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  1. #51
    Analytical Dreamer Coriolis's Avatar
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    Most of my prayer might more properly be considered meditation, in that it has an inward focus. I do not agree with Oberon's distinction that seems to equate meditation with absence of a supreme being. I do believe in deity, though not in any traditional Judaeo-Christian sense, and deity is often a subject of my meditation.

    When I do pray specifically "for something", it is almost always for the strength and knowledge to do what needs to be done, for openness to opportunity that may present itself, for clarity to see my own failings. I do not expect "God" to do things for me. I expect instead to be empowered or guided to do them for myself, or to make the right connections, relationships, etc. to get the human help I need. I pray in a similar fashion when I pray for others in need. That is, I ask the divine to give them the strength and resources to cope with their difficulties, to work through them and to learn/benefit in whatever way possible, rather than simply to have them magically vanish.

    I find prayer/meditation works, but mostly for me. Meaning, I feel I can influence my own outcomes much more readily than the outcomes for others. This relates to the idea, expressed by others, that prayer and meditation mostly change ourselves, in ways that might happen even if there is no god at all. I feel that prayer and meditation help me focus better, see things I may have overlooked, align my goals with my values, gain new realizations, and generally marshal my own resources to more effective use.

    There are some set words/prayers I use repeatedly, but generally it is more free-form, and it does not always involves words.

  2. #52
    Senior Member Into It's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Take Five View Post
    i'm not sure i understand you. petitioning for things is but one form of prayer, and sometimes the answer is no. maybe you can restate yourself more directly?
    I have heard people say that they pray "for God's will to be fulfilled." I say that, because they attribute everything that is happening to the will of God, they say this in order to hedge their bets - "look, we prayed for God's will, and it was fulfilled again!"

    Petition is one form of prayer...I would guess it's the most common. People don't usually resort to trying to change remote events by speaking in their own head unless they are pretty desperate.

    The only forms of prayer I can think of are petition ("I pray the Lord my soul to take") and worship ("Thy will be done"). The first one doesn't work, and the second one can't work or fail.

    I think I remember a big part of the Original Post being about whether or not prayer works or is worthwhile. So have I made myself clear?


    Edit: Sometimes the answer is "No." This could be restated as "sometimes what I want to happen does not happen." Does it appear to you that there there is some intelligence that causes your mother to die of cancer, or that causes your cousin to survive it? Does this follow a logical thought process or pattern? No, it doesn't. Even though you may think you know the character of your god, you apparently do not, because you can't predict which prayers will be answered based on his character.


    Edit: Then you may say, "God works in mysterious ways," but why the hell should He? Reasonable people don't behave in mysterious ways. Some people will take both answered and unanswered prayers and ascribe them to the whims of God because they fallaciously see everything as the will of God, and thus there is no alternative.
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  3. #53
    Senior Member ThinkingAboutIt's Avatar
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    Well, this is a multi level question really as some of it depends on where a Christian is in their walk (there are different types of prayer too). I think this offers some depth on the subject...

    Question: "Why pray? What is the point of prayer when God knows the future and is already in control of everything. If we cannot change God's mind, why should we pray?"

    Answer: For the Christian, praying is like breathing. It is easier to do it than to not do it. We pray for a variety of reasons. For one thing, prayer is a form of serving God (Luke 2:36-38) and obeying Him. We pray because God commands us to pray (Philippians 4:6-7). Prayer is exemplified for us by Christ and the early church (Mark 1:35; Acts 1:14; 2:42; 3:1; 4:23-31; 6:4; 13:1-3). If Jesus thought it was worthwhile to pray, we should also. If He needed to pray to remain in the Father’s will, how much more do we need to pray?

    Another reason to pray is that God intends prayer to be the means of obtaining His solutions in a number of situations. We pray in preparation for major decisions (Luke 6:12-13); to overcome demonic barriers (Matthew 17:14-21); to gather workers for the spiritual harvest (Luke 10:2); to gain strength to overcome temptation (Matthew 26:41); and to obtain the means of strengthening others spiritually (Ephesians 6:18-19).

    We come to God with our specific requests, and we have God's promise that our prayers are not in vain, even if we do not receive specifically what we asked for (Matthew 6:6; Romans 8:26-27). He has promised that when we ask for things that are in accordance with His will, He will give us what we ask for (1 John 5:14-15). Sometimes He delays His answers according to His wisdom and for our benefit. In these situations, we are to be diligent and persistent in prayer (Matthew 7:7; Luke 18:1-8). Prayer should not be seen as our means of getting God to do our will on earth, but rather as a means of getting God's will done on earth. God’s wisdom far exceeds our own.

    For situations in which we do not know God's will specifically, prayer is a means of discerning His will. If the Syrian woman with the demon-influenced daughter had not prayed to Christ, her daughter would not have been made whole (Mark 7:26-30). If the blind man outside Jericho had not called out to Christ, he would have remained blind (Luke 18:35-43). God has said that we often go without because we do not ask (James 4:2). In one sense, prayer is like sharing the gospel with people. We do not know who will respond to the message of the gospel until we share it. In the same way, we will never see the results of answered prayer unless we pray.

    A lack of prayer demonstrates a lack of faith and a lack of trust in God’s Word. We pray to demonstrate our faith in God, that He will do as He has promised in His Word and bless our lives abundantly more than we could ask or hope for (Ephesians 3:20). Prayer is our primary means of seeing God work in others' lives. Because it is our means of “plugging into” God's power, it is our means of defeating Satan and his army that we are powerless to overcome by ourselves. Therefore, may God find us often before His throne, for we have a high priest in heaven who can identify with all that we go through (Hebrews 4:15-16). We have His promise that the fervent prayer of a righteous man accomplishes much (James 5:16-18). May God glorify His name in our lives as we believe in Him enough to come to Him often in prayer.

    Source: Why pray?

    -------------------------------------------------------------------
    Dr. Charles Staney has a good talk on prayer this week: Today on Radio - In Touch Ministries - Dr. Charles Stanley 2010
    Just because you can doesn't mean you should.

  4. #54
    likes this gromit's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Into It View Post
    The only forms of prayer I can think of are petition ("I pray the Lord my soul to take") and worship ("Thy will be done"). The first one doesn't work, and the second one can't work or fail.
    What about prayers for guidance or strength or something like that? I guess it's sort of a petition in a way, but it doesn't necessarily have to do with physical events the way a petition typically does...
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  5. #55
    Analytical Dreamer Coriolis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ThinkingAboutIt View Post
    Well, this is a multi level question really as some of it depends on where a Christian believer is in their walk (there are different types of prayer too). I think this offers some depth on the subject...]
    Christians are not the only ones who pray. These questions are multi-faceted for those of other faiths as well.

    Quote Originally Posted by gromit View Post
    What about prayers for guidance or strength or something like that? I guess it's sort of a petition in a way, but it doesn't necessarily have to do with physical events the way a petition typically does...
    Another common form of prayer is thanksgiving.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ThinkingAboutIt View Post
    Well, this is a multi level question really as some of it depends on where a Christian is in their walk (there are different types of prayer too). I think this offers some depth on the subject...

    Question: "Why pray? What is the point of prayer when God knows the future and is already in control of everything. If we cannot change God's mind, why should we pray?"

    Answer: For the Christian, praying is like breathing. It is easier to do it than to not do it. We pray for a variety of reasons. For one thing, prayer is a form of serving God (Luke 2:36-38) and obeying Him. We pray because God commands us to pray (Philippians 4:6-7). Prayer is exemplified for us by Christ and the early church (Mark 1:35; Acts 1:14; 2:42; 3:1; 4:23-31; 6:4; 13:1-3). If Jesus thought it was worthwhile to pray, we should also. If He needed to pray to remain in the Father’s will, how much more do we need to pray?

    Another reason to pray is that God intends prayer to be the means of obtaining His solutions in a number of situations. We pray in preparation for major decisions (Luke 6:12-13); to overcome demonic barriers (Matthew 17:14-21); to gather workers for the spiritual harvest (Luke 10:2); to gain strength to overcome temptation (Matthew 26:41); and to obtain the means of strengthening others spiritually (Ephesians 6:18-19).

    We come to God with our specific requests, and we have God's promise that our prayers are not in vain, even if we do not receive specifically what we asked for (Matthew 6:6; Romans 8:26-27). He has promised that when we ask for things that are in accordance with His will, He will give us what we ask for (1 John 5:14-15). Sometimes He delays His answers according to His wisdom and for our benefit. In these situations, we are to be diligent and persistent in prayer (Matthew 7:7; Luke 18:1-8). Prayer should not be seen as our means of getting God to do our will on earth, but rather as a means of getting God's will done on earth. God’s wisdom far exceeds our own.

    For situations in which we do not know God's will specifically, prayer is a means of discerning His will. If the Syrian woman with the demon-influenced daughter had not prayed to Christ, her daughter would not have been made whole (Mark 7:26-30). If the blind man outside Jericho had not called out to Christ, he would have remained blind (Luke 18:35-43). God has said that we often go without because we do not ask (James 4:2). In one sense, prayer is like sharing the gospel with people. We do not know who will respond to the message of the gospel until we share it. In the same way, we will never see the results of answered prayer unless we pray.

    A lack of prayer demonstrates a lack of faith and a lack of trust in God’s Word. We pray to demonstrate our faith in God, that He will do as He has promised in His Word and bless our lives abundantly more than we could ask or hope for (Ephesians 3:20). Prayer is our primary means of seeing God work in others' lives. Because it is our means of “plugging into” God's power, it is our means of defeating Satan and his army that we are powerless to overcome by ourselves. Therefore, may God find us often before His throne, for we have a high priest in heaven who can identify with all that we go through (Hebrews 4:15-16). We have His promise that the fervent prayer of a righteous man accomplishes much (James 5:16-18). May God glorify His name in our lives as we believe in Him enough to come to Him often in prayer.

    Source: Why pray?

    -------------------------------------------------------------------
    Dr. Charles Staney has a good talk on prayer this week: Today on Radio - In Touch Ministries - Dr. Charles Stanley 2010
    I know the 'right' answers (Sunday School, Baptist high school, Bible College, etc) and I pray because I do have faith, but the logic doesn't necessarily click for me. Those are scriptural answers, which do carry weight for me, since I consider the Bible authoritative, but they aren't really objectively very rational to me. I can obey without understanding why, but it doesn't mean not understanding why doesn't niggle at my mind. Does that make sense?
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    Senior Member ThinkingAboutIt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Coriolis View Post
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by ThinkingAboutIt View Post
    Well, this is a multi level question really as some of it depends on where a Christian believer is in their walk (there are different types of prayer too). I think this offers some depth on the subject...]
    Quote Originally Posted by Coriolis View Post
    Christians are not the only ones who pray. These questions are multi-faceted for those of other faiths as well.


    Another common form of prayer is thanksgiving.
    My answer to the original post did not explain my thoughts well enough and I think I should explain myself better... The OP states "What does it mean in your life? To whom or what do you pray (if anyone)?" What I should have done was explain that I am a Christian, a believer in, and pray to Yahweh God in the name of Jesus Christ alone. You see, a Christian believer believes the Good News - that Jesus Christ is the son of God, was born of a virgin, died on the cross for our sins according to scriptures, that He was buried and rose again on the third day according to scriptures, and was seen by hundreds afterwards.

    Sorry for not explaining myself better in my original post!
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    Analytical Dreamer Coriolis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ThinkingAboutIt View Post
    My answer to the original post did not explain my thoughts well enough and I think I should explain myself better... The OP states "What does it mean in your life? To whom or what do you pray (if anyone)?" What I should have done was explain that I am a Christian, a believer in, and pray to Yahweh God in the name of Jesus Christ alone. You see, a Christian believer believes the Good News - that Jesus Christ is the son of God, was born of a virgin, died on the cross for our sins according to scriptures, that He was buried and rose again on the third day according to scriptures, and was seen by hundreds afterwards.

    Sorry for not explaining myself better in my original post!
    I thought you might be Christian, based upon your answer. I wanted to be clear, however, on which of your comments pertained specifically to your experience of Christian prayer, and which (if any) to prayer more generally. The explanation above does, indeed, help. Discussions of spiritual topics sometimes assume a Christian perspective, when the topic is really much more general, and the assumption of a specific faith can limit discussion and even lead to misunderstanding. (I'm not suggesting you are guilty of this, just trying to avoid assumptions.)
    Last edited by Coriolis; 06-08-2010 at 11:17 PM. Reason: fixed artifact of cut/paste

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    The only thing I can see prayer doing is making yourself feel better by holding the idea that it actually does something (since I don't hold the idea that it does anything, it has the opposite effect on me). A prayer isn't any different from any other thought you have, as the only result it has is entertaining your brain.

  10. #60
    Supreme Allied Commander Take Five's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Into It View Post
    I have heard people say that they pray "for God's will to be fulfilled." I say that, because they attribute everything that is happening to the will of God, they say this in order to hedge their bets - "look, we prayed for God's will, and it was fulfilled again!"

    Petition is one form of prayer...I would guess it's the most common. People don't usually resort to trying to change remote events by speaking in their own head unless they are pretty desperate.

    The only forms of prayer I can think of are petition ("I pray the Lord my soul to take") and worship ("Thy will be done"). The first one doesn't work, and the second one can't work or fail.

    I think I remember a big part of the Original Post being about whether or not prayer works or is worthwhile. So have I made myself clear?


    Edit: Sometimes the answer is "No." This could be restated as "sometimes what I want to happen does not happen." Does it appear to you that there there is some intelligence that causes your mother to die of cancer, or that causes your cousin to survive it? Does this follow a logical thought process or pattern? No, it doesn't. Even though you may think you know the character of your god, you apparently do not, because you can't predict which prayers will be answered based on his character.


    Edit: Then you may say, "God works in mysterious ways," but why the hell should He? Reasonable people don't behave in mysterious ways. Some people will take both answered and unanswered prayers and ascribe them to the whims of God because they fallaciously see everything as the will of God, and thus there is no alternative.
    Praying for God's will: This doesn't exactly mean expecting God to carry out a master plan, with every outcome of every detail being what God wanted. Rather when I say "Thy will be done" I imply that my own human knowledge and understanding of things is imperfect. Thus what I think I want, for myself or others, may not be what best leads me to communion with God. But my God knows all, thus God does know what is best for all. And what best leads to communion with God is what God wants--that is his will. A response from God on this request does not mean he will take over all human actions such that he trespasses on the property of free will. In the end, it is US who bear responsibility for our actions, and for carrying out God's will. So this praying for God's will to be done is no simple petition for a concrete unfolding of events. It is more profound, elusive, and subtle. His will can only be done when humans find the right knowledge and understanding. For this to happen, we need to be tugged by God in the right direction. This tug can take on a variety of forms, from nature, mystical insight, or even from reflection on everday events. Unfortunately God's will is not always done on earth--there is no such catch-22 as you mention. When humans do not act in accord with God's will, his will is not done. E.g. murder.

    Further, nobody can know the entirety of God's will because it is too grand. What can take heart in is that the doing of his will leads to communion with him. Sometimes we do not understand how some things could lead to communion because of incomplete or imperfect knowledge, understanding, or desires. And it is critical to keep in mind that though our bodies and earthly life are good things, ultimately it is union with God that matters.
    The goodness of such union makes the blessings of earthly life pale in comparison.

    Prayer forms: As you say, there is petition and worship, though your example of a worship prayer is also a petition prayer. Anything asked for, concrete or abstract, is a petition. Also there is thanksgiving, and prayers of apology, for example. Importantly, petition prayers in which you ask for something you want and expect God to hand it over to you is not good
    prayer. This type puts yourself and your agenda above God and his will. Thus while it is fair for us to have desires, such things must be ordered in the proper way, in accordance with God's will. We may ask for things and express our desires and emotions, but ultimately and primarily we should be praying for God's will to be done. This happens through right relationship and understanding, a recognition of our own imperfection and a desire to love God, because we are loved.

    So I hope I have made clear that it is not good to ascribe all events to the will of God. We pray for his will, and God does his part, but we must also factor in that we live in an imperfect world full of imperfect people (except me), and that all those people have a free will of their own.
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    "If an injury has to be done to a man it should be so severe that his vengeance need not be feared. "--Niccolo Machiavelli

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