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Topic: Question for those who don't pray...

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L. G. (L)
Subject: Question for those who don't pray...
Date Posted: 5/6/2008 2:49 AM ET
Member Since: 9/5/2005
Posts: 12,412
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...I have been thinking about this in light of Sherry's surgery.

Often people will "pray" for others and traditionally, my interpretation is that they are asking for "God" to intervene and "look after" those for whom each is praying.

I have never bought into the concept of a God who is initmately involved in the lives of humans - I guess to me, if there is a God, s/he/it is so much more advanced and esoteric than to dibble in the affairs of mortals.  But I digress...

If you don't believe in prayer, per se, do you believe in any form of collective consciousness or Universal energy or force or thought  that could change outcome in the physical realm?  Or do you see such activities as a total waste of time/energy?

I guess for me, it boils down to physics.  Energy never ceases to exist - it only changes form.  Thought is energy.  If you direct thought toward an outcome, there has to be an effect.  It's sort of similar to the concept of creative visualization, if you please.

So I more-or-less believe in the power of positive thought, though I don't really see it as "God" energy, other than I believe that it is possible that "God" energy exists in all living things.

Anyway - just curious as to how others think about such things...

T. -
Date Posted: 5/6/2008 5:56 AM ET
Member Since: 1/21/2007
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LG Said: So I more-or-less believe in the power of positive thought, though I don't really see it as "God" energy, other than I believe that it is possible that "God" energy exists in all living things.

That's almost exactly how I believe.  I don't believe that there is a "God, the Father" who watches each and every one of us, altho I do realize others may believe that, and that's perfectly fine.  When I tell someone I'll pray for them what I really MEAN is that I will send out positive healing energy for them.  I don't believe in a traditional type God or even Goddess, but more a Divine Spark/Energy that is within all of us and is in every living thing.  I guess some people would call it the soul, but I prefer Divine Spark.   I may call on different manifestations of that Divine Energy, depending on what my intentions may be.

When someone dies, I don't "feel sorry" for the departed because I know they are where they are supposed to be.  I may feel sad for the ones left behind because it is definitely a difficult time to be left behind.   I may feel sad or even bewildered by the circumstances of a death.  Death is but part of the cycle of nature and of life--everything that is alive must eventually die.  Our bodies are just vessels for the Divine Spark until we leave this body, for whatever reason.

I also believe in life after death, but not Heaven and Hell and all of that.  Physical death, but not spiritual death--but now I've exceeded the scope of your question.

I feel I am more science driven, but I also feel that there is much that science and technology has not the capacity to know at this point in time--but all will be revealed--eventually.  One of these areas--spirits & ghosts and such things as people speculate about and KNOW there is some truth, but the science can't prove anything because we don't have the capabilities.  Again, farther than your question probed.

Date Posted: 5/6/2008 7:25 AM ET
Member Since: 6/19/2007
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No, I don't think prayer works.  Not the way most people think it does.  I think it can have a beneficial effect on a believer's state of mind which can in turn effect that person physically or allow them "see" the effect of the prayer in daily life because they're looking for it. 

That said, I do believe in the positive power of meditation & reflection for calming the individual spirit. 

Date Posted: 5/6/2008 8:14 AM ET
Member Since: 10/2/2007
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I don't think prayer works, nor do I think collective positive thoughts have any influence.

I do think it's a nice thing, a human thing, to wish well for others.

 

ETA: Because I'm a stinker and can't resist--you've probably all heard of the 2005 scientific study of the effects of prayer on patients with heart disease. Some patients weren't prayed for, some were prayed for, but they weren't told, and some were prayed for and were told that they were the objects of prayers. Not surprising (to me), prayer had no effect on the first two groups. Amusingly, but probably not really meaningful, those who knew they were being prayed for had the worst outcomes. This would imply (if it were true), that if you really cared for somebody you wouldn't pray for them.

www.mowatresearch.co.uk/uploaded_documents/Benson.pdf



Last Edited on: 5/6/08 9:16 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 5/6/2008 9:15 AM ET
Member Since: 4/20/2006
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I agree with Bob.  When someone is ill, or in trouble, I do worry about them, and send them all my good thoughts.  In my mind, I know that I have no control over their outcome, but part of me hopes that maybe my good wishes matter anyway.  I guess I like to think that positive thinking certainly never hurt anything.  If there's more to it that my logical brain can't process, then then that would be great.  I've seen people I love come back from literally the brink of death, and I've seen others pass away far too quickly in spite of hundreds of daily prayers and well wishes.  I do believe that love is a powerful thing for the human spirit, no matter how you express it.

Date Posted: 5/6/2008 9:19 AM ET
Member Since: 7/5/2006
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I'm in line wth you all too... I think there is something to prositve thinking, and in cases of ill friends and such, I try and "send" positive thoughts of healing their way, but I don't think of it at a prayer for a "god" to heal them... more like my energy of health out there to help them... I'm not sure I believe in any diety, just a vibe that we are all part of this world, and our energies feed off each other (does that make any sense when I type it?)  I've never really prayed (well except when I forgot to study for a test in school! hee hee). 

Date Posted: 5/6/2008 9:19 AM ET
Member Since: 11/28/2006
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I don't believe in prayer either.  In fact, test cases have been done where people have been prayed for and their physical condition doesn't change at all, and at times, it gets even worse.  I know I've read about this, but I can't remember where.  I'll try to find a link.

I don't believe in God at all.  I do think there is some sort of  "universal consciousness" sort of like L described.  Energy and the power of the brain are resources that we still don't completely understand. 

It helps some people to get through their lives to believe in God and prayer and all that.  So if it helps them, then I'm all for it.   What I really don't understand is how God gets the credit for when something good happens but never when something bad happens.  For instance, we had tornadoes go through our city last week and destroyed several homes.  No one was severely injured or killed, which is a wonderful thing.  But one person said in an interview that she was so glad that the hand of God came down and kept her family safe.  They lost their home, but they were not killed.  I just wonder why God allowed the tornado to strike their home at all, if he was watching after them.  It doesn't make sense to me and it's off the topic so I'll stop.

 

Date Posted: 5/6/2008 9:23 AM ET
Member Since: 8/28/2006
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I think L and Tammy have kinda summed it up pretty well for me...I don't feel bad for very long when someone dies..However if they are having an illness and I know they are miserable I will send them good thoughts/energy and 'pray' that they are released from their suffering...but I know I have no control over these things...I like to feel like I am doing something helpful though..and when someone is suffering sometimes the only thing you can do for them is keep them in your thoughts and hope that the energy you send them helps in some way..even a small one...For a lot of people who are sick just knowing that people are thinking of them can help a lot..

Date Posted: 5/6/2008 9:42 AM ET
Member Since: 2/2/2006
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I'll butt in here as one who does pray. I do not believe that the hand of God (or whatever) comes down and smites some and pets others. God as the great puppet-master. I don't think God cares what you have for supper or whether you have a 3rd child. I don't see a white-bearded man (or woman) who acts as a cosmic Santa Claus to good little boys and girls.

I do believe in allowing positive energy to flow from my energy source (for me, for my nomenclature, that's my soul) out into the cosmos and letting people know that I stand with them, come what may. That kind of thing can change things in that it gives people the strength of community, if they want it, which can be powerful indeed. It also changes the one who sends out the energy, in that they become less self-centered and more aware of the needs of others.

I wish I could remember who said it but I can't track it down just now [ETA: It was Alice Thomas Ellis]. Someone asked a writer who is a Christian whether she believed in the power of intercessionary prayer, and she said, "Oh, yes, and particularly for the one who prays." :-)

This is an interesting discussion, and I'll butt back out now.

Les

 



Last Edited on: 5/9/08 8:31 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 5/6/2008 9:47 AM ET
Member Since: 8/28/2006
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I do believe in allowing positive energy to flow from my energy source (for me, for my nomenclature, that's my soul) out into the cosmos and letting people know that I stand with them, come what may. That kind of thing can change things in that it gives people the strength of community, if they want it, which can be powerful indeed. It also changes the one who sends out the energy, in that they become less self-centered and more aware of the needs of others.

 

That was a great way to explain that! 

Date Posted: 5/6/2008 12:37 PM ET
Member Since: 5/29/2007
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Last Edited on: 2/4/15 9:45 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 5/6/2008 7:33 PM ET
Member Since: 10/17/2006
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Physics, Yes..........."Prayer" (word magic), No.

There are some interesting remarks about "word magic" in The Golden Bough, by Sir James G. Frazer.

Date Posted: 5/6/2008 9:18 PM ET
Member Since: 12/27/2005
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I'm a huge believer in energy, but beyond that statement it's hard for me to explain.  I think that what both Tammy and L stated are right on par with my beliefs.  I guess this is sort of similar to energy, but on a day to day level, I believe in the ripple effect and try to keep that in mind during all of my interactions with people. 

L. G. (L)
Date Posted: 5/7/2008 1:18 AM ET
Member Since: 9/5/2005
Posts: 12,412
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I love reading what everyone believes.  So much unity and complement in thought!

Date Posted: 5/9/2008 12:05 AM ET
Member Since: 2/6/2006
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Last Edited on: 3/25/11 8:12 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
L. G. (L)
Date Posted: 5/9/2008 12:29 AM ET
Member Since: 9/5/2005
Posts: 12,412
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It doesn't.  My feeling is that prayer helps the pray-er probably more than the target of the prayer.

I once had a stranger ask if they could pray for me at the post office.  Not sure why but I figured she had some quota for church or something.  I said "Sure." and sort of shrugged and kept walking.  It was really odd.

 

Subject: prayer
Date Posted: 5/10/2008 8:54 PM ET
Member Since: 3/27/2008
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I don't pray,  although as a child,  I was made to.  Having been separated from my church upbringing for many years,  I have some philosophical observations about prayer. 

Just as funerals are for the living,  I think prayer must be for the person who does the praying.  Prayer is a fancy name for meditation.  A funeral affirms one's connection with the deceased.  A prayer affirms one's connection with the afflicted.  I see it as a way to pause and say to oneself,  "I am linked to this suffering person through the bond of family / friendship / love,  etc.  and I symbolically pause to recognize that I would fix the situation if it were in my power to do so.  Since it is not,  and I don't like to feel helpless,  I will engage in the ritual of prayer / meditation / sending energy, etc." 

I don't pray because I don't like feeling dependent upon the whim of an intangible,  inaudible,  indifferent higher power.  I don't care if people pray for me,  as long as they don't tell me.  I speculate that the people who worsened after being prayed for felt helpless,  rather than empowered,  by the notion that they were the focus of the prayers of others.  I am likely to tell someone that they are in my thoughts,  if I genuinely feel a kinship with them,  and they are in a difficult situation.  I'm telling the gospel truth;  they really are in my thoughts.  It's one of the few ways I know to "say the right thing"  when someone is hurting,  and there's not a blessed thing I can do to stop it. 

C.S.

L. G. (L)
Date Posted: 5/11/2008 7:11 PM ET
Member Since: 9/5/2005
Posts: 12,412
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Actually there's a study that has shown that patients who are told they are being prayed for do worse than those who are not told and those who are not being prayed for - whether told or not.  If I can find the link, I'll post it.

 

Date Posted: 5/11/2008 7:52 PM ET
Member Since: 2/2/2006
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Yes, L, I've seen that study - published a couple years ago? I lose track of time. Perhaps in some situations it's a matter of how it's put. If I say, 'I'm praying for you" in a tone that says "you poor pathetic loser, you" then how could that possibly help someone. As Carol said, how demeaning.

My wife tells me, and I have observed also, that some folks think that their faith just wasn't strong enough for their prayer to be answered the way they wanted it to be. I've seen ministers tell people that, that their faith just wasn't strong enough. No, I've never hit a man in a white collar, but I've wanted to.

When I pray, I pray for people to have courage to face what must be faced, for a good night's sleep, for peace. Whether God provides the peace, or the person finds it within himself partly from knowing that he is not facing this alone, I'm not wise enough to say. Maybe it's not an either-or situation.

But, as I said before and as you have said, I do believe that intercessionary prayer most benefits the one who takes the time and trouble to put someone else in the center of their thoughts for a time instead of the incessant "me me me" that is in our brain the majority of the time.

Barbeque is ready and I'm being called for supper. Now that's an answer to a hungry old man's prayer. :-)

L. G. (L)
Date Posted: 5/11/2008 9:05 PM ET
Member Since: 9/5/2005
Posts: 12,412
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Someone suggested performance anxiety as a reason for the poor outcomes.  Who knows?  I just found it sort of odd/interesting.

RE: Faith not being "strong enough"...There are so many things I dislike about many traditional religions, and guilt and blame are two that top the list.

Date Posted: 5/12/2008 7:22 AM ET
Member Since: 2/2/2006
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LOL at performance anxiety!

Date Posted: 5/14/2008 4:57 PM ET
Member Since: 10/17/2006
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Doesn't "prayer" presuppose a deity, or "Higher Power' or some such?   And if so, which kind of "prayer" is it?  Is it intercessionary.........asking for a favor of some kind for one's self or for someone?   or is it a "prayer" of thanks......for the way something turned out?   Is it a bit of 'word magic' to get the deity (or Cosmic Power or whatever) to suspend the Laws of Nature in a particular instance because of the fervor of the one offering the "prayer"?  Is it a supplication of a "miracle"?  Or what? 

Date Posted: 5/16/2008 10:51 PM ET
Member Since: 10/8/2007
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I think prayer helps an individual disassociate from, or reframe, the issue about which they are praying. It can therefore allow them insight less affected by their emotions on the subject - and enlighten them by getting their thinking out of a rut formed by their experiences.  IOW - it may help push subjective thinking towards objective thinking.  Put the ego on a back burner. Calm the 'monkey mind' (term for haphazard restless thinking).

This can cause positive change in the one praying - and allow them to approach a situation differently, and this new approach may affect the target or circumstance of their prayer positively.  It can also brighten or ease ones attitude - and attitude is a big factor in whether or not we succeed in things alone on in a group.

Its easy for me to see prayer as a physiologically evolved mechanism/psychological tool.

So, its not a waste of time. I just don't call it prayer anymore, personally.  For me it can be a walk in the woods or a game of candyland with my daughter.