20 April 2008

The illogic of prayer

I've never understood the logic of praying to an omniscient deity.

Prayer is basically a request to God, asking him to do, or allow, something you want. Most Christians seem to do this on a fairly routine basis. God, please heal my child. God, please let me get that promotion. God, please make this lottery ticket a winner.

But why bother? If God is omniscient, he already knows what you want, and how much you want it, and whether or not you deserve to get it. The fact that you asked him for it adds exactly nothing to the set of data he will presumably use in deciding whether to give it to you or not.

So what's the point?

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11 Comments:

Anonymous Michael G.R. said...

"So what's the point?"

There's none, of course.

If you step back, you'll see that if religious people haven't asked themselves questions about the things that are way crazier than prayer, they probably won't blink when it comes to that ritual. Sadly.

20 April, 2008 09:51  
Blogger FranIAm said...

I am prompted to try to say something here which may not be comprehensible. I simply appreciate the space in which to say it.

After all - it is your blog, one I enjoy reading thoroughly, even if I do not always comment. Thus- if you wish to not publish this comment, no problem as I see it. Do as you wish.

And by way of one further disclaimer, I do not come here to bash, one up or prove, I do not live that way. You Infidel might know that as you read my blog, at least sometimes. Your other readers may not.

Ok, enough with the prefacing...

It would be folly for me to try to explain what prayer is, as I understand it.

However, I might like to say what I think prayer is not and why Christianity or any faith is viewed with utter disdain by so many. Including me who is an active practicer of said faith.

Not to take any higher moral ground, I must say that I view many Christians through the lens of skepticism myself.

A long time ago, I like many others believed in what I now refer to as "vending machine God"

In VMG world many erroneous things are in play. The first being that one puts in a prayer and suddenly a response to said prayer pops out.

Well to me that is, while understandable at one level, a very immature view of faith and/or God.

Hence your very well observed and very well put words about the god of all lotto tickets.

Hell, if that were true, I would be a fraking billionaire! Hah!

What prayer is not is also related to this- a notion that God is sitting around waiting to fulfill every person's individual need.

What narcissism! Hah!

The implication that this type of prayer makes, if you follow the concentric circles of it outward is that God loves -for example - I don't actually believe it this way - is that God loves me, my desires, my needs, my family, my community, my town, my company, my country, my denomination or whatever better than anyone else.

I can't even fathom that, although most of the religious people I know actually do view God through that lens.

The way I see it is very different and I won't go into that here, but in the odd event that someone actually cares to know what I think about that, reach out to me.

Having said that, I will add that I do believe in at some level the precedence for intercessory prayer and I do participate in such acts. They generally do not include the lottery, although in my fantasies they do.

My prayer often starts with the asking and then moves into the surrender, which may make no sense at all to you or anyone here. It is just what I do.

I am not here to prove anything. In my life I have come to what I have come to through my own experiences. I wish to live them in peace and I send you off to your own experiences.

On the days we can exchange thoughts and ideas about them, that is great. If not, so be it.

So my last word relates to utter inanity who God likes better... I do not have to annihilate you or anyone else ever to live life within my own boundaries.

And the majority of the worlds problems, IMHO is due to the fact that people feel like they can't be right until someone else is wrong.

Time for me to grab that steaming cup of STFU and shove off.

Thanks for the great post. I am going to link to it.

20 April, 2008 09:57  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

FranThouArt -- never fear, generally I reject comments only if they are insulting, threatening, irrelevant, or contain foul language. Yours was none of those.

That being said, I'm not sure you quite got my point.

It's not the issue of someone thinking he is more worthy of God's favor than someone else. That phenomenon manifests itself in the supreme absurdity of sports teams thanking God for victory over their opponents, as if the creator of the universe were expected to take sides in such trivial contests. But that's not what I was talking about.

Say your child is sick and you pray for his recovery. God already knows you want that child to recover. He already knows how much you want it. And he already knows whether you deserve to get your wish, what the long term consequences of the child's recovery or non-recovery will be, and everything else he might need to know in order to decide whether or not to intervene.

So what difference could it make to ask him to do so?

20 April, 2008 11:30  
Blogger FranIAm said...

Great question Infidel- to which I can only say why not ask Him/Her?

I have been sitting here trying to answer it, but I am not sure that is possible.

That is not a cop-out, just where I am at.

Of course, in my experience, God knows what I want, what I need.

I do not believe that God thinks that some of us "deserve" something good or bad. That is human thinking and quite ludicrous at that. As if someone deserves good and someone deserves ill?

That all goes back to some moronic "God Bless American and F*ck You Bin Laden." Utterly inane and moronic.

I guess, and I am doubtful that this will make any sense either... for me, that kind of prayer leads to a transcendence that may seem - well, well may seem utterly inane and moronic, to others.

However, it does.

And that transcendence or surrender is what matters. At least to me.

Ultimately I am not sure that we can discuss these things. Again- not a copout, just a reality.

I am glad that we can have an exchange of sorts and I think you know I am not here to convert you or anyone else.

Thanks Infidel. I, for one am glad to be in a blogosphere that includes us both.

20 April, 2008 15:23  
Blogger reVAMPed said...

Do you think God will answer the prayers of a killer? If "He/She" is...wouldn't their be some kind of judgement?

I've never seen a prayer answered.

My mother in law, said she prayed for her grandson to get well, and her prayers were answered. Yeah, time passed and he got well...it would've happened anyway...UgH!

20 April, 2008 21:24  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Great question Infidel- to which I can only say why not ask Him/Her?

By that logic, there is no reason not to pray to your car to start when you know it has a dead battery.

If asking makes no difference, there is no point in asking.

I do not believe that God thinks that some of us "deserve" something good or bad.

The Bible says that God does indeed think in that way. The Bible is full of God punishing and rewarding people.

21 April, 2008 03:21  
Blogger FranIAm said...

People could - and should - accuse me of many things.

However, reading and interpreting and living the Bible literally would not be one of them.

It may be of the obvious gifts of my Catholic religion!

21 April, 2008 04:23  
Anonymous handmaiden said...

franiam says transcendence or surrender

I say get over it.

I've dealt with the so called "power of prayer" all my life, growing up in the Pentecostal church. I've seen people fall down in fits of ecstasy. I've seen people hallucinate without drugs. I've seen people anointed with 'power'.

Real sex is better.

21 April, 2008 04:59  
Blogger FranIAm said...

Hello handmaiden.

I am about as far from Pentacostal as you are. I find that whole slaying in the spirit, annointing and other crap just that - crap.

Get over what? You do your thing and I do mine. As long as they leave me alone the fundies and pentacostals can go slay away.

And for the record, I am a big fan of the transcendence of real sex and at 50 have had ample time for practice. And that carries on!

I am ever amazed at the propensity of people to lump all of one kind of anything together...

As if all of any kind - be it nationality, religion, gender, race, ethnicity is all good or all bad.

Now IMO that is magical thinking, in all due respect.

22 April, 2008 03:40  
Anonymous handmaiden said...

franiamThat was rather rude of me, wasn't it? I apologize.

It's just that religious talk gives me the willies, esp. when it starts to enter that spooky realm of transcendental ecstasy.

With all due respect back at ya, I always lump religions together, because I don't see much difference between them when it comes right down to it.
I don't think that I'm indulging in magical thinking by that. It's more like bringing it down to earth or reducing religion to a concept & away from all the emotional hoopala.

IMO, Catholics just practice a different form of hoopala then Pentecostals. It's just not quite so, hmmm...what's the word I want? Physical? but, just as nutty looking from the outside.

22 April, 2008 06:44  
Blogger FranIAm said...

Nutty looking? I could not agree more and I say that as a willing participant.

And no need to apologize, you were not being rude.

Thanks for your replies back. I am the sort of person (as poor Infidel knows) who rather hungers for conversation with all.

To each their own I say and go in peace.

23 April, 2008 05:10  

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