Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Quick Question #1 - Prayer

See instructions in sidebar--->

Do you believe that God has a role in answering prayers? If so, what evidence can you point to in your life? If not, what do you believe/think about prayer?

<--- This guy grew up with me in the hallway of my childhood home. I always wondered if he was praying for a knife or for some shaving cream.


STEF said...

For those who don't know me, I'm a Christian. I do have a hard time with prayer be perfectly honest. I believe in a completely Sovereign God - meaning I don't believe in free will... more to come by Friday with my Calvanism post. This is not to say that prayer is worthless... in fact it is the most important thing that we can do in our Christian lives. This quote sums it up best:

"Prayerlessness is the root of all sin. When we do not give time each day to earnest and believing prayer, we are saying that we can cope with life without divine aid. It is human arrogance at it's worst. Jesus knew he had to pray and did so glady, necessarily, and effectively. To be prayerless is to be guilty of the worst form of practical atheism. We are saying that we believe in God, but we can do it without him."

It struck such a chord in me because a lot of times I find myself thinking "what's the point in praying if God already has it planned out and going to act accordingly."

There are instances in the Bible where it seems that God changes His mind because of prayer. (Exodus 32:1-14 is what I'll reference).

In the case of this passage, it is my belief (although not from any books... just from my heart, so it may not be the scholarly answer) that God never changed his mind. I believe this was a test for Moses. Moses reminded God of his promise he had made to Abraham - that He would make a great nation of Abraham - and at that point, God relented. This is toward the beginning of man's relationship with God. Humans can only relate and communicate with God in a manner that humans can understand - which was the exchange of ideas, and the back and forth between Moses and God. Moses came down from the mountain and led the people victoriously into the promised land. This was due to his prayer relationship with God. I think that this passage was a lesson to Moses - and now a lesson to us that we need to remember what God has promised to us in prayer. I don't think that God will change his mind about anything... and I do believe that everything is already planned out and beyond my control... however it is the effect that prayer has on US (ME)... not the effect that prayer has on God that is important. It is what we take away from a prayer relationship with God... not that our prayers get "answered"

stef said...

oops, I didn't see instructions till after I posted. I think I exceeded the 200 word limit.

Stacy said...

That's ok, Stef. You're guilty of not following instructions, and I'm guilty of the root of all sin. :) Sorry, I had to say it.

Jared said...

Prayer has always been one of the more intriguing illusions in religion for me. No matter what you pray for --- god can always be credited for an answer of yes, no, or wait --- and all three of these options can have divine meaning attached just as easily as one could ascribe it to coincidence.

I find that the real arrogance stems from a mentality that god is concerned about the trivial aspects of one’s life versus the unmitigated suffering that continues in our world. I’m sure that many Christian prayers (trivial or otherwise) were “heard” on the day after Christmas 2004 while 230,000 people we’re being plucked from this earth and another ~1.2 mill people displaced. There is a supreme arrogance, in my opinion, in the thought that my prayer was heard ‘over’ another person’s prayer. Makes me think of a little old Sunday school lady gasping for her last breath of air during Katrina, while her neighbor is being 'delivered' from evil.

But it has always bothered me to think that we could win god’s favor through tag-teaming a prayer session--- as if the number of prayers sent to god would, at some point, be ‘enough’ to be granted. To me, it should be certain to anyone that the people who pray will receive their answers at the same statistical rate of those who do not even believe.

Stacy said...

Prayer is not something I've thought much about...really ever. I remember wondering many times what the difference between prayer and wishing is. I've asked myself why one needs to sit down to make a special time with God if he knows what they're thinking anyway?

I love the different scenes in Bruce Almighty where Bruce is trying to figure out how to deal with prayer. The post-it notes are my favorite. :)

One website I like to read has a video showing that prayer is the greatest illusion ever. Jared mentioned the yes, no, wait mentality, and that is what is taught by countless preachers and churches. To understand that yes, no, wait answers work for any question or request you could ever ask God/god or anyone else is to understand the sheer farce that is prayer.

I've been told recently that I see things differently because I don't have the "holy spirit," and I'm sure this is another example of that difference in me.

I've been told recently that maybe I've never looked in the right place for the 'answer.'

I guess I do have an opinion on prayer, afterall. To me, someone who believes in coincidences and uncanniness, it's just another matter of religion that I don't understand the purpose behind, and since I don't have a need for it, I guess it really doesn't matter much to me.

Lesa said...

I guess prayer is the one thing I miss from my prior religious life. When you consider all the horrible things that can happen to you and those you love, you want to do something -- anything -- to increase your chances for continued luck. I don't think my belief that my prayers would be answered, brought comfort, because I don't think I ever believed anyone was listening. But verbalizing (or even just thinking through) what was important enough to ask God for brought a tiny bit of comfort because it put things into perspective. Most things weren't important enough. So you ended up feeling better that you didn't have worse problems to pray about.

My sister prays for patience in dealing with her 4 kids. She needs it and I think it might help her. Of course, that has nothing to do with the existence of God. It has to do with taking time out to think about how you want to behave in times of stress.

gracefromabove said...

For anyone who has questions about prayer I suggest a book by Andrew Murray, With Christ in the School of Prayer. It is available on as a used book for less than $7.
I can best describe this book as a “study guide” to Biblical prayer. Murray covers topics ranging from basic to deeply theological. Some examples are:
Specific prayer
The main reason for prayer
Interceding for others
Lord, teach us to pray
Persevering prayer
Boldness in prayer
Prayer and fasting
In all there are over 30 lessons on prayer in this book.
If you really want to study prayer, go through the Bible and read each statement Jesus made about prayer. You will have a much better understanding of prayer after that or…
You can decide NOT to read God’s “instruction manual” (the Bible) and just say, “Prayer doesn’t work.”
My prayer for you is that you will hunger for the truth and seek God’s direction.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”
Philippians 4:6 the Bible (NIV)

Dixie said...

Prayer is meditation. I don't know if prayers are answered or not. I just know that it helps me feel better, regardless of it's effect on the world at large.

I do like that Garth Brooks song though... "Unanswered Prayers"... which has nothin' to do with your subject, but I just thought I'd lighten the mood and throw that in.

Dixie said...

ps... I just thought that the old guy looked life Jeff Johnson was going to look someday, and I thought he was probably praying for a new wife with big bouffant hair... see, prayers really do get answered!