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What’s the point of prayer? May 17, 2017

Posted by Ubi Dubium in Responses.
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I recently left this as a comment on Wondering Eagle’s blog post about prayer.  Since I haven’t blogged much recently, and I’m pretty pleased with the comment, I thought I should give it its own post.

I’ve always been puzzled about the disconnect between what evangelicals say about god, and what they say about prayer. They say their god is all-powerful, all knowing, benevolent, and has a perfect plan for their lives. Then they spend time telling god things and begging god to change stuff. If god already knows what people need, why spend time telling him what you want? If god has a perfect plan, then why are they asking him to change it, just for them? And why do they think a request to change his perfect plan is more effective if they have more people doing it? Is god not going to “bless America” unless a bunch of christian politicians make sure to ask him to in their every speech? (This is why I laugh at the whole “prayer warrior” idea. It’s just magical thinking.) They say “trust god” and “let go and let god” and then they spend long hours in prayer not trusting him and giving him advice on what to do.

Back when I was a believer, the only kinds of prayer that actually made sense were things like “Help me understand. Help me be strong to do the things that I need to do. Help me cope with what I can’t change.”

Now the way evangelicals pray would make a lot more sense if they were talking about a limited god, like the ones in the Greek pantheon. Those gods didn’t have perfect plans, didn’t know everything you were thinking, and if you sucked up to them enough, and sacrificed enough cattle, they might be willing to take your advice about what to do. Modern evangelicals often sound like they are preaching about YHWH and Jesus, but then praying and tithing to Zeus.

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Comments»

1. Sam - May 17, 2017

Great comment 🙂

Liked by 1 person

2. Real World Realist - May 17, 2017

The reason we ask things, to change things perhaps, is because we are human, there is a plan for everyone, most don’t know what it is, and when thrown something you don’t like.. you ask hey, can you do something about this, and if it’s something that can be changed without it tampering with your plan, then he will change it, he can change your plan altogether if he wants, prayer does work, and God is very real, I was also questionable about God at one point, even as a Christian, my mind is programmed differently than most, I had to see something to actually believe it, and it took awhile, but i finally did, you have to think of God as you are taught.. he’s your Father, but look at him as your physical father, you have to be taught lessons to open your eyes and learn what not to do anymore, and the punishments may be taking something or someone away from you, think if it like this with prayer, you can say cure my lung disease, while your smoking.. you get in prayer, what you give God every day in your life, if you give him leftovers, and garbage, you get nothing, or something bad, you get what you give

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Ubi Dubium - May 17, 2017

I think it’s more that we are human, and we like to feel like we can control things that aren’t actually in our control. Nobody bothers praying for the sun to come up each day, because that’s reliable and predictable. But when we’re dealing with big unpredictable things prayer gives people the illusion of control.

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Real World Realist - May 17, 2017

You said it in the first part, we aren’t in control, Christians know and believe we have no control, only God does, prayer doesn’t give Christians the illusion of control, because we already know we aren’t in control

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Ubi Dubium - May 17, 2017

It gives you the illusion that there is something you can do, even if that something is only asking for someone else to take care of it. Even though it doesn’t do anything, praying makes you feel like you have done something.

For some people that’s all they’ve got, especially for people who are disadvantaged and unable to change much about their lives. I think it’s one of the reasons why religion can have such a hold on people who find themselves in oppressive circumstances. When people have more prosperity and security, they have less need to resort to wishful thinking.

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Real World Realist - May 17, 2017

It does do something, many argue science against Christianity, Science is fact, and Christianity is fiction, or at least more untrue than true is the argument, a year ago I took my dog to the vet because she was very bad off, and they said her kidneys are at disaster level, and it’s recommended we put her to sleep, I didn’t of course, which was on Friday, we took her home, and had another appointment Monday, so I prayed she would be healed, and we took her back and the doctor said.. and I’m quoting “well, there seems to be nothing wrong with her anymore, I have no explanation” science has no answer for this, she’s still alive also.. I had ptsd, agoraphobia, OCD, anxiety disorder, depression disorder, and bipolar disorder type 2.. for 6 years, I never took any therapy, except devoting myself to God, and I’ve been cleared of all mental illnesses, just because your prayers may have not been answered means nothing, and there are many christian millionaires who are still christian, they don’t lack needing God, why don’t you believe?

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Mechanicdude - May 18, 2017

RWR- I didnt realize that you could cure diseases, injuries and heal the walking wounded. Wow. Sounds like you will be one of those millionaires you were talking about very soon. -MD

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Mechanicdude - May 17, 2017

RWR- “he can change your plan altogether if he wants” or is it “if its something that can be changed without tampering with your plan, then he will change it”? So if the punishment is taking something or someone away then what is the prayer? Please dont take the things and people I love from me? If you havent noticed that prayer is all worn out and hasnt worked in centuries. -MD

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Real World Realist - May 17, 2017

To say it hasn’t worked, is to say you know every follower of God, since the beginning.. if you haven’t noticed, you don’t lol

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Ubi Dubium - May 18, 2017

I know that people used to pray to Thor, to Zeus, to Osiris, to Marduk, and to thousands of other gods, and they believed that their prayers were answered too. And you can’t show they weren’t!

I also know about confirmation bias. It’s human nature to remember only the hits and to forget all the misses. It’s only when you start paying attention to the misses that you have a real picture of how effective prayer isn’t.

Besides, if prayer worked, with all the people over the centuries praying fervently for world peace don’t you think we should have it by now?

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Mechanicdude - May 18, 2017

RWR- Thats funny? Your god is a real pistol. I would love to hear what you pray for and how you do it and what the results usually are. -MD

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3. shelldigger - May 18, 2017

Exactly! If your god, whichever one it may be, is so all powerful, all knowledgeable, and already (supposedly) knows what is best for you… Who the hell are you to ask he/she/it to change it?

Prayer amounts to wishful thinking, nothing more, nothing less. Except the part where is it tied in to the belief in non existant deities.

It can also be used as a X-ian burn, as in “I’ll pray for you” said with a sneer on their face.

Wish/pray in one hand, shit in the other, see which one fills up first…

Liked by 2 people

4. Mechanicdude - May 18, 2017

UBI- The animals do it, people do it and we are sending out microphones into space because we have found that the universe does it. We kind of have to make are lives a prayer to life. I dont see any other way. -MD

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