praying for someone
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02-12-2013, 10:34 AM
RE: praying for someone
(02-12-2013 01:47 AM)Yasmin Wrote:  Hi, this is a reply to Taqiyya Mockingbird because once again it's not posting my reply with quotes. Anyone know why that is?
'Do you honestly think people really think that prayer will make their problems magically disappear, really? Like, after how many times of praying to their mythical cosmic errand-boy to make their problems disappear, and nothing happens? '


I think that it's a tempting way of thinking about an all-powerful, loving God at times and a trap that many believers at times can fall into- sometimes out of grief, impatience or as an attempt to get some kind of recognition for how 'good' they've been.

Not much else it *could* be.

Quote: I also think that it's a comfortable definition for those looking to criticise religion and prayer because you can always fall back on the Sunday-school level 'I prayed for a pony, didn't get it so God either hates me or isn't there' argument.

Nice strawman. That's not the only reason.

Quote:My point was that prayer is relational.

That doesn't really mean anything.

Quote:When I said it's about petition not expectation I didn't mean, as you took it, that either way it's creating some kind of obligation or test for God.

Didn't say test. No strawmanning. Yes, it creates an expectation. It is VOICING an expectation. And since YOU brought it up, yes, any prayer for anything can be reduced to "Oh, Mythical Cosmic Errand Boy -- now I wanna pony".

Quote:The point is that whether or not a prayer is answered in the way we want or expect, we still have the freedom to ask.

...which doesn't really mean anything at all.

Quote:The other point I was making was that praying to God doesn't release us from our obligations to ourselves or others around us. Faith (shown through prayer) and deeds need to exist together.

Actually, you have just shown that deeds alone ARE what matters and deeds do NOT "need" your "faith" (whatever you claim/make-up that to be).


Quote:Even bringing it back to what some people have said about a Christian promising prayer and an atheist offering to keep a person in their thoughts, in both cases if that person did that and turned a blind eye to the practical help they could give to that person, they would not be acting in a way true to either religious belief or common decency.

But of course this really is just YOUR version it, made-up just like everyone else's, and we see all kind of preachers claiming that if you pray to your mythical cosmic errand-boy you can get whatever you want, get rich, etc.

It's Special Pleadings all the way down!


Magic Talking Snakes STFU -- revenantx77


You can't have your special pleading and eat it too. -- WillHop
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04-12-2013, 01:07 AM
RE: praying for someone
(01-12-2013 02:13 PM)Chas Wrote:  You have not presented a case for prayer doing anything at all other than what can be done with breathing exercises.

Thanks for bringing this up. I come across this question sometimes, where prayer is compared to breathing exercises, or meditation. I remember going on a philosophy camp at school where we did meditation and were invited to say mantras, focus our breathing, etc. And then the idea of focusing on breathing for prayer is even found in some Christian denominations. I guess if you're looking for something that focuses your attention, that stills your mind and that brings you into an awareness of the moment, then prayer and breathing exercises/mediation share those traits.

But prayer I think does something more. If I'm stressed and feel myself losing control, I can do some breathing exercises that will help me at that moment, and the results will be seen in how my body reacts physically. The same as if I was to go to a meditation class. In this case I would be told to direct myself inward, become aware of myself and to bring about the change or focus I'm looking for. In other words, the work is done by me, for me.

When I pray, although it requires me to have the discipline to quiet myself- even just for a moment-, it's not inward but outward looking. It's also no longer just about me but God as well. For me it comes back to having a relationship with God that allows me to bring my stress and worry, and it's me drawing strength from something outside of myself.

But in terms of prayer 'doing something' I guess the other difference for me lies in that a breath exercise offers relief for a moment, prayer is a petition, or a conversation, that lasts much longer than the problem.

I guess it's a little difficult to explain because whether you agree or not of course depends on whether you think God's there to begin with Smile. I've heard before that this position can be a bit of a cop out. You know, the good old 'that's just an excuse to make yourself feel better and taking comfort in something that isn't real just to avoid dealing with something.' But I think it also comes back to relationship and God not being 'heaven's errand boy.' I don't pray to 'get' something, I pray because it affirms my relationship with God, which is something that inward-looking breathing exercises or meditation can't offer me.
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04-12-2013, 01:27 AM
RE: praying for someone
(04-12-2013 01:07 AM)Yasmin Wrote:  When I pray, although it requires me to have the discipline to quiet myself- even just for a moment-, it's not inward but outward looking.

Really? Do you physically see this god-thing you are "looking" at? :/


Quote: It's also no longer just about me but God as well. For me it comes back to having a relationship with God that allows me to bring my stress and worry, and it's me drawing strength from something outside of myself.

So does this gawd-thing appear before you, and talk to you? Because otherwise it's just you "looking inward" and imagining things. And of course lying to yourself about "looking outward" when you are not.

Quote:But in terms of prayer 'doing something' I guess the other difference for me lies in that a breath exercise offers relief for a moment,

Done right it lasts more than a moment, and can be done anytime at all to continue the calming, quieting effect.


Quote:prayer is a petition, or a conversation, that lasts much longer than the problem.

Does your imaginary friend talk back to you, appear before you? Because otherwise, your are simply imagining things and wallowing in self-delusion.

Quote:I guess it's a little difficult to explain because whether you agree or not of course depends on whether you think God's delude yourself into thinking an Imaginary Friend's there to begin with Smile.

fify.

Quote: I've heard before that this position can be a bit of a cop out.

And yet you ignore that fact.

Quote:You know, the good old 'that's just an excuse to make yourself feel better and taking comfort in something that isn't real just to avoid dealing with something.'

I smell Cognitive Dissonance.

Quote:But I think it also comes back to relationship and God not being 'heaven's errand boy.'

So you make up a new story to avoid dealing with reality. This is the behavior of a pathological liar, by the way.

Quote:I don't pray to 'get' something, I pray because it affirms my imaginary relationship with God my imaginary Friend,


ffixed!

Quote:which is something that inward-looking breathing exercises or meditation can't offer me.

And yet you fail to see the benefit of this.

It's Special Pleadings all the way down!


Magic Talking Snakes STFU -- revenantx77


You can't have your special pleading and eat it too. -- WillHop
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04-12-2013, 01:36 AM
RE: praying for someone
I often bring up Dan Dennett's thoughts on payer when he commented on what he felt when people told him they prayed for him when he had a medical emergency a few years back:

http://www.edge.org/conversation/thank-goodness

Quote:But I am not joking when I say that I have had to forgive my friends who said that they were praying for me. I have resisted the temptation to respond "Thanks, I appreciate it, but did you also sacrifice a goat?" I feel about this the same way I would feel if one of them said "I just paid a voodoo doctor to cast a spell for your health." What a gullible waste of money that could have been spent on more important projects! Don't expect me to be grateful, or even indifferent. I do appreciate the affection and generosity of spirit that motivated you, but wish you had found a more reasonable way of expressing it.
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04-12-2013, 01:37 AM
RE: praying for someone
(04-12-2013 01:07 AM)Yasmin Wrote:  Thanks for bringing this up. I come across this question sometimes, where prayer is compared to breathing exercises, or meditation. I remember going on a philosophy camp at school where we did meditation and were invited to say mantras, focus our breathing, etc. And then the idea of focusing on breathing for prayer is even found in some Christian denominations. I guess if you're looking for something that focuses your attention, that stills your mind and that brings you into an awareness of the moment, then prayer and breathing exercises/mediation share those traits.

But prayer I think does something more. If I'm stressed and feel myself losing control, I can do some breathing exercises that will help me at that moment, and the results will be seen in how my body reacts physically. The same as if I was to go to a meditation class. In this case I would be told to direct myself inward, become aware of myself and to bring about the change or focus I'm looking for. In other words, the work is done by me, for me.

When I pray, although it requires me to have the discipline to quiet myself- even just for a moment-, it's not inward but outward looking. It's also no longer just about me but God as well. For me it comes back to having a relationship with God that allows me to bring my stress and worry, and it's me drawing strength from something outside of myself.

But in terms of prayer 'doing something' I guess the other difference for me lies in that a breath exercise offers relief for a moment, prayer is a petition, or a conversation, that lasts much longer than the problem.

I guess it's a little difficult to explain because whether you agree or not of course depends on whether you think God's there to begin with Smile. I've heard before that this position can be a bit of a cop out. You know, the good old 'that's just an excuse to make yourself feel better and taking comfort in something that isn't real just to avoid dealing with something.' But I think it also comes back to relationship and God not being 'heaven's errand boy.' I don't pray to 'get' something, I pray because it affirms my relationship with God, which is something that inward-looking breathing exercises or meditation can't offer me.


It's you having a conversation with yourself without realizing that's what you are doing. The illusion of something greater outside yourself doesn't make it any more real just because you find more comforting. You're still relying entirely on yourself to relieve your stress, you just prefer to hide it behind a more comforting interpretation (illusion).

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04-12-2013, 03:47 AM
RE: praying for someone
(04-12-2013 01:07 AM)Yasmin Wrote:  
(01-12-2013 02:13 PM)Chas Wrote:  You have not presented a case for prayer doing anything at all other than what can be done with breathing exercises.

Thanks for bringing this up. I come across this question sometimes, where prayer is compared to breathing exercises, or meditation. I remember going on a philosophy camp at school where we did meditation and were invited to say mantras, focus our breathing, etc. And then the idea of focusing on breathing for prayer is even found in some Christian denominations. I guess if you're looking for something that focuses your attention, that stills your mind and that brings you into an awareness of the moment, then prayer and breathing exercises/mediation share those traits.

But prayer I think does something more. If I'm stressed and feel myself losing control, I can do some breathing exercises that will help me at that moment, and the results will be seen in how my body reacts physically. The same as if I was to go to a meditation class. In this case I would be told to direct myself inward, become aware of myself and to bring about the change or focus I'm looking for. In other words, the work is done by me, for me.

When I pray, although it requires me to have the discipline to quiet myself- even just for a moment-, it's not inward but outward looking. It's also no longer just about me but God as well. For me it comes back to having a relationship with God that allows me to bring my stress and worry, and it's me drawing strength from something outside of myself.

But in terms of prayer 'doing something' I guess the other difference for me lies in that a breath exercise offers relief for a moment, prayer is a petition, or a conversation, that lasts much longer than the problem.

I guess it's a little difficult to explain because whether you agree or not of course depends on whether you think God's there to begin with Smile. I've heard before that this position can be a bit of a cop out. You know, the good old 'that's just an excuse to make yourself feel better and taking comfort in something that isn't real just to avoid dealing with something.' But I think it also comes back to relationship and God not being 'heaven's errand boy.' I don't pray to 'get' something, I pray because it affirms my relationship with God, which is something that inward-looking breathing exercises or meditation can't offer me.

Scientific studies have shown no real benefit given to patients who are prayed for in the 2006 study funded by the religious group Silent Unity. Now another thing always bothered me even while I was a Catholic and went to church. Yasmin, do you believe your God is an all knowing deity that also sees into the future and has already set a plan into motion in which he know of all? If so, what is the use of prayer? Isn't it void since humans usually ask for things but God has already carved in stone what he expects? Wouldn't that simply make God angrier like the late great George Carlin?

You said earlier we had the freedom to ask but if your deity has set it in stone does that give us no freedom in that respect? If your deity does not have all future knowledge or power then how does your deity choose on who to save or help with prayer? Why does this person become brutally murdered, raped and tortured violently as this other person's prayer on having his team win the Superbowl be fulfilled? This leads to my next point. How do you know these prayers are actively being filled out? What if its simply coincidence that good things or bad things happen to good or bad people and praying for them does nothing?

I am sorry if this is a lot but prayer I believe is one of least likely out of the entirety of religion to be true. I understand that you believe it helps you but I do believe you could receive a similar effect if you were not religious. I believe that power is within you all along but you attribute it to a deity instead of yourself. I believe you are doing a disservice to yourself because of that but I am glad regardless that it helps you. Just curious if it truly is God.

My last question is what do you think of others who are of drastically different religions who claim similar things as yourself? Is that false or something humans could create? And if yours is somehow different could you tell us how or why?

Again, sorry it is a lot but am curious. I believe humans don't give much credit to what they can do themselves and what we are truly capable of. I think its you who is strong. Either way you seem extremely nice and I am just highly curious.

Prayer can also be used as a bad thing I believe as well. Those who pray for their car keys or that they graduated high school because God intervened in the homework they worked on. I find it highly offensive when humans are celebrating that God gave them what they asked for when there are a ridiculous amount of children on this planet dying of malnutrition and horrific diseases. I believe that is what reveals how much prayer actually changes things and the signs of us having to intervene shows how much God's hand is used to help those that truly need help.

"Mankind must put an end to war, or war will put an end to mankind." -John F Kennedy

The way to see by Faith is to shut the eye of Reason.” -Benjamin Franklin

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04-12-2013, 04:06 AM
RE: praying for someone
(04-12-2013 01:36 AM)BryanS Wrote:  I often bring up Dan Dennett's thoughts on payer when he commented on what he felt when people told him they prayed for him when he had a medical emergency a few years back:
http://www.edge.org/conversation/thank-goodness

A little condescending, but more polite than some articles I've read. I was interested in the part just after the part you quoted:
Quote:Surely it does the world no harm if those who can honestly do so pray for me! No, I'm not at all sure about that. For one thing, if they really wanted to do something useful, they could devote their prayer time and energy to some pressing project that they can do something about.

I sometimes wonder how much of that is transferable to the non-religious. If someone is going to say that the time spent praying (translated as being in their thoughts) is better spent in practical actions, then surely an atheist's words of comfort are under equal obligation, where instead of sitting at home remembering that person or situation and offering nice thoughts on their behalf they should be engaged in some kind of pressing project themselves? Words and actions must go together, whether from atheist or believer. Equal in putting themselves forward, and equal in obligation to their fellow man.
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04-12-2013, 04:18 AM
RE: praying for someone
(04-12-2013 04:06 AM)Yasmin Wrote:  I sometimes wonder how much of that is transferable to the non-religious. If someone is going to say that the time spent praying (translated as being in their thoughts) is better spent in practical actions, then surely an atheist's words of comfort are under equal obligation, where instead of sitting at home remembering that person or situation and offering nice thoughts on their behalf they should be engaged in some kind of pressing project themselves? Words and actions must go together, whether from atheist or believer. Equal in putting themselves forward, and equal in obligation to their fellow man.

Agreed. The point being that atheists don't pretend like just keeping someone in our thoughts is going to have a demonstrable affect on reality (outside of possibly making that person feel better knowing that someone else cares). Praying for victims of a natural disaster has just as much effect as not doing anything for them, short of the dopamine high some get thinking that their prayer is actually doing something to help; or that they've actually contributed at all to helping when they demonstrably have not.

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04-12-2013, 05:33 AM
RE: praying for someone
(04-12-2013 03:47 AM)ShirubaDangan Wrote:  Now another thing always bothered me even while I was a Catholic and went to church. Yasmin, do you believe your God is an all knowing deity that also sees into the future and has already set a plan into motion in which he know of all? If so, what is the use of prayer? Isn't it void since humans usually ask for things but God has already carved in stone what he expects? Wouldn't that simply make God angrier like the late great George Carlin?
First of all, I apologise for not being able to go into huge detail to answer all your quesitons, but I'll try to be as clear as I can Smile. Yes, I do believe God is all-knowing. And (apologies to the Calvanists) I also believe that everything is known but not everything is determined. He does have a plan and a purpose but it is our choice whether we want to follow it by following His will. I fully expect someone's going to tear that last sentence to pieces (especially now I've said it :blushSmile but to stick to the topic, where does that leave prayer? I think prayer in this is how we first seek God and ask for the things that will not only be good for us but in His will. It's possibly the hardest thought shift when you're growing up in the church. You have this child mind-set that sees God like you see your parents and so go about prayer the same way you pester your parents and then you're an adult learning that as muh as God loves you, you're not the centre of the universe. Prayer to an all-knowing God isn't telling Him anything new, but it's showing that your're turning towards Him and willing to be part of His plan for you.

(04-12-2013 03:47 AM)ShirubaDangan Wrote:  This leads to my next point. How do you know these prayers are actively being filled out? What if its simply coincidence that good things or bad things happen to good or bad people and praying for them does nothing?
I don't know, and I'll be the first to say that it would be great if God's actions in the world came with a hand written note to verify. And the question isn't new- read the pslams sometime, they're full of these questions of why bad things happen to good people, good things to the bad and whether it means God is just passivly letting humans battle it out. I find this question most asked in times of suffering and for me the answer is faith (not a blind one, but a trusting one) and a hope of a life beyond this one. Do I believe God hears prayer? Yes. Could I point to something and say 'that's God's work'? In my own experience yes.

This desire for certainty in answers to prayer is a hard one, and I haven't met a believer yet who hasn't admitted the struggle.


(04-12-2013 03:47 AM)ShirubaDangan Wrote:  My last question is what do you think of others who are of drastically different religions who claim similar things as yourself? Is that false or something humans could create? And if yours is somehow different could you tell us how or why?
Oh my goodness, another question that could fill booksSmile I don't think anyone hasn't had God revealed to them in some way. In the OT when the Israilites got angry at God He says 'am I not the God of also of...' and lists a whole lot of other nations. The point being that although they were His chosen people they were supposed to be an example of how to relate to God- not the only people He was interested in. So when the topic of other religions come up, I don't deny that they have their roots in the divine, and even those who claim no religion still have the capability to distinguish moral standards because that is part of how we were created. Just look at the Golden Rule- that's everywhere accepted as just plain common sense these days. However what Christianity offers is the ultimate revelation of God in Jesus and a way of relating to God based on acceptance rather than merit. I'd love it if someone could throw in some comparisons to respond to.


(04-12-2013 03:47 AM)ShirubaDangan Wrote:  Again, sorry it is a lot but am curious. I believe humans don't give much credit to what they can do themselves and what we are truly capable of. I think its you who is strong. Either way you seem extremely nice and I am just highly curious.
Don't be sorry, I like it (though kind of intimidated) when I'm asked to write out a response. It's especially hard to do it when everyone's on completely opposite ends, and I have to admit I'm curious myself as to how people come to reject what I accept.

(04-12-2013 03:47 AM)ShirubaDangan Wrote:  Prayer can also be used as a bad thing I believe as well. Those who pray for their car keys or that they graduated high school because God intervened in the homework they worked on. I find it highly offensive when humans are celebrating that God gave them what they asked for when there are a ridiculous amount of children on this planet dying of malnutrition and horrific diseases. I believe that is what reveals how much prayer actually changes things and the signs of us having to intervene shows how much God's hand is used to help those that truly need help.
You have no idea how much I agree with almost all of this. No problem with bringing everything to God in prayer- the small as well as the big- but it can be sometimes used to insulate a person from the world and create a perception of God that is different to what He is. I don't see anything wrong with thanking God for the blessings in our own lives but for me that gratitude should lead to a natural desire to show it through our actions to others. Also I don't beleive that an answer to prayer is always God's invisible hand reaching down to do something. Part of what we were talking about at the start with God's will includes relating to each other in the same way God relates to us- with compassion and kindness and advocacy. I was raised to believe in 'practical holiness.' The idea that prayer is good for our own spiritual life and to focus on God, but that the ultimate expression of God in our life is to show His love in our actions to others- in nursing the sick, helping the poor, etc. When we say things like the suffering in the world is evidence of prayer having no effect, I think it's forgetting that prayer is a way of communicating with God, but that isn't what being 'religious' is about. It's just as much about what you do in being the hands and feet of God that forwards God's plan and not just being the askers for things.

Sorry for the length and I hope I've answered your questions as far as I could at the moment (late at night, should be in bed:sleepySmile. The most frustrating things about internet forums is that when we all have different time zones you only really get one shot at throwing everything that can think of out there and everyone else jumps on while you're asleep- runs the risk of being very jumbled! We've jumped from calvanism to comparative religion to practical religion and would love to hear what you think.
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04-12-2013, 08:19 AM
RE: praying for someone
(04-12-2013 04:06 AM)Yasmin Wrote:  I sometimes wonder how much of that is transferable to the non-religious. If someone is going to say that the time spent praying (translated as being in their thoughts) is better spent in practical actions, then surely an atheist's words of comfort are under equal obligation, where instead of sitting at home remembering that person or situation and offering nice thoughts on their behalf they should be engaged in some kind of pressing project themselves? Words and actions must go together, whether from atheist or believer. Equal in putting themselves forward, and equal in obligation to their fellow man.

You are dodging and deflecting to a strawman you made up. No one has said that they do this.

It's Special Pleadings all the way down!


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You can't have your special pleading and eat it too. -- WillHop
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