If nobody believed in superstition it would be unable to hurt anyone
PRAYER IS FEELING GOOD ABOUT DOING NOTHING
WHEN PRAYING FOR ANOTHER IS AN EXCUSE FOR INACTION
“Damn it. Don’t you dare ask God to help me!” What the dying Joan Crawford said to her housekeeper who prayed out loud for her.
The bottom line is: being good is not being good unless there is a real recipient be it yourself or another person. If prayer does not work then it is not a good work. If there is no God then prayer is not a good work. Some might say, "If you cannot help but pray that is help." No it is not - it is about you using somebody's pain to make yourself feel goody goody.
Religion says we can know that God exists though we can’t understand him so how then are we able to understand that he needs and utilizes prayer? You pray to a being whose existence you are not strongly sure of. You pray to a being whose goodness you are not strongly sure of. You pray to a being whose goodness may not be in doubt but who may consider it good to ignore your prayer. It is arrogant to argue that God always answers prayer. If he is good and good is sometimes tough he does not have to.
Anyway it is all stuff you are not sure of. You are praying to please your feelings so it is really yourself that you are pleasing.
CAN'T TELL GOD WHAT TO DO
Prayer is about feeling good about doing nothing for another.
It is all about leaving it up to God to act. Even when the believer is prompted by God to act, the believer says God alone must take the credit for helping. God creates the believer and his choice from nothing so it is all God. So even when you are doing something you are really doing nothing. It is not what you did that matters but what God has done. Attitude wise, there is no difference between this and doing nothing literally. There is a thin line between it and standing by with medication while the sick cry out for it.
Prayer is asking God or gods to do their own will - it is asking not commanding. They are going to do it anyway if they are good. It is like asking a man to breathe! Asking somebody to help a person is not helping the person. Why? Because the free will of the person asked is the cause of any help he or she gives. It's not you. People pray because it makes them feel they are helping themselves or somebody else. But that can only happen if they see it as a kind of magic in which case they should be honest and do magic instead.
Proper prayer doesn’t really do anything for anybody. Such prayer is asking God to help people. If people need help, a good God will help them and not wait until somebody asks him.
The doctrine that God prefers to make things work out for the best without changing them is interesting. It shows you might as well just accept what is coming when you cannot do anything about it. If that is what praying people are trying to do, then they don't need to pray. They just need to accept. To pray for others then is sheer magic. More about that!
Pity is patronising and a sign of looking down upon the other person. That is why people pity but do not do anything productive to help those who they pity. Like mercy, it implies you are superior in rank, wisdom and morals, to those who you have mercy on. Does faith in God encourage pity? Yes. You have pity on those who cannot be helped. And you express that pity in prayer and get a nice superior and sanctimonious glow.
PRAYER AND MAGIC
Magic is an sort of ethical way of helping people. Prayer isn't. Magic is doing something for them – it is sending power out to enfold them in love and hold them and protect them. Sadly magic is futile and self-deluding but prayer is worse.
With magic, you can experiment in the hope of seeing results. With prayer, nothing whatever proves success or failure. There is always an excuse when the prayers are not answered. Usually it is that the answer was received but just not recognised. Prayer affirms that you don't have the right to do tests or seek proof. Anything that is supposed to be so important and is neither verifiable or falsifiable is really just an affirmation that says: "I have no right to learn the things that are most important. I am therefore worthless." Prayer makes artificial demons that need to be exorcised.
Using prayer to do your will is different and is actually magic not prayer. Proper prayer calls for help and then blocks that help. It is really about kidding yourself that you are doing something for others.
To pray for a person is really doing nothing for them. You may see it as an attempt at magic. But it is really asking for your magic to fail because prayer implies that you are not the one that has the magic and somebody else, God perhaps, does. It injures the person prayed for in the sense that you are keeping the magic from them that they need.
PRAYER IS NOT OF GREAT IMPORTANCE
It is not prayer that matters but what you are at heart. If you have good will in your heart it matters. Prayer does not. Only religious superstition disagrees.
In the light of the teaching that prayer is a relationship with God and God is to be loved totally, Catholics say that ultimately prayer is what matters most. Prayer should be about a person trying to change himself or herself. If prayer is about change then it follows that it is not the words and the images of holy things in your mind that matter but the heart. You would pray with your heart by doing actions of heartfelt love for the sick and the poor. Praying for the sick then is disgusting unless you are able to do something for the sick and trying to. Praying for the sick would imply you don't really care about them much or enough. Praying for the sick in a chapel or convent instead of going to the hospital then shows you want to tell yourself you care more when you don't. It is using prayer to delude yourself that you are wonderful. And thus you feed your smug ego.
PRAYING FOR OTHERS BECAUSE YOU DON'T CARE ENOUGH
It is natural to feel responsible when others suffer around you even if you have done nothing directly to hurt them or to directly cause that state of affairs. We never do enough to make the world a better place. You will get relief from the feeling of responsibility and feel at peace if you pray. Why? Because when you pray you make God responsible and you remind yourself that if he makes all things then he is ultimately responsible. You ask him to do something about the suffering. That is a rationalisation that you engage yourself in to protect yourself from the truth.
Thus prayer is really an insult to those who suffer because of you or who you think suffer because of you.
Despite the fancy religious teachings about prayer, in reality prayer is just an irrational, "I wished and therefore I got", kind of outlook. If such irrationality is good then why bother helping anybody? Why not just pray for them? Prayer encourages such irrationality. If it does some good, we must remember that the good is often the enemy of the best.
The problem with any kind of belief is that we tend to forget most of the time that it is not a fact for you but just a belief. For example, if you believe Jesus rose you still don't know for certain if this belief is factual. You will tend to feel that it is a fact and treat it as such. Belief easily slips into such arrogance.
Prayer reinforces that arrogance. You feel sure that you have helped others when you should not be so sure.
When people hear about the bad things that happen in other areas or other countries they may feel that they are somehow picked by something or someone for special treatment. They may think the higher power regards them as better people than it does the unfortunate people who have poor luck. Or it may be random blessings. Both attitudes stink. Yet the feeling of being blessed or that one can be is what prayer is all about. The atheist resists the urge for it is repulsive.
If you pray for John to get better of cancer, and he does, you will end up thinking, "I did it for him. My prayers cured him." There is something stomach-churning about that. We sense you are using John's situation to get a self-righteous thrill.
Hypocrites like to feel they are good people - the ultimate hypocrite does prayers and superstitious rituals in order to convince herself or himself that she does the greatest work of all. That is terrible in itself. It is incredibly arrogant to think your saying a prayer for x matters while your helping that person say get medical treatment does not matter in comparison. It is a short step from that to reasoning that you don't have to do anything for others but pray for them.
Suppose you had to make a choice - one or the other. You pray for a person who is very ill or you give them medicine. If prayer is the best you can do then you have to pray. Religion says it is. The atheist will reach for the medicine bottle. Do you see the intrinsic hypocritical passive aggression in faith now?
A baby needs tablets from you to get better from a terrible cruel illness. You have a choice, and it has to be one or the other. The choice is will I pray or give the tablets? If God and prayer come first then clearly praying is the choice. So you see the nastiness inherent even in the sweetest prayers! And if God does not come first for you then to pray for him to work with a person is to invite evil or the risk of evil into that person's life for they are asked to connect with a God who isn't good enough to matter.
We are talking about praying to God and asking him to help others or yourself.
We are talking about praying to God for yourself. Remember this would be future-oriented. If prayer does not help, you are trying to feel you are helping your future self when you are not. Feeling you are helping when you are not is then risky and dangerous.
So praying for yourself or others is the same in the sense that you are trying to feel you have helped when you have not.
Praying for others or yourself might seem to make you feel good. When it does, then why do you think it makes you feel good?
YOU INTEND TO HELP. You imagine that it is you who is helping the other person by getting God to do it. To put a person in the care of a reluctant God is not helping them! God is bigger than you! It is like giving a person into the care of a person who does not want to care for them.
OR BECAUSE YOU CONSENT TO GOD HELPING IF HE SO WILLS. You imagine that God is going to help somehow and that you are great for telling him you agree with what he is set on doing. You cannot know for certain there is a God so you risk trying to put the person at the mercy of cold random mechanical nature. If there is no God then nature is mistaken for him and his activity.
OR BECAUSE YOU ARE LAZY - or it is easier to pray for somebody to get better than to pay money for their cure, to dedicate your time to them, than to admit that God is not going to help.
Intending to help makes you feel good for it reminds you that helpfulness exists and many can be helped even if not all. That is reassuring. It reminds you as well that if helpfulness exists then somebody may help you. But you don't need to pray to feel that way. With prayer, you stop being realistic. You stop realising that it is better if there is a choice to wish a person well without it being prayerful than to to wish it when it is being prayerful. You defy the principle, that if you have to choose between a prayer and a good wish you must choose the good wish. Prayer after all is no comfort if it does not contain an element of wishing anyway.
A following b does not mean b caused a. It can mean it might have or it happened in spite of it. If people pray and what could be seen answers to prayer and miracles seem to follow that does not mean the belief had any role in causing the answers or miracles or allowing them to happen. Testimony has no power to help.
A following b does not mean b caused a. It can mean it might have or it happened in spite of it. Which should we assume if we have to assume only one of them? It depends. Given that a miracle is uncommon it is better to assume it is b and only came about in spite of a.
You feel good because you make prayer untestable. Even when you get nothing you have asked for, you reason you got something as good or better for you forget that b coming after a does not mean b was caused by a. Anybody can imagine that something good has come out of praying or carrying the rabbit's foot. That is a worthless argument and is you trying to blind yourself to the fact that prayer does not work.
Making something untestable makes you feel in control. You feel you can be your own truth without regard for truth as it is. You feel stronger than reality for you use the untestable to protect yourself from it. You use the untestable to see reality the way you want to see it instead of how it is. That is about power. It is false control for truth is not about you which is why you have to be in line with it and seek it.
Those who pray for you are careful not to ask for anything too far-fetched - eg that their daughter will become the next world queen of pop. It is as if they pick out the causes that have a reasonable chance of happening anyway and they want to take the credit for it when they happen.
Rationalising is a form of self-empowerment. You do it to cope with feelings of powerlessness. The religious person argues that prayer for her dying child's recovery has worked and she will say that whether the child lives or dies. She will see death as its recovery and has proof that God heals in ways you do not expect. She protects herself from seeing that prayer is nonsense and that she has not helped her child by engaging in it. Proof that she is kidding herself is plain from the fact that she would not say that if her doctor treated the child that the treatment worked even if it killed the child. She would not say if the child dies, "Doctor X is an incredibly good doctor. His tablets sent my baby to a better place. I can't thank him enough." She would not even say that if instead of a doctor it was a Catholic or Pentecostal or whatever healer.
It is better to keep well-informed and to try to be as rational as possible. Reason is a better way of self-empowerment than twisting reason which is what
takes place when you rationalise. Rationalising means you are giving some of your power away in order to feel empowered. You are twisting your mind.
Twisting your mind is not self-empowerment.
PRAYER AND MOTIVATION
If people pray a lot and still labour 24/7 to help others, this is their human nature at work. It is not prayer. They are good because they are good. It is not prayer that is helping for it cannot. If it is not helping it is stopping them from being even better than what they are. No wonder it is easy to find disasters in how Mother Teresa cared for the sick.
Prayer is bias for anything that cannot be tested is bias by default. Even when you do not get what you ask for you are told the prayer just worked in a way that was best for you. It is too biased to be about anything other than feelings. It is not right to use the suffering of others to make yourself feel good by praying for them.