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Author Topic: Prayer?  (Read 1703 times)
memphis
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« on: July 05, 2012, 09:36:13 pm »
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What's the deal? Do people believe that it's going to change anything?  Case in point: Local high school kid was diagnosed recently with pancreatic cancer, which repeatedly made the local news because it's a guaranteed death sentence, it's very rare in somebody so young, and it's a story that's guaranteed to draw a lot of attention. So the whole town is praying for this kid. Thousands and thousands of people. Well-meaning people, many of whom don't even know this kid. Anyhow, the kid died today. And I'm not trying to crap on a well meaning community who had no effective means to change the outcome for this poor kid. I just don't see what all the prayer was about. If I were the one with a terminal disease, I'd want all those people to give money to charity to fight the disease, or volunteer to work with sick people to make them feel better. Anything but prayer. It's just the laziest, most worthless thing one could do. But I guess it made the prayerful feel better about themselves.
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Joe Republic
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« Reply #1 on: July 05, 2012, 09:56:51 pm »
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If I were the one with a terminal disease, I'd want all those people to give money to charity to fight the disease, or volunteer to work with sick people to make them feel better. Anything but prayer. It's just the laziest, most worthless thing one could do. But I guess it made the prayerful feel better about themselves.

Indeed.  It's a popular form of support because it doesn't involve donating any money or more than a few seconds of time, but you apparently still get that warm glowy feeling knowing that you've helped.  How have you helped, exactly?  That's irrelevant.
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« Reply #2 on: July 05, 2012, 10:36:51 pm »
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Hard to say what prayer does or doesn't do.  Both as a matter of spiritual power (well, fine tuning it, if you're a non-believer its easy to say prayer does nothing) or any yet undetermined scientific sort of property (collective conscious type of thing)...

But I get where Joe's coming from...its frustrating seeing people who say I'll pray for you, or let me know if you need anything because while generally good intentioned, its some sort of get out of jai...doing anything else substantial...pass...and clean slate from feeling guilty.
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« Reply #3 on: July 06, 2012, 03:55:32 am »
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I believe everything about what will happen in our lives is already set in stone--we just think we've got free will (and that illusion is good enough for me). So to me, prayer more of a comfort thing.
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memphis
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« Reply #4 on: July 06, 2012, 04:18:18 am »
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I believe everything about what will happen in our lives is already set in stone
That seems awfully depressing. May as well go play in traffic if everything is pre-determined.
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« Reply #5 on: July 06, 2012, 04:38:36 am »
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What's the deal? Do people believe that it's going to change anything?  Case in point: Local high school kid was diagnosed recently with pancreatic cancer, which repeatedly made the local news because it's a guaranteed death sentence, it's very rare in somebody so young, and it's a story that's guaranteed to draw a lot of attention. So the whole town is praying for this kid. Thousands and thousands of people. Well-meaning people, many of whom don't even know this kid. Anyhow, the kid died today. And I'm not trying to crap on a well meaning community who had no effective means to change the outcome for this poor kid. I just don't see what all the prayer was about. If I were the one with a terminal disease, I'd want all those people to give money to charity to fight the disease, or volunteer to work with sick people to make them feel better. Anything but prayer. It's just the laziest, most worthless thing one could do. But I guess it made the prayerful feel better about themselves.

First, praying for someone and donating to charity/volunteering are not mutually exclusive. You are probably aware of the fact that churches and religious people in general donate a lot and also do a lot of volunteering to help the sick and the poor. Thus, the contrast between "prayer" on the one hand and "actual help" on the other hand you are trying to set up with your post is inaccurate in many cases.

Second, I have to disagree with your claim that praying is lazy and a worthless thing to do. A person who prays for someone else in a serious way has to make an effort; he/she devotes time to the other person and has to concentrate and focus on that person. A serious prayer requires dedication and compassion for another person. If you just dismiss this as a way for people "to feel better about themselves" you may be right about those people who simply say they are going to pray but don't intend to do it, but at the same time you do the many people who pray in a sincere way wrong.
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Joe Republic
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« Reply #6 on: July 06, 2012, 04:42:13 am »
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A person who prays for someone else in a serious way has to make an effort; he/she devotes time to the other person and has to concentrate and focus on that person. A serious prayer requires dedication and compassion for another person.

And what does that actually achieve?
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« Reply #7 on: July 06, 2012, 06:07:53 am »
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A person who prays for someone else in a serious way has to make an effort; he/she devotes time to the other person and has to concentrate and focus on that person. A serious prayer requires dedication and compassion for another person.

And what does that actually achieve?

Or another interesting question: What happens when lots of people pray for opposing outcomes in a certain matter? Does God go with the majority opinion?

If God is all-knowing and all-powerful, and has decided that a little school boy should have deadly cancer....will a large group of people praying change God's mind?

(Says the half-serious Catholic...)
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« Reply #8 on: July 06, 2012, 06:10:00 am »
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Not everything is a question of exchange.
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« Reply #9 on: July 06, 2012, 06:17:48 am »
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I think some people say they will 'pray' when they mean to say that they will keep someone in their thoughts. Which is nice to know I guess, but also has little effect on the person it is directed to. However at least it is honest. Keeping someone 'in your thoughts' doesn't allude to being able to get someone or something to intervene through thinking about them.

Prayer doesn't demonstratably achieve anything. Prayer has never as I argued before, been able to heal the scientifically unhealable (such as an amputated limb growing back) but is routinely attributed to healing what can be medically treated or fought off by the human body. Prayer was never able to replace a persons face and neither could science, until of course science allowed us to do just that. As such procedures become more routine, you can be sure that some people will start saying that 'prayer' is involved in their success.

Despite people attributing results to prayer it would be more beneficial for someone to give material or emotional help. Don't pray for a donor match; get yourself tested to see if you are the match. Don't pray that someone get's over something; go visit them yourself.
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« Reply #10 on: July 06, 2012, 10:53:58 am »
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A person who prays for someone else in a serious way has to make an effort; he/she devotes time to the other person and has to concentrate and focus on that person. A serious prayer requires dedication and compassion for another person.

And what does that actually achieve?

Or another interesting question: What happens when lots of people pray for opposing outcomes in a certain matter? Does God go with the majority opinion?

If God is all-knowing and all-powerful, and has decided that a little school boy should have deadly cancer....will a large group of people praying change God's mind?

(Says the half-serious Catholic...)

The Christian God is almighty. Many people have the misconception in mind that God is there to fulfill our wishes; they think we should pray to God only to get something from him and that God has the duty to act in a way we want things to be. However, prayer is much more than that. As a Christian you are encouraged to pray in order to praise God and to pray for yourself as well as for other people. But that doesn't mean all you have to do is pray and God will do exactly what you want. God always has his own way. Why does a boy have to die of cancer? Why does God fulfill some prayers and doesn't fulfill others? I don't know. But what I know is that Christians are encouraged to pray to God and that there is comfort for each one of them even if it appears that their prayers have not been heard.
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#Ready4Nixon
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« Reply #11 on: July 06, 2012, 04:10:56 pm »
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I believe everything about what will happen in our lives is already set in stone--we just think we've got free will (and that illusion is good enough for me). So to me, prayer more of a comfort thing.

lol predestination.
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« Reply #12 on: July 06, 2012, 04:44:27 pm »
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Prayer probably does not do anything because God is but a divine clockmaker who lets the world destroy itself. If he was not than why would the world be so screwed up? If God actually intervened in the lives of men than a lot of injustice would not occur (such as a kid in high school contracting pancreatic cancer). The reason that men pray is because it gives them a sense of control in a world that can not be controlled. By "making our requests known unto God" we hope that we can feel "the peace of God which surpasses all comprehension." That "peace" is knowing what is going to happen in a world of random occurrences.

Thus, prayer is important for men. It brings about peace of mind in a messed up place called Planet Earth. While God is sitting in a tin can far above the Moon, men must live in on the play-set he created. Prayer is the tool that keeps us sane. Prayer is important for that reason if for no other one. 
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HagridOfTheDeep
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« Reply #13 on: July 06, 2012, 05:47:23 pm »
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I believe everything about what will happen in our lives is already set in stone--we just think we've got free will (and that illusion is good enough for me). So to me, prayer more of a comfort thing.

lol predestination.

You can laugh, but I think it makes sense. I don't know that some guy is sitting on a throne putting the pieces together, but I think there is an order and a story to this life that is unchangeable. We feel like we're making independent decisions, but they're all working together to create a foretold narrative.

I actually kind of like to use the idea of time travel here. Let's say 2012 me decides to go back to see myself in 1996. The 2012 me that went back in time would have already met myself 16 years earlier in 1996. So arguably, when 1996 Hagrid meets 2012 Hagrid, the future of 1996 Hagrid is unchangeable--in 2012 he WILL go back in time. Thus, the path ahead was already laid out.
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#Ready4Nixon
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« Reply #14 on: July 06, 2012, 07:52:58 pm »
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How convenient that your proof relies on use of a technology that to my knowledge doesn't exist.
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« Reply #15 on: July 06, 2012, 08:48:25 pm »
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Even despite my reviling of most immaterial religious gestures of good will, I can understand the power of prayer. It gives people a sense that they're not alone in whatever it is they're trying to overcome. Support and positivity can be powerful tools. No, it's not going to cure someone's diseases or solve their problems, but it can give them the will to continue and a mental state more conducive to success.
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« Reply #16 on: July 06, 2012, 09:23:30 pm »
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How convenient that your proof relies on use of a technology that to my knowledge doesn't exist.
Yeah, multiverse theory would suggest that when Hagrid went back in time, he didn't actually go back but split off a new universe at the exact point which he appeared.
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HagridOfTheDeep
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« Reply #17 on: July 07, 2012, 03:47:50 am »
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It may not exist, it's just a good way to illustrate the rules of my belief. It's not supposed to be "proof." If time travel was possible, I believe the only way it would work would be the way I've outlined. Since the past has happened and as far as I know, there IS a future ahead, the foundations for those time travel rules does exist. Which would suggest to me that the concept of predestination has potential.

(The multiverse theory is interesting... would jumping ahead into the future with that theory have you staying in the same universe, or bouncing into a new one?)

I also like the omniverse theory, wherein our universe is one of many. The physics of another universe could be totally different and completely unknowable to us. Makes you wonder about some sort of heaven.
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« Reply #18 on: July 07, 2012, 09:34:57 pm »
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As long as it provides comfort for those to whom those prayers are directed, I don't see the problem here.   If anything, it might actually help in giving someone terminally ill the will to continue to live. 
« Last Edit: July 07, 2012, 09:36:50 pm by Frodo »Logged

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« Reply #19 on: July 07, 2012, 09:44:48 pm »
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As long as it provides comfort for those to whom those prayers are directed, I don't see the problem here. If anything, it might actually help in giving someone terminally ill the will to continue to live.

Actually, it might be the opposite - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Studies_on_intercessory_prayer#The_STEP_project
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« Reply #20 on: July 07, 2012, 10:23:58 pm »
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As long as it provides comfort for those to whom those prayers are directed, I don't see the problem here. If anything, it might actually help in giving someone terminally ill the will to continue to live.

Actually, it might be the opposite - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Studies_on_intercessory_prayer#The_STEP_project

Actually the effect of prayer is still up in the air and needs more study, according to your link if you read the concluding paragraph:

Quote
Various, broader meta-studies of the literature in the field have been performed showing evidence only for no effect or a potentially small effect.. For instance, a 2006 meta analysis on 14 studies concluded that "There is no scientifically discernable effect for intercessory prayer as assessed in controlled studies".[2] However, a 2007 systemic review of 17 intercessory prayer studies found "small, but significant, effect sizes for the use of intercessory prayer" in 7 studies, but "prayer was unassociated with positive improvement in the condition of client" in the other 10, concluding that based upon the American Psychology Association's Division 12 (clinical psychology) criteria for evidence-based practice, intercessory prayer "must be classified as an experimental intervention." The review noted that the most methodologically rigorous studies failed to produce significant findings. [3]

You just happened to naturally latch onto this particular study because the results agreed with you.
« Last Edit: July 07, 2012, 10:51:58 pm by Frodo »Logged

shua
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« Reply #21 on: July 07, 2012, 11:40:55 pm »
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A person who prays for someone else in a serious way has to make an effort; he/she devotes time to the other person and has to concentrate and focus on that person. A serious prayer requires dedication and compassion for another person.

And what does that actually achieve?
Are dedication and compassion for someone worthless to them?
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« Reply #22 on: July 08, 2012, 01:56:44 am »
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I know prayer works because I've seen some rather crazy stuff happen when prayer(In the Name of Jesus) is used by Christians. There are things in this life that can only truly be done in the activity (fasting increases this)

Like supernatural miracles and healings. Works of compassion and justice under Christ's terms
cant truly be done but by prayer. For instance last year I was in Chicago at a Jesus Culture Conference. The final day of that conference it was like I was a walking prayer bullseye. The food court in the Target close by looked like a revival meeting with young people strewn across the floor because the presence of God came in to the area. Needless to say I didn't have lunch that afternoon iirc because I was one of the young people strewn on the floor. That was just the beginning of that wild day. Some things if I say them here would blow the theological grids of many of the Christ-Followers of this site as some of what happened blew my own. That and I saw three pairs of legs grow even (including my own much to my surprise)

I've only grown more solid in my belief that prayer does indeed change things.
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HagridOfTheDeep
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« Reply #23 on: July 08, 2012, 04:57:49 am »
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I was in Fatima, Portugal yesterday. Prayer-galore. What a cool experience.
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IDS Judicial Overlord John Dibble
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« Reply #24 on: July 08, 2012, 08:58:18 am »
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As long as it provides comfort for those to whom those prayers are directed, I don't see the problem here. If anything, it might actually help in giving someone terminally ill the will to continue to live.

Actually, it might be the opposite - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Studies_on_intercessory_prayer#The_STEP_project

Actually the effect of prayer is still up in the air and needs more study, according to your link if you read the concluding paragraph:

Quote
Various, broader meta-studies of the literature in the field have been performed showing evidence only for no effect or a potentially small effect.. For instance, a 2006 meta analysis on 14 studies concluded that "There is no scientifically discernable effect for intercessory prayer as assessed in controlled studies".[2] However, a 2007 systemic review of 17 intercessory prayer studies found "small, but significant, effect sizes for the use of intercessory prayer" in 7 studies, but "prayer was unassociated with positive improvement in the condition of client" in the other 10, concluding that based upon the American Psychology Association's Division 12 (clinical psychology) criteria for evidence-based practice, intercessory prayer "must be classified as an experimental intervention." The review noted that the most methodologically rigorous studies failed to produce significant findings. [3]

You just happened to naturally latch onto this particular study because the results agreed with you.

Which is why I said "might".
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