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  • Virginia Brown

The Universal Desire to Pray

God’s truth is all around us. Even unbelievers confess this truth. They might not be aware that they confess God’s truth, but they do. This was made clear to me recently.


I’m currently reading The Art of Impossible. The book is about peak performance and how to achieve it. The author is not a Christian. In one section, the author, Steven Kotler, discusses how the cultivation of empathy is an important attribute for success in life. He then proceeds to discuss how to cultivate empathy. He recommends something called “compassion-enhancing meditation.” This is what he writes:

“Bring to mind someone who has been kind to you and toward whom you feel gratitude.

Silently wish them well and wish for their safety, happiness, health and well-being. Next, do

the same for other people you love, mainly friends and family members. Work outward:

coworkers, acquaintances, strangers, the man who works at the dry cleaner’s, the woman

who repairs your computer. Finally, bestow those same wishes upon yourself.”


What on earth does that sound like!? It sounds like prayer. Kotler recommends a godless form of prayer to develop empathy. Silently meditate and wish other people well—that’s very close to what prayer is.


Theologically, what does this observation from Kotler’s book mean? It means that there is a universal desire for prayer in the human heart. Christians and non-Christians feel this. Why do we all feel this way? Because God made all of mankind in His image (Gen 1:27). God put this desire in our heart for us to find him. This desire is supposed to drive us to God so that we find satisfaction in him. As Augustine so eloquently put it, “You have made us for Yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in You.” I feel this. You feel this. Even Kotler feels this. God’s truth is everywhere.


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