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Thread: What is the purpose of prayer?

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    Veteran Member Czernobog's Avatar
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    What is the purpose of prayer?

    This is a serious question for theists. What does prayer accomplish. Now, keep in mind I am not talking about the ritualistic prayer one finds during most church services: "Our Father, who art in heaven, blah, blah, blah,". Although, I would submit that I have never understood that practice as it seems to fly in the face of Jesus' own commands about prayer - "But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you." Mat. 5:6 But that's a discussion for another time. No, I'm referring to "the prayers of healing", and "intercession".

    I seem to hear two different schools of thought on this, and neither makes sense to me:

    School one: Prayer is exactly what it seems to be; attempts to plead with God to intercede on behalf of the person being prayed for. "Please guide the hands of the surgeons, be with the nurses during the surgery..." etc. First, do the people who engage in this type of prayer really think that God is listening, specifically to them? Like God doesn't have anything more important to do, today, other than listen in for Kay's personal requests?

    Second, are people so arrogant as to believe that they are important enough to interfere with "God's Will"? As if God had no intention of making sure the surgery was going to go well, until after Kay bothered him about it? Really??

    I mean, I have many, many more problems with this school of thought, but we'll start there.

    Now, the second school of thought, that I just began hearing recently is that prayer isn't about accomplishing anything at all. Rather it's just about "touching in" with God. It's about letting him know we know that everything is in his hands, and whatever happens, we're cool with it.

    Couple of things. First, do we really think that we are important enough that God gives so much as a single fuck about what we're "cool with"?!?! Are we really so arrogant that we think God is just waiting for our call (prayer) affirming that we know what he knows we already know? Really?!?!

    Second, really? We're cool with it? So, when God put that buck in the middle of the road, causing us to flip over in the care, and our wife is now on life support, barely hanging on by a thread, we're cool with that?!?! Really? Cuz I gotta tell you, I'm not cool with it. I'm fucking pissed!!!

    Since neither of these schools of thought really make sense to me, could someone please explain the point of prayer?

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    SWED Missle Command Champion johnflesh's Avatar
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    Peace of mind. Harmony.
    Putting your thoughts into another.
    Pooling hope.
    Finding inner strength.
    Fear.
    Communication to God/higher power.
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    Veteran Member Devil505's Avatar
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    Take this as blasphemy if you want but I see prayer as the same thing as a child who has faith that his letter to Santa will result in good things.
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    Veteran Member Czernobog's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by johnflesh View Post
    Peace of mind. Harmony.
    This can't be accomplished without prayer?
    Quote Originally Posted by johnflesh View Post
    Putting your thoughts into another.
    Putting your thoughts into another...what?
    Quote Originally Posted by johnflesh View Post
    Pooling hope.
    Aaaand, what practical effect does this have?
    Quote Originally Posted by johnflesh View Post
    Finding inner strength.
    Again...seems this should be possible absent prayer...
    Quote Originally Posted by johnflesh View Post
    Fear.
    Oh! You so need to expand on that one!!!
    Quote Originally Posted by johnflesh View Post
    Communication to God/higher power.
    That's a given. Prayer, by definition, is communication with God/higher power. That is what you are doing. That's not what you are accomplishing. My question is what does that communication accomplish?

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    Veteran Member Czernobog's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Devil505 View Post
    Take this as blasphemy if you want but I see prayer as the same thing as a child who has faith that his letter to Santa will result in good things.
    I disagree. The child actually has a better chance that his "Letter to Santa Claus" will have a positive result. Granted, it's because Mom, and Dad, read the letter, and fulfil the child's wishes, but since the child doesn't know this, the result is the same. Letters to Santa have a better chance of being answered than prayers to God.

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    SWED Missle Command Champion johnflesh's Avatar
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    Well sure it can be accomplished without prayer, but that wasn't exactly the question.

    Hope, finding inner strength, speaking to a higher power, etc is what is being accomplished... to ultimately move forward, move on, something.

    I'm not certain this is very difficult to figure out despite views on theism.
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    Veteran Member Madeline's Avatar
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    Raised pre-1969 Catholic. My own experience was, prayer was a form of suffering that somehow, we owed. Lots of kneeling, silence, rote memorization, etc. And there was a gluttony involved; nobody could pray enough. Not even cloistered nuns, who basically prayed except when they were asleep.

    Founded on some terrible, deep-seated self-loathing.
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    Veteran Member Madeline's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by johnflesh View Post
    Well sure it can be accomplished without prayer, but that wasn't exactly the question.

    Hope, finding inner strength, speaking to a higher power, etc is what is being accomplished... to ultimately move forward, move on, something.

    I'm not certain this is very difficult to figure out despite views on theism.
    All things being equal, humans have an appetite for altered states of consciousness. It seems likely most people have ways to quiet their mind.
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    Veteran Member Czernobog's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by johnflesh View Post
    Well sure it can be accomplished without prayer, but that wasn't exactly the question.

    Hope, finding inner strength, speaking to a higher power, etc is what is being accomplished... to ultimately move forward, move on, something.

    I'm not certain this is very difficult to figure out despite views on theism.
    Okay. I guess what I am trying to understand is what is the specific purpose of prayer? What does prayer accomplish that can't be accomplished by, say, deep breathing exercises, and centering?

    "Hope, finding inner strength, speaking to a higher power, etc is what is being accomplished... to ultimately move forward, move on, something."

    Okay. This is meaningless gibberish. You are saying that prayer accomplishes praying. REALLY?!?!? So, what you are saying is that praying for something actually has no real, demonstrable effect, other than "It makes you feel better,".
    Last edited by Czernobog; 16th November 2017 at 09:50 AM.

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    Veteran Member Czernobog's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Madeline View Post
    Raised pre-1969 Catholic. My own experience was, prayer was a form of suffering that somehow, we owed. Lots of kneeling, silence, rote memorization, etc. And there was a gluttony involved; nobody could pray enough. Not even cloistered nuns, who basically prayed except when they were asleep.

    Founded on some terrible, deep-seated self-loathing.
    Yeah...that's the daily/weekly ritual type of prayer. Not what I was talking about. I'm not sure Catholics did a whole lot of the healing/intercessory type prayer to which I am referring...

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