If nobody believed in superstition it would be unable to hurt anyone
PRAYER VERSUS TRUST IN GOD
BELIEVERS CANNOT BELIEVE IN POWER OF PRAYER
Prayer is for many if not all just an attempt to feel good about doing nothing. Even the believer has to admit that prayer is really doing nothing for another person.
You could be praying in order to work up a feeling of trust in something bigger than yourself. But even if there is a God who can be trusted, praying to feel trust means you want to feel trust and don't care if you should. It is not about realising that God really can be trusted. You never know if a person of faith really is a person of faith. And the more they exhibit their faith and insist they believe the more reason there is to doubt them.
Prayer is not about trying to change anything but to unite to God and opening yourself up to being like him. This is what many religions say.
God knows what is best. We might pray for healing. And it may come. Did God answer the prayer then? That depends on his motive. Did he do it to answer the prayer or did he do it just because it was the right thing to do? If he did it because he was asked, then it was not because it was right. Maybe he did it both because he was asked and because it was right? That means he refused to do it entirely because it was right. In so far as God does not do it because it is right he is acting amorally if not immorally. As he claims to be good, he would be showing he is not perfectly good. Then prayer is saying, "I don't care if you are evil or not do what I ask!" How is that supposed to help us become more virtuous? No wonder there is nothing remarkable about the virtue of most believers. Any virtue they have is there in spite of their faith and their prayers.
The believer feels he has done something for another person when he prays. That is really putting faith before people. You should only feel you have done something when you have really done something. What would you think of a witch who did nothing for the poor but cast spells for them?
Some people say prayer is good because it is not about asking for favours or getting them but about developing and sustaining a relationship with God who you trust to do the right thing even if it makes you suffer. They compare it to a pet cat who suffers at the vets and doesn’t understand what is going on but trusts her owner and the vet that they do not have it in for her.
Psychologists who regard prayer as an exercise in superstition, cognitive dissonance and wishful thinking may still think it has its good side as it is about expressing a relationship with the divine or sacred. Some say this good side is enough to justify encouraging prayer and others say it is not enough.
But trust is not good for its own sake. It is good because without it we would let nobody help us. The cat is not trusting God so it is not the same thing. It is cruel to encourage people to put overwhelming trust in a being who may not exist or in a being whose existence cannot be proven in the way you can prove you must have parents.
Many atheists feel a unity with the human race and bestow the trust some give to God on it. And they do the sane and right thing.
PRAYER THRIVES ON DOUBT!
Prayer is communicating your love and trust and troubles to God and thanking him for all his blessings.
Prayer is supposed to help faith grow. What it does is make doubt simulate faith. It is this doubt that teams up with good feelings that brings the benefits not prayer and not faith.
It is interesting that people do not ask God to raise up their loved ones or to make an amputated limb grow back. They ask for guidance in looking for healing or they ask for a better way of looking at the problems. They say they believe in a God of miracles but do they really? If miracles are good why not ask? Even if they are rare why not ask? They are using prayer to try and soothe the pain in their hearts. They do not think it really has any supernatural power. Their prayers are not signs of faith at all. People with dodgy beliefs tip-toe around things that can expose those beliefs for the nonsense they are!
Leaving miracles aside, many people do not ask for anything precise at all. They make general requests. When people do not ask for anything concrete it is easier for them to imagine that their prayers are being answered. It is the same reason why fortune tellers do not forecast anything specific. The intention is to deceive. It seems that we impose restrictions on what we pray for in order to avoid discovering proof that prayer does not work or help. For example, you may be bereaved and pray for a way to deal with it. In time you feel better. You were going to feel better anyway but you tell yourself that it was prayer or God that helped. If you keep praying for more specific things and they do not happen you will soon see that prayer is based on self-deception. You already know it is but you don't want to remember that. So you pray for things that you think you will get anyway so that you can tell yourself your prayer did it.
Because prayer is raising the heart and mind to God, only the sinless can pray for only they can really unite with God.
Do not forget that religion says that in so far as prayer is tainted with sin it will not do anything. So the way that works is that if you ask to become a heroic missionary you will become a good one not a heroic one. The power of prayer is limited by sin.
Suppose you doubt. If you don't have a strong faith - but there are no doubts - that is the same thing as having a faith and doubting it. Jesus says that strong faith is necessary for God to answer prayers. James says it too and James is supposed to be the word of God, scripture. Suppose you pray to heal your child. Now, that means if you pray with little faith or with doubts then you are forcing God NOT to answer your prayer and perhaps do the opposite of what you ask or do nothing which amounts to the same thing. He can't answer the prayer for he has said that he will not reward pathetic faith with an answer.
Some Christians say that prayer develops faith. When you find God working in you through it and answering prayers it gets stronger. You see it working and so it grows. This contradicts the doctrine that strong faith is needed before prayer has any hope of being answered. Faith must be weak to start off with. So how then could prayer develop it when God cannot answer the prayer of weak faith?
The man who has not tried to reduce the risk of starting to doubt by putting learning about the faith and incorporating what is learned into his relationship with God is no better than a doubter. He does not act like a person who feels that the more he learns the more he knows and develops a relationship with God. In so far as he keeps his faith less strong than it could be he is doubting. All believers are like that man to one degree or another. God does not answer the prayers of doubters. That means that all the incredible answers to prayer that most believers report are all in their heads for they are coincidence or they have done something to answer the prayers themselves. And the answers only produce hypocrisy for they are happier to get what they want from God than they would be to die for him rather than be separated from him for two seconds. St John Mary Vianney stated that we should love God so much that we would rather cease to exist than lose him even for a moment. Hypothetically, this is saying that if God could go out of existence for a second and the only way to save him was by ending life on earth then life on earth should be ended. No God is going to degrade himself by answering the prayers. If they are being answered then it is some lunatic God or Satan who is doing it. So Mary in her apparitions at Lourdes, Fatima and Medjugorje commanded prayer and told the visionaries that it would be answered. Liar.
I find the ban on boasting in the Bible to be inexplicable while Christians are allowed to boast about their faith and lack of doubt when they tell you they will pray for you! They are saying, “We are great and we have let God remove all our doubts so our prayers will be effective which is why we will pray for you”. That is totally insulting to doubters who have good reason to doubt and it is totally pompous. It shows that the boast of the smug apostles and their Church that Jesus and the faith he preached gave nobody the right to think themselves more moral than anybody else (Ephesians 2:8-10) to have been another of their shameless multifarious deceptions.
TRYING TO INFLUENCE GOD
Some claim that God is not influenced by our prayers at all. For them, an answer to prayer does not mean the prayer influenced God but means that God had decided to grant the request before he was asked - if he was asked. That way the prayer is not influencing God. The logic is that God is not influenced because he chose to respond on the condition that you would pray. But if you let yourself be influenced you are still influenced. God is doing just that. The logic is hypocritical.
Which is worse?
An inept God who needs to be influenced by us to do the right thing?
A God who lies he cannot be influenced or who lies that making conditions before he will help means he is not affected by what we want?
Neither one is going to give us a God we can have a relationship with!
Prayer really suits paganism best for it is full of ridiculous gods. It does not fit the notion of an all-powerful all-loving God.
Often, Christians say that prayer is not trying to influence God. If God does not need it then it is a waste of time. A good God would rather you spent your time helping people. Prayer is an insult. God cannot need your prayers for he is almighty and knows what he should do without you asking. The Catholic Church when it holds that the saints intercede with God cannot hold that prayer doesn’t influence God for interceding means influencing. You might not get what you intercede for but you have still exerted some influence. Perhaps God just asks for prayer so that we will spend time with him in love and develop a relationship with him? But we can do that without getting down on our knees and praying. Obeying his commands to help others knowing that it pleases him should be the kind of prayer he asks for because it is striving harder to be his friend. Things like going to Mass and taking communion are wrong.
Prayer is meaningless without the idea that God can intervene and change things to put them the way you want them. If you thought God would do these things anyway you wouldn't see the need to ask for change. The more asking you do the more you would be acting like you are trying to force his hand. If you really trust someone you just ask them the once and if you need to. Prayer encourages egotistical thinking and desires.
You may pray, "God help me to submit to your will and accept whatever you choose to do." Prayer is really a disguised and dishonest attempt at magic. It is you trying to be a God who is independent of any real God that could be out there. You want to feel as free as God by giving in to God. You want to get this feeling from him.
THE SECRET MIRACLES
If God does secret miracles a problem with trust appears. Suppose you put an apple into Johnny's lunchbox and send him off to school. He prays during class that when lunch time comes that you will have put a peach in his lunchbox for he doesn't like apples. Then God swaps the apple with a peach for Johnny will never ask you anyway what you put in and he won't say about the peach. So nobody will ever know.
Is Johnny asking God to change what is in his lunchbox the moment he prays?
Is Johnny asking God to take his present prayer into account to change the past? Is he asking God to manipulate me to put in a peach not an apple?
Either way Johnny is asking for reality to be rigged up to suit his insignificant whim. Prayer suggests that God approves of one's manipulative urges. If God is like that then God cannot be trusted.
If I mark somebody's exam paper, they will never know if God altered the work after they did it. You might say one should trust that God would not do a thing like that. But we are asked to trust God no matter how bad life gets for us. So he hurts and lets bad things happen presumably for a good purpose. We are asked to become victims if God needs that for the greater good of others. So to say you should trust that God has not altered the marks is no better than saying that you should dictate to God what he can and cannot do. If you trust God, you will trust that he may have changed the work and that he knew what he was doing and had to do it for a good reason and not because he wanted to. So you can't really be sure of anything should you believe in miracles.
But if you trust your friend and confide in her or him, do you really trust him or her if you expect her or him to repeat what you told for a "greater" reason? No way! Christians are boasting of trusting in God when they do not!
Prayer does not work and the reasoning behind it is wrong. And damn well the Church knows it for it spends more time pondering prayer than anything else!
MORE THAN ONE PRAYER?
If you trusted God you would not ask him for something more than once. But you do. A brief prayer brings you no comfort. Longer prayer might. It is the relaxation that is working on you not the prayer.
People in times of tribulation may get a little comfort from a lot of prayer. If prayer helped, then one brief prayer should be enough but it is not. It is a placebo working on them that helps not prayer.
Prayer is impotent when one prayer is not enough so its failure is a proof that there is no God.
Prayer is immoral for the quality never makes a difference but the quantity might!
If religionists thought that one prayer were enough they would not be saying more. And if one is enough and God can’t do more than he does then prayer is blasphemously and unreasonably complaining about this. People forget to do it which a good God would not allow if that is all we are put on earth for. Sinners feel like praying so the inclination to prayer is not evidence for the existence of God. Prayer disproves God though it is supposed to be evidence for him.
Atheists have a right to see prayer as an evil activity. And this attitude need not be a non-religious one for religion itself when looked at closely says just that. Prayer conditions people to prefer God’s rights to human rights and to deepen the religious hold on the world with all the terrible disasters that brings. Prayer insults people. The view of God that it proposes for us is vile and has resulted in the vile hypocrisy that is so common in people of faith. One wonders if people who are unaffected by its poison really believe or only imagine that they believe. Prayer implies God should let good people suffer for he has the power to save them and won’t. It can only lead to trouble. If people didn’t see the need for praying they wouldn’t see the need for believing in God so prayer must be exposed.
The benefits of prayer do not come from prayer at all which is why we should destroy people’s faith in prayer and have no regrets. The benefits are nothing compared to the damage that is done. Destroy regard for prayer even if only for the sake of principle.
Catholic Encyclopaedia. This discusses Quietism.
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