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  1. #61
    Analytical Dreamer Coriolis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cafe View Post
    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?
    It makes perfect sense. Those things "niggle at your mind" precisely because God gave you the ability to think, reason, and question, and not simply to obey blindly. Addressing these concerns directly and openly is not repudiating one's faith, but rather working to put it on an even firmer footing.

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    Senior Member ThinkingAboutIt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cafe View Post
    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?
    Heb 11:1. It doesn't niggle once He comes through Yahweh God loves logic - one look at the bible code mathematically offers a glance at how much. But, very often, He enjoys defying logic, and there are many examples given as to why in the bible. One thing for sure, He often changes the paradigm of experience to enhance and deepen reliance, trust, and faith. Prayer is a key because without prayer, without a Christian asking specifically for something, the blessing is often taken for granted or as something that happened by 'chance'.
    Just because you can doesn't mean you should.

  3. #63
    Priestess Of Syrinx Katsuni's Avatar
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    I've been meaning to reply to this for awhile, and keep putting it off... may as well do so now XD

    The biggest problem with prayer, is that people honestly seem to believe they'll get anything they ask for. And they ask for some awfully stupid stuff.

    Think about it this way... if there is a god, and he has decided that someone needs to die, because everyone dies eventually, and he feels that their death would benefit others indirectly, or directly, then that person is going to die. It doesn't matter how much yeu beg and plead and cry, it's not going to matter... if god sees all and knows all and has things set up in a very complex game, and knows whot will happen, then things happen for a reason, and yeur request to change them simply because yeu're narrow minded and can't see the big picture that only an omniscient being could, isn't going to change his mind.

    Stuff like "cure bob's cancer plzkthnx!" is kinda... yeah, no that's not going to happen. If they are destined to die, they will. If not, they won't. Maybe they got it so they'd appreciate life more afterwards, maybe they're supposed to die so that people around them learn a lesson, there's alot of complex reasons that we can't really grasp, so if there *IS* a higher power deciding peoples' fates, such requests are naive at best.

    Now, that being said, there are some things that would make SENSE to ask for... asking that everything be taken care of and done FOR yeu is not one of them. Asking that yeu be given clarity to recognize the challenges yeu face for whot they are so that yeu can properly face them, that makes alot more sense. Asking that yeu be given an indirect reminder for something yeu have been trying to do, or stuff like requesting a minor boost to give yeu just enough willpower to endure something that's been difficult, those all make sense.

    If we assume that god, or gods, or whotever, are testing us, and that we are being placed in challenges to strengthen who we are in the process... then asking for a shortcut out, or for the test to be done for us defeats the purpose of it. If yeu ask yeur teacher for the answers to the exam, they're going to say NO. So why even bother asking? Asking for help to understand the question yeu're confused on, or to get extra help on something that's difficult, sure... those're fine. But if yeu're being given a challenge specifically so that yeu can grow, or learn something, or maybe just so that yeu become a warning to others... asking to skip the problem is kind of silly.

    Do I pray myself? Yes, actually. My mind wanders horribly, so it usually is filled with alot of apologies for forgetting whot I was talking about... and for going off on random tangents endlessly XD But yes, I do. Do I think anyone will hear them? No idea. I'd like to think it'd be nice if they did, but I honestly don't know if anyone's listening in the first place. But just because yeu don't know, doesn't mean yeu shouldn't try.

    For an example here... my BF recently lost his job; contract expired and the company decided it was cheaper to train a new person than to renew the contract and have to pay him more because he knew wth he's doing. Yeah, business decisions at work *facepalm*. Anyways... so he's got interviews for a new place a friend referred him for since his friend works there... great!

    Now... a normal 'believer' may request "Please may he get the job". Uhm... the chances are that if god has ANYTHING to do with that mess, it was specifically designed as a personal challenge to overcome. Just asking that the problem "magically go away" is kind of dumb. So no, I don't ask for anything like that. Whot I *HAVE* requested, is that he be given a bit of a nudge on remembering whot he knows, that he pick up on subtle cues a little easier, and that he not panic during interviews. Whether he gets the job or not, is either pre-determined, in which case asking to get it is pointless, or it's something to be overcome as a challenge, in which case, asking for it to just magically remove the problem, is also pointless. All yeu can do is ask for a nudge, or a push in the right direction, or a moment of clarity. Minor, indirect things, that will lead to the desired outcome without having all the work done for yeu.

    The whole point of these things, is that either they are pre-destined, or they are something to overcome and learn from. If it's the former, yeu can't ask for help, yeu won't get any. If it's the latter, all that yeu can hope to get is indirect support.

    So... yeah, I do ask for stuff, but it's generally in a manner that requests things that will HELP, but won't do all the work for me, or whoever I'm asking on the behalf of.

    Maybe it's all just a mind game, and there is no god, or he won't take requests, who knows... if it is just a placebo effect, then really, all I'm asking for is exactly whot that would provide anyway. So does it matter if anyone's listening? I suppose it might, I'm not sure. It would be appreciated, of course. But I have no fantasies that everything will be done for me, and that I will get off scott free from anything I face in life.

    Why do people pray for things like lives to be saved from cancer and so on? I don't get it... why would they honestly think god would do anything to help? Because he's all caring? If there wasn't a reason for it, then they wouldn't've gotten cancer in the first place! It's either something they have to face for the sake of facing it, or it's something they are pre-determined that they will or won't make it. Praying doesn't help either way to request for such a thing.

    I dunno, I guess I'm a little bitter about people who do this kind of thing... my mother has a horrible habit of asking for the most ludicrous things imaginable... such as thanking god for putting a lawnmower in the store because she prayed for it. Yeaaaaaaah. I'm not sure whot to say there. True story, sadly enough.

    I just can only reason that god, if there is one, has some kind of rational mindset, and actually thinks through WHY stuff should happen to people... I'd like to believe in a god that has rational thought and actual intelligence, not the bible's whiny abusive brat of an egotistical child it describes. I'm hoping that we really do just anthropomorphize god, and try to glue on human attributes to him which aren't really there. I try to believe that, if there is a higher power at work, that they aren't an emotional self-righteous jerk who plays favourites simply because someone guessed their name was rumplestiltskin, or allah. I'd just kind of like to believe that god is at least as smart as I am... because honestly, if there is a god, and they're not... why would they be worthy of any worship at all?

    To be honest, I don't think anyone who would ask for worship deserves it. Even if they ARE god. And truthfully, I don't worship any god either. I pay a level of respect that, if someone IS there helping me out indirectly, behind the scenes, that yeah, I value that and am grateful. If they aren't there, or aren't helping, then it's a conditional thing and they don't get free brownie points for doing NOTHING. They get conditional thanks... *IF* yeu did something... thank yeu. If not, well I guess yeu didn't really earn a thanks did yeu? I have no brand loyalties... I don't say thank yeu for nothing... yeu reap whot yeu sew. If yeu don't do anything, why should I give thanks? Thanks for nothing? Rawr!

    But anyways, maybe I have my own personal god, assuming that it might really just be in our heads. Or maybe god really is some higher being that is far smarter than I will ever be, and sees things in a way I can't comprehend, despite my attempts to wrap my head around the intricacies of things. Regardless of the fact of whether god is real or not, I still pray anyway. Not in anything that would resemble the traditional sense, really, but I do, in my own way, try to pay homage if I have been granted anything... even just a test of character so I would do better, I may view it as a horrible frustration that made me pull my hair out, but it may've been done to make me a better person in the end. If so, I'm grateful anyway. Of course, it could all be meaningless and the atheists could be right, so just in case as well, if nothing's been done, yeu get no thanks XD


    Regardless, as I've said, I don't care for the imagery presented by christianity as a whole. The whole "shepherd" thing is kinda... yeah. That's how they present god... it sucks. A shepherd only watches for their flock because they need them to sell or eat later. They don't CARE about the sheep. And the sheep are mindless fools, and beneath the shepherd; looked down upon as cattle, and so on. Following the bible's teachings, god only made humans because he needed someone to worship him and his last attempt with the whole angel business went bad when they tried to kill each other in a big war, so after lucifer and 1/3rd of the angels did their war thing and killed a bunch of angels off... there weren't enough of them left to properly worship god so he's like heeeeei I'll just print more money! I mean... make new worshipers! ...Yeah. So we are essentially just sheep to god by that thought process. I can't agree with it. I can't pray to that. I can't respect that, let alone even conceive of worshiping that.

    I prefer to think of god as the Alpha in a wolf pack; he's on top, and he's the strongest, the smartest, and the 'best'; he gets first dibs on food, and first dibs on everything else as well. He demands respect as well. Buuuut... he cares about those under him; they are his children, and though they may be 'beneath' him in a way, he would still fight for them, provide for them, and care for them. A father figure of sorts. To me, whotever god there is out there, is not the shepherd that protects the flock from the wolves... he IS the wolf, who protects his pack from the rest of the ills of the world.

    Perhaps a strange way to think of things, I suppose, but it works for me, and I figure that if god truly does exist, and is a worthy god, and an intelligent one, that he will understand the meaning behind such, and won't care about nitpicky details and crap like that, but will understand the thought behind the action as being more important.

    As such, any prayers I give, are not actually to 'god', as such, but are referred to 'my alpha', in homage to this concept. God, Allah, Jehova, YVYH, Alpha... whotever. It's all the same, only the names will change. Call a rose by any other name, and it's still a rose. I think, if god is worthy of any recognition at all, he already figured this out long before I did, and will appreciate the sentiment, and that I am trying to understand things in my own way, rather than mindlessly following the rest of the sheeple.

    Maybe I'll burn in hell because I didn't pick the 'right' religion out of the thousands available. Maybe I just rolled the dice wrong, and picked the 'wrong' answer, so I'm damned to burn for all eternity... if that's the case, so be it. If I knew this to be true, and I knew that picking the 'wrong' one would damn me, and it was literally a "pick door #1, #2, or #3, the wrong two lead to hellfire but the right one to eternal life", I would refuse to worship that jerk on principle, even if I knew the right answer. I can't condone that behaviour, and I am NOT about to encourage it. If that's how god "really" works, then I will gladly go to hell. Because heaven would be the equivalent of hell for me anyway.

    And so, I shall go on continuing my prayers to my Alpha; it's the thought that counts. Or at least, that's whot should count, if nothing else. Maybe there isn't anyone to hear my prayers, but it's alright either way. I tried my best, and if all this is, is an excuse to try my best in the first place... well I've got plenty of excuses for doing dumb crap already, I don't think having an excuse to do something right for once will really hurt anything.

    Maybe there is a god, maybe there isn't. Maybe it falls upon deaf ears, maybe it's rewarded, maybe it's just a placebo.

    In the end, it doesn't matter.

    It makes sense to me, and it helps me be someone that I can live with myself, for who I am, and who I strive to be. And in the end, that really is whot matters.




    Anyways, I'm done ranting, and I'm sure both the religious fanatics and the atheists are both going to hate me, so whotever XD

  4. #64
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    Katsuni, something you might find interesting, as I recall, in the Greek scriptures (i.e. New Testament), God refers to himself as Alpha and Omega, the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. I think the idea is that God represents the two extremes and everything in between. I just thought that was interesting in light of your title for deity.

    I guess I on some level believe in God or a spiritual dimension to the universe, I just am uncertain as to the extent to which that entity/dimension interacts with the tangible universe.



    On another note, anybody pray to a female deity/female deities?
    Your kisses, sweeter than honey. But guess what, so is my money.

  5. #65
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    Quote Originally Posted by Coriolis View Post
    It makes perfect sense. Those things "niggle at your mind" precisely because God gave you the ability to think, reason, and question, and not simply to obey blindly. Addressing these concerns directly and openly is not repudiating one's faith, but rather working to put it on an even firmer footing.
    I have heard people say this sort of thing before, and I think it sort of has been true in my life, but the firmer footing is not necessarily what I expected or what people who taught me as a child would have expected...
    Your kisses, sweeter than honey. But guess what, so is my money.

  6. #66

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    Because I believe God is very real I pray everyday. Prayer is just talking or communing with God. Recently even some of my atheist and agonist friends have taken to asking me to pray for certain things. I guess because I pray for them regardless of them asking me to or not and a lot of prayers are answered, I guess they felt what the heck. I respect their right to not believe as they respect my right to believe. But even they are questioning now which is very cool. Our prayers aren't always answered the way we think they will but I do believe he does answer us if we call upon him.


  7. #67
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jennifer View Post
    well, with this and other complaints...

    Well, there is no proof of anything. If life within religious community has taught me anything, it's that I'll never be able to validate "God" by the response to someone's prayer. Whatever reality we live in, we're not in a world where we pray for stuff and it always happens. So the response of the supplicant is based on their own faith in God.

    If one chooses to believe in the goodwill of deity, then one will assume that said deity has "better reasons" for not granting the request... or that perhaps the response has been "not yet" rather than "no."

    If one chooses to not believe in the goodwill (or efficacy) of deity, then one will assume that the deity doesn't care, or is mean-spirited/fickle, or just doesn't have the power to grant the request even if the request is something desirable.

    My personal experience in prayer... I've never done really well with formal prayer. I was raised in a more structured religious environment but never really felt at home there. I felt more connection with deity either when I was out in nature or just in "talking to God" in my head throughout the day rather than in formalized prayer time... to me, if God was part of my life, then God was always there and there was familiarity. Not like God was my "pal" but simply that intimacy was always present and I could have running conversations from my end. From a purely analytical POV, I had no way to validate the experience, I'd just perceive various feeling states in my communication with the Divine, but in terms of the experiential end of things, I felt like God was there and listening and I was communing.

    But in terms of supplication... I guess I gave up a long time ago expecting a certain outcome or pushing for it. Sometimes I do, I guess, especially relationally; but it's more like I am pouring out my heart about a particular person and what's happening between us, and I don't expect a miraculous solution... I still end up feeling like I need to live my life in such a way as to contribute to the change(s) in myself and others that I would hope to see. God isn't really a computer system or a request machine and I do not approach him that way; he's more like an intimate who I share my life with, more like a parent after I've reached adulthood. I've plead for some things, wept tears sometimes, but it was more about being honest rather than expecting easy answers to any situation.

    I've watched people pray for healing before and seen their prayers go unanswered. I think there is a certain percentage of cancer that goes into remission spontaneously without medical explanation at this time (I think it's 10%), but people seem very apt to credit it to prayer... while 90% of the other prayers go unanswered. To me, it often seems like random. I've watched people who were very faithful and devoted to God wither and die without relief; and I think it's sort of intellectually disenguous to assume it was God trying to teach people some positive lesson by letting someone die in pain. It could be, but at the same time we're not machines or object lessons, we're people; would I treat my child that way? I just don't think we can say either way, rationally; our view of the efficacy of prayer is personal in nature, and a faith choice, not a rational one.
    I know I said I'd think about it, and I have thought about it, and I guess all I've got is that it seems to make sense. I guess I tend to lean toward a wise, beneficent - but not necessarily omnipotent - deity (or not necessarily in the traditional sense).

    While I'm not sure I believe in the Jesus story in a literal sense (like life after death, etc. - it could be true, but I have no way of confirming it) I do find the imagery to be powerful and to touch upon deep meaning and our experience as human beings. I don't know. I find it resonates with me at a level deeper than literal. The idea of pain, sorrow, agony, and of new life again, of transformation, healing through darkness, etc, that true love is found as much in sorrow as it is in joy. So I guess this ties into my ideas of prayer somehow. I guess what I consider 'prayer' is a part of this process, maybe it IS the process. Allowing yourself to go into that inner, spiritual part of yourself, to face whatever it is in there that's causing the pain, to find love and healing from the spiritual dimension of the universe, including others, and to move toward wholeness.

    I don't know if any of it makes sense.
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  8. #68
    Senior Member KDude's Avatar
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    I believe in God, but I doubt he cares about my prayers. I don't ask for much, but I haven't seen any answered.. other than the fact that I'm alive and well (and if he's the one responsible for that, I appreciate it. heh..). Otherwise, it just depresses me. I feel pretty good tho when I send out thoughts that aren't really about myself..like maybe those prayers will have a better chance.

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    S Saiyan God Mace's Avatar
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    Prayer, to me, is like a way of self inflicting a state of apathy that's really only so worthwhile. I used to pray quite often some times during my teen days when I had exams. Other than that, I only prayed because of other people - either to ask God to help them, or forgive me for wronging them. I guess I grew used to the reality that good times happen, but bad times can also happen without much that be done about it.

    ... Nowadays, my only prayer is that God keep me distracted from reality, that I feel don't need to 'attend' to so soon.

  10. #70
    Analytical Dreamer Coriolis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gromit View Post
    I have heard people say this sort of thing before, and I think it sort of has been true in my life, but the firmer footing is not necessarily what I expected or what people who taught me as a child would have expected...
    That has been the case for myself as well. That is part of the point. One cannot get to the bottom of one's doubts and questions if one overconstrains the answers. If one questions honestly and with an open mind, one will get one's faith on a firmer footing, but it is not guaranteed to be exactly the same (or anywhere near the same) as before. For many it is; for others, myself included, this exploration takes us far afield from our spiritual origins.

    It may in fact be fear of this possibility that deters some people from questioning in the first place. As Katsuni noted, however, the Divine is the Divine, whether we call it God, Allah, Jehovah, etc. In other words, there are many paths leading to the same mountaintop. We may find that, while our journey takes us far from home, through exotic and and even puzzling spiritual terrain, we are still heading for the same destination.

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