Author Topic: Prayer vs. wishful thinking  (Read 1201 times)

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Offline jynnan tonnix

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Prayer vs. wishful thinking
« on: August 06, 2011, 08:35:17 AM »
I passed a church yesterday with the inspirational message on their sign, "Wishing is no substitute for Prayer".

I wished I had something to add to their sign saying they were basically one and the same. Maybe I should have prayed instead. Think it would have made a difference?  ;)

Offline Add Homonym

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Re: Prayer vs. wishful thinking
« Reply #1 on: August 06, 2011, 09:46:59 AM »
http://phoenixrising.me/forums/archive/index.php/t-9350.html

I realized recently that there is a huge difference between actually praying and spending time with God, instead of just wishing things would get better.

When I just wish things will get better, nothing usually does. But when I actually spend the time directly asking for God's help, I find that prayers do get answers, even small ones.

So many times, someone will tell me that they pray and pray for something to happen, but the truth is, they are not praying, they are wishing. My mother used to do this. She would just wish for stuff, but not actually spend the time talking directly to God.

We need to get out of wish mode and actually ask for God's help. And when you do that, then you see that real things happen.



There's your basic problem. When you send a prayer email, it has the correct address on it.

wish = mailto: nobody@heaven.org
pray = mailto: god@heaven.org


Humans, in general, don't waste any opportunity to be unfathomably stupid - Dr Cynical.

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Re: Prayer vs. wishful thinking
« Reply #2 on: August 06, 2011, 09:54:27 AM »
Sorry. Sorry. I really fucked that up. Christian theology says that God's face is hidden from us, because of our sin (Isa. 59:2) You have to pray to Jesus.

pray = mailto: jesus@heaven.org

Humans, in general, don't waste any opportunity to be unfathomably stupid - Dr Cynical.

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Re: Prayer vs. wishful thinking
« Reply #3 on: August 06, 2011, 10:02:47 AM »
Sorry. Sorry.

pray = maito: @heaven.org
Humans, in general, don't waste any opportunity to be unfathomably stupid - Dr Cynical.

Offline globalvalue

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Re: Prayer vs. wishful thinking
« Reply #4 on: August 06, 2011, 01:31:33 PM »
I passed a church yesterday with the inspirational message on their sign, "Wishing is no substitute for Prayer".

I wished I had something to add to their sign saying they were basically one and the same. Maybe I should have prayed instead. Think it would have made a difference?  ;)

Matthew 7:7-8 (New American Standard Bible)
7"Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.
8"For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.

Is this statement by Jesus true?
If you ask....will you receive?
If you seek.....will you find?
If you knock....will it be opened?

It is comforting to believe in the words of Jesus.
His words can make you feel good.
But when you have problems in your life, can you rely on Jesus' words to be true?
We all know that Jesus' words are not true.
Science Climbs the Ladder of Discovery
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Offline mrbiscoop

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Re: Prayer vs. wishful thinking
« Reply #5 on: August 06, 2011, 02:41:10 PM »
Nothing fails like prayer.
When I was a kid I used to pray every night for a new bicycle. Then I realised that the Lord doesn't work that way so I stole one and asked Him to forgive me.
              -Emo Philips

Offline Brakeman

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Re: Prayer vs. wishful thinking
« Reply #6 on: August 06, 2011, 03:26:08 PM »
ermm... I don't think we can talk to Jesus either, on earth we can only speak to the holy ghost.
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Offline jaimehlers

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Re: Prayer vs. wishful thinking
« Reply #7 on: August 06, 2011, 06:58:10 PM »
I view prayer to be something of a cop-out.  By asking for divine intercession in something, a person is essentially saying that it's something they can't possibly do on their own, thus asking God to do it instead.

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Re: Prayer vs. wishful thinking
« Reply #8 on: August 06, 2011, 09:01:08 PM »
Well, how else are you going to move mountains?

The combined prayers of 400 million Christians has created the utopian world we know today.


Humans, in general, don't waste any opportunity to be unfathomably stupid - Dr Cynical.

Offline albeto

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Re: Prayer vs. wishful thinking
« Reply #9 on: August 06, 2011, 09:27:01 PM »
I view prayer to be something of a cop-out.  By asking for divine intercession in something, a person is essentially saying that it's something they can't possibly do on their own, thus asking God to do it instead.

I think it's more like saying they really think there is a divine something willing to intervene and they hope they have the right asking price.

Offline jaimehlers

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Re: Prayer vs. wishful thinking
« Reply #10 on: August 07, 2011, 12:26:42 AM »
I think it's more like saying they really think there is a divine something willing to intervene and they hope they have the right asking price.
That's actually beside the point.  I'm reasonably sure that many Christians actually do believe that.  It's not a good idea to assume that they don't actually believe that, in any case.

The point is that it's still basically a big cop-out.  It's expecting someone or something else to solve problems for you instead of solving them yourself.  There's a stage when that's acceptable, or at least tolerable; it's called 'childhood'.  But we expect people to grow out of needing to have someone else fix their problems for them...yet most religions tell people that they can instead depend on a much mightier being to continue solving their problems for them, with nothing more required than asking really nicely.

Offline albeto

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Re: Prayer vs. wishful thinking
« Reply #11 on: August 07, 2011, 02:30:55 AM »
The point is that it's still basically a big cop-out.  It's expecting someone or something else to solve problems for you instead of solving them yourself.

Do you think all prayers are a kind of cop-out?  Prayers for health or safety in circumstances out of one's control - are they cop-outs too? 

Offline bosey926

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Re: Prayer vs. wishful thinking
« Reply #12 on: August 07, 2011, 07:53:27 AM »
The point is that it's still basically a big cop-out.  It's expecting someone or something else to solve problems for you instead of solving them yourself.

Do you think all prayers are a kind of cop-out?  Prayers for health or safety in circumstances out of one's control - are they cop-outs too?

     Bold mine.  I would certainly say yes, they are.  Instead of simply saying to one's self "I entrust this medical professional with my life because I am a laymen in the specified field and without his/her actions my death or serious impairment will result", the common religious imbecile says something as unthoughtful and un-christian as "Please Jesus!  Help Me get through this!". 
     Prayers are nothing more than a over-simplified way for a stupid person (not ignorant, there is a difference) to feel as if they've completed the duties society calls upon them.  Alternative to cognitive thoughts and being an adult, they throw their hands in the air, flailing, and making the noises of an adolescent who didn't get a lollipop after the doctor's appointment. 

Offline albeto

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Re: Prayer vs. wishful thinking
« Reply #13 on: August 07, 2011, 10:20:53 AM »
     Bold mine.  I would certainly say yes, they are.  Instead of simply saying to one's self "I entrust this medical professional with my life because I am a laymen in the specified field and without his/her actions my death or serious impairment will result", the common religious imbecile says something as unthoughtful and un-christian as "Please Jesus!  Help Me get through this!". 

I think I see what you mean.  In other words, rather than being courageous or accepting an undesirable circumstance, prayer is invoked in the hopes that one will magically have more courage and peace.  Is that right? 

   
Prayers are nothing more than a over-simplified way for a stupid person (not ignorant, there is a difference) to feel as if they've completed the duties society calls upon them.  Alternative to cognitive thoughts and being an adult, they throw their hands in the air, flailing, and making the noises of an adolescent who didn't get a lollipop after the doctor's appointment.

Interesting.  When I was a Christian (not too long ago, so this is still a bit of a transition time for me), I would have disagreed.  I'd prayed for my son with so many challenges, not in lieu of getting professional help, but in addition to all the professional help.  It never felt like a cop-out because I thought there was someone listening, someone who might just intervene if not for me, for my innocent child.  Most Christians I know don't pray for simple problem-solving things like Don't Let The Car Break Down This Weekend Please O Please O Please God, which is what I thought jaimehlers meant.  But I can see what you mean and I think I agree.  Thanks for the explanation. 

Offline jaimehlers

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Re: Prayer vs. wishful thinking
« Reply #14 on: August 07, 2011, 11:15:14 AM »
I think I see what you mean.  In other words, rather than being courageous or accepting an undesirable circumstance, prayer is invoked in the hopes that one will magically have more courage and peace.  Is that right?
I know you were responding to bosey926, but I think it's appropriate to elaborate on my own meaning as well.  To me, prayer comes across as a method of last resort.  It is essentially admitting that there is nothing more that a person can do except pray.  Whether or not it gives courage and peace is kind of beside the point, because the person praying is essentially saying that their own abilities are lacking.  Except, so much of the time, this simply isn't true.

As an example, I went on a trip year before last with my roommate.  The second day of the trip, a massive snowstorm came basically out of nowhere - it snowed for more than twelve hours straight.  I made the (in retrospect, foolish) decision to keep on driving well into the night.  I ended up having to drive through a hilly, wooded area, on a road which curved more often than not, with visibility of less than fifty feet, and with no guarantee at all of being able to maintain traction.  It was the most terrifying experience of my life, because I knew that one mistake, one error in judgment, one anything, and my roommate and I could both have died (even if we hadn't died in an accident, exposure could easily have done the job).  But it never once occurred to me to pray.  I was grimly determined to stay focused and that we would get through that safely.  I think that if I had tried to pray, I would have eroded my own determination, since I would have been admitting that I wasn't sure I could do it on my own, and that might have been enough to keep me from being able to do it at all.

I got through that safely, and I got through it largely because I never doubted that I could.  And so I understand that prayer, whether it is for oneself or for another, is an expression of a person's powerlessness to affect a situation with their own abilities.  It may have tangible benefits like helping people to feel better, but it's still basically saying that they can't do anything else but pray.  Which may be true some of the time, but mostly it's nothing more than a cop-out, because there's often something they can do besides what they have already done.

Offline jynnan tonnix

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Re: Prayer vs. wishful thinking
« Reply #15 on: August 07, 2011, 01:02:34 PM »
Lots of interesting replies to my OP...

I was taking it a lot more simplistically, I guess, but part of that was the way the sign was worded.

For many Christians, prayer is, on a day-to-day, normal basis, more about reflection. Whether God gives them the answers to their questions and problems, or whether the quiet time spent simply pondering them brings an answer to light is a matter of perspective, and it's pretty much impossible to convince them that their own minds are capable of working something through to a good solution.

Then there are prayers of thanksgiving, which also, plainly, have nothing to do with wishing. Or worshipful prayer, which I suppose could be seen as hedging your bets and keeping on god's good side.

But the way the sign was worded, it just sounded as though plain old wishing for something to turn out a particular way was pointless, whereas praying for the same thing was useful.

I guess, as has been said many times in the past, it gives people the illusion that they have some sort of control over the outcome. Wishing is impotent, but prayer, ah, that's somehow different.

But since the whole ultimate plan is supposedly in god's hands anyway, why can't they see that prayer and wishing give exactly the same result?

Offline nogodsforme

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Re: Prayer vs. wishful thinking
« Reply #16 on: August 07, 2011, 01:45:10 PM »
God already knows everything and has already planned the outcome to every situation. So what possible difference could prayer make? It's not like god would change his mind and catch the plane plunging towards the earth if he intended it to crash. Right? Everything is just as it should be. God is in control. Right? So why pray? Jews, Christians and Muslims who believe this might as well be Hindus. Better luck in the next life.

I think the worst part about the whole prayer thing is the terrible response when the prayer for the baby with cancer to get better is not answered. The baby dies anyway. And how do the church people comfort the family? God wanted the baby to be with him. In other words, god ignored your prayer for his own selfish reasons. He wanted your baby to become an angel, see, so he gave it cancer and let it suffer and die. Nice god you got there. Bastard.

Some religious people even blame the desparate praying parents for not having enough faith or not praying the correct way with the right "worshipful attitude" or some such sh!t. As if there was a wrong way to beg for your baby's life. They make god out to be a crazed terrorist with the baby as a hostage. Make one wrong move, say one wrong word, and the baby gets it. And it will be your own fault.

WTF do they think was in the grief-stricken parents' minds when they were praying for their baby? "Hey, yo, god, if you have time, put down the 40 and give a little love to the baby here with leukemia, okay? No biggee either way, I ain't gonna kiss your big behind or anything over it. Like whatev, we can always make another rugrat, and have fun doing it. Later, dawg."
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Offline stuffin

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Re: Prayer vs. wishful thinking
« Reply #17 on: August 07, 2011, 06:22:09 PM »
I view prayer to be something of a cop-out.  By asking for divine intercession in something, a person is essentially saying that it's something they can't possibly do on their own, thus asking God to do it instead.

I think it's more like saying they really think there is a divine something willing to intervene and they hope they have the right asking price.
A stuffin obsevation made in Introductions. http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/forums/index.php/topic,19552.0.html

"Prayer is just a thought saturated with hope."

One could user the word "wish."
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