[P]rayer ‘fortifies’ faith and chases away doubt, even if the prayer itself acknowledges the existence of doubt. But a poem cannot be fortifying in the same way. It must have itself open to interpretation. It recognizes the problem of being human, without trying to solve that problem, while a prayer does try to solve that problem.
That’s an acute distinction, but there’s lots of “poetry” that seeks “to solve” (and actually does console “doubt”, in the sense or case that “doubt” provokes suffering).
To me, “prayer” is ‘attention to the sacred’, and is not dichotomously either present or not, but rather, admits of less or more in poetry. “The sacred”, I would call ‘reality, directly present to the mind’, ‘mindful experience of reality unmediated’. So “prayer” is an attempt through the senses and through language to attend reality without mediation–cognition is shot through with prayerful impossibility.
–and, of course, many prayers are expressed as “poems”, and, regardless of the pray-er’s attempt “[to] chase away doubt”, “open[ness] to interpretation”–I’d say: compulsion to interpretation–inheres in these “prayers” and attaches to all but the most obdurately resistant to a play of understanding these “poems”.