Date: October 05, 2019 11:01AM
As many of you know, I was raised Catholic in a mixed Catholic/Protestant household. I was taught to view prayer (when used as a request for benefit from a higher power) as something that might or might not be granted. I have seen it as being similar to a child requesting something from a parent. The parent loves the child, and will therefore try to grant the request if at all possible. But the parent has a greater knowledge than the child has, and may deny the request based on various factors.
However in talking with a new friend, it is clear that she has a very different view of prayer -- that if you pray for something worthy with sufficient faith, the prayer will be granted. My new friend does really admirable charity work that she pays for largely out of her own pocket. In the past, this has sent her deeply into debt. She has an upcoming charitable project that is projected to send her deep into the hole once again. Yet she feels if she pursues this project "in faith," that the money will somehow appear.
When I listened to her telling me about this, I felt my jaw metaphorically drop. Inside, I was thinking, how did that work out for you before? And, why would you expect anything different this time based on your previous experience?
I am far too practical to pursue something thinking that "God will provide." Sometimes needed money or goods do appear (for which I am grateful,) but I never count on that. I figure I was given a brain for a reason, and I had better use it to come up with a solid plan to provide for myself.
I will be happy to share some ideas with her for fundraising, but can't contribute anything myself because the money simply isn't there.
On this board, I've often seen examples of TBMs who also use prayer as a blunt instrument. But I've never seen it in my own personal experience of mainstream Christianity. The closest that I've seen are fictional movies or TV shows where a nun or a priest thinks that "God will provide" -- and the scriptwriter obligingly writes a suitably happy ending to their troubles. But in real life, no.
Done & Done
Date: October 05, 2019 11:26AM
Nice analysis, summer.
When I realized the lie of Mormonism, my immediate reaction as I stood there with the MoF in my hands, was to look skyward and say to God, "I want to experience everything!" I meant it. I figured I was heard. That to me was real prayer whether anyone was listening or not. I put it out there as a statement of what I wanted. God could do what he wanted. I didn't need an answer--finally.
Not long after that I realized I had no reason at all to believe in a God anymore and never prayed a religious prayer again. However, I would still look up and talk to no one. Which of course doesn't make sense, but worked for me. I've always talked to myself out loud. A lot. Vocalizing is important. Like you can have all the ingredients for a cake in the cupboard, but unless you actually put it in the bowl an stir it up, you aren't going to have anything to glop the frosting on.
As a young TBM I prayed fervently for a testimony. I fasted and prayed like crazy before my mission and before getting my endowments. I never felt a thing. Bupkis is what I got.
I get very annoyed now, even angry, when people say that "sometimes the answer to your prayers is NO," as a way of justifying the silence from the heavens when your prayers are met with----nothing. Mormons and everybody else always use this out and it is just a way to make themselves feel okay about believing the unbelievable.
8 billion people on the planet. The only way your prayers are going to be answered is if its from a call center in India.
Date: October 05, 2019 02:46PM
Prayer founded upon “God will provide” is a formulation I don’t see very often with people of faith who accomplish things. That looks indistinguishable from wishful thinking.
More common in my experience are prayers like “with God’s help, we can...” or “God willing, we...”. Like you said, God gave us a brain to use (and brawn, too), so use it as best you can and God willing, or with a bit of luck, things will go well.
God helps those who helps themselves seems to be the pragmatic impetus behind the 2nd formulation. “God will provide” is a prayer for when all effort has been spent without result and all that is left is...wishful thinking.
Date: October 06, 2019 05:17PM
There have been countless days when prayers I said with all my heart were not answered. I think I was praying for good, reasonable things too.
Having said that, a few times when I’ve prayed miraculous things have happened. I am an atheist, of sorts, but can’t deny this.
So I suppose I’m not an atheist then? Logically I cannot deny the bible is fiction, and a largely confusing and evil work of fiction at that, just IMO. So I don’t believe in any god that theists or our world religions have created.
So if there is a god, he she or it is something undefinable. Sometimes I pray to the universe. It brings me comfort and peace so long as it is simple.
I noticed that a lot of prayers of Christians and mormons are of the sort you describe. It’s as though they don’t have to do the usual human stuff and prayer will work some miracle. This is unhealthy.
Date: October 06, 2019 10:49PM
I basically stopped believing and praying when I was 15. Aside from my almost two-decade foray into Mormonism (which was far more socially-driven than religious) I have never really invested any belief in prayer. Mainly, I don't like being put on "Ignore." (It's like being put on "Hold," but usually lasts much longer.)
When I was 12, my parents sat me down and told me that my father had a terrible disease that would kill him, one day. I adored my father, and was never close to my mother, up to and including her final day on this planet.
In rage born of terror, I turned on my mother - who was a registered nurse - and said, "This is on YOU! YOU are the know-it-all when it comes to medicine, YOU have to figure out what to do!" And that remained my attitude: if Daddy died, it was Mother's fault for not finding the answer in time.
Feeling totally impotent to do anything, I tried offering the most sincere prayer of my life. I told God that if he cured my father of the illness that was threatening his life, I would go to church every Sunday for the rest of my life.
I watched my father suffer a hideous death from renal failure. I carry it (and have a milder form of it; I will probably die of renal failure too, as did my grandmother, but she made it to 93, which isn't a bad run.) My son, on the other hand, is on dialysis and currently undergoing pre-transplant testing. This particular disease is much worse in males than in females. It has been devastating to see the symptoms I passed to him, genetically.
If I had known for sure that future progeny would have this disease, I would not have had children. My son has two adorable daughters who almost certainly carry the disease, as I do. The knowledge was not available back when I was of child-bearing age.
I've decided that since God hadn't upheld His end of the deal, it was probably better to knock off the relationship altogether, since God couldn't be trusted to have my back when necessary.
So - prayer? To a deity who has proven himself to be indifferent to me and mine? I don't think so.
Date: October 07, 2019 01:09AM
Sounds like you have a pretty special friend there. God provides for me what I need when I need it. Nice way to live if you can handle it. And if you can make sure you’re not asking for something God doesn’t want you to have. The stupor of thought thing.
The world’s lack of faith is pathological. If you want to live that way, have at it. I prefer to walk through the valley of the shadow of death. That’s where you find God.
Man cannot live by bread alone, although the Mormons’ white bread religion doesn’t cut it. The words that proceed out of the mouth of God are the ones your heart hears.
Now, to break it down the way I see it, Christ is a metaphor for the Christ Consciousness. He’s an icon we use due to our limited human minds. The Christ Consciousness is a kind of over soul that we all belong to and in fact can’t distinguish ourselves from because on a soul level all the higher selves don’t think in terms of separation. Separation is an illusion that exists so we can experience free will. Life is a collusion between all of these higher selves. Your higher self is guiding you and continually providing lessons in accordance with your soul contract, or what you agreed to come here to do. If you’re asking God for something, you’re really asking your higher self for something since you’re an eternal being like everyone else.