. And such a “no” does not mean that God doesn’t love us or that he has abandoned us. As any parent knows, “No” many times is the more loving response even when a child wants to hear “Yes”.
A Christian’s prayer is like trying to bring a boat into dock. When a boat gets close to the dock or pier, someone throws out a rope (or a line, as those who are familiar with boating would insist.) The line is thrown out on to the dock and is tied to a piling. Then, the man in the boat pulls on the line – and in pulling the line, the boat comes up alongside the dock. Pulling the line does not move the dock, it moves the boat. And pulling on that line more often than not requires great effort and perseverance – especially if the waters are particularly choppy.That, the Archbishop argues, is the key to prayer; helping us nurture our relationship with God and understanding His Will not ours. It’s not about changing God, it’s about changing us.