Author Topic: When should we pray?  (Read 451 times)

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Offline Graybeard

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When should we pray?
« on: November 14, 2013, 10:34:00 AM »
Yesterday, my wife and I tried an experiment. Both of us prayed. She prayed for rain because the neighbour had complained that his garden was dry. I prayed for a fine day as the other neighbour had told me that he was going to repair his car.

Today has turned out sunny (although cold) and the neighbour has tried to do the work on the car but he was given the wrong part and has had to give up.

Now, did God answer my prayer but disregard my wife’s or was it going to be fine anyway and God has nothing to do with it? Or has God answered my prayer but told my wife to wait? If the latter, why was it more important for one neighbour to have a working car? And why did God have the wrong part sent to my neighbour?

Here’s a more general approach to prayer from http://www.futilitycloset.com/category/religion/

Quote
On the morning after a battle, Mary prays that her husband has not been killed. Is this a coherent plea? It would seem that the matter has already been decided: Her husband is alive or dead. If he is dead, then in order to grant Mary’s prayer God would have to change the past retroactively.

“If one does not think of [such a] case, the idea of doing something in order that something else should previously have happened may seem sheer raving insanity,” wrote Michael DummettWiki. “But suppose I hear on the radio that a ship has gone down in the Atlantic two hours previously, and that there were few survivors: my son was on that ship, and I at once utter a prayer that he should have been among the survivors, that he should not have drowned; this is the most natural thing in the world.”

Perhaps God can grant Mary’s prayer without changing the past: Perhaps, using divine foreknowledge, he interceded at the time of the battle knowing that she would later pray for this. “One of the things taken into account in deciding [the outcome], and therefore one of the things that really causes it to happen, may be this very prayer that we are now offering,” writes C.S. Lewis.

But this entails an oddity of its own — such favours, it seems, are available only to those who are in some doubt about a past event. God will intercede today for a prayer tomorrow — but only an uncertain person would make such a prayer. “I may pray that the announcer has made a mistake in not including my son’s name on the list of survivors,” Dummett wrote, “but once I am convinced that no mistake has been made, I will not go on praying for him to have survived. I should regard this kind of prayer as something to which it was possible to have recourse only when an ordinary doubt about what had happened could be entertained.”
[/b]

It is this “ordinary doubt” that is the important part. My wife and I had doubts about the weather – quite natural doubts. All that prayer has done is introduced an irrelevant, and hence unnecessary, deity.

Many godbotherers pray for the recovery of someone ill with a terminal disease: we all know that, at this stage, there is doubt… a small possibility that the person will, in the natural course of events, recover – it happens.

But is there any Christian out there who has prayed to God after someone has died that that person will be revived in the way that Christ (and others) caused people to rise from the dead?

If not, why not? If so, did it work?

To help you on your way, prior to the Resurrection, nobody went to heaven. So it could be said that what Jesus did was, theologically sound -> He had deprived nobody of Paradise. However, we can see in Acts 9:40 how, after the Resurrection, Peter raised Tabitha from the dead (Tabitha is Dorcas in Greek), and in Acts 20:12 we read how St Paul raised Eutychus from the dead.
RELIGION, n. A daughter of Hope and Fear, explaining to Ignorance the nature of the Unknowable. Ambrose Bierce

Offline William

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Re: When should we pray?
« Reply #1 on: November 14, 2013, 10:39:42 AM »
... She prayed for rain ...

Graybeard, please give your wife a cuddle and then report back  ;) ;D :laugh: ;D
Git mit uns

Offline Jonny-UK

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Re: When should we pray?
« Reply #2 on: November 14, 2013, 11:46:16 AM »
You have not allowed for other people praying for weather. 
Perhaps you would need to find out the totals for everyone that prayed for rain or prayed for a dry day.
In your case the two prayers simply cancelled each other out.
god may simply go with the majority  ;D
"Do I look like someone who cares what god thinks" - pinhead

Offline ParkingPlaces

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Re: When should we pray?
« Reply #3 on: November 14, 2013, 12:42:33 PM »
I prayed and prayed that people would realize that Tim Tebow was a jerk. It took a long time, but I finally got through to the big guy.

You can thank me later.  :)

People making stuff up based on what they've been told about other made up stuff are likely to continue the tradition and make more stuff up. And of course they will, continuing that tradition, make up answers to those questiions asked in the OP.

Don't expect too much, gb. Of course I know you don't. But that's because I prayed that you would be realistic about this.  ;)
Not everyone is entitled to their own opinion. They're all entitled to mine though.

Offline Nam

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Re: When should we pray?
« Reply #4 on: November 14, 2013, 01:56:15 PM »
Did you both do it correctly? By yourself, in a closet?

-Nam
A god is like a rock: it does absolutely nothing until someone or something forces it to do something. The only capability the rock has is doing nothing until another force compels it physically to move.

The right to be heard does not automatically include the right to be taken seriously - Humphrey

Offline Ataraxia

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Re: When should we pray?
« Reply #5 on: November 14, 2013, 03:40:46 PM »
Prayer - the sycophantic call of the hypocrite who is happy for their God to let bad things happen because it's all part of his plan, except of course, when they'd prefer that plan to be changed to suit their convenience. The thing is, when prayer fails and the outcome fails to accommodate the desired outcome, they're still happy to accept the failure because God knows better. What a pointless fucking exercise it is. You can pray and get what you want, you can pray and not get what you want, you can not pray and get what you want or you can not pray and not get what you want. So that's all bases covered and God wins every time anyway.

Only last week I couldn't find the TV remote. Cushions were thrown everywhere, the sofa was turned upside down, the wife was blamed, the baby was blamed, so in my rage I went and got myself a tangerine. What a disappointing tangerine it was too, all soft and bitter, but I ate it anyway because my mind was more focused on wishing I could find the TV remote. Then bang, there it was. I spotted it sat in the bay window, admiring the view if you please. "You sneaky bugger, now I can turn Eastenders off and watch the match!" I was suddenly flushed with calmness and relief. Now if I didn't eat that dodgy tangerine without wishing, would I have ever spotted the TV remote at that vital moment? - Of course not. So fuck prayer, wishing on citrus fruit is just as, if not more, effective.





« Last Edit: November 14, 2013, 03:42:26 PM by Ataraxia »
"God is a comedian playing to an audience too afraid to laugh." - Voltaire

Offline Nick

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Re: When should we pray?
« Reply #6 on: November 14, 2013, 05:16:53 PM »
Both of you are clearly out of practice in how to pray properly.  That is/was the problem.
Yo, put that in your pipe and smoke it.  Quit ragging on my Lord.

Tide goes in, tide goes out !!!

Offline mrbiscoop

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Re: When should we pray?
« Reply #7 on: November 14, 2013, 07:54:29 PM »
Or on a milk jug or absolutely anything else.
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.
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Online skeptic54768

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Re: When should we pray?
« Reply #8 on: November 15, 2013, 01:28:38 AM »
Interesting. An atheist was praying to God. Dully noted.

This fits in with our argument that atheists, deep down, have a tiny little spot in their soul that yearns for God.
Matthew 10:22 "and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved." - Jesus (said 2,000 years ago and still true today.)

Offline Nam

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Re: When should we pray?
« Reply #9 on: November 15, 2013, 01:33:17 AM »
Interesting. An atheist was praying to God. Dully noted.

This fits in with our argument that atheists, deep down, have a tiny little spot in their soul that yearns for God.

Wrong. It was an experiment, if you could actually comprehend what people write in such simple terms you'd understand. Instead , you're blinded by your religious idiocy.

Get glasses...and a brain.

-Nam
A god is like a rock: it does absolutely nothing until someone or something forces it to do something. The only capability the rock has is doing nothing until another force compels it physically to move.

The right to be heard does not automatically include the right to be taken seriously - Humphrey

Offline Jag

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Re: When should we pray?
« Reply #10 on: November 15, 2013, 08:46:48 AM »
Interesting. An atheist was praying to God. Dully noted.

This fits in with our argument that atheists, deep down, have a tiny little spot in their soul that yearns for God.

Or that Graybeard is a master of subtle sarcasm that often flies over the heads of theists. Since you refuse to learn anything here, I'd advise you to stand on a ladder when you read his posts.
My tolerance for BS is limited, and I use up most of it IRL.

Offline Mrjason

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Re: When should we pray?
« Reply #11 on: November 15, 2013, 08:49:34 AM »
Interesting. An atheist was praying to God. Dully noted.


Lol, it is indeed.

Offline Jonathan MS Pearce

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Re: When should we pray?
« Reply #12 on: November 15, 2013, 09:24:52 AM »
Prayer is a bit of a problem. First, obviously, if it is intercessory prayer, you are asking God to change the already surely perfectly chosen state of affairs. Secondly, how can you change something which is foreknown by God anyway. Thirdly, in surely almost all or all cases of successful prayer, we have mere coincidence at play. I wrote in The Little Book of Unholy Questions:

The subject of prayer provides several problems for the believer, if thorough critical questioning is followed through. Part of the issue of perceived success of prayer is down to religious people interpreting coincidence as divinely purposed, and this is very common. I am aware of this, and am constantly amazed at the amount of seemingly dauntingly huge coincidences that I go through on a daily basis. Most of these are so innocuous as not to even stick in the memory. Usually, this will entail reading a book, and a certain word that you haven’t heard for ages, and then hearing it five seconds later on the television in the background. Wow! Who would have believed it? The problem is, we see things as much bigger coincidences than they really are because we are unaware of the frequency involved in calculating the probability. For example, buying a lottery ticket might mean that the probability of winning the lottery is staggeringly small, say one in fourteen million. However, if you bought fifteen million tickets, then it becomes likely. Also, if you look at the frequency of tickets bought as a whole, then someone winning is a statistical certainty. To translate this across to the word scenario, then the number of words I read or use per year, and the amount of words I hear in the background per year, means that the occurrence of these weird coincidences actually becomes a statistical certainty too. Don’t just look at the incident in isolation, but in the greater context of everything around it.

Now, as mentioned, these are innocuous cases. However, let’s look at something that happened to me the other day. I am the proud father of newly born twin boys. These two delights give us great joy, and yet they can also be a great challenge. When we introduced them to solids recently, they had a week of screaming the house down at night. This led my partner and me to have some degree of sleep deprivation, as they were waking every two hours to be breastfed. We sat down one Sunday afternoon and discussed this for about four hours. We had all the books out, and were scouring the internet for different routines, opinions and helpful tips. We were fairly stressed, and this was really important for us, especially as the boys were pretty stressed too. After all the talk and worry, we simply couldn’t conclude what to do – there were so many options. It was at this point that, had we been praying people, we would almost certainly have joined hands and prayed for strength and insight; for an answer.

Giving up, I walked myself down to the local shop for some milk, as we had some surprise guests over for a cup of tea. Just walking out of my local shop as I got there, on a random Sunday afternoon, was a woman we knew from Twins Club. I had never seen her on this road before, or even outside of Twins Club. And there she was. I stood and talked to her for half an hour. She had had exactly the same problem with her twins, gave us a routine and some ideas, and hey presto, we were sorted and so much happier. What were the chances!

Of course, had I prayed, this would have been bona fide proof that prayer works, that God listens to me, that my faith works. Imagine the joy in God’s works that I would have experienced, and imagine the evangelising I would have done at the church in telling my Christian friends of the ‘miracle’. I didn’t pray, and don’t hold that faith. What to a Christian in exactly the same sort of situation, and who has a real spiritual moment of transcendent evidence of prayer and faith, becomes just another funny coincidence to someone like me. For someone who prays frequently every day, the chances of a ‘successful prayer’ are very high.

These coincidences happen all the time. But when they happen to a religious person, they take on a whole different religious meaning derived from the religious context. Prayer works for a lot of people who follow a lot of different religions. At least most of those gods don’t exist, so something must be up. “My God and my prayers work, but yours are just coincidences,” seems like special pleading to me. The chances are, in my opinion, that most (if not all) incidences of prayer working can be put down to coincidence. We do and say an awful lot of things every day, and we wish for an awful lot of things every day. Some of them are bound to actually happen.

Besides, I’ve never seen an amputee grow back their limb after prayer. I have seen evidence of cancer naturally go into remission without prayer. Enough cancer patients get prayed for, for there to eventually be a correlation. Not, may I add, a causal relationship.


It is also worth mentioning Littlewood's Law etc. See here: http://www.skepticink.com/tippling/2013/07/12/oh-my-randal-rauser-on-prayer-god-or-godless/

Offline 12 Monkeys

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Re: When should we pray?
« Reply #13 on: November 16, 2013, 01:17:12 AM »
Interesting. An atheist was praying to God. Dully noted.

This fits in with our argument that atheists, deep down, have a tiny little spot in their soul that yearns for God.
To bad you are so easily convinced a god answered your prayers. It made you stop searching for real FACTS in what life is.
There's no right there's no wrong,there's just popular opinion (Brad Pitt as Jeffery Goines in 12 monkeys)

Offline Graybeard

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Re: When should we pray?
« Reply #14 on: November 16, 2013, 11:15:58 AM »
Interesting. An atheist was praying to God. Dully noted.

This fits in with our argument that atheists, deep down, have a tiny little spot in their soul that yearns for God.

Ha! (I also enjoyed the typo: “dully” – adj. = in a dull manner.)

I always said I would try anything once (except incest and folk-dancing) Of course, there isn’t any “yearning” for a god of any sort let alone one from tribe from a distant part of the world. As it turned out, I don’t know where I am, or, more correctly, where gods are.

What we need is a test. God likes tests – I cite Elijah v. Priests of Baal 1 Kings 18:21-40

We also need the object of a prayer to be one that is worthy and would help mankind. It should be positive, such that it will be widely reported and it should be something that is possible[1].

The next question is easier: “To which god shall we pray?” There is a list of 5000 gods that was kindly linked by someone here. It is at http://www.eskimo.com/~elladan/gods/index.html What you do is take the first letter of your username scroll down a distance and choose one at random. This should avoid duplicates.

Skeptic can take Yahweh or any other manifestation of the Judeo-Christian god.

Right, now it is all set up, I am going to pray to

Ge Gu,
Chinese goddess of health & medicine
and the prayer is that a Vermont woman who has lived in that state for at least three years and who has been declared blind for at least three years will regain her sight without any medical intervention on any Tuesday before Christmas and, like Elijah’s effort, it will happen in public.

If you can do the same, (find a god and a prayer) and ask that it happens before Christmas, we will then move on to a repetition of this. Whichever god gets three in a row, is declared the one true god and, if anyone can be bothered, we will then attempt to find out about Him/Her/It and go around saying how good/bad/indifferent He/She/It is.

The bonus is that if your prayer is about someone who has been declared dead and has been dead for at least 3 days and no error (medical or otherwise) has been made, and your prayer results in a resurrection, then everyone pays you $5.

Please avoid anything that might cause your god to work on a day which He/She/It has chosen as a rest day or a feast day when He/She/It might be busy.

I have bookmarked this for reference on Christmas Day.
 1. At this stage, I don’t think that we should go trying to stop the sun going round the earth (Joshua 10:13) – we’ll work up to that one. And I will personally report anyone who marches round a city’s wall blowing a trumpet as this is very annoying.
RELIGION, n. A daughter of Hope and Fear, explaining to Ignorance the nature of the Unknowable. Ambrose Bierce

Offline G-Roll

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Re: When should we pray?
« Reply #15 on: November 16, 2013, 01:18:07 PM »
I am going to pray to Dionysus to cure cancer before xmas!

I will get really drunk and laid all for the cause of curing cancer. Man I am a good person!

I should note that if this works I may become an alcoholic polytheist....

Offline Mr. Blackwell

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Re: When should we pray?
« Reply #16 on: November 16, 2013, 02:28:29 PM »
Perhaps prayers are answered only after the poll results come in?
I show affection for my pets by holding them against me and whispering, "I love you" repeatedly as they struggle to break free.