Author Topic: Why pray?  (Read 2475 times)

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Offline Anfauglir

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Re: Why pray?
« Reply #58 on: February 13, 2014, 03:45:22 AM »
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.

Good point.

So a parent who knows full well that a child has sinned done wrong, being so much wiser and more compassionate than the child, should actively seek out the child and explain to them clearly what they did wrong, reassure them personally that their love is still there, and carefully nurture and guide them back to correct behaviour.

I quite agree with you though.  If a child sinned done wrong, and the parent knows full well it has happened, but the child is too stubborn and/or immature to come and confess and apologise.......in that scenario, if the parent sat aloof and demanded penitence BEFORE giving any more love and guidance.....that would indeed be a very poor, very BAD parent. 

Like you say, one clearly driven by its own ego and inhumanity, with no concern for the best interests of its child.  I'd have no respect for any parent like that.
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Offline screwtape

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Re: Why pray?
« Reply #59 on: February 13, 2014, 10:44:25 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

Also, let's not overlook the difference in punishment between the god and parent.  The parent's punishment is generally benevolent and meant to instruct.  The god's is vindictive, punitive, permanent and cannot serve to instruct.  Dead people in hell don't really learn or benefit from the lesson in any way, do they?


edit: less --> lesson

« Last Edit: February 14, 2014, 03:11:42 PM by screwtape »
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Offline 12 Monkeys

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Re: Why pray?
« Reply #60 on: February 14, 2014, 01:25:33 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

Also, let's not overlook the difference in punishment between the god and parent.  The parent's punishment is generally benevolent and meant to instruct.  The god's is vindictive, punitive, permanent and cannot serve to instruct.  Dead people in hell don't really learn or benefit from the less in any way, do they?
   Not to mention the parent is swift and immediate with corrective action(hopefully fair also),where this God is nowhere to be found until you are DEAD. The only difference between the sinful act of a believer and a non-believer(sin being a term used loose) is the fact that the believer actually thinks its ok to perform the act and be forgiven for it. A non-believer may do the same sinful action,but does not feel the need for vindication.

 The fact a believer actually believes,with no knowledge other than faith that he will be forgiven for the act is ludicrous and ridiculous. It is easy to choose NOT to sin so you wont need forgiveness,so why DON'T you?
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Offline b.a.worldchanger

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Re: Why pray?
« Reply #61 on: February 17, 2014, 05:07:42 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.

These are all side effects, but it is much more than this.  I don't think the idea of peace captures accurately the more powerful emotion of joy and profound thankfulness that results from being set free.

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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.

Yes, I believe God is in control even when I am not, which certainly leads to less anxiousness about things that are clearly beyond my ability to control.

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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.

I find it far from passive.  I think if it were just about peace of mind, this might be true.

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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.

I don't think we deviate in this as far as you may think.  By and large, I believe things will happen that are outside of my control, certainly. 

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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.

I suppose this does happen, at times, and may indeed result in such conclusions being drawn.

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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 certainly do not walk around with assurance that all will be taken care of in this life.  I don't think one could read the Bible and draw that conclusion, given what happened to Jesus himself.  He reiterated to his disciples that the servant is not greater than the master.  He was put to death on a cross...and he warns his disciples that they, too, will face many difficult trials.  That is a difficult gospel for Western Christians to face, but it is a reality for many in other parts of the world.

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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.

While I would desire to share your sentiments, it certainly doesn't feel like this is the case when we look back on the past, and we see the present turmoil in our world, and the increasing capacity to destroy one another with the push of a few buttons or the release of a biological agent.  We've been dangerously close in the past, and the capacity for mass destruction by various means grows more and more sophisticated and accessible for those intent on doing harm.  It would seem that it is likely a matter of time, before the right (or wrong) person bent on destruction or lust for power, obtains the means to do so.  I hope I'm wrong, but I believe that we have a capacity for both great good, and great evil, as a species.  We may learn to deal with the unexpected natural catastrophe, but will we learn to deal with ourselves, and with one another?  One can certainly hope, and only time will tell.
« Last Edit: February 17, 2014, 05:10:10 AM by b.a.worldchanger »

Offline jdawg70

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Re: Why pray?
« Reply #62 on: February 17, 2014, 09:56:40 AM »
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.

These are all side effects, but it is much more than this.  I don't think the idea of peace captures accurately the more powerful emotion of joy and profound thankfulness that results from being set free.

I'm not sure 'freedom' accurately captures powerful emotions such as joy and thankfulness either.  Maybe trying to lump it into a singular phrase isn't appropriate.
Of course, this is all semantics at this point.  I get what you're saying, and I suspect others reading it likewise would as well.

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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.

Yes, I believe God is in control even when I am not, which certainly leads to less anxiousness about things that are clearly beyond my ability to control.
<snip>
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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.

I don't think we deviate in this as far as you may think.  By and large, I believe things will happen that are outside of my control, certainly. 

Is there anything that you feel that either you or god have no control over that you do not have any anxious feelings about?

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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.

I suppose this does happen, at times, and may indeed result in such conclusions being drawn.

Sadly, you don't need to suppose anything.  It happens.  Finding examples of church leaders ascribing the ills of the world like natural disasters or disease to neglecting god is fairly trivial.

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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 certainly do not walk around with assurance that all will be taken care of in this life.  I don't think one could read the Bible and draw that conclusion, given what happened to Jesus himself.  He reiterated to his disciples that the servant is not greater than the master.  He was put to death on a cross...and he warns his disciples that they, too, will face many difficult trials.  That is a difficult gospel for Western Christians to face, but it is a reality for many in other parts of the world.

You may not draw that conclusion from the bible, but others do.  Some of those unfortunate people have medically preventable dead children thanks to such conclusions.

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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.

While I would desire to share your sentiments, it certainly doesn't feel like this is the case when we look back on the past, and we see the present turmoil in our world, and the increasing capacity to destroy one another with the push of a few buttons or the release of a biological agent.  We've been dangerously close in the past, and the capacity for mass destruction by various means grows more and more sophisticated and accessible for those intent on doing harm.  It would seem that it is likely a matter of time, before the right (or wrong) person bent on destruction or lust for power, obtains the means to do so.  I hope I'm wrong, but I believe that we have a capacity for both great good, and great evil, as a species.  We may learn to deal with the unexpected natural catastrophe, but will we learn to deal with ourselves, and with one another?  One can certainly hope, and only time will tell.

I think you do share much of my sentiment.  I do agree that people are capable of great good and great evil.  It's just that one of us here purports to believe that an entity of great power and compassion who has the ability to suppress some of that great evil actually exists.

......................

I am rather curious - if you were to simply stop praying, completely and utterly, starting now, would any of your feelings change?  Would you start to feel more worried or more anxious?  Note that I'm not saying to 'stop believing that god exists'[1] - just stop praying.

Does the idea of 'no longer praying' elicit any negative feelings?  I just mean the act itself - you'd still be believing that god is watching you, that he is good, etc.

Maybe too tangential or perhaps not possible to answer.  But it was a question that popped into my head, so I thought I'd ask.
 1. Doing such a thing at the drop of a hat would seem rather impossible, no?
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Offline b.a.worldchanger

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Re: Why pray?
« Reply #63 on: February 18, 2014, 02:41:59 AM »
Is there anything that you feel that either you or god have no control over that you do not have any anxious feelings about?

Many things, if I understand the question correctly.  There are many things I can't control directly, but I do not live with anxiety as a result of not being able to control those circumstances. 

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I am rather curious - if you were to simply stop praying, completely and utterly, starting now, would any of your feelings change?  Would you start to feel more worried or more anxious?  Note that I'm not saying to 'stop believing that god exists'[1] - just stop praying.

Does the idea of 'no longer praying' elicit any negative feelings?  I just mean the act itself - you'd still be believing that god is watching you, that he is good, etc.

Maybe too tangential or perhaps not possible to answer.  But it was a question that popped into my head, so I thought I'd ask.
 1. Doing such a thing at the drop of a hat would seem rather impossible, no?

This is one of the more interesting questions I've been asked.  The thought of not praying is a difficult one to divorce from my belief in God.  If I believe what the Bible says it true, if I believe that prayer is powerful and necessary (whether it changes me, influences circumstances, blesses God, or helps me to overcome) then it would seem profoundly foolish to me that I would ever not desire to pray.  It is an interesting question, but as you say, it may be too tangential or impossible to answer.  I don't think prayer is something I can separate or set aside from my belief in God.  For me, it is a compulsion and desire to pray, and it is also an example Jesus himself demonstrated in His own life and to His disciples.  I suppose that if I stopped praying it would, theoretically, still be possible for me to live without anxiety, and I could still trust that God is good and in control.  But, I just can't imagine wanting to (cease praying).  Does that make sense?  But, it was an interesting question for sure.

Offline jdawg70

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Re: Why pray?
« Reply #64 on: February 18, 2014, 10:10:46 AM »
Is there anything that you feel that either you or god have no control over that you do not have any anxious feelings about?

Many things, if I understand the question correctly.  There are many things I can't control directly, but I do not live with anxiety as a result of not being able to control those circumstances. 

Are those things that god also has no control over?  I guess I was trying to determine if you felt that there was anything that was ultimately not under the control of any willful sentience, and if you some of those things were things you worried about at all.

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This is one of the more interesting questions I've been asked.  The thought of not praying is a difficult one to divorce from my belief in God.  If I believe what the Bible says it true, if I believe that prayer is powerful and necessary (whether it changes me, influences circumstances, blesses God, or helps me to overcome) then it would seem profoundly foolish to me that I would ever not desire to pray.  It is an interesting question, but as you say, it may be too tangential or impossible to answer.  I don't think prayer is something I can separate or set aside from my belief in God.  For me, it is a compulsion and desire to pray, and it is also an example Jesus himself demonstrated in His own life and to His disciples.  I suppose that if I stopped praying it would, theoretically, still be possible for me to live without anxiety, and I could still trust that God is good and in control.  But, I just can't imagine wanting to (cease praying).  Does that make sense?  But, it was an interesting question for sure.

You feel that prayer is an essential part of your belief in god, insofar as your belief in god necessarily provides you with a compulsion and desire to pray.  I guess my question is about as fair as asking you what would change about how you approach life if you did not have a belief in god - which probably can't be practically answered for you.

Do you think it would be possible for you to cease praying?  Not cease wanting to, but simply not doing it?  Even as a personal experiment of some kind?  Like, if you are interested in finding out just how prayer affects you and your life, you set out to simply not pray for a month and observe the results (in yourself, circumstances around you, etc.)?  I mean - the act of praying.  Sort of in the same vein as how a Catholic could give up eating chocolate for Lent - they still want to eat chocolate, but they forsake doing such a thing (in this case, to fulfill a ritual).  I'm not asking you to do such a thing, but if you did, do you think god would be upset or anything with you?  Do you think anything bad would happen?
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Offline b.a.worldchanger

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Re: Why pray?
« Reply #65 on: February 22, 2014, 03:09:38 AM »
Are those things that god also has no control over?  I guess I was trying to determine if you felt that there was anything that was ultimately not under the control of any willful sentience, and if you some of those things were things you worried about at all.

Yes, I believe God is in control.

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Do you think it would be possible for you to cease praying?  Not cease wanting to, but simply not doing it?  Even as a personal experiment of some kind?  Like, if you are interested in finding out just how prayer affects you and your life, you set out to simply not pray for a month and observe the results (in yourself, circumstances around you, etc.)?  I mean - the act of praying.  Sort of in the same vein as how a Catholic could give up eating chocolate for Lent - they still want to eat chocolate, but they forsake doing such a thing (in this case, to fulfill a ritual).

Of course it is physically possible.  I spent much of my life with little desire to pray, and I didn't participate in prayer frequently.  So, I suppose I've already lived out that experiment to some degree.

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I'm not asking you to do such a thing, but if you did, do you think god would be upset or anything with you?  Do you think anything bad would happen?

I don't know.  I don't necessarily pray because I don't want bad things to happen.  Bad things happen anyway, that is a part of life, and Jesus tells us to expect that this is the case.  Almost all of the disciples were martyred, so clearly prayer isn't meant as a universal hedge against evil or suffering.  So, bad things will happen regardless.  Do I think God desires that I would stop praying?  No.  Do I think He would necessarily "punish" me for doing so?  No.  But just knowing He desires that I would pray is enough to keep me from wanting to cease.  As I mentioned above, I've already lived out that experiment at different times in my life.

Offline Boots

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Re: Why pray?
« Reply #66 on: February 22, 2014, 09:46:12 PM »
Do I think God desires that I would stop praying?  No.  Do I think He would necessarily "punish" me for doing so?  No.  But just knowing He desires that I would pray is enough to keep me from wanting to cease.

Interesting.  So you not following your god's desires won't result in punishment?
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Offline b.a.worldchanger

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Re: Why pray?
« Reply #67 on: February 24, 2014, 01:40:54 AM »
Do I think God desires that I would stop praying?  No.  Do I think He would necessarily "punish" me for doing so?  No.  But just knowing He desires that I would pray is enough to keep me from wanting to cease.

Interesting.  So you not following your god's desires won't result in punishment?

With regard to prayer, punishment certainly isn't my motivation, so I have never given it much consideration.  I believe stopping prayer would certainly be negative and carry negative ramifications, regardless of direct punishment.  Prayer is such a key component of my life, that I would never really consider ceasing intentionally, even with the previous acknowledgement that it is hypothetically possible.  Jesus teaches us how to pray, he models prayer, and the apostles speak of it as a foregone conclusion that not only would we pray, but we would pray constantly.  The early church gathered to pray, Jesus advocated personal prayer, so it makes sense that it would be a necessary part of Church life and discipleship.

Offline Jag

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Re: Why pray?
« Reply #68 on: February 24, 2014, 01:59:35 PM »
This conversation has taken an interesting turn.

BAWC, can you pause for a minute and expand on your use of prayer? Can you explain what acts/behaviors you had in mind when you and jdawg were discussing stopping praying? Are we talking about on your knees praying, set-aside time for praying/contemplation, or were you thinking of the sort of internal dialogue you have with your god?

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Offline b.a.worldchanger

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Re: Why pray?
« Reply #69 on: February 24, 2014, 05:31:55 PM »
This conversation has taken an interesting turn.

BAWC, can you pause for a minute and expand on your use of prayer? Can you explain what acts/behaviors you had in mind when you and jdawg were discussing stopping praying? Are we talking about on your knees praying, set-aside time for praying/contemplation, or were you thinking of the sort of internal dialogue you have with your god?

Gotta run to class.

Jag,

I can provide some starting points, and we can explore them further if you desire.  Regarding the "mechanics" of prayer, they are quite diverse. 

  • Corporate prayer:  We gather to pray as the Church, with other believers.  For example, at my local church, there is a prayer gathering every Thursday night for about an hour.  This would be similar, perhaps, to what we see in Acts with the people meeting together to corporately pray in homes or together at the temple.  The point is unity, agreeing with one another, petitioning God, worship, praise, etc.  It is also an opportunity to pray for those who have individual needs, where we can actually gather around them in prayer.
  • Closet prayer: While that may or may not be a formal name, it is in the example of Jesus who often retreated by himself for personal prayer outside the watchful eye of others.  The point being to remove all distractions, and to have a humble time of prayer.  For me, this often is a retreat away from my home and others.  There is a viewpoint above our city, and I often go there by myself to pray.  Or, at night, once the house is quiet, I'll spend time in prayer.  Sometimes, this results in being on my knees or face before the Lord, other times I may just sit or even lie down.  Other times, I may even walk and pace, as I frequently do when I talk on the phone.  The content of this prayer is varied, but I spend a lot of timing praying for others, praying for needs (supplication), praising God, and seeking His will.  I will often start this time with a bit of worship and confession/repentance.
  • Structured prayer: This is a time I might set aside daily to pause and pray, similar to Daniel.  When I fast, this would manifest as the prayer time set aside where I would normally be eating a meal, for example.  A friend of mine does this a lot by setting the alarm on his phone, with specific reminders to pray at specific times (often for specific people).
  • Constant prayer: These are times of contemplation, or informal prayer throughout the course of the day.  It might be while driving [eyes open of course :)] or walking, or working, and often is filled more with praise and conversational type thoughts or speech.  Sometimes I might accompany it with some worshipful music.
  • Intercessory prayer: This is intense supplication before the Lord.  For example, I have woken up in the middle of the night with an intense desire to pray for something or someone very specific, and I've gotten out of bed and retreated to a place where I can be on my face before the Lord to pray intensely for someone or something that I suddenly feel an intense need or desire to pray for/about.

Bear in mind these aren't necessarily "formal" names, it just was a useful way to categorize them.  Nor is this necessarily an exhaustive list, as I'm sure there are many others that could possibly be added.  However, this should cover a lot of ground that I'm sure you may have some more specific questions about.

Offline Jag

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Re: Why pray?
« Reply #70 on: February 24, 2014, 11:59:50 PM »
Informative, but not what I asked.

I don't intend for this to get deeply theological, I was just curious what YOU were responding to regarding jdawg's request. When YOU considered the idea of not praying, what would YOU be quitting? It's not a set-up question, I'm just curious if you were talking about "on your knees" praying or what. Prayer means different things to different people, that's all.
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Offline b.a.worldchanger

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Re: Why pray?
« Reply #71 on: February 25, 2014, 03:00:14 AM »
Informative, but not what I asked.

I don't intend for this to get deeply theological, I was just curious what YOU were responding to regarding jdawg's request. When YOU considered the idea of not praying, what would YOU be quitting? It's not a set-up question, I'm just curious if you were talking about "on your knees" praying or what. Prayer means different things to different people, that's all.

I meant all of the above in my post, since they all constitute part of my personal practice of prayer, not necessarily those of others.  I didn't put anything in that list for theological purposes, but I categorized them simply for the benefit of those who might wonder what I meant.  I think JDawg's request, I assume, would mean all methods of prayer that I regularly engage in, thus all of the above.
« Last Edit: February 25, 2014, 03:01:58 AM by b.a.worldchanger »

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Re: Why pray?
« Reply #72 on: February 25, 2014, 03:27:24 AM »
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.

Good point.

So a parent who knows full well that a child has sinned done wrong, being so much wiser and more compassionate than the child, should actively seek out the child and explain to them clearly what they did wrong, reassure them personally that their love is still there, and carefully nurture and guide them back to correct behaviour.

I quite agree with you though.  If a child sinned done wrong, and the parent knows full well it has happened, but the child is too stubborn and/or immature to come and confess and apologise.......in that scenario, if the parent sat aloof and demanded penitence BEFORE giving any more love and guidance.....that would indeed be a very poor, very BAD parent. 

Like you say, one clearly driven by its own ego and inhumanity, with no concern for the best interests of its child.  I'd have no respect for any parent like that.
Lets not assume all parents and all children are anything but. They are a wide and varied bunch of inhumanity.

But we cannot forget there is a carefully nurtured relationship between the compassionate parent and his child. They know one another and know what their relationship is.
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Re: Why pray?
« Reply #73 on: February 25, 2014, 03:42:47 AM »
Also, let's not overlook the difference in punishment between the god and parent.  The parent's punishment is generally benevolent and meant to instruct.  The god's is vindictive, punitive, permanent and cannot serve to instruct.  Dead people in hell don't really learn or benefit from the lesson in any way, do they?


edit: less --> lesson
There is a difference in punishment? And it is vindictive punitive. Wow and you know all that because??
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Offline Jesuis

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Re: Why pray?
« Reply #74 on: February 25, 2014, 03:49:23 AM »
Informative, but not what I asked.

I don't intend for this to get deeply theological, I was just curious what YOU were responding to regarding jdawg's request. When YOU considered the idea of not praying, what would YOU be quitting? It's not a set-up question, I'm just curious if you were talking about "on your knees" praying or what. Prayer means different things to different people, that's all.
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Offline Anfauglir

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Re: Why pray?
« Reply #75 on: February 25, 2014, 09:21:11 AM »
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.
Like you say, one clearly driven by its own ego and inhumanity, with no concern for the best interests of its child.  I'd have no respect for any parent like that.
Lets not assume all parents and all children are anything but. They are a wide and varied bunch of inhumanity.

But we cannot forget there is a carefully nurtured relationship between the compassionate parent and his child. They know one another and know what their relationship is.

True.  Such nurtured relationships require regular contact and communication between one and t'other, with the onus, I would say, always being on the more mature party to keep that contact going and the lines of communication open.  The responsible and caring parent would always keep trying with the child.

Its also the case with a parent and a child that there is a realisation on the part of the parent that the relationship will always be changing - there is no immutable and permanent factor in any parent-child relationship.  The attitude of the parent MUST perforce change in the detail, responding to the current needs of the child - no good parent would ever say "you are my child, so this relationship must always remain how I define it".
Just because you've always done it that way doesn't mean it's not incredibly stupid.
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Offline jdawg70

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Re: Why pray?
« Reply #76 on: February 25, 2014, 11:20:52 AM »
Yes, I believe God is in control.

So just to be clear:
You are saying that there is nothing - no circumstances or manifestations of reality - that some sentient entity (you, others, or god) is not in control of?

Do I have that right?

Quote
Of course it is physically possible.  I spent much of my life with little desire to pray, and I didn't participate in prayer frequently.  So, I suppose I've already lived out that experiment to some degree.

I'll say that, essentially, you haven't run the specific test of interest.  In particular, you've not ever been in a position where you actively believed that god desires that you pray, you also desire to pray, but did not engage in prayer...

...and maybe that's just plain impractical of a test to execute.  Because from this and your follow-up responses, it seems to me that praying to god and communicating with god are the exact same thing.  That is to say, if I asked you to stop praying, I'd essentially be asking you to stop communicating and interacting with god.

I mean...is there any difference, at all, between praying to god and communicating with god?  To bring up a question I made earlier in this thread:

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?
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Offline jdawg70

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Re: Why pray?
« Reply #77 on: February 25, 2014, 11:48:11 AM »
Jag,

I can provide some starting points, and we can explore them further if you desire.  Regarding the "mechanics" of prayer, they are quite diverse. 

  • Corporate prayer:  We gather to pray as the Church, with other believers.  For example, at my local church, there is a prayer gathering every Thursday night for about an hour.  This would be similar, perhaps, to what we see in Acts with the people meeting together to corporately pray in homes or together at the temple.  The point is unity, agreeing with one another, petitioning God, worship, praise, etc.  It is also an opportunity to pray for those who have individual needs, where we can actually gather around them in prayer.
  • Closet prayer: While that may or may not be a formal name, it is in the example of Jesus who often retreated by himself for personal prayer outside the watchful eye of others.  The point being to remove all distractions, and to have a humble time of prayer.  For me, this often is a retreat away from my home and others.  There is a viewpoint above our city, and I often go there by myself to pray.  Or, at night, once the house is quiet, I'll spend time in prayer.  Sometimes, this results in being on my knees or face before the Lord, other times I may just sit or even lie down.  Other times, I may even walk and pace, as I frequently do when I talk on the phone.  The content of this prayer is varied, but I spend a lot of timing praying for others, praying for needs (supplication), praising God, and seeking His will.  I will often start this time with a bit of worship and confession/repentance.
  • Structured prayer: This is a time I might set aside daily to pause and pray, similar to Daniel.  When I fast, this would manifest as the prayer time set aside where I would normally be eating a meal, for example.  A friend of mine does this a lot by setting the alarm on his phone, with specific reminders to pray at specific times (often for specific people).
  • Constant prayer: These are times of contemplation, or informal prayer throughout the course of the day.  It might be while driving [eyes open of course :)] or walking, or working, and often is filled more with praise and conversational type thoughts or speech.  Sometimes I might accompany it with some worshipful music.
  • Intercessory prayer: This is intense supplication before the Lord.  For example, I have woken up in the middle of the night with an intense desire to pray for something or someone very specific, and I've gotten out of bed and retreated to a place where I can be on my face before the Lord to pray intensely for someone or something that I suddenly feel an intense need or desire to pray for/about.

Bear in mind these aren't necessarily "formal" names, it just was a useful way to categorize them.  Nor is this necessarily an exhaustive list, as I'm sure there are many others that could possibly be added.  However, this should cover a lot of ground that I'm sure you may have some more specific questions about.

Also, I confess I was a little surprised by this response.

Intercessory prayer (be it in groups or alone) seems to run somewhat incongruent to what I was expecting from you:

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.

I just didn't see anything to the effect of 'imploring god to manifest outcomes in reality', and didn't really expect to see that you engage in the intercessory-type prayer.  I guess...do you believe that god will intervene in the world in response to prayer?  That is, if there is some potential outcome in reality to manifest, that the actual manifestation of that outcome is at least somewhat dependent on prayers to god?
"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 Truth OT

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Re: Why pray?
« Reply #78 on: February 25, 2014, 12:16:06 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?

A couple things........

I am not against the concept of praying as I find it to be something many people would find sort of therapeudic. Many folks never bring themselves to the level of vulnerability that allows for the level of self assessment prayer provides outside of engaging in the act. There's something relieving to folks about voicing your cares, concerns, secrets, and expressing your graditude for what you value in life in the peaceful and solitary setting that prayer/meditation offers.
The power of prayer is not in having some imagined divine being being responsive to our supplications, but instead the power comes from the fact that engaging in the act has a way of making the individual feel good (if only temporarily). 
 

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Re: Why pray?
« Reply #79 on: February 25, 2014, 02:25:29 PM »
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.
Like you say, one clearly driven by its own ego and inhumanity, with no concern for the best interests of its child.  I'd have no respect for any parent like that.
Lets not assume all parents and all children are anything but. They are a wide and varied bunch of inhumanity.

But we cannot forget there is a carefully nurtured relationship between the compassionate parent and his child. They know one another and know what their relationship is.

True.  Such nurtured relationships require regular contact and communication between one and t'other, with the onus, I would say, always being on the more mature party to keep that contact going and the lines of communication open.  The responsible and caring parent would always keep trying with the child.

Its also the case with a parent and a child that there is a realisation on the part of the parent that the relationship will always be changing - there is no immutable and permanent factor in any parent-child relationship.  The attitude of the parent MUST perforce change in the detail, responding to the current needs of the child - no good parent would ever say "you are my child, so this relationship must always remain how I define it".
Totally agree the relationship is evolving and for the better in a compassionate and loving way. Both of them experience what is taking place. And the parent has a compassionate purpose so what will the child learn?
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Offline b.a.worldchanger

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Re: Why pray?
« Reply #80 on: February 25, 2014, 09:32:09 PM »

So just to be clear:
You are saying that there is nothing - no circumstances or manifestations of reality - that some sentient entity (you, others, or god) is not in control of?

Do I have that right?


Yes.


Quote
I'll say that, essentially, you haven't run the specific test of interest.  In particular, you've not ever been in a position where you actively believed that god desires that you pray, you also desire to pray, but did not engage in prayer...

I didn't do it with a motivation of testing, I simply just lived out the experiment in the normal course of day-to-day living.  So, I don't think the assumption is entirely accurate.  There were times I knew God wanted me to pray, where I even desired to pray, but didn't engage in prayer just the same.  The Spirit was willing, but the flesh was weak, so to speak.

Quote
...and maybe that's just plain impractical of a test to execute.  Because from this and your follow-up responses, it seems to me that praying to god and communicating with god are the exact same thing.  That is to say, if I asked you to stop praying, I'd essentially be asking you to stop communicating and interacting with god.

Yes, I view prayer with God and communication with God as essentially the same thing.  So asking me to stop praying would, indeed, essentially be asking me to not actively attempt to communicate with God.

Quote
I mean...is there any difference, at all, between praying to god and communicating with god?  To bring up a question I made earlier in this thread:

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?

I must have missed this previous post.  I suppose there are many other forms of communication, including passive examples, or "communicating" with our actions, etc.  But, I'm thinking more along the lines of intentional and conscious communication, with the purpose of expressing one's self verbally or otherwise to God.  So, for the purposes we're discussing, I think of any conversational-style dialogue as prayer, generally speaking.  The purpose is to intentionally communicate.

Offline b.a.worldchanger

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Re: Why pray?
« Reply #81 on: February 25, 2014, 09:42:38 PM »
Jag,

I can provide some starting points, and we can explore them further if you desire.  Regarding the "mechanics" of prayer, they are quite diverse. 

  • Corporate prayer:  We gather to pray as the Church, with other believers.  For example, at my local church, there is a prayer gathering every Thursday night for about an hour.  This would be similar, perhaps, to what we see in Acts with the people meeting together to corporately pray in homes or together at the temple.  The point is unity, agreeing with one another, petitioning God, worship, praise, etc.  It is also an opportunity to pray for those who have individual needs, where we can actually gather around them in prayer.
  • Closet prayer: While that may or may not be a formal name, it is in the example of Jesus who often retreated by himself for personal prayer outside the watchful eye of others.  The point being to remove all distractions, and to have a humble time of prayer.  For me, this often is a retreat away from my home and others.  There is a viewpoint above our city, and I often go there by myself to pray.  Or, at night, once the house is quiet, I'll spend time in prayer.  Sometimes, this results in being on my knees or face before the Lord, other times I may just sit or even lie down.  Other times, I may even walk and pace, as I frequently do when I talk on the phone.  The content of this prayer is varied, but I spend a lot of timing praying for others, praying for needs (supplication), praising God, and seeking His will.  I will often start this time with a bit of worship and confession/repentance.
  • Structured prayer: This is a time I might set aside daily to pause and pray, similar to Daniel.  When I fast, this would manifest as the prayer time set aside where I would normally be eating a meal, for example.  A friend of mine does this a lot by setting the alarm on his phone, with specific reminders to pray at specific times (often for specific people).
  • Constant prayer: These are times of contemplation, or informal prayer throughout the course of the day.  It might be while driving [eyes open of course :)] or walking, or working, and often is filled more with praise and conversational type thoughts or speech.  Sometimes I might accompany it with some worshipful music.
  • Intercessory prayer: This is intense supplication before the Lord.  For example, I have woken up in the middle of the night with an intense desire to pray for something or someone very specific, and I've gotten out of bed and retreated to a place where I can be on my face before the Lord to pray intensely for someone or something that I suddenly feel an intense need or desire to pray for/about.

Bear in mind these aren't necessarily "formal" names, it just was a useful way to categorize them.  Nor is this necessarily an exhaustive list, as I'm sure there are many others that could possibly be added.  However, this should cover a lot of ground that I'm sure you may have some more specific questions about.

Also, I confess I was a little surprised by this response.

Intercessory prayer (be it in groups or alone) seems to run somewhat incongruent to what I was expecting from you:

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.

I just didn't see anything to the effect of 'imploring god to manifest outcomes in reality', and didn't really expect to see that you engage in the intercessory-type prayer.  I guess...do you believe that god will intervene in the world in response to prayer?  That is, if there is some potential outcome in reality to manifest, that the actual manifestation of that outcome is at least somewhat dependent on prayers to god?

As I was conveying to wheels, those are just some examples, and those are examples in particular are other than just supplication.  I do believe that God does call/respond to prayer, the Bible is filled with such examples, including the examples laid down by Jesus himself and the apostles.  But, there are many facets to prayer outside of supplication, which was the point I was conveying to Wheels and others.  I think I probably just took for granted that everyone would assume requests of petition are also a normal part of prayer, and they were looking for other reasons why someone would pray.

Offline Anfauglir

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Re: Why pray?
« Reply #82 on: February 26, 2014, 04:33:04 AM »
Totally agree the relationship is evolving and for the better in a compassionate and loving way. Both of them experience what is taking place. And the parent has a compassionate purpose so what will the child learn?

I would suggest that the parent's purpose would be largely irrelevant to what the child will actually learn.  I may intend to teach my child that all life has value - however, if I did this by dissecting live animals to show them how all the parts work in situ, the child may in fact receive the lesson that life does NOT have value.

What matters is what the parent actually teaches, regardless of their purpose or intentions.  If a parent wishes to impart a particular lesson, it would need to alter its style of teaching "on the fly", constantly amending its method of delivery to the child - which almost certainly means giving different delivery to different children.
Just because you've always done it that way doesn't mean it's not incredibly stupid.
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Offline jdawg70

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Re: Why pray?
« Reply #83 on: February 26, 2014, 09:49:42 AM »

So just to be clear:
You are saying that there is nothing - no circumstances or manifestations of reality - that some sentient entity (you, others, or god) is not in control of?

Do I have that right?


Yes.
So...when misfortune befalls you, as it befalls each and everyone one of us in some way, at some point in our lives...do you attribute that circumstance to god?  And I mean misfortune that you nor any other human being could reasonably have control over - like a natural disaster or a disease.  Or do you attribute it to another sentient entity that does have control over that particular circumstance, like a powerful malevolent entity for example?

Would it have been possible to avert said misfortune if a sufficient number of people conversed with god to prevent it?  Or sufficient number of people with a sufficient degree of sincerity conversed with god and made it expressly clear that, say, we, collectively, as a society, would rather a tsunami not hit a populated coastline?  Or at least get sufficient forewarning and advice to evacuate said coastline?

Quote
I didn't do it with a motivation of testing, I simply just lived out the experiment in the normal course of day-to-day living.  So, I don't think the assumption is entirely accurate.  There were times I knew God wanted me to pray, where I even desired to pray, but didn't engage in prayer just the same.  The Spirit was willing, but the flesh was weak, so to speak.
Well...during that time when you were weak, did you notice anything that you would have considered an adverse effects of not praying?  Assuming that is the case (e.g. increased anxiety, sense of entrapment, etc.), how did you determine that it was due to lack of prayer?  Or did you just try praying and noticed that the adverse effects began to reduce as you prayed more?

When you say 'the spirit was willing, but the flesh was weak', do you mean to imply that you were simply too lazy to speak to god, or is it more than that?

Quote
Yes, I view prayer with God and communication with God as essentially the same thing.  So asking me to stop praying would, indeed, essentially be asking me to not actively attempt to communicate with God.

Quote
I mean...is there any difference, at all, between praying to god and communicating with god?  To bring up a question I made earlier in this thread:

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?

I must have missed this previous post.  I suppose there are many other forms of communication, including passive examples, or "communicating" with our actions, etc.  But, I'm thinking more along the lines of intentional and conscious communication, with the purpose of expressing one's self verbally or otherwise to God.  So, for the purposes we're discussing, I think of any conversational-style dialogue as prayer, generally speaking.  The purpose is to intentionally communicate.

Thanks for addressing that.
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Offline jdawg70

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Re: Why pray?
« Reply #84 on: February 26, 2014, 09:55:04 AM »
As I was conveying to wheels, those are just some examples, and those are examples in particular are other than just supplication.  I do believe that God does call/respond to prayer, the Bible is filled with such examples, including the examples laid down by Jesus himself and the apostles.  But, there are many facets to prayer outside of supplication, which was the point I was conveying to Wheels and others.  I think I probably just took for granted that everyone would assume requests of petition are also a normal part of prayer, and they were looking for other reasons why someone would pray.

So with that in mind, I wonder - do you think there is any situation where imploring god, through the act of prayer, to cure someone of a disease is sufficient to manifest that outcome?  Do you think there is any situation where imploring god, through the act of prayer, to cure someone of a disease is necessary (but perhaps not sufficient) to manifest that outcome?
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Re: Why pray?
« Reply #85 on: February 26, 2014, 12:42:50 PM »
I had a minor "aha" moment here. Some of what baw says reminds me of the Eastern concept of mindfulness. The idea of living the moment, consciously. By "praying constantly," one pays more attention, which in my opinion is a good thing. I think a lot of spiritual practices, at their core, have some interesting concepts behind them (such as mindfulness). Its when people look at those practices in a shallow fashion, or get into power trips, or become dogmatic, that the trouble begins.
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Re: Why pray?
« Reply #86 on: February 26, 2014, 07:24:24 PM »
I had a minor "aha" moment here. Some of what baw says reminds me of the Eastern concept of mindfulness. The idea of living the moment, consciously. By "praying constantly," one pays more attention, which in my opinion is a good thing. I think a lot of spiritual practices, at their core, have some interesting concepts behind them (such as mindfulness). Its when people look at those practices in a shallow fashion, or get into power trips, or become dogmatic, that the trouble begins.
I was seeing that too.  But that's why I was a bit surprised when he talked in terms of intercessory prayer.  I was getting the sensation that his 'use' of prayer shared quite a bit of commonality with healthy introspection - I'd argue that he's essentially anthropomorphizing his internal conscience into the Christian god entity, and he'd claim that he really was in commune with the Christian god entity, but effectively it appeared to function in a similar manner as meditation.  A means to 'let go' of anxiety, stress...the negative emotions that tend to plague one's general sense of peace and happiness.

Now I realize that he has not had the opportunity to respond to my last set of comments and inquiries, but I'm going to make the guess that he doesn't view intercessory prayer as a means to implore god to change the outcomes of reality.  Rather, I would bank on it being more of a form of expressing one's hopes to a friend that a desirable outcome will manifest, and likewise not actually expecting the friend to do something about it but to be a sympathetic ear in times of need.

Sorry b.a.worldchanger - I'm jumping ahead a bit and extrapolating.  Let me know if I'm off base.
"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