Leon of Modena, a Jewish scholar writing in the 16th and 17th centuries, spoke of prayer as a person pulling a boat back to shore by means of a rope.
“To someone standing far off, it might appear that he is moving the shore closer, but of course it is only the boat that moves. Similarly, Leon explains, people think they are moving God when they are in fact moving themselves. We are the boats and God is the shore.
God does not need our flattery, but we need reminders of God’s greatness. God does not change in response to our prayers, but we do. God remains unfathomable, but with each earnest prayer we come to understand ourselves better. With each pull, we draw closer to God. And if our prayer draws us closer to God, then the prayer has been answered.”
from “Should We Flatter God?” by David J. Wolpe in Floating Takes Faith: Ancient Wisdom for a Modern World. Behrman House, 2004.