How is prayer supposed to work?

Discussion in 'Religion' started by Jennifer Murphy, Mar 18, 2019.

  1. billvon Valued Senior Member

    I am pretty sure there is. I am also pretty sure that no religion has gotten it right yet.
    I hope not. If he does, and ignores all the prayers that he seems to, he is one heartless, sadistic monster. And I'd rather not think we were under the thumb of an evil sadistic god.
    Well, I gave you my answer already. It doesn't work by "going through" a deity; it works more directly than that.
    As I said above, I sure hope there isn't a god who sometimes intervenes when asked. Because then there's also a god that has let millions of men, women and children die horrifying, painful deaths - even when people prayed for them.

    Imagine you went to a doctor for some condition. You discover it is cancer. You ask him if it's curable, and find out that it is. Then he tells you "Of course, I let most of my patients die, because I don't think they are all that worthy. And sometimes I just can't be bothered." I suspect you (and most people) would find another doctor.
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2019
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  3. Jennifer Murphy Registered Senior Member

    Well, you accused me of having a closed mind -- not exactly friendly.
    I have no idea what that means.
    Which scripture? Which god? Are you referring to the one where he tells one of his most dedicated servants, Abraham, out and kill him to please god? Or the one where he turns a women into a pillar of salt just for turning around? Or, and this is my favorite, in a fit of pique characteristic of Trumpty Dumpty, he kills everyone on earth with a flood and somehow gets two of every animal that cannot swim into an ark for 40 days without any of them eating each other?
    Meaning you don't know the answer or you don't care?
    Actually, no. And it doesn't sound like you are prone to provide any enlightenment. I'm not sure why you even responded at all.
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  5. Jennifer Murphy Registered Senior Member

    I am not really asking for evidence. I am asking for an explanation from someone who believes that prayer works of how it works.
    Can you cite any or provide links?
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  7. parmalee peripatetic artisan Valued Senior Member

    No religion, certainly; though I would posit that certain marginalized figures within various traditions have had an admirable go at it--and I don't mean solely those pushing the more apophatic lines of thinking.
  8. Jan Ardena OM!!! Valued Senior Member

    Do you think you can accept and believe in God?

    Physics is about learning about the physical nature of the world we inhabit.
    Theism is a belief in God.

    Yeah! That one.

    Why are s that one your favourite?
    Why not the miraculous creations of Adam and Eve?

    I don’t know the answer. If I did I would happily tell you.

    Maybe if you calmed down a little, and use your open mind to honestly try and comprehend what I’m trying to relay, you may become enlightened. But not by me. By your own search for truth.

    Seriously though. Do you think it is possible we could have a conversation about God, without you wanting to be convinced that He exists?

    Or a conversation where you don’t bring up non contextual verses, or events, that you think makes God look like a murderer, so you can justify your atheism?

    Are you happy bring an atheist?
    Or would you like to become a theist, if it was

    If you are seeking enlightenment, I suggest you respond to those questions honestly, even if you don’t wish to discuss them with me?

    Last edited: Mar 19, 2019
  9. Michael 345 New year. PRESENT is 72 years oldl Valued Senior Member


    This is more a debate, bit on the long side for me

    Interesting from what I skimmed through

    I am fairly certain I saw a program in which the Mythbusters of TV fame run a program about praying for plant growth and another re hospital patients but no links sorry

    As to HOW it works my symplistic reasoning would go with
    • you ask god for something
    • god sets in motion the events for the event you want to happen
    HOW he does it only he knows, the ol' god moves in mysterious ways cop out, you know in other words "I don't know and I am not going to admit I don't know so I will put it back to mysterious god"

    You might enjoy Bedazzled which takes a comedy view of a female devil granting wishes (much the same as prayer) and how the saying be careful of what you wish for

    What is asked for is granted but is not in the expected fashion

    Again good luck with your quest

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    Jennifer Murphy likes this.
  10. Seattle Valued Senior Member

    I don't have any links but I think there was a double blind test regarding prayer. The sick were unaware of any prayers, those administering the test weren't aware of which subjects were praying and which weren't.

    The group of patients were large enough to rely on statistics for their outcomes. All patients were terminally ill. Statistically some who are terminally ill don't die for whatever reason. The numbers were no greater in the prayed for group than in the group where they weren't prayed for.

    There was no placebo effect in this test since none of the patients were aware that they were being prayed for.
    Jennifer Murphy and Michael 345 like this.
  11. Seattle Valued Senior Member

    Why do you believe that "for every action, there is an opposite and equal reaction"? This isn't a religious tenet. Why have you chosen to believe Newton's Third Law of Motion in particular and not other physical laws that aren't particularly supportive of your religious beliefs?
    Michael 345 likes this.
  12. Jan Ardena OM!!! Valued Senior Member

    Never said it was a “religious tenet”.
    In fact I never mentioned religion at all.
    Why are you bringing up religion?

    Why do you accept that law?

    Last edited: Mar 19, 2019
  13. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    It works because they believe it does. It's no more complicated than that.
  14. Jennifer Murphy Registered Senior Member

    OK, thanks.
  15. Bowser Namaste Valued Senior Member

    I gave a smoke to a guy the other night while I was standing outside, myself smoking a cig. We talked about work. Afterward we shook hands and he said "God bless." My thought...absolutely.
  16. Jennifer Murphy Registered Senior Member

    That's my question. I'm trying to remember what I was told about how prayer works, but my time in Sunday School and a long time ago. I think it was more or less as you say, but I'm not sure. Now, as an agnostic, when I ask true believers, I get vague, sometimes incomprehensible, answers or sometimes, like with Jan, personal attacks. I just want to know if true believers believe that their prayers about someone else changes anything and, if it does, is it god doing that and, if so, was that because of the prayer.

    Thanks for the links, but they really weren't studies.

    I would be interested in a study where a group of people who are suffering from some mild disorder are divided into groups. In each randomly assigned group, friends and relatives would show support with or without prayer and with or without telling the person that they prayed. This would be a very difficult study to do for many reasons, not the least of which is the number of combinations.

    I couldn't figure out a way to insert a table and make the columns line up, so this is the best I could do.

    Friend Friend Friend Person
    Group Prays Believes Tells Believes Results

    1. Yes Yes Yes Yes ?
    2. Yes Yes Yes No ?
    3. Yes Yes No Yes ?
    4. Yes Yes No No ?
    5. Yes No Yes Yes ?
    6. Yes No Yes No ?
    7. Yes No No Yes ?
    8. Yes No No No ?
    9. No Yes Yes Yes ?
    10. No Yes Yes No ?
    11. No Yes No Yes ?
    12. No Yes No No ?
    13. No No Yes Yes ?
    14. No No Yes No ?
    15. No No No Yes ?
    16. No No No No ?
    I bet there would be positive results in some of the prayer groups, especially among believers who tell the person that they prayed. I would guess that the biggest factor would be whether the person with the illness believes. Next would be whether the friend believes.

    We'd also need one more group of people who send their thoughts and wishes for a speedy recovery without prayer involved.
  17. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

    I think that you're not going to find much of an answer to your question, for two reasons:

    1. Among those who believe in prayer there likely won't be any who think it can be scientifically scrutinized.
    2. Among those who do not believe in prayer there likely won't be any who think it needs to be scientifically scrutinized.
  18. Jennifer Murphy Registered Senior Member

    Interesting. I'll look for that study. As an agnostic, that's the result I would have expected. It would be interesting to know how devout the people doing the praying were.

    But this still isn't my question. I want to know how it is supposed to work according to those who believe it works. I can't get a straight answer to that.
  19. Jennifer Murphy Registered Senior Member

    I don't want to speak for Jan, but I'd guess this is another way of saying "karma".
  20. Jennifer Murphy Registered Senior Member

    That's from the perspective of a non-believer, right? I am asking for the perspective of a believer.
  21. Jennifer Murphy Registered Senior Member

    My original question was not about subjecting prayer to scientific scrutiny. I simply wanted to hear from people who believe that prayer works about how they believe it works. So far, nothing useful on that front.
  22. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

    Welll... A non-answer can still provide useful input.

    As Jan points out, he believes it just happens by magic. You asked him how prayer works, and he answered with why prayer works (because God wants it to), but was silent on the how.
    That falls well in the category of magical thinking.
    And that is an implicit form of answer, even if the poster doesn't admit it.
  23. Jan Ardena OM!!! Valued Senior Member



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