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Author Topic: The Power of Prayer
jeniwren
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http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/health/2002901053_pray31.html

I thought this was very interesting and surprising. I've seen similar studies cited by my fellow Christians that had quite the opposite result, which, to be honest, I've always had a certain amount of skepticism about. I've personally had reservations about praying for specific desired results, largely because it feels too much like trying to rub Buddha's tummy for luck, or trying to invoke God like a genie. Or maybe it's that I have this sense that we're supposed to be following God, not leading him.

OTOH, the Bible is pretty clear that God takes our requests into consideration as he moves. Moses pursuading God not to destroy the people for their idol worship. The passage in James in the NT that says you do not receive (blessings) because you do not ask. So while I guess I don't have a problem with asking for what we want, I have a greater problem with expecting that he'll actually do it...which in some respects smacks of a lack of faith. Believing Jesus could and would heal was an important part of the healings accounted for in the NT.

When I most needed to pray for healing (my 18mth-old daughter was having surgery), I can't say I thought about the philosophy of it: I just prayed over and over that his will be done, but I'd really like it to go well. It went fine. Small complications, no big deal. In the end, the power of prayer was more in keeping me from crawling the ceiling and the walls in my desperate fear that she would die. I find that the last line of that article rings the truest for me of it all.

I think it would have been interesting to subdivide the group that was told they were being prayed for into those patients who believed in the power of prayer and those who did not. I wonder what the results of that might have been.

What do you think of the study?

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password
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I think this line sums it up nicely for me:

quote:
"God is not just another therapeutic nostrum in a doctor's black bag," said Sulmasy, who is also a Franciscan friar. "It seems fundamentally sinful to conceive of God as our instrument."
God is not to be conjured. I think the very idea of the study is flawed for that reason.
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SC Carver
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Interesting.

I would also like to know the results of believers vs. non believers. You would think it could have some kind of placebo effect on believers if nothing else.

I think prayer is good for a lot of things, but it is more for us, than it is for tapping into some unlimited Spiritual bank account, which kind of how it sounded like they were treating it.

When we pray alone we slow down long enough to concentrate on a topic and possibly come to some conclusions.

When we pray in small groups we let others know what is on our mind, that we care for them and their problems. Some things can be expressed in prayer that some people may not be comfortable saying or would be hard to say in normal conversation.

Since God knows what we need more than we do I am not sure what He gets out of prayer.

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MrSquicky
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I don't know. The results seem pretty clear to me. These people prayed to the wrong god and another god was punishing the people they prayed for because of it.
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cheiros do ender
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This reminds me of pH's thread. It is true that I'm only ever disappointed if my parents break a promise. Now I think of God as Heavenly Father, so along those lines, what has he ever promised anyone that he didn't deliver on?

I can't think of a single thing. What a legend.

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MrSquicky
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He promised to return before the Apostles died.
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jeniwren
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So, password, do you think it's that the test was flawed, or that God won't be tested, so he didn't answer those prayers?

Squick, I for one am glad he didn't.

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Ramdac99
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quote:
Originally posted by password:
God is not to be conjured. I think the very idea of the study is flawed for that reason.

"Study" and "God" cannot be in the same sentance
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StickyWicket
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quote:
Originally posted by SC Carver:
Since God knows what we need more than we do I am not sure what He gets out of prayer.

SERVITUDE.....this is why i hate The Church
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StickyWicket
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The Church is the biggest mistake God ever allowed to occur.
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StickyWicket
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quote:
Originally posted by jeniwren:
So, password, do you think it's that the test was flawed, or that God won't be tested, so he didn't answer those prayers?

so all i have to do to cause global catastrophe is say: "God, if you're real, prove it to me and stop all this pain"....and God being the petty deity The Church paints would be forced to do the opposite of my request.
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password
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Ramdac, I think it depends on what you mean by "study".

Jeni, it's a good and tough question. My answer would be pretty long and involved... but the short version is-- given that illness and death are a part of the world we live in, an omnipotent, omnipresent God, who chooses to grant some requests and not others, armed with foreknowledge and the ability to order the universe could easily set things up so that the study would be confounded without changing the answers to individual prayers.

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StickyWicket
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the greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world that The Church was the only path to God
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password
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quote:
Originally posted by StickyWicket:
so all i have to do to cause global catastrophe is say: "God, if you're real, prove it to me and stop all this pain"....and God being the petty deity The Church paints would be forced to do the opposite of my request.

Because if there's an omnipotent, omniscient being, He would certainly be taken in so easily... just like "she" was in "Dogma"
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StickyWicket
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I have no edifices of gold and steel and clergy between me and my lord.
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Dagonee
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StickyWicket, are you a bot written by KoM?
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Scott R
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The methodology of the study was kind of interesting, theologically.

1) The people doing the praying and the people being prayed for did not know each other.

2) The pray-ers were given the names of people and told to say a brief prayer for them.

3) It is not indicated that the prayed-for received any other support from the pray-ers.

To me, its a startling condemnation of the idea of 'pray it, forget it.'

Thanks for posting this, jeniwren.

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StickyWicket
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password i was stating that to show how flawd the logic of "he who is called "I am" not answering the prayers of those he loves simply to uphold the "thou shalt not test me" ideal.
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StickyWicket
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God is a body of Love. The Church is a body of brainwash, entitlement, fear, and control.
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jeniwren
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I'm not sure I totally understood your answer, but I really appreciated that your thoughts even prompted the question, which to be very honest didn't initially occur to me as a possibility. I think we're probably very alike in our thoughts on this.

StickyWicket, I'm curious about your reaction regarding servitude. Could you elaborate? I'm curious because a desire and opportunity to serve has, for me, easily been one of the best parts of becoming a believer.

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StickyWicket
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quote:
Originally posted by Dagonee:
StickyWicket, are you a bot written by KoM?

hahahah no. King of Men, apparently he thinks we're the same person.
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On the other hand, Scott, (and I totally agree with the old saw "work is prayer") one very important thing we need to be able to do as Christians is trust that the world is as it should be. We cannot fix everything and sometimes you do have to just leave it in God's hands because your own are (quite properly) full.

I say this ignorant of what you mean by "pray it, forget it"... the closest thing I've heard to that is "let go, let God"... I don't mean to say that you are necessarily opposed to this idea so much as I am offering another possible meaning/reason for your phrase.

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Dagonee
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quote:
hahahah no. King of Men, apparently he thinks we're the same person.
Ah, that explains much. You lack reading comprehension, since I clearly did NOT think you were the same person as KoM.

I do think you are rude, shallow-thinking, and one step short of a troll, though.

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StickyWicket
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quote:
Originally posted by jeniwren:
StickyWicket, I'm curious about your reaction regarding servitude. Could you elaborate? I'm curious because a desire and opportunity to serve has, for me, easily been one of the best parts of becoming a believer.

the willingness to give of yourself and of your life is very important. I admire anyone who can feel that servitude = acceptance and love from your savior/creator. I have no umbrage with this. I agree whole heartedly that when one, such as yourself, can see so clearly that the self dissolved into the whole. the need to spread "the word" will also cause this and it is just as admirable. you are a true believer and a child of God. my problem is with the servitude of one man to another man under the GUISE of divinity. i.e. The Churches method of fear/punishment based obedience.
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StickyWicket
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quote:
Originally posted by Dagonee:
I do think you are rude, shallow-thinking, and one step short of a troll, though.

i see, sorry for the confusion. you are free to judge as you wish in this country.
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StickyWicket
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I'm just a frustrated believer who is tired of The Church destroying the name and splendor of The Lord
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SC Carver
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quote:
The Churches method of fear/punishment based obedience.
I understand where this point of view comes from. But having been in many different churches of a few different denominations I have actually seen very little of this taught in church. Almost every church I've been to taught we should love God because He first loved us. That we are forgiven for our sins, not you're going to hell if you don't act right.
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password
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quote:
Originally posted by jeniwren:
I'm not sure I totally understood your answer, but I really appreciated that your thoughts even prompted the question, which to be very honest didn't initially occur to me as a possibility. I think we're probably very alike in our thoughts on this.

I took this as address to me, forgive me if I'm arrogating.

To explain further... outside of time, God knows He will answer some prayers and not answer others. He also knows that someone will from time to time attempt this study. Since He is ordering the entire universe, He can simply arrange for a set of prayers He chooses not to answer to fall in the course of this study in order to confound it.

He certainly does not, as wicket implies, have to "do the opposite" for anyone who is trying to test him.

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Dagonee
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quote:
I'm just a frustrated believer who is tired of The Church destroying the name and splendor of The Lord
I'm just a frustrated Hatracker who is tired of people lying about the Church.
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StickyWicket
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SC Carver, you are correct but i was referring to "The Church" which is specifically Roman Catholic.
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SC Carver
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Yea, from what I've seen the Catholic Church can use guilt more than other denominations. I think it is because they focus more on works than grace. If you think you have to earn your salvation (which you can't) then you are going to be in fear of loosing it (which you can't).
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Mr. Wicket,

are you really doing good work by lumping so many people, no doubt a few of whom are devout, into a large conspiracy with Beelzebub to defraud the common people?

Have you been reading Lorraine Boettner or something?

Not to mention that, particularly as you admit you are attacking the adherents of a particular religion, I don't see how your statements fall within the service agreement.

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King of Men
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Here, Dag, disagreeing with me is one thing, easily resolvable when I become dictator, but I'll thank you not to accuse me of writing un-creative, boring bots. Especially bots that seem to be quite theistic, and merely disapprove of organised religion; a silly position if ever there was one.
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SC Carver, fyi, that is not a fair assessment of church teaching.
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Dagonee
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quote:
Originally posted by password:
SC Carver, fyi, that is not a fair assessment of church teaching.

No, it's really not.
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SC Carver
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Which part?
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StickyWicket
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quote:
Originally posted by password:
Mr. Wicket,

are you really doing good work by lumping so many people, no doubt a few of whom are devout, into a large conspiracy with Beelzebub to defraud the common people?

it's not about defrauding the people. I'm sure the devout believe it. but the structure is the problem. not everyone in a system has to be part of the problem for the System to be a problem. I understand your frustration and i am not trying to say that every catholic is nasty and out for dominance. I'm saying that the God depicted by The Church IS out of dominance and that is my problem.


P.S. sarcasm makes you sound uneducated. just a pointer [Wink]

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jeniwren
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quote:
I'm just a frustrated believer who is tired of The Church destroying the name and splendor of The Lord
I respect your feelings, but have to point out that the church is his creation and just as fallen as the people who make it up. There is a reason, I believe, that Jesus said over and over again, "Love one another." He had a clue how hard it was for us to get along with each other. But he also knew that just as cells in our bodies have to cooperate with each other for us to live, so also must fellow believers cooperate and work together in peace as best they can for his commission to be carried out. In other words, if you just can't put up with the church, not only does the church desperately need you, you also desperately need it -- to learn how to get along with fellow believers, if nothing else. I'm convinced that nothing tests your ability to forgive others (another thing Jesus was pretty adamant about) better than being involved with a church. [Smile] Yet another use for prayer.
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dkw
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Denigrating other board members' religion is against the User Agreement. Just a pointer.
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Scott R
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quote:
I say this ignorant of what you mean by "pray it, forget it"... the closest thing I've heard to that is "let go, let God"... I don't mean to say that you are necessarily opposed to this idea so much as I am offering another possible meaning/reason for your phrase.
That's the phrase I was thinking of. [Smile] Not sure how I bungled it.
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password
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quote:
Originally posted by StickyWicket:
it's not about defrauding the people. I'm sure the devout believe it. but the structure is the problem. not everyone in a system has to be part of the problem for the System to be a problem. I understand your frustration and i am not trying to say that every catholic is nasty and out for dominance. I'm saying that the God depicted by The Church IS out of dominance and that is my problem.

Any structure that large is likely to be, at best, a necessary evil, I will grant you that, but, particularly your initial post insulted pretty much every Catholic in the world (and it was directed at Jeniwren, who is not Catholic if I recall). "SERVITUDE!" reads like "you are all a bunch of sheep who cannot think for themselves!"


quote:
P.S. sarcasm makes you sound uneducated. just a pointer [Wink]
where to start?

First, with a legitimate apology. "Mr. Wicket" sounds snarky, on reflection. It just sounded light-hearted to me when I typed it. No offense intended.

Second, I make no pretense to education. I have a bachelor's degree and a weak one at that... and not in theology, though I have taken a couple of weekend seminar-type things.

Third, I can be a lot more sarcastic, so I'm glad I was holding back.

Finally, your characterization of the Church makes you sound uneducated to Catholics, who, I would think, would be your intended audience. I'd say anyone that you pry away from the faith making the assertions you have made here didn't really understand it to begin with.

Aside to SC Carver: pretty much all of it. The whole guilt and works-based thing. Not that Catholics don't make those errors but you'll find very little of that in the Catechism... and the church condemned pelagianism long before the reformation.

Edit to add:

For further example... the idea of being saved by "grace alone" is Catholic doctrine. Some Protestants, particularly fundamentalist and evangelical ones, seem to prefer "Faith Alone" which is a different concept.

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StickyWicket
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quote:
Originally posted by password:
[QB] "SERVITUDE!" reads like "you are all a bunch of sheep who cannot think for themselves!"

you say it is
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StickyWicket
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quote:
Originally posted by dkw:
Denigrating other board members' religion is against the User Agreement. Just a pointer.

if you read you would see that I have no problem with the religion (the teachings of Christ). I have a problem with The Church.
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StickyWicket
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at no point did Jesus ever state that any form of medium was necessary for salvation except the acceptance of Gods love and the salvation of man through the crucifixion of Christ.
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SC Carver
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I wasn't trying to offend any Catholics. I know the Catholic church teaches grace, and doesn't teach salvation through works. I guess I should have worded it differently. It is my understanding they tend to focus more on works, such as doing penitence for sins. After confession, the priest tells you say a rosary or whatever. And it is this, telling people they should do things to make up for their sins that could lead them to feel like they have to earn their salvation. I could be wrong, I havenít been Catholic since 4th grade.
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StickyWicket
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The Clergy was never a part of the deal. I do not think that priests are Evil. I feel that one should be able to give their life to the service of the faith and not develop a Church to restrict access of divine graces to the people.
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password
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John 20:22-23 (NIV)

quote:
22And with that he breathed on them and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit. 23If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven."
emphasis mine.
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jeniwren
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Scott, how is 'let go, let God' refuted by the study? I'm having trouble making that connection.

quote:
Any structure that large is likely to be, at best, a necessary evil, I will grant you that, but, particularly your initial post insulted pretty much every Catholic in the world (and it was directed at Jeniwren, who is not Catholic if I recall). "SERVITUDE!" reads like "you are all a bunch of sheep who cannot think for themselves!"
You recall correctly. I was raised LDS, was agnostic for years, and go to a non-denominational church now. I didn't take it that way, btw. I was just puzzled. I can think of a ton of reasons not to like the church, but a call to service wasn't one of them. I have to laugh about the bunch of sheep quote. Shortly after I returned to attending church, my brother said that, almost exactly that word for word, leaving off the part about not being able to think for myself. I got so mad I took the dinner I was serving him away and stomped off to my room. [Big Grin] He forgave me. Now that phrase just makes me laugh.
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quote:
Originally posted by SC Carver:
I wasn't trying to offend any Catholics. I know the Catholic church teaches grace, and doesn't teach salvation through works. I guess I should have worded it differently. It is my understanding they tend to focus more on works, such as doing penitence for sins. After confession, the priest tells you say a rosary or whatever. And it is this, telling people they should do things to make up for their sins that could lead them to feel like they have to earn their salvation. I could be wrong, I havenít been Catholic since 4th grade.

I didn't take offense at anything you said, no worries (and by contrast, yes I was offended at some of the first things Sticky Wicket said) and yes, this is an error that some Catholics make. I have seen similar errors made by protestants too, though. There's a fine line between exhortation and competition sometimes and trying to out-pious the next person seems to be a human error, rather than a denominational one.

But the important point is that it is an error in the Catholic faith as well to claim salvation based on anything other than the grace of God's love. It's part and parcel of my initial reaction in this thread: No one has a claim on God. No matter how good, no matter how "spirit-filled," no one can say to God "ok, I did what you said, now gimme." That applies to entrance into heaven as well as more mundane things like taking a pass on the cup of human suffering.

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Sticky, honey, find a different parish!

I know that we Catholics have some issues and we often get things wrong, but so do all human institutions. Even those instituted by God. We get a lot of things right, too. The idea that all of life can be sacramental, for example. The grace of the paschal mystery.

I do understand and sympathize. Really I do. But don't throw the baby out with the bathwater.

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