POWER OF PRAYER

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Paula Pickle
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POWER OF PRAYER

Postby Paula Pickle » Sun Jan 22, 2012 11:03 am

Could I ask the Christians amongst us to throw some light on prayer. May I ask all the non-believers reading this to refrain from commenting as I suspect it will simply swamp the discussion.
My friend was quite ill a few days ago and, though not a practicing Christian I said the following prayer, silently.
"God, please help Pam to feel and get better".
I don't understand prayer and I ask Christians which of the following they believe is most accurate:-
a) God made Pam better,
b) God does not answer small prayers like mine.
c) As He gets millions of requests every second he simply can't cope with all prayers
d) God cannot hear silent prayers and they have to be spoken out loud.
e) He simply decided to say no.
f) He decided Pam or I am are not a good enough person to help.
g) He may have helped Pam in a way I will never know.
h) Even Christians don't believe prayer actually works
i) For God to answer the prayer, I would have to totally believe he would help Pam.

There must be lots of other alternatives answers, but prayer is a total mystery. As far as I can see, it never works for me.


Thanks,

Paula

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Louise
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Re: POWER OF PRAYER

Postby Louise » Sun Jan 22, 2012 12:27 pm

How is she now? Better I hope.

Prayer certainly does no harm and may even do good. All that positive energy and good will focusing on a person may do them good.

It may have another purpose, when my sister was dying I had masses said for her. She found that really comforting and knowing that people knew about her and were acting on her behalf did lift her mood which was really beneficial.

Keep on praying and don't worry about analysing it too much. If it feels right then it is right.

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annie
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Re: POWER OF PRAYER

Postby annie » Sun Jan 22, 2012 10:00 pm

Again... I can't really say what I want to here, except this. There's far more productive things one can do for someone than praying. Practically anything.
One must always be wary of the march of the right-wing. I advocate public flogging/confiscation of assets/rehoming of their young

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Louise
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Re: POWER OF PRAYER

Postby Louise » Mon Jan 23, 2012 12:01 pm

I spent some time as a telephone counsellor on a crisis line. People would phone up and present with a practical problem that they wanted advice on. When they had been talking for a while it would transpire that the reason for the call was not always to get practical advice but just to talk about their feelings. They presented with the problem as they felt it gave them a legitimate excuse to make the call. The person who answered the call had to bear this in mind and not jump in with practical advice too soon and make the caller feel they had to end the call before they got round to really talking about the real problem, whether they were lonely or sad or whatever.

If there is no practical solution to a problem it would be a shame if people felt there was nothing else they could offer.

p7r
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Re: POWER OF PRAYER

Postby p7r » Mon Jan 23, 2012 2:52 pm

In trials of homeopathy (I don't want to hijack this thread and start that whole debate here), one of the major factors considered is that homeopaths spend much more time listening to a patient and the problems they perceive than a GP normally has time to, and this has had a demonstrable effect on patient well-being. In fact, many have argued that it points to GPs needing more time with patients, and this in the long-run would save the NHS a considerable sum.

Anyway, the lesson is, when people are listened to, they feel counted, their well-being improves and this has a massive impact on their likelihood of recovery if ill.

For those praying the "listener" is the deity to which they are praying (I know you restricted this thread to Christian answers, but I refuse to allow you to diminish other religions by doing so), and for those who are being prayed for it is those around them doing the praying who are listening.

Incidentally, this is one of the most fascinating articles I've ever read on Wikipedia, and walks the fine line of impartiality on a controversial and sensitive subjective quite admirably: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Efficacy_of_prayer

Stanley
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Re: POWER OF PRAYER

Postby Stanley » Mon Jan 23, 2012 3:24 pm

Paula, yours is a difficult question but, fortunately, the efficacy of prayer has been tested. The evidence is overwhelming. It simply does not work.

In fact, the evidence seems to suggest that it can make things worse for those who know they are being prayed for:

http://web.med.harvard.edu/sites/RELEAS ... 1STEP.html

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16569567
Keep an open mind...but not so open that your brain falls out.

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annie
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Re: POWER OF PRAYER

Postby annie » Mon Jan 23, 2012 3:50 pm

p7r wrote:In trials of homeopathy (I don't want to hijack this thread and start that whole debate here), one of the major factors considered is that homeopaths spend much more time listening to a patient and the problems they perceive than a GP normally has time to, and this has had a demonstrable effect on patient well-being. In fact, many have argued that it points to GPs needing more time with patients, and this in the long-run would save the NHS a considerable sum.


I would never consider wasting a GPs time with my "problems". They are there to diagnose illness. Maybe we should have "General Chatty People" for those who do not have a physical illness.
One must always be wary of the march of the right-wing. I advocate public flogging/confiscation of assets/rehoming of their young

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annie
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Re: POWER OF PRAYER

Postby annie » Mon Jan 23, 2012 3:52 pm

Stanley wrote:Paula, yours is a difficult question but, fortunately, the efficacy of prayer has been tested. The evidence is overwhelming. It simply does not work.

In fact, the evidence seems to suggest that it can make things worse for those who know they are being prayed for:

http://web.med.harvard.edu/sites/RELEAS ... 1STEP.html

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16569567


Exellent, Stanley - logic and sense.
One must always be wary of the march of the right-wing. I advocate public flogging/confiscation of assets/rehoming of their young

yoss
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Re: POWER OF PRAYER

Postby yoss » Mon Jan 23, 2012 4:07 pm

In fact, the evidence seems to suggest that it can make things worse for those who know they are being prayed for:


I wonder what the mechanism is behind that phenomena.

(Apologies for contributing where the o/p requested non-believers do not).

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annie
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Re: POWER OF PRAYER

Postby annie » Mon Jan 23, 2012 4:16 pm

yoss wrote:

(Apologies for contributing where the o/p requested non-believers do not).



Yeah I saw that, but if someone is going to raise what is an extremely contentious subject in a public forum, it's a bit naive to expect that to happen.
One must always be wary of the march of the right-wing. I advocate public flogging/confiscation of assets/rehoming of their young

p7r
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Re: POWER OF PRAYER

Postby p7r » Mon Jan 23, 2012 5:14 pm

annie wrote:Yeah I saw that, but if someone is going to raise what is an extremely contentious subject in a public forum, it's a bit naive to expect that to happen.

I don't quite understand why prayer is contentious. I accept it is, but I'm at a loss to explain why.

Perhaps it's because of the lapsed Catholic background I have, or the fact I am now pretty agnostic, but whilst I am not going to join in with a prayer group I can hardly see the harm people are causing by spending a few minutes thoughtfully and meditatively seeking assistance from the Universe and the powers that may control it, even if such an act might be completely futile. Especially when in the privacy of their own homes, or in groups of like-minded people. It's not like they're going around forcing others to do it.

In his discussion of "Atheism 2.0" (http://www.ted.com/talks/alain_de_botton_atheism_2_0.html) Alain de Botton addresses prayer directly in the follow-up questions, and suggests the contentious stuff is perhaps something we should move on from:

[...] we need to be polite about differences. Politeness is a much-overlooked virtue. It's seen as hypocrisy. But we need to get to a stage when you're an atheist and someone says, "Well you know, I did pray the other day," you politely ignore it. You move on. Because you've agreed on 90 percent of things, because you have a shared view on so many things, and you politely differ. And I think that's what the religious wars of late have ignored. They've ignored the possibility of harmonious disagreement.

Not for the first time I find myself consider Alain de Botton's words, holding my chin, narrowing my eyes and nodding in a philosophical way.

yoss
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Re: POWER OF PRAYER

Postby yoss » Mon Jan 23, 2012 5:17 pm

You'll get a bad squint if you narrow your eyes every time someone points out something as basic as that it's okay to agree to disagree.

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annie
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Re: POWER OF PRAYER

Postby annie » Mon Jan 23, 2012 5:32 pm

I spend most of my time politely ignoring the religious. I even try ignoring those times when someone says "I'll pray for you". But if someone starts a debate about the efficacy of prayer... it's a bit odd to expect those who believe in the INEFFICACY of prayer to stay silent.

Especially a loud bolshie anti-religious git like me.

:mrgreen:
One must always be wary of the march of the right-wing. I advocate public flogging/confiscation of assets/rehoming of their young

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t0ria
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Re: POWER OF PRAYER

Postby t0ria » Mon Jan 23, 2012 7:34 pm

Paula Pickle wrote: May I ask all the non-believers reading this to refrain from commenting as I suspect it will simply swamp the discussion.


Sorry I just can't resist it.

This is the perfect opportunity to share my favourite Tim Minchin song Thank You God (For Fixing The Cataracts Of Sam's Mum).
I can't find a video but the mp3 is here: http://prostopleer.com/tracks/4789564xGkC
and the lyrics here: http://www.muziboo.com/Kismet/music/tha ... m-minchin/

This should explain everything. Enjoy!Oh by the way it is quite sweary in places.

Grittykit
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Re: POWER OF PRAYER

Postby Grittykit » Mon Jan 23, 2012 8:46 pm

I think that prayer is something that makes the "pray-er" feel like they are doing something in a situation that feels hopeless - and there's nothing wrong with that. I think that the way God "answers" a prayer isn't as straightforward as the options put in the starter thread. When I pray in a similar situation (e.g asking for someone to get better etc.) I think I am really asking for the strength to cope with whatever the outcome may be, or that the sick person etc. may also find strength to cope with the outcome, more than asking for them to be made better especially if that is probably not going to be the case.

I'm a Catholic but dont practice that often, I grew up with blindly praying and asking for things that couldn't ever be granted (my mother would probably tell me thats lack of faith!) but running alongside that was the sense of wanting to cope with whatever "god granted". Older now and more pragmatic, I still pray but generally to ask for the strength to see things through and a calm mind to deal with it all.

Each to their own though - who am we to scoff at believers or non-believers.

L.
Two roads diverged in a wood and I ... took the one less travelled by and that has made all the difference


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