“Does Prayer and Seeking God through Prayer Bring Happiness?” by Andrew J. Schatkin
My dear friends and fellow thinkers and you of all faiths and ideas and opinions, Christians and non-Christians, alike I wish to speak of something dear to the hearts and minds and souls and spirits of most if not many, many who define their activities as to how they may bring them happiness. John Stuart Mill formulated his philosophical system utilitarianism to bring the greatest happiness to the greatest number. The basic thrust of most people in their lives is how to be and gain happiness. Some seek happiness in the acquisition of material goods, others in hedonism and sex, others in their family life, and others in outdoing others in the competitive race. Jesus says differently. He says love neighbor as yourself; love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. He says Christians will be persecuted and suffer. The undesirable follow him and he is taken up on eating and dining with publicans and sinners. It is most clear from what Jesus said how he lived that faith in Christ, far from bringing some sort of happiness in the flesh, will bring in its train suffering and persecution. Jesus predicted the persecution on his church which occurred in the history of the church in its first 400 years and continues to this day. Does our faith in prayer and in our Christian lives bring happiness in the sense we may expect? Jesus says the Christian faith may not bring happiness but rather suffering and even death. When we pray to god and Christ, we will be remade and transformed, but this transformation, it is clear ,will not pleasant we are not to expect or understand or even think that faith and prayer will bring us worldly happiness as we may desperately want. God and Christ in response to our faith and prayers is not handing out candy canes and Christmas gifts, but in fact he tells us the way of the Christian life is hard, difficult, and is a life of service where we are commanded to live our lives in the service of others using our talents as a gift of god is demanding. Prayer is not a means of worldly happiness, nor is any aspect of the Christian life. Prayer and our faith is much greater than getting our holiday gifts. It is the route to know god and come to know his purposes for us which may not at all resemble happiness as we may perhaps expect. Prayer is a mode of knowing god’s challenge for us, which we must undertake, the narrow and hard and difficult road to eternal life, and the joy of heaven; not the wide road to the superficial happiness that most men and women are fixed on.