When Our Prayers Raise Questions for Our Souls

Friday is for Thinking

Soren KierkegaardThere are times when the prayers we utter challenge our Christian life. We start praying, we start down a path in prayer and suddenly a number of things happen:

  • our prayers become saturated with a biblical text,
  • the Spirit then brings another text or thought to mind and 
  • suddenly we understand the depth of what we are praying (or should be praying) and 
  • our souls are deeply challenged by a new perspective on what God’s forgiveness means for us and what it means for our forgiveness of others.

I think something like that is going on in this short prayer of Soren Kierkegaard.

“God of Love! Thou hast commanded us to forgive our enemies, our brother in error, not seven times, but seventy times seven: When then wilt Thou tire of pardoning a truly repentant sinner?”

—Perry D. LeFevre, The Prayers of Kierkegaard, 29
(University of Chicago Press, 1956).

Maybe he had been struggling with forgiveness. 
Maybe he had been thinking of the love of God.
Maybe he just read the Scripture in Matthew 18:21-35.
Maybe he had an enemy who was particularly implacable.

But what seems clear is that each sentence or paragraph leads to a deeper reflection. And the final question in the prayer is filled with wonder, and awe, and joy, and conviction.

“When then wilt Thou tire of pardoning
a truly repentant sinner?”

It’s rhetorical. It demands the answer, ‘Never!’

And that truth is worth awe. It is worth everything.


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