Author Topic: Why pray?  (Read 3374 times)

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Offline jdawg70

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Re: Why pray?
« Reply #29 on: January 21, 2014, 12:31:52 PM »
On the other hand we are told in the Gospels that Jesus prayed to the Father. If a Christian wants to follow the lead of Jesus then praying ought to be part of that 'following'. After all, there's more to communication than just 'data mining' on the part of a creator.
Well yes I certainly agree that there's more to communication than, say, reading the blog of a loved one and never responding or even liking a post.

But the concept of praying seems to be more of what I'd actually expect from a data mining deity - that there is a specified process for delivering information (be it requests or simply praise) to this entity that is somehow different than just communicating with him.

I've heard the analogy that prayer is similar to a telephone, where it is simply the means and/or the medium for instantiation of communication.  In reality the telephone makes sense; Alice will have no idea that I'm even attempting to communicate with her, let alone the content of my attempted communication, without the phone.  God doesn't have that problem.  He will always be aware of when I want to establish communication; he will always be aware of what the content of my communication is.

If prayer is necessary to communicate something to god, then it becomes rather easy to hide things from god, right?  Just don't pray and tell him about it.  He can see everything I do?  Well, I can just always put a face on and do good works, go to church, yadayadayada, but still think that god is a silly git unworthy of praise, hoping that there will be some way to destroy him.  He knows I'm being disingenuous?  I can't have internal dialog like that not even god himself can be aware of?  He then knows what's in my heart and mind, and I'm once again at a loss as to what the difference is between 'praying' and 'not praying'.

Or is 'pray' really just religionese for 'communicate'?  Or is it more nuanced than that...like, 'pray' is religionese for 'sincerely communicate'?
"When we landed on the moon, that was the point where god should have come up and said 'hello'. Because if you invent some creatures, put them on the blue one and they make it to the grey one, you f**king turn up and say 'well done'."

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Offline Graybeard

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Re: Why pray?
« Reply #30 on: January 21, 2014, 12:42:58 PM »
Thoughts on and of Prayers:


Christian Right Efficiency
There are 2.1 Billion Christians in the world. Say one in 100 sends a prayer to God each day; that’s 210 Million prayers a day.

If a prayer lasts about 1 minute, that’s going to take 12,600,000,000 seconds in total.

There are 86,400 seconds in a day

So that’s 145,833 prayers a second 24/7 year in, year out and this isn’t going to get any better as time goes on and the world population increases.

Can we have a bit of consideration for God? He is extremely busy running the Universe. He wants to care for you, but you are not helping with your whining about things that he has already under control. He knows everything and therefore knows about the starving in Africa; the warring parties in the Middle East and your sick aunt Jackie.

Can I ask that Christians (i) restrict their prayers to urgent cases, e.g. the removal, in disgrace, of Obama or near death of a pastor and (ii) that, in their turn, pastors aggregate the congregation’s prayers?

The Honest Prayer for Victory
"O Lord our Father, our young patriots, idols of our hearts, go forth to battle – be Thou near them! With them, in spirit, we also go forth from the sweet peace of our beloved firesides to smite the foe. O Lord our God, help us to tear their soldiers to bloody shreds with our shells; help us to cover their smiling fields with the pale forms of their patriot dead; help us to drown the thunder of the guns with the shrieks of their wounded, writhing in pain; help us to lay waste their humble homes with a hurricane of fire; help us to wring the hearts of their unoffending widows with unavailing grief; help us to turn them out roofless with their little children to wander unfriended the wastes of their desolated land in rags and hunger and thirst, sports of the sun flames of summer and the icy winds of winter, broken in spirit, worn with travail, imploring Thee for the refuge of the grave and denied it – for our sakes who adore Thee, Lord, blast their hopes, blight their lives, protract their bitter pilgrimage, make heavy their steps, water their way with their tears, stain the white snow with the blood of their wounded feet! We ask it, in the spirit of love, of Him Who is the Source of Love, and Who is ever-faithful refuge and friend of all that are sore beset and seek His aid with humble and contrite hearts. Amen.
Mark Twain.

The Paradox of Prayer:

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,” writes Michael Dummett. “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 favors, 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 writes, “but once I am convinced that no mistake has been made, I will not go on praying for my son 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.”
Michael Dummett.

PRAY, v. To ask that the laws of the universe be annulled in behalf of a single petitioner confessedly unworthy.
Ambrose Bierce.
« Last Edit: January 21, 2014, 12:45:02 PM by Graybeard »
Nobody says “There are many things that we thought were natural processes, but now know that a god did them.”

Offline Boots

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Re: Why pray?
« Reply #31 on: January 21, 2014, 12:55:02 PM »
If God knows what's best for you why pray?

And if you want to change your life's path through prayer are you trying to manipulate God for your own needs?
Lets say there is a God. And it is all conscious.
Then it could be the psychology of our mind that seeks to pray?
If we forget or we do something we know God will not approve of then our minds is probably seeking forgiveness.

emphasis added.

do you mean omni-conscious?  If so, then that omniconsciousness also knows of our sincere regret in failing to do the diety's will, therefore prayer is unnecessary (except to assuage our own guilt).
It's one of the reasons I'm an atheist today.  I decided to take my religion seriously, and that's when it started to fall apart for me.
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Offline lotanddaughters

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Re: Why pray?
« Reply #32 on: January 21, 2014, 05:59:44 PM »
LotAndDaughters, I can see why the shelter was created, and why you're probably not a part of it :)

That said, no offense taken.  If you want to know something from this stupid and ignorant theist's perspective, then ask a question that will draw it out.  Surely you've perfected that skill over the many hundreds of theists that have visited this forum.  Unless your point is to try and berate people for pleasure or a sense of dominance, in which I'll gladly still attempt to engage in what I perceive to be honest attempts at dialog from you and others.

If you (or others) would like more specifics on my views regarding prayer, I'd be happy to discuss it with you.  But, if you're just going to use it as a rant to vent your personal frustration towards theists, it probably won't be a very productive conversation.

You seem like a pretty good sport. Sometimes, I get drunk and get too carried away with name-calling on this forum. My guess is that I'm going to be more civil with you. We'll see, lol.   




I'm not posing as a theist, I am one.  I have been for many years.

It's frustrating to me sometimes that I can't know for sure, but I know it's not your fault. It's just the nature of internet forums. 



I've wrestled with issues surrounding prayer and it's effectiveness or lack thereof, and it's purpose many times.  It definitely serves a purpose in my life, so ask if you're interested, or don't if you're not  ;)

Thank you for your politeness.   ;)
Enough with your bullshit.
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Offline kcrady

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Re: Why pray?
« Reply #33 on: January 21, 2014, 11:17:00 PM »
One example would be for awareness of what is best, aligning one's will and understanding with God.  Prayer doesn't have to be only petition.

For me, prayer has evolved from trying to manipulate God to expressing thanks and asking for insight on what should I do or say.  I've had situations where a flash of an idea comes after this. 

It is interesting that both of you have moved away from the petitionary aspect of prayer. Do you then reject that prayer can/should be used to ask God for things?

One thing I notice about these approaches to prayer, is that they don't require the existence of a deity to work as advertized.  If I pray to Isis and get flashes of insight which I can then identify as "the will of Isis," then choose to "align myself" with them, and this works out for me, I doubt very many Christians would say, "Oh snap!  His Goddess is more powerful than our God!  Better join Isisianity!"  To the extent that prayer "works" in this way, it is independent of any particular religion.  In the book Why God Won't Go Away, the authors show how Catholic contemplative prayer and Buddhist meditation produce the same physiological effects in the brain.  Given the existence of so many religions in the world, this should come as a surprise to no one but those wedded to one particular faith as "the only one that counts."
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Offline emilysmith

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Re: Why pray?
« Reply #34 on: January 22, 2014, 02:34:42 AM »
pray remember you every time you are man of God and God Complete your every wish if its better for you and your life...
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Offline Angus and Alexis

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Re: Why pray?
« Reply #35 on: January 22, 2014, 02:43:09 AM »
pray remember you every time you are man of God and God Complete your every wish if its better for you and your life...

Would you say that to an amputee?
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Offline b.a.worldchanger

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Re: Why pray?
« Reply #36 on: January 22, 2014, 05:14:56 AM »
It is interesting that both of you have moved away from the petitionary aspect of prayer. Do you then reject that prayer can/should be used to ask God for things?

I believe that the Bible illustrates clearly that we are to petition God.  We see biblical examples laid out by both Jesus and the apostles to pray for wisdom, the Holy Spirit, healing, forgiveness, etc.  However, as you noted, I believe prayer serves other purposes outside of petition.

Quote
Also what about the more nebulous requests like forgive us our trespasses - is there a real difference between that and asking for enough money to pay the rent (other than the fact we can see if the latter has worked)?

With regard to seeking forgiveness through prayer, what are you meaning by nebulous?  Are you simply referring to something 'intangible' that we don't actually see?  One similarity I think we can draw between both of these requests is that we see Jesus draw attention to them both in what is commonly referred to as the Lord's Prayer.  As an illustration to the disciples of how to pray, he includes both forgiveness and provision in the example he gives them when they ask him how to pray.  Given this fact alone, I would view both requests as important in a my personal prayer life.  I don't view forgiveness as a vague request, but more as a necessity.

Offline b.a.worldchanger

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Re: Why pray?
« Reply #37 on: January 22, 2014, 06:10:34 AM »
OK,  b.a.worldchanger, I'm not insulting you. Perhaps you could tell us what prayer does for you in your life, please?

Sure Wheels.  In my life, prayer has become a very important aspect, although it wasn't always so.  But, some of the more notable effects are:

  • It helps me align my will to what I perceive to be the God's will
  • It provides a profound sense of peace and comfort
  • It brings freedom
  • It provides for forgiveness
  • It is a source of healing
  • It builds faith
  • It (seemingly) brings provision
  • It brings focus
  • It helps shape perspective
  • It (seemingly) brings about a sense of closeness to God and participation in day to day events

I suppose there are quite a few more things, but I'm sure this list will probably serve as a good jumping off point to perhaps other questions you may have about particular roles I believe prayer plays in my life.

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Re: Why pray?
« Reply #38 on: January 22, 2014, 06:37:18 AM »
Interesting list all seem to be self indulgent though about yourself; sort of telling of human nature. Anyways, about your #4, what do you need forgiveness from and why? Do you think this idea of forgiveness helps your #2 request about peace and comfort? I suppose it's natural for many to feel guilty about certain things.

When examining the list I get the feeling what you perceive as prayer to a god seems like an exercise in positive reinforcement, comforting, and a psychological way to seem in control of things that may be out of our control.

« Last Edit: January 22, 2014, 06:39:09 AM by DVZ3 »
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Offline b.a.worldchanger

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Re: Why pray?
« Reply #39 on: January 22, 2014, 07:07:16 AM »
Interesting list all seem to be self indulgent though about yourself; sort of telling of human nature.

Wheels asked specifically from the perspective of what it does for my life, so I assumed he was looking for the effects or benefits.  There are other reasons for prayer that we see specified in the Bible.  But you are correct, that human nature is, generally speaking, self-serving when we look at the world around us.  Not exclusively self-serving, we see acts of selflessness, but the propensity for selfishness is readily seen.

Quote
Anyways, about your #4, what do you need forgiveness from and why? Do you think this idea of forgiveness helps your #2 request about peace and comfort? I suppose it's natural for many to feel guilty about certain things.

I need forgiveness for not loving God, and not loving people, however that manifests itself.  When there isn't forgiveness, broken relationship exists.  This includes if/when I am unwilling to forgive others.  Forgiveness certainly contributes to being at peace.  I need forgiveness because it is impossible for me to love perfectly, and I regularly fail at it, although I'm learning to love better.  I used to struggle greatly with certain destructive behaviors and a cycle of guilt and shame that followed.  That selfish thing we already brought up, well, that often becomes the source of needing to seek forgiveness ;)

Quote
When examining the list I get the feeling what you perceive as prayer to a god seems like an exercise in positive reinforcement, comforting, and a psychological way to seem in control of things that may be out of our control.

Not necessarily, but you bring up a great point.  There can be a great sense of freedom that comes from believing that God is control of our circumstances even when we are not.  We often hear people say things like, "Looking back, I can see God in that."  Those could certainly be rationalizations that we utilize to try and understand our circumstances.

Offline jdawg70

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Re: Why pray?
« Reply #40 on: January 22, 2014, 09:24:49 AM »
Not necessarily, but you bring up a great point.  There can be a great sense of freedom that comes from believing that God is control of our circumstances even when we are not.  We often hear people say things like, "Looking back, I can see God in that."  Those could certainly be rationalizations that we utilize to try and understand our circumstances.

I find the use of the word 'freedom' strange.  Seems like 'comfort', 'peace', 'satisfaction', 'fulfillment'...each of those words would fit pretty well if I understand how prayer affects you.  But having a greater sense of freedom upon recognizing you aren't in control but some other entity is in control doesn't really make a lot of sense to me.  Just sort of counter to how I interpret the word 'freedom'.

Alternatively: greater freedom from what or greater freedom to do what?
"When we landed on the moon, that was the point where god should have come up and said 'hello'. Because if you invent some creatures, put them on the blue one and they make it to the grey one, you f**king turn up and say 'well done'."

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Offline Anfauglir

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Re: Why pray?
« Reply #41 on: January 23, 2014, 03:43:11 AM »
Wouldn't you be upset if someone you loved asked for formal letterhead in any correspondence you have to him, otherwise he'll be less inclined to care about your letter?  In any personal, healthy relationship, do you ever need to construct some sort of ritual to indicate 'this is me talking to you now and praising you', or 'I'm looking for a better understanding of you', or does that kind of communication just...kinda happen through basic interaction?

True.  But consider the other side:

It's father/mother's day.  One child sends a text at 11pm from the pub that reads "Hpy Mth Dy, XX".  The other one sends a card that arrives first post, then pops round for tea, gives you a big hug, and says "thanks for everything you've done for me".

I guess Christians don't see specific prayer as a requirement of a particular channel, but more a respectful way of saying "I'm setting aside this time specifically to say 'thank you' for what you've done for me".
Just because you've always done it that way doesn't mean it's not incredibly stupid.
Why is it so hard for believers to answer a direct question?

Offline jdawg70

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Re: Why pray?
« Reply #42 on: January 23, 2014, 10:24:25 AM »
True.  But consider the other side:

It's father/mother's day.  One child sends a text at 11pm from the pub that reads "Hpy Mth Dy, XX".  The other one sends a card that arrives first post, then pops round for tea, gives you a big hug, and says "thanks for everything you've done for me".

I guess Christians don't see specific prayer as a requirement of a particular channel, but more a respectful way of saying "I'm setting aside this time specifically to say 'thank you' for what you've done for me".
That makes some sense - prayer can be treated merely as a respectful formality, rather than any sort of different kind of communication.  It isn't a required formality of any kind, but rather a ritual-like precursor to commune with god to honor him.  That kind of makes the pre-made prayers like a 'Hail Mary' or 'Glory Be' the generic hallmark card of interaction with god, which I would think few of the people with the 'personal relationship with god' mindset would be interested in using.  But I digress.

So I think an answer to the OP of 'Why pray?' would be: to show god some respect when you talk to him.  You don't have to, but it's kinda nice to do.

b.a.worldchanger - does the above jive with how you view prayer?
"When we landed on the moon, that was the point where god should have come up and said 'hello'. Because if you invent some creatures, put them on the blue one and they make it to the grey one, you f**king turn up and say 'well done'."

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Offline Traveler

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Re: Why pray?
« Reply #43 on: January 23, 2014, 03:35:57 PM »
I'm not christian, and never have been, but I see my religious friends and family members engage in different kinds of prayer. The one that makes the most sense to me (I'm a very casual person) is the kind where you simply speak from your heart, prefacing it with a brief geeting, to catch his/her/its attention.

The formalized prayer, such as saying a specific grace at meal times can become a rote sort of thing, apparently just a habit, rather than meaninful communication.

Then there are devotees who use prayer beads or rosaries or other objects to focus their attention in a minfulness or meditative way.

Of course there are varients. Anything that becomes rote is meaningless to my eyes. Anything that is heartfelt is probably good for the person praying, even if no one's listening.
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Offline johnrain

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Re: Why pray?
« Reply #44 on: January 24, 2014, 06:52:24 AM »
Why doesn't prayer work all the time?

Offline Xero-Kill

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Re: Why pray?
« Reply #45 on: January 24, 2014, 11:00:22 AM »
I'm not christian, and never have been, but I see my religious friends and family members engage in different kinds of prayer. The one that makes the most sense to me (I'm a very casual person) is the kind where you simply speak from your heart, prefacing it with a brief geeting, to catch his/her/its attention.

The formalized prayer, such as saying a specific grace at meal times can become a rote sort of thing, apparently just a habit, rather than meaninful communication.

Then there are devotees who use prayer beads or rosaries or other objects to focus their attention in a minfulness or meditative way.

Of course there are varients. Anything that becomes rote is meaningless to my eyes. Anything that is heartfelt is probably good for the person praying, even if no one's listening.

I agree with this sentiment. I feel that the kind of prayer that simply involves "getting it off your chest" is typically beneficial. I don't mean in the Catholic sense where one lists all their offenses and is given a menial task to do which they feel absolves them of their wrongdoing. I mean the kind where you admit to yourself that you have wronged someone and you steel yourself against doing it again, and even seeking forgiveness from the person that was offended, not some absentee third party.

I have never understood the people that feel guilty about a particular trespass and then ask their imagination for forgiveness instead of seeking a real resolution. It shouldn't be up to god to forgive you, nor should you even ask... you didn't wrong god, you wronged a person. The way I see it. If I do something wrong, and then ask god to forgive me, and if I am satisfied that he has forgiven me, then that leaves me contented and the person that was wronged is still wronged. So I have been a dick, I feel good about myself because the creator of the universe gave me a pass, and the person I hurt is still left wounded. This is the behavior that Christianity would have you believe is righteous.
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Offline Jag

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Re: Why pray?
« Reply #46 on: January 24, 2014, 12:31:43 PM »
I have never understood the people that feel guilty about a particular trespass and then ask their imagination for forgiveness instead of seeking a real resolution. It shouldn't be up to god to forgive you, nor should you even ask... you didn't wrong god, you wronged a person. The way I see it. If I do something wrong, and then ask god to forgive me, and if I am satisfied that he has forgiven me, then that leaves me contented and the person that was wronged is still wronged. So I have been a dick, I feel good about myself because the creator of the universe gave me a pass, and the person I hurt is still left wounded. This is the behavior that Christianity would have you believe is righteous.

I was raised Catholic, and this ^^^ post does a great job of summarizing one of the many points of "wtf?" that occurred to me in my teens. At first, I saw it as a flaw in Catholic theology; learning more about other denominations and other non-christian religious paths helped to cement my dismissal of the entire notion. The idea that forgiveness from a god was more important than the forgiveness of the person harmed by my "sin", fell apart pretty quickly once I gave it some honest consideration. Tacked on top of my realization that if a god was actually listening to my conversations with the priest in the adjoining little box, that god already knew exactly what I was thinking or feeling about my confessed "sins" made me seriously question the need for a priest as opposed to any other person to whom I might tell my transgressions.

I understood that confession is good for the soul - as in, it often does feel better to get things off your conscience - but the requirement that I direct that "please forgive me" speech to a specific uninvolved third party was baffling. Easily half of what I "confessed" was made up on the spot anyway - I knew lying was a sin, and of course I wasn't always truthful, so I'd just assign an arbitrary number of times and confess "I lied X times, I picked a fight with my sister, I sassed my mom twice" - cause seriously, who tracked exactly what sins you committed and how many times between bouts of begging for forgiveness? F*ck, if I was tracking it that closely, I would have had to go through life with an "oops, I did it again" notebook in my hip pocket, and been so wracked with crippling guilt I wouldn't have been able to function at all.

Edited to add: now that I read what I just wrote, I realize that that scenario would have done a fantastic job of convincing me that I really was nothing but a wretched sinner, unworthy of God's mercy. Thank Darwin I got that crap out of my head fairly young.
« Last Edit: January 24, 2014, 12:35:22 PM by Jag »
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Offline Boots

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Re: Why pray?
« Reply #47 on: January 24, 2014, 03:05:05 PM »
F*ck, if I was tracking it that closely, I would have had to go through life with an "oops, I did it again" notebook in my hip pocket, and been so wracked with crippling guilt I wouldn't have been able to function at all.

Edited to add: now that I read what I just wrote, I realize that that scenario would have done a fantastic job of convincing me that I really was nothing but a wretched sinner, unworthy of God's mercy. Thank Darwin I got that crap out of my head fairly young.

Welcome to catholicism.  And don't forget "every sperm is sacred" (I was raised RC as well)
It's one of the reasons I'm an atheist today.  I decided to take my religion seriously, and that's when it started to fall apart for me.
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Offline jdawg70

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Re: Why pray?
« Reply #48 on: January 24, 2014, 03:20:42 PM »
I was raised Catholic

(I was raised RC as well)

Ex-rosary squad, UNITE!  Let us celebrate our guilt together!
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Offline b.a.worldchanger

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Re: Why pray?
« Reply #49 on: January 24, 2014, 04:39:14 PM »
Not necessarily, but you bring up a great point.  There can be a great sense of freedom that comes from believing that God is control of our circumstances even when we are not.  We often hear people say things like, "Looking back, I can see God in that."  Those could certainly be rationalizations that we utilize to try and understand our circumstances.

I find the use of the word 'freedom' strange.  Seems like 'comfort', 'peace', 'satisfaction', 'fulfillment'...each of those words would fit pretty well if I understand how prayer affects you.  But having a greater sense of freedom upon recognizing you aren't in control but some other entity is in control doesn't really make a lot of sense to me.  Just sort of counter to how I interpret the word 'freedom'.

Alternatively: greater freedom from what or greater freedom to do what?

JDawg,

I use the term freedom very intentionally.  I realize it can sound counter intuitive on the surface, but the impact I have felt is very real.  You might choose to categorize it differently after hearing my explanation, but it is the word that best fits my own understanding and experience.  When I think of "comfort" or "peace" I tend to picture more a feeling of warmth, or tranquility.  When I say freedom, I see it as a more powerful expression of emotion.  For example, if I'm worried about situation, I may live as a slave to fear.  It may manifest itself in anxiety, uncertainty, and any other number of emotions.  That isn't to say that I never feel these emotions, but, at times, I used to be controlled by them to the point where it would be difficult to move past them.  For some people, this might even lead to depression and other negative consequences.  Anytime we feel trapped by our circumstances, there can be that feeling of "slavery".  For example, I could be a slave to debt, and feel like I can't quit my job for fear of what will happen, or I can't move on and do something else because I'm trapped by what I owe, and the consequences of those decisions.  I could be a slave to a substance such as alcohol, to the point where I feel I must have it all costs, even if that ruins my relationships.  I may not want it to destroy my marriage, but my inability to quit and the adverse effects may leave me feeling hopeless and enslaved to something outside, or perceived to be outside, of my control.

So, when I say "freedom", it is a very intentional usage.  Seeing God as my provider, for example, frees me from the worry and anxiety about my job, my business, etc.  None of us are completely in control of every circumstance.  For people like me, that can be extremely difficult.  When I don't have to come home at night and worry about what will happen tomorrow, or the next day, or the day after that, I become a better husband, less prone to snap at my wife, I become a better father who is more attentive to my kids, I become able to actually look at the problems I'm facing head on and not worry about what is going to happen.  I know, with confidence, that if my business fails tomorrow, my life will continue on and all will be ok.  That is freedom.  It also leads to more peace and comfort, but life isn't always comfortable.  But to not be enslaved to fear, depression, worry, anxiety, substances, etc. is a very real and powerful thing.  It isn't an excuse for laziness or lack of concern with what's going on around me, but it is freedom from the fear and anxiety, which makes me much more capable, in fact, of seeing the way through these difficult and stressful situations.

I have experienced this freedom in so many other areas of my life, which is leading me to more fully understand "He who the Son sets free, is free indeed."  There has been great freedom in my life that has come through, ironically, surrender.  I understand it sounds counter-intuitive, but hopefully you can understand what I mean by it since it can be difficult to explain.

Offline Ivellios

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Re: Why pray?
« Reply #50 on: January 25, 2014, 12:45:50 PM »
I was raised Catholic

(I was raised RC as well)

Ex-rosary squad, UNITE!  Let us celebrate our guilt together!

Ex-RC here as well. One week I thought I didn't sin at all. (tried really really hard) So, I didn't go to confession before participating in communion. When we got home, mom flipped out saying that I sent JC to Hell. I thought that if a 9 yr old boy can send JC to Hell, what could he possibly do for me?

-------------------------------------------------------------

OT.

I once had a conversation with one of my aunts, she asked me why I didn't pray. I replied with, "If everything happens according to his will, then it's going to go according to his plan regardless whether you pray or not. If you petition for something, then you're asking for something as if an All-Knowing, All-Loving, infinitely wise God, had no idea about it already, but he already knew about it billions of years before he created the Earth. In fact, he already factored it in and everything is proceding exactly as he, in his wisdom, and the most absolute loving way possible."

She told me, that the Bible says to, "pray ceaselessly." No comment on the rest.

Yet all someone needs to do, is to look at the state of the world and know there is no 'universal love' guiding everything or anything.

Offline jdawg70

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Re: Why pray?
« Reply #51 on: January 27, 2014, 10:44:25 AM »
Alternatively: greater freedom from what or greater freedom to do what?

JDawg,

I use the term freedom very intentionally.  I realize it can sound counter intuitive on the surface, but the impact I have felt is very real.  You might choose to categorize it differently after hearing my explanation, but it is the word that best fits my own understanding and experience.  When I think of "comfort" or "peace" I tend to picture more a feeling of warmth, or tranquility.  When I say freedom, I see it as a more powerful expression of emotion.  For example, if I'm worried about situation, I may live as a slave to fear.  It may manifest itself in anxiety, uncertainty, and any other number of emotions.  That isn't to say that I never feel these emotions, but, at times, I used to be controlled by them to the point where it would be difficult to move past them.  For some people, this might even lead to depression and other negative consequences.  Anytime we feel trapped by our circumstances, there can be that feeling of "slavery".  For example, I could be a slave to debt, and feel like I can't quit my job for fear of what will happen, or I can't move on and do something else because I'm trapped by what I owe, and the consequences of those decisions.  I could be a slave to a substance such as alcohol, to the point where I feel I must have it all costs, even if that ruins my relationships.  I may not want it to destroy my marriage, but my inability to quit and the adverse effects may leave me feeling hopeless and enslaved to something outside, or perceived to be outside, of my control.
This makes sense, though I still think 'peace', as in 'peace of mind' is a much more direct way of expressing the effect prayer has on you.  But 'freedom' works I suppose - as in, being free from worry, free from anxiety, free from fear...again, to me, that sounds like 'peace of mind', but I get what you're saying.

Quote

So, when I say "freedom", it is a very intentional usage.  Seeing God as my provider, for example, frees me from the worry and anxiety about my job, my business, etc.  None of us are completely in control of every circumstance.  For people like me, that can be extremely difficult.  When I don't have to come home at night and worry about what will happen tomorrow, or the next day, or the day after that, I become a better husband, less prone to snap at my wife, I become a better father who is more attentive to my kids, I become able to actually look at the problems I'm facing head on and not worry about what is going to happen.  I know, with confidence, that if my business fails tomorrow, my life will continue on and all will be ok.  That is freedom.  It also leads to more peace and comfort, but life isn't always comfortable.  But to not be enslaved to fear, depression, worry, anxiety, substances, etc. is a very real and powerful thing.  It isn't an excuse for laziness or lack of concern with what's going on around me, but it is freedom from the fear and anxiety, which makes me much more capable, in fact, of seeing the way through these difficult and stressful situations.

I have experienced this freedom in so many other areas of my life, which is leading me to more fully understand "He who the Son sets free, is free indeed."  There has been great freedom in my life that has come through, ironically, surrender.  I understand it sounds counter-intuitive, but hopefully you can understand what I mean by it since it can be difficult to explain.
Basically, because you've recognized that god is in control of some matters (exactly what...different conversation I suppose), you have been freed of some anxiety, worry, and fear.  You've recognized that of the things that you don't have control over, someone who cares about you does have control over.  That makes you feel less worried about outcomes that may or may not manifest in your favor or to your detriment.

I get the idea of wanting to have a positive, semi-passive state of mind.  A state of mind where you don't have your emotions overwhelm your thinking.

Here is where we deviate:
To me, it makes more sense to train oneself in accepting that there are uncontrollable aspects to life; that tragedy and favor can come at arbitrary times, in arbitrary ways, often times in ways one has no control over.  The recognition that there are some things one cannot control...and that there is no real use in worrying about that which I cannot affect or control.  To imagine that another entity such as a god is in control of what I don't have control over doesn't change the fact that I have no control over it, and worrying about it, again, is pointless.

Imagining an entity such as a god in control, unfortunately, opens the door to me worrying about that which I have no control over.  That maybe - just maybe - if I had pleaded with this all-powerful entity in control, then <insert tragic situation> would not have occurred, or would have caused a minimum of damage, or whatever.  For example, there are people in this world that actually believe that a natural disaster like a tsunami or a flood was instigated by this entity who had control of the uncontrollable to teach humanity a lesson, or did not prevent tragedy from occurring because of the way humanity is or has behaved.

Imagining an entity such as a god in control also becomes rather difficult to apply universally - while I may feel like god is watching over me to protect me when, say, my business fails (i.e. still providing opportunity to feed myself and my loved ones after a failed business), it becomes difficult to resolve that idea in the same world where there are situations like country-wide starvation, murder, war...all of these other tragedies where, if someone who cared were really in control, would have done something about those tragedies.  And if he won't do anything to stop an innocent 6-year old child from being raped, how confident can I feel that he'll bother to help put food on my table when the economy tanks?

Again - I understand what you're saying.  What you're describing is somewhat akin to 'life-experience insurance', wherein you feel confident and at peace that life will work out because someone's looking out for you.

I just don't buy that there is an all-powerful, all-knowing entity that actually is looking out for you.  Perhaps there is something to playing pretend so that you don't have to worry yourself to death.  But I tend to think better of humanity and think we can learn to deal with the unknowable and uncontrollable without having to make up imaginary friends.
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Offline jdawg70

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Re: Why pray?
« Reply #52 on: January 27, 2014, 10:47:02 AM »
I was raised Catholic

(I was raised RC as well)

Ex-rosary squad, UNITE!  Let us celebrate our guilt together!

Ex-RC here as well. One week I thought I didn't sin at all. (tried really really hard) So, I didn't go to confession before participating in communion. When we got home, mom flipped out saying that I sent JC to Hell. I thought that if a 9 yr old boy can send JC to Hell, what could he possibly do for me?

Then I'm not the only one that remembers feeling guilty about not having any sins to confess for a particular week?
"When we landed on the moon, that was the point where god should have come up and said 'hello'. Because if you invent some creatures, put them on the blue one and they make it to the grey one, you f**king turn up and say 'well done'."

- Eddie Izzard

http://deepaksducttape.wordpress.com/

Offline Ivellios

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Re: Why pray?
« Reply #53 on: January 29, 2014, 06:54:12 AM »
Then I'm not the only one that remembers feeling guilty about not having any sins to confess for a particular week?

Correct, because you couldn't possibly have not sinned... even for a week.

Offline Jag

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Re: Why pray?
« Reply #54 on: January 29, 2014, 06:47:32 PM »
Then I'm not the only one that remembers feeling guilty about not having any sins to confess for a particular week?

Correct, because you couldn't possibly have not sinned... even for a week.

I used to think that jokes about "Jewish guilt" were missing the mark, or only thought up by people who didn't know any Catholics in real life. Now I just think they're jokes, but perhaps not as meant by the joke tellers.
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Offline Jesuis

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Re: Why pray?
« Reply #55 on: February 12, 2014, 08:48:40 PM »
If God knows what's best for you why pray?

And if you want to change your life's path through prayer are you trying to manipulate God for your own needs?
Lets say there is a God. And it is all conscious.
Then it could be the psychology of our mind that seeks to pray?
If we forget or we do something we know God will not approve of then our minds is probably seeking forgiveness.

emphasis added.

do you mean omni-conscious?  If so, then that omniconsciousness also knows of our sincere regret in failing to do the diety's will, therefore prayer is unnecessary (except to assuage our own guilt).
When a parent is confronted with it own child's misdemeanor and the child realizes he has done something wrong and goes to the parent and vocalizes said wrong doings and asks the parent to forgive him/her for it -- there is something more humane and more conscious in the parents that responds positively. If this is not done the parent knows what the child did and the child knows what it did and that the parent does not approve but the ego keeps them apart. And the inhumanity keeps digging its heals in for no ones best interests.
« Last Edit: February 12, 2014, 08:50:36 PM by Jesuis »
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Offline 12 Monkeys

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Re: Why pray?
« Reply #56 on: February 12, 2014, 09:53:58 PM »
Jesius,the parent/child relationship is different,than the God/follower relationship. A child has to learn boundaries by being taught what is acceptable/not acceptable behaviour.

 The God/follower relationship,where you already know you are wrong/sinning and need to seek permission/forgiveness for your actions. You know they are wrong/sinful actions but choose to do them anyways,why?

 The fact the child has to learn boundaries is much different than the follower who knows the boundaries but still chooses to sin. The difference here is the child learns,the sinner does not care. The sinner is forgiven,the child learns from a mistake
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Offline Jag

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Re: Why pray?
« Reply #57 on: February 12, 2014, 10:04:58 PM »
^^^The other difference is that the parents are actually present.  ;)
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