Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Praying

     Here I am again, sitting in my room, contemplating how I am going to word this new blog post. It was supposed to be the first day of my new job but my boss called to tell me not to come in today due to yesterday's snowstorm. I don't update my blog as often these days because I feel like I've covered all the controversial topics that I feel passionate about. I don't seek out to be controversial just for the sake of being controversial. It's just kind of boring to write about things people will agree with.
     One of the things that concerns me, and I know I've talked about this before, is peoples certainty about the power of prayer. A few years ago I was thinking a lot about this and wrote several posts on the topic. Then a friend almost had me convinced that prayer does work and I wrote a post how he changed my mind....But I've changed my mind back. To me, the idea that "God" has an active influence in the world today just doesn't make sense.
     I hear it all the time in facebook statuses, "Please pray for me..." or "Thank you for your prayers for..." I can't avoid hearing people's delusions. And I don't mean any disrespect to these people. They really think prayer changes things. I respect their beliefs but I don't agree with them.
     When a person prays under the inquiry of a brain scanner you will see a certain part of the brain light up and you will see stress levels start to go down. What does this tell us? It's all a science. That spiritual feeling and connection to "God" that you get when you pray or when you're in a worship service is all just your powerful brain at work.
     But what about when it seems that your prayers have in fact been answered? Another question might be, What about when they aren't answered? The cop-out answer might be, "Well God doesn't always answer our prayers the way we would like. He works in mysterious ways." I heard that many times when I was growing up. Let me just say this, when I get depressed or stressed out I feel like life really sucks, but then something good always comes around and picks me up again....And I didn't even pray to God to help me get through the hard times. That's just how life works. Things are bad, then their good. Ever heard Frank Sinatra's song "That's Life"? It's one of my favorites. So when you pray and it appears that it was answered, that happens weather you pray or not. I can't say it enough, life goes on!
     Lastly, and this I've definitely talked about before, but it really bugs me when people thank "God" for things such as food. Thousands of people die everyday from starvation. When you thank "God" for food you are basically saying that he picks favorites, that he makes a conscious decision as to who gets food and who doesn't. You can be glad and dare I say, thankful, that you have the nourishment of food but don't be putting the blame on a higher being.
     Thank you for reading. If you have any thoughts let me know. I love discussions. You can't learn from anyone who agrees with you.

2 comments:

  1. I don't usually post, so I figured I'd jump in the fray tonight:

    1) What do you mean by praying? Do you mean asking God for something and then hoping you get it? If so, maybe you have issues with that approach to prayer and not with prayer itself. If a prayer leads you to peace, that prayer has literally changed your world, calmed your mind, and given you a firmer grip on your reality. Does that count as the prayer having worked? In my opinion, yes. (Mediation has some similar effects, but since prayer is steeped in biblical teachings, you are basing your mediation on doctrine instead of waiting to find all the answers within. I can't get myself to think I somehow know all the answers, so the choice for me here is pretty clear.)

    Deciding that prayer doesn't work because someone might not get what she or he wants seems kind of counter-intuitive to me too. It's basically saying that someone who believes in a higher power has the right to feel slighted if he doesn't get what was asked for. That doesn't make sense because would be like saying that a kid is entitled to feel cheated if the parent doesn't acquiesce. That kid has entitlement issues, in my opinion.

    Wouldn't it, then, make more sense to see prayer as the mechanism for conversation with God, whereby you get closer to Him, and through which you get a better idea of what He wants to do? If you return to the kid analogy, it would be like the kid trying to get an idea of what the parent wants for the kid. In my experience, an adult generally has better plans for a kid than the kid has for himself. (This presupposes a belief in a God who knows what the best course of action is and wants us to move in that direction. Then again, so does feeling bummed when you don't get what you asked for, you just project your desires on God.)

    2) That's Life is a great song, but gives you terrible advice on how to live your life. It's an easy answer that lets you justify mediocrity. Why not pray to figure out a way forward? Anything is better than sitting down and watching life pass by without you.

    3) What if people thank God for their food because they know how fortunate they are? Is it selfish to thank someone for a gift knowing there are people around you who couldn't afford to receive that very gift?

    Your post also seems to blame God for good and evil. That's not in the Bible. But this is a discussion for another time.

    -
    Jacob

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    1. Jacob, thank you for your response. Are you a Jacob that I know? I think you're right about how I have problems with the approach to prayer. I agree that in some sense prayer does work, but it's a placebo. It wasn't divine intervention that helped you but it was the thought that there was divine intervention.

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