What is meant by objective prayer? Isn’t prayer by its very nature subjective?
There are different kinds of prayer and they serve different purposes. Let’s start with petitionary prayer. I pray for something for myself or for others. My prayer is therefore a wish. To whom do I pray? Perhaps I think of myself praying to God, the Absolute, His Endlessness or the Universe. The concept does not matter. In my opinion, it has no relevance. What matters is that I reach outside myself, I ask for help.
Asking is the beginning of humility and it has the possibility of aligning my wish with greater forces. The way is opened to relationship and relationship can bring an action of the heart.
Petitionary prayer is subjective. I do not know what is best. I do not know what the consequences will be if my wish is fulfilled.
Isn’t this kind of prayer an expression of weakness?
Yes, and isn’t that much of its value? If I wish for something, who better to ask than the One to whom I pray? Self-reliance is a great thing. Taking responsibility is admirable. But these qualities assume their rightful place when I recognize my limitations. Otherwise, do I not become arrogant and foolish?
Now, there is another form of prayer which takes me deeper. It can be seen in the Jesus prayer, “Our Father…” This prayer has petitionary aspects but it also has something else, which is found in the line “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” This means I no longer pray only for what I wish. I pray that His purpose should be fulfilled. To me, this is objective. It is also recognition that, in this world, His will is not fully sovereign.
I think we can go still further. Objective Prayer would seek to fulfill His purpose within the prayer itself. What would such a prayer consist of? Would it not serve His pleasure? This prayer would express His qualities, such as love and glorification, which are not often found in this world. This prayer would celebrate my relationship with Him, revealing part of His nature to Himself through me, as a kind of mirror. In this prayer, my longing is His response and in this reciprocity there is mutual satisfaction.
This is the purpose of zikr?
Yes. By invocation, it may be possible to bring the bounty of His qualities into being. This would be objective prayer.