If nobody believed in superstition it would be unable to hurt anyone
Asking God for anything is an attempt to force
him to respond favourably to your arrogance and treats him like a magician.
Atheists find prayer offensive.
Prayer is submission to something that might not exist at all. As God has all power and knowledge it follows that you should settle for asking him to do whatever he thinks is right. It would be a sin to ask for a bike when you could say, "I love you and trust you completely and ask you for nothing except that you treat me as you will." Yet religion thrives on the notion that its okay to pray to get x and y and z. The blasphemous hypocrisy!
We will see that prayer is actually worse than magic which most people consider potentially if not actually harmful. Prayer is a declaration that religious dogma has value and not people.
At times of crisis, it can be a struggle to realise that there are things happening that we cannot control. So the believer tried to regain a sense of control by handing over the problems to God. It is like, "I feel in control of the problems when I admit defeat and leave it in God's hands." Prayer is then motivated by our desire for a sense of having power. God is only invoked as a tool for getting it. Prayer is not as holy or devoted to God as it is made to look. Prayer is an outpouring of my wish that I had absolute magical control over the universe regardless of the consequences for others.
The most powerful person in the world has to leave things in the hands of others. That is what makes him powerful. The believer is doing the same thing with God.
Christopher Hitchens believed that if you petition God for something you are claiming to know better than him. Believers answer that not all prayer is asking for something and can be as simple as just being with God. But that kind of prayer is still asking. It is asking for God to be present and to help you be with him. It may not use words but a request can be made without words. It says, “Be here now with me.” That is a request.
I never love another person but my perception of them which is only as good as what I think I see and what they want to tell me. The same is true of God no matter how well I think I know him. It is arrogance to claim to know God. It’s pride, the sin that made the Devil fall from Paradise. Prayer is arrogance. The less you know of what God has revealed then the more your God is an idol when you worship him. You are worshipping your perception and therefore your needs and feelings and pretending they are directed to God but they are not. When you adore what you want or see God to be you are not adoring God. God is God and not our feelings and not your perceptions. You do this all the time but you do it far more obviously and strongly the less you know. Nobody can be sure they really know what God has revealed therefore prayer is self-centred and powerless.
Religion says you should not pray to change God for God knows himself what to do and it would not be humble to. However it is accepted that it is right to ask God to change you for the better to make you a more spiritual person. The man who has no time for the superstition that prayer changes God who prays for his dying child prays for the strength to help the child not for God to cure the child (page 149, The Puzzle of God). But this is still trying to change God for he is asking for God to change him if he fails to tend his child. If there is no intention to change God, the man is really pretending he is asking God for help. What he is really doing is administering therapy to himself. He finds prayer soothing and so he does it not to love God but because it is soothing and makes him feel better and consider what he might do to help his child more. But that is not prayer and God would find it offensive for God likes to be the be-all-and-end-all.
The suggestion that God makes all the decisions and prayer cannot change him will suggest that if he answers prayer then he foresaw what prayers we were going to make and rigged things beforehand to answer them. But that has what has not happened causing what has happened and that is ridiculous. It would be more reasonable if God let the prayer happen first and then fix things. The other view gives him too much control over everything that happens. It ends up being fatalistic. It ends up saying that God is to blame for everything that goes wrong.
Now why would God do what the suggestion says and rig things so that you will sometimes pray for what he plans to give you do that anyway when he works for the best? He could just make his plans and forget about prayers which will have the result that many people will pray for things he is going to do anyway and they will think it is an answer to their prayers and it is not. The reason what they wanted to happen happened had nothing to do with their prayers but God was going to do them anyway. What is the point of God answering prayers when nobody knows if they are really answered even when the requested thing happens? It is superstition to say that God answers prayers.
To suggest that any answers to prayer we will get are preordained implies that God inspires us to pray for things he will not give us. This doctrine infers that God is a crank and cannot be trusted. All understandings of how God answers prayer deny that he is reliable. If faith follows prayer then faith did it in spite of prayer and not because of it.
Some believers say that asking God for a favour is not asking for something but rather asking that we become worthy of the favour even if he won’t grant it. They argue that way for they say that prayer does not change God. But God has to change us which still amounts to making God do something! If we change ourselves through prayer and God is not involved then prayer is hypocrisy. It is a case of, "I have improved myself but I will hypocritically pretend that God has done it and urge others to mock themselves the same way or serve as an example to them to do this."
If prayer does nothing to change God then what do Catholics pray to saints to influence him for?
And is it right to ask for your sick dog to get better when you really mean that you hope you will be a better master to him if he gets better? And why ask for help to become a better master as if you shouldn’t be trying on your own to be better? And why ask for help that you deny you will get when you say God is not affected by prayer? If prayer is intended to have an effect, then why insult yourself that you cannot be better for him without needing a God to give you a shot in the arm?
If God is influenced by prayer then God needs to be influenced for he is imperfect and therefore not really a God and prayer is not an act of faith but an attempt to fool a stupid God into helping you. It’s black magic. Prayer is an act of pride. “Ha ha God, you need my influence. I am better than you though I am not the maker of the universe”.
No matter how you view prayer, you cannot please God with it. Prayer is blasphemy in his eyes. Therefore religion is blasphemy.