Even as a believer I was somewhat vexed about prayer. It’s an interesting idea I’ll admit – bringing your worries, praise, wounds, wants, needs and humbleness before the Almighty. Inviting Him into all corners of your life and laying yourself bare for spiritual cleansing and the hopeful guidance of His desire for your life.

What I’d always struggled with is that if god has a plan laid out for everyone, as it seems widely believed by most evangelicals I’ve ever known, I guess I wonder what good prayer can do. Speaking specifically about prayer requests, I wonder how prayer to god can be beneficial? What difference does it make?

If there’s a plan already in motion by god and your prayer isn’t in line with that plan is it ignored? If my family is in a car crash and are in the hospital on life support and it’s part of god’s plan to let them die to grow me, then my prayers for them to be healed are quite literally wasted breath. They’re heard and ignored or maybe they’re just not heard at all.

If the outcome of any prayer request is yes, maybe or no, how can you decipher what’s god and what’s blind luck or modern medicine? Praying to my son’s Curious George stuffed animal would have the same results. Some hit. Some miss. Some take more time.

Here’s a Study of the Therapeutic Effects of Intercessory Prayer in cardiac bypass patients. The study was a randomized trial of uncertainty and certainty of receiving intercessory prayer. The results are telling:

“In the 2 groups uncertain about receiving intercessory prayer, complications occurred in 52% (315/604) of patients who received intercessory prayer versus 51% (304/597) of those who did not (relative risk 1.02, 95% CI 0.92-1.15). Complications occurred in 59% (352/601) of patients certain of receiving intercessory prayer compared with the 52% (315/604) of those uncertain of receiving intercessory prayer (relative risk 1.14, 95% CI 1.02-1.28). Major events and 30-day mortality were similar across the 3 groups.”

The group that received prayers and were certain that they were receiving prayers had the worst recovery rates. How could this be? From other sources I’ve read they link it to anxiety about getting better knowing people are praying for you. A morbid take on stage fright.

Let’s not forget that these prayers for aid are going to the same god that allowed something bad to happen to you or a loved one in the first place. It’s like a boy asking his dad for an ice pack after he was slapped in the face by his father. Seems a bit masochistic to me.

People of all different faiths pray to their gods and have their prayers answered. Are all gods right? If there’s no way to judge which god better answers prayers how do we validate one god over the other? If there’s no evidence for any gods how do you test the truth of one over the other? An honest person would have to conclude that you can’t know.

It’s just that I’ve tired of hearing people tell me they’re praying for me about my unbelief. In what ways may god reveal himself that I hadn’t already prayed and begged for when I was in need most? Also, if you feel that god really has it in control and within his power then why even tell me you’re praying for me? It serves no purpose, but to make one feel better in a situation they can’t control. It feels nice to tell people you’re praying for them. It feels like something has been done to help. “I’m praying for you” sounds so much better than “hang in there.”

There’s a saying I’ve become familiar with and it sums up my feelings perfectly:

“Two hands working can do more than a thousand clasped in prayer.”

Helping in tangible ways with money, time, food or some other investment in a person is and will always be more helpful than prayer ever could.


2 thoughts on “Prayer

  1. Hey! It`s interesting to read your blogs. I am a christian and just want to tell you, what I think about prayer.

    I believe, that God lives outside of time. He created time for His universe, for us. He hears our prayers outside of time, and in that way he was able to iniciate all the things a long time before the prayer was prayed – to have the prayer answered – that is, how I believe, it works.

    Why some prayers are answered, some aren`t – sorry, I have to quote the Bible, because that the basics of my belief, so The Bible in Romans 8:28 says (and you probably know it πŸ˜€ ) And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. (ESV translation). I believe, that God wants the best for us already on this earth, not to say about afterlife, and He has a better overlook from “out there”, so He can tell, whether what we want and ask for is good for us and whether now is the time for that. (If I`m 10 and ask for a girlfriend, I think, you`ll agree, that it`s not good for me for that moment, but you can`t say, that it isn`t good at all).

    But yeah, I totally agree with your last point, and also Bible in James 2:16-17 says the same πŸ™‚ If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food,Β and one of you says to them, β€œGo in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that?

  2. Thanks for this link Nate-dogg. As usual, this is wonderful, eyeopening shtuff. I feel ya. I’m never more nauseated than when my wife’s Mom condescendingly tells her, “We are praying for you”. Gee, thanks. Oh, you’re praying because our car broke down? Hey, skip the prayers, you know any good mechanics? You’re praying to make sure our out of state move goes well? Umm, how about you come down here and help us unpack-we could use a hand, that would be a bit more apropos than a prayer heard on deaf ears. What’s that, you are praying that our drive home in the winter goes well? How about you call the city and make sure they salt the roads? I would rather have someone tell me that I’m a moron that deserves to die than to tell me “I’m praying for you”. I’ll take real, honest emotion any day over passive-aggressive Bee Ess. As if these people who pray for us are such great people that they have some sort of power to make their God change things in our lives with a good night suggestion to him.

    What really chaps me is when their prayers don’t work(which is about 49-51% of the time)- they always have an excuse as to why it failed. “God didn’t see i fit at that time, but I’ll keep praying”. Really? God didn’t see it fit to heal my cancerous tumor? Ok. God didn’t see it fit to save a murdered child and have him survive instead and brought back to his/her loving, hurting parents? Why not? I’ll tell you why not. Ready for the worst of all offenders? When people pray for a child not to die and then they finally do, so what do the Christians say then? “God must have needed another angel in heaven.” Wow, how comforting. That one is the worst for me.

    If Christians think that prayer works so well, why not have all of them pray one prayer instead of thousands of different prayers? Maybe one like this: “Dear God, please don’t let any harm, in any way, come to any living thing in this universe ever again. Amen”.

    Sorry about the book πŸ™‚

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