A friend of mine recently broke her wrist. Not only was she in pain, but it meant she could possibly miss an amazing trip rafting on the Grand Canyon. As a result she made a pleas to her friends through facebook. she told them to pray for her wrist so she could go on the Grand Canyon trip.
An interesting request. What does this mean when theists pray? To try and find out I posted my own comment ( along with my own hypothesis).
“Can you theists and spiritual people tell me what you mean by prayer? Are you pleading your case to some personal type God? Is He or She sitting there watching you suffer and you are begging him to end it? A cruel God that wants you to beg before him to end your suffering. Sounds like it creates false hope and leads to more suffering.”
Many replies came back, most gave their own definition of prayer. Here is one.
“ sometimes people pray to themselves for themselves to alleviate suffering, some people use prayer in the exact same way others use meditation…. just because Webster says prayer has to involve a god, doesn’t mean it does”
I am a literalist. People can’t just make up their own definitions for things. We have a language and a dictionary for a reason.
Merriam and Webster define prayer as this:
a (1) : an address (as a petition) to God or a god in word or thought <said a prayer for the success of the voyage> (2) :a set order of words used in praying
b : an earnest request or wish
: the act or practice of praying to God or a god <kneeling in prayer>
Again, one can’t just make up definitions. If its meditation use the word meditation, if its positive thoughts or attitudes use that terminology. Making up your own definition just causes confusion.
The most lengthy response was of course from a lifelong Christian. I will not repeat it in it’s entirety, but he mainly relied on an essay by the great Christian apologist C.S. Lewis. The essay is here if you choose to read it. In it, Lewis does not explain what prayer is let alone prove “The efficacy of Prayer”. All he does is contradict himself and leave the reader more confused. Here are some excerpts from the essay and my comments.
- Lewis: “There are, no doubt, passages in the New Testament which may seem at ﬁrst sight to promise an invariable granting of our prayers. But that cannot be what they really mean. For in the very heart of the story we meet a glaring instance to the contrary. In Gethsemane the holiest of all petitioners prayed three times that a certain cup might pass from Him. It did not. After that the idea that prayer is recommended to us as a sort of infallible gimmick may be dismissed.”
I assume Lewis is referring to Mark 11:22-24 ( similar versus in Mathew). His example above about Gethsemane only uses an example from THE BIBLE that contradicts this. Of course there are REAL examples that occur every day that prove Mark 11:22-24 is a lie (IHOP in Kansas) , but Lewis chooses to use the bible to prove it’s a lie.
Lewis: ” The trouble is that I do not see how any real prayer could go on under such conditions. “Words without thoughts never to heaven go,” says the King in Hamlet. Simply to say prayers is not to pray; otherwise a team of properly trained parrots would serve as well as men for our experiment…you can have no motive for desiring the recovery of all the patients in one hospital and none of those in another. You are not doing it in order that suffering should be relieved; you are doing it to ﬁnd out what happens.”
Lewis is talking about a hypothetical experiment where half the participants pray for hospical patients and half do not. He explains why this would not work by using a quote from Hamlet to make this argument. Wow, Hamlet speaks as much truth as God according to Lewis.
Lewis: “He could, if He chose, repair our bodies miraculously without food; or give us food without the aid of farmers, bakers, and butchers; or knowledge without the aid of learned men; or convert the heathen without missionaries. Instead, He allows soils and weather and animals and the muscles, minds, and wills of men to co-operate in the execution of His will.”
Again, contradicted by the BIBLE and REAL life. In the bible there are several examples where God does not use other people to achieve his ends but steps in directly, i.e. the conversion of Paul of Tarsus, the healings in the New Testament and the book of Acts.
Lewis quoting someone else: “I have seen many striking answers to prayer and more than one that I thought miraculous. But they usually come at the beginning: before conversion, or soon after it. As the Christian life proceeds, they tend to be rarer. The refusals, too, are not only more frequent; they become more unmistakable, more emphatic.”
According to Mark, the refusal of prayer is because of lack of faith, nothing else. If these “experienced” Christians do not have their prayers answered it is because they do not truly believe. How does that sound to you Christians? Have you ever had a prayer refused? If so it means you are not a true believer, either that your bible is full of shit.
The irony is that this essay three years ago caused me to start to lose faith in prayer (and soon after the ridiculous lie of Christianity). Now that I read it again through un-deluded eyes I see how incredibly stupid the idea of Christian prayer is. Lewis disproves his own argument using his own holy book!! What a complete idiot.