To be honest my prayers have never quite been 'answered' when I was a Christian. Later after I left the church I made a few off handed wishes to my ancestors in a traditional ritual type thing. And you know what, I met a boy, did good in school, and learned a language, I was like thanks grandpa, you cool
But seriously I think I just probably became a better student and the boy is coincidence. I think prayer is something nice to have though. There's so many things that we cannot do, so it feels nice to be able to throw a plea into the wind. When I do now though, it isn't to an Abrahamic god anymore.
You know, I've always wondered why it is that if one is supposed to pray in private and not flaunt their piety, how exactly do Churches justify their own existence when they are providing the means to violate both standards?
By not telling their followers that they can't justify their existance. Probably why the Catholic chruch was against Marting Luther's plan to make the bible more accepssable to the public, among other reasons.
I see prayer is the one on one time you have with god. though you do most if not all of the talking. it's not a solve all like Duct Tape. but it does help calm the mind, lets you vent your problems and think things through.
though if you look into the concept of shared consciousness "curse you Spirit Science XD" there may actually be some effect to prayer!
Typically, I see prayer working like this- "Oh no, something really bad is happening and I don't have the power to stop it. I know, I'll send a telepathic message to my Cosmic Space Lord and ask him to do something about it." which is usually followed by one of two results "Ha! That horrible thing is now resolved. Obviously the people who actually worked toward resolving it could not have succeeded if I had not asked that personal favor of my Cosmic Space Lord. All praise my Cosmic Space Lord!" or "Oh, the horrible thing did not get resolved. Well, obviously my Cosmic Space Lord intended for that horrible thing to happen as a way of benefiting us in the long run. All praise my Cosmic Space Lord!"
Either way, I view it as people asserting some imagined power over events that they have no control over. Pretty much like how ancient civilizations would perform human sacrifices in order to prevent natural disasters.
Well, there have been studies that show that prayer can help people heal- but the same is true for anything intended to help someone, magic, healing touch, etc, so it's really more of a matter of attention and intention than prayer through the formal aid of a god.
As for prayer for calming/betterment/connection with a deity, that is something that is also echoed in other religions and systems. With that, perhaps some people are making a connection with something else, perhaps it's a connection with their higher selves, maybe it's just programming their brains. Again, whatever it is, something is going on that works.
Whether you attribute it to a deity or to a power in ourselves, something is going on.
Now, I happen to believe in things more powerful than ourselves, and sure, sometimes I'll ask them for something, but more likely when I'm meditating/in a prayer state I'm trying to reprogram some part of my own mind.
Prayer is pointless and statistically is actually worse than doing nothing in some cases. People in hospital with serious conditions are actually less likely to survive when they know people are praying for them and believe in the power of prayer (although it's hardly a significant amount). When push comes to shove, most people actually don't believe prayer works. Think prayer heals? Don't use a doctor. People trapped in a building on fire? Don't bother getting the fire service. Being attacked by an enemy? Well we never needed an army anyway.
In a choice between prayer and real action, people will choose action for the most part.
Prayer is something still hard-wired into me as an ex-Catholic. When I'm facing times of extreme stress and/or pain, my first instinct is to ask some super powerful being to make everything work out. And that's exactly the fun of prayer, isn't it? You get to feel like you've done all you can to remedy the situation when the reality is you literally just spoke something out loud to yourself, if not merely thought the words, and did nothing relevant to the situation at hand.
But that's the beauty of faith. We're mortal beings that need to think there's some power beyond us that cares about our pathetic little problems in the grand scheme of things. I see no harm in it, until people start putting it before actual intervention in the real world, ie medical attention.
I don't find ritualistic style prayer to be of much use, but you would be right with some of this. My prayer life is basically a conversation with my God, and on a bad day, there is a lot of self-reflection going on in the meantime. I have seen speaking in tongues similar to meditation, and have used it as such in the past. I've never seen my normal prayer life as such though.
There was a test where they had two control groups of post surgery patients. Group A had their friends and family pray for them without them knowing. Group B no one prayed for them. The test was to see how well the patients recovered and were afflicted by post surgery complications. The results... Group B did slightly better (no direct correlation as to why they did better) than group A. Essentially it resulted in 50/50 take proving that prayer has no effect on objective reality. To the self it may give a placebo effect but moving mountains it does not.
I am also a raised catholic and like you there are things that i disagree with in my religion but the power of prayer isn't one of them because like you have stated it at least helps one become more aware and accepting of a situation but there are many unexplained events, some might say miracles, that have happened from the result of prayer. I don't think that all "miracles" that happen because of prayer are always miracles because there are many things that we don't know about the world today that we will learn in the future but until then they are unexplained and in the catholic church are classified as miracles. So to sum it up there is some power behind prayer, is it really power given by God? im not sure but until we have proof that it isn't, I will have faith that it is.
Prayers/invocations are quite different from meditation alone, in the sense that turning to a power greater than you (whether or not it exists doesn't matter here) is different than just 'calming your mind'...there's a submissiveness in prayer.
Exactly. Prayer affects the person praying. If it's done properly, the effect can even be positive.
The fact that prayer, meditation, or whatever you want to call it, has been rediscovered many times over by many different religious traditions, that strongly suggests that there's at least some benefit to it.
It's amazing to me that people still do it. At one point in time, I'm sure many prayers went to Thor or Quetzalcoatl or <insert name of deity here>. We now generally view that worship as silliness, just the superstitious product of early civilizations--yet each of those people had just as much 'faith' or 'inner knowledge' that their beliefs were true as many modern theists do, and I'm sure plenty of them were so confident in their beliefs that they gave their lives for their gods.
Though I do vaguely recall a study showing some benefits in patients, I think you hit the nail on the head with your explanation. Anything that reduces stress and provides comfort, reality based or not, is going to help on some level. Sometimes placebos work too. Which is awesome. I just hate when someone's recovery from illness is attributed to 'Thor', rather than the doctors, nurses, and modern medicine that actually addressed and solved the problem.
The ask, and given is not always prayer, but sometimes is. Praise, Prayer, and Unspoken are all prayers.
Prayer is more of a way to talking to God, not for him to be a Genie on a Lamp. Thats even the definition of prayer. Wikki says Prayer is an invocation or act that seeks to activate a rapport with a deity, an object of worship, or a spiritual entity through deliberate communication. Rapport occurs when two or more people feel that they are in sync or on the same wavelength because they feel similar or relate well to each other.
Because of these feelings and things like that, it can end up feeling like you need the support from Him and especially when you are in a prayer group.
And just by thinking about it the ask and you shall recieve is just a short way that in Matthew, its ask, seek, and knocking. Its almost a metaphor saying that God answers prayers, not give stuff to you.
Meditation is a bit different, but in a way its can be scientifically. In critical thinking class, we did alot of breathing exercises to calm yourself. It helps you to actively think about what you have done and focus on that. Ive gotten an article that even proves that cosmic humanism and secular humanism can be simular in thought. Its basically having more self awareness then you should.
Yes, I know that there are different types of prayer. I'm getting a little tired of the religious around here who think that because you disagree with them, what you REALLY need is a basic primer on Christianity. You'll have to accept at some point that there are people around who know Christianity, who have been Christians, who have live their lives as deeply committed Christians, and who no longer believe.
The issue is, that no kind of prayer ever seems to evoke any kind of objective response. Yes, you may get "feelings". You get feelings from many other things too. Psychological states are not demonstrably divine in origin.
OP was describing the sort of repeated prayers you might say while praying the Rosary. Eastern Christianity has its own discipline of the endlessly repeated "Jesus Prayer". This is indeed very much like meditation.
It wasn't really ment a reply but more to the read and kind of agreeing with you.
Well its the fact that trying to think that someone was deeply faith just kind of wavers and gives up. I wonder how was that person a Christian in the first place. Thats why I think it kind of weird you know.
I feel its even to relate to talking to got, and getting the same idea. I was more relating to prayer to other religions then just christian, but now were getting more into christian, it is relating to God which is more of just having a relationship in a way.
I wasn't trying to be too religious but you know, I get over the top sometimes.
Since it seems to be that "ask and it shall be given" isn't really true when it comes to having any effect at all on the material world, what certitude do you have that prayer does anything spiritually either?
Certainly it may work as meditation in many cases, but then why not simply meditate?
I do just "simply meditate". I was thinking the theory that prayer works for theists in the same manner that meditation would for anyone.
I never believed the "ask and it shall be given" thing about prayer, even when I was a devout Catholic and prayed daily. Since I no longer believe in god, I also no longer believe in spirits, so I couldn't really tell you what prayer does in the aspect of spirituality. Perhaps the placebo effect maybe?