Soren’s Prayers

Prayers from the Journals come Thomas Croxall’s 1955 book Meditations from KierkegaardI like the writings of Kierkegaard and was surprised to see how many prayers he wrote. Here are a few of them.


Prayer: Father in heaven, when the thought of thee wakens in our soul, let it not waken as an agitated bird, which flutters confusedly about, but as a child waking from sleep with a celestial smile (Soren Kierkegaard, Journals II A 320; J 248)

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A statue of Soren Kierkegaard in the Royal Library Garden

This prayer was part of Kierkegaard’s Edifying Discourses in Diverse Spirits (1847). The first part of that book was translated in 1938 by Douglas Steere.


Prayer: FATHER IN HEAVEN! What is a man without thee! What is all that he knows, vast accumulation though it be, but a chipped fragment if he does not know Thee! What is all his striving, could it even encompass a world, but a half-finished work if he does not know Thee: Thee the One, who are one thing and who art all!

So may Thou give to the intellect, wisdom to comprehend that one thing; to the heart, sincerity to receive this understanding; to the will, purity that wills only one thing. In prosperity may Thou grant perseverance to will one thing; amid distractions, collectedness to will one thing, in suffering, patience to will one thing.

Oh, Thou that giveth both the beginning and the completion, may Thou early, at the dawn of day, give to the young man the resolution to will one thing. As the day wanes, may Thou give to the old man a renewed remembrance of his first resolution, that the first may be like the last, the last like the first, in possession of a life that has willed only one thing.

Alas, but this has indeed not come to pass. Something has come in between. The separation of sin lies in between. Each day, and day after day something is being placed in between: delay, blockage, interruption, delusion, corruption. So in this time of repentance may Thou give the courage once again to will one thing.
(Soren Kierkegaard, Purity of Heart is to Will One Thing 1847 1938 Douglas V. Steere translation P. 31)


last judgment Stefan Lochner, ca 1435
The right hand and the left

Prayer: Father in Heaven! How is a man nought without thee! How is all he knows but a broken fragment, if he knows not thee! How is all he understands only a half task, if thou art not the master of the building! Do thou then move those who  live without God in the world that they might seek thee.

Form the heart of those who see thee that they might wait for thee. For well do we know that all seeking has its promise. Why then not the seeking that seeks thee! But we know also that all seeking has its pain, and so too does the seeking that seeks thee. Well do we know that to seek does not mean that a man must go into the wide world; for the more glorious the thing he seeks, the nearer to him does it lie. And if he seek thee, O Lord, thou art the nearest of all things to him. But for that very reason he perhaps has not yet found thee. So teach him to wait. Though the years pass, grant that he may wait. Though the opportune time of joy pass, grant that he may wait. Even though he lose everything that is not worth gaining, if he yet waited for thee, then he did not lose. (Soren Kierkegaard, Journals VI. B. 160)


Prayer
Father in heaven! From thee comes only a good and perfect gift. Whomsoever thou dost vouchsafe to appoint as a teacher of men, as a guide to those who are worried, such a person’s guidance and teaching it must indeed be profitable to follow. Grant then thy grace to whose who are worried, that they may learn of those divinely appointed teachers, of the lilies and the birds of the heavens! Amen. (Soren Kierkegaard, Journals VIII. p. 290; CL p. 11)


Prayer: Only in frail earthen vessels do we men carry what is sacred. But thou, O Holy Spirit, when thou dwellest in man, dost dwell in what is of infinitely smaller worth than that. Spirit of wisdom, thou dwellest in foolishness. Spirit of truth, thou dwellest in self-deceit. O continue to dwell with us, thou who dost not seek the comfort of a pleasant dwelling place, which indeed thou wouldst seek in vain. Thou who by creating and giving new birth dost make for thyself thy dwelling, O continue to dwell with us. And may it so end that thou findest pleasure in the dwelling which thou hast prepared for thyself in my polluted, foolish, and self-deceived heart. (Soren Kierkegaard, Journals X2. A. 344)


Prayer: O my God, even when I went wrong, they governance was with me; it was thy governance that allowed this to happen, and immediately embodied it lovingly in thy fatherly purpose for me, lovingly overruling innumerable possibilities, so that even this error became beneficial to me. (Soren Kierkegaard, Journals X3. A. 222)

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PRAYER Lord Jesus, there is so much to draw us back: empty achievements, meaningless pleasures, unworthy concerns. There is so much to scare us back: a pride that is too cowardly to let itself be helped, a cowardly timidity that shirks to its own ruin, an anxiety of sin that shuns the purity of holiness as illness shuns remedy. But you are still the strongest-so draw us, and even more strongly, to yourself. We call you our Savior and Redeemer, and you came to earth in order to free us from the chains in which we were bound or in which we had bound ourselves and in order to rescue the redeemed. This was your task, which you have completed and which you will complete until the end of time, for just as you yourself have said it, so will you do it: lifted up from the earth, you will draw all to yourself.  (Soren Kierkegaard, Practice in Christianity 1850 Hong p. 151)


681px-DanimarcaCopenhagenCattedraleRedentorePrayer:
Lord Jesus Christ! How various are the many things to which a person can feel drawn, but there is one thing to which no one ever felt naturally drawn, and that is to suffering and abasement. We human beings think that we ought to flee from that as long as possible and in ant case must be forced into it. But you, our Savior and Redeemer, you the abased one, who will not force anyone, and least of all into what must be a person’s high honor: to dare to want to be like you-would that the image of you in your abasement might stand before us so vividly, so awakening and persuasive, that we will feel ourselves drawn to you in lowliness, drawn to want to be like you in lowliness, you who from on high will draw all to yourself.  (Soren Kierkegaard, Practice in Christianity 1850 Hong p. 167)


This prayer is a good summation of what Kierkegaard was trying to do in Fear and Trembling. He published that book in 1843. Abraham was alone with God even though he was with Isaac.. It was about Abraham’s uncertainty concerning the sacrifice of Isaac. Now he discusses the wise and foolish virgins as well as the sleeping disciples.

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Prayer:
Thou my God and Father! The question of my salvation concerns no other being but me–and thee. Should there then not remain uncertainty in fear and trembling until the last, I being what I am, and thou what thou art, I on earth, thou in heaven–a difference infinitely great — I a sinner, thou the Holy One? Should there not, ought there not, must there not, be fear and trembling till the last? Was it not the fault of the foolish virgins that they became sure, and went to sleep, while the wise virgins kept awake? But what is it to keep awake? It is uncertainty in fear and trembling. And what is faith but an empty fantasy, if it be not awake? And when faith is not awake, what is it but that same pernicious feeling of security which ruined the foolish virgins? (Soren Kierkegaard, Journals X. p. 247; CD. p. 219) possibly 1849


This prayer is also typical of Kierkegaard’s beliefs. He saw that Christianity helps build character in the one who can stand firm, even against the understanding.

Journals_and_Papers

Prayer:
Teach me, Lord, that the fight of faith is not a fight with doubt, thought against thought, but a fight for a character. Enable me to see that human vanity consists in wanting to understand. Save me from the vanity of not being willing to obey like a child, and of wanting to be like a grown man who can understand. Help me to realize that he who will not obey when he cannot understand does not, in any essential sense, obey thee at all.

Make me a ‘believer’, a “character man,” who, unreservedly obedient, sees it as necessary for his character’s sake that he must be unable to understand. Make me willing to believe what I cannot understand and to stand firm when such blind obedience is called obscurantism, and folly. Let not the world tempt me with human fear to become so vain as to think I can understand; for that were to fear men morn than thee. (Soren Kierkegaard, Journals X1 A 367 as.)

 

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