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December 15, 2006

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Brian -- you said that;

” prayer is a natural human response to feeling powerless, uncertain, afraid, alone, loveless, or some other emotion flowing from an unmet need demanding satisfaction.”

Yes I quite agree with you and also would add that the desire to pray is often positively reinforced by the fact that those prayers are seemingly answered. For example, when I graduated from high school my parents had no money to send me to college, so I prayed for a scholarship. Even though the probability was next to zero I did get a full scholarship after several odd coincidences and ended up with not one but two degrees.

On the other hand when I graduated from college I prayed for a wife and in short order found a girl friend and we got married. This turned out to be a disaster and it took me about 15 years of a miserable relationship before we divorced. (Perhaps I should have prayed for a ‘good’ wife.:-(

Although prayer is a natural response to situations where we feel powerless I now firmly believe that it is best not to pray at all because we really do not know what we are asking for.

-ET

Brian, you said that:
"For me prayer represents what is both wrong and right about religion.

Wrong, because prayer is the epitome of blind faith, religion’s hallmark. Believers imagine they’re communicating with someone they’ve never seen and for whom there’s no evidence of his/her/its existence.

Right, because prayer is a natural human response to feeling powerless, uncertain, afraid, alone, loveless, or some other emotion flowing from an unmet need demanding satisfaction."

Just this morning I was engaging in what might be called the third rail of prayer: gratitude.

I thank All That Is for the sun against the black fingers of trees against the dawn. I thank All That Is for the muffled snore of my beloved. I thank All That Is for one more day of life.

Not because I am afraid, or powerless, or uncertain, afraid, or lonesome, or feeling unloved but because I am here and now and filled with hope and peace.

So long as I only pray for the Highest and Best Good and remain willing to allow They Will and Not Mine to be done, my right now is usually wonderful. When it is not wonderful, it isn't because I pray, but rather because I forgot to pray, or to do the next right thing - usually when I become consumed with trying to control what is beyond my control.


As to lost climbers, or the sick or anyone else, the power of positive thought has been documented enough that MDs regularly castigate cancer patients who do not have "support systems" in place, or who demand that chronic pain sufferers attend "wellness" groups so that the "talk therapy" might alleviate symptoms that the pills and surgery cannot.

Put more succinctly, if it good enough for Blue Cross, it good enough for me. :-)

Jeanine

Prayer can be criticized, but criticism can't be prayed. In the same way that it is ludicrous to treat any diety as Santa Claus, it is also simplistic to think that my opinion is formed with enough knowledge to change the world through conversation with the ever-creating.

Jeanine's praying seems to distill the meaning of such an interaction, or participation, with God. Having an 'asylum of ignorance' can also mean that I become freed of the rigor of having to know, and can live safely in that country where being ignorant, and relishing ignorance, leaves me in peace.

Praying as a formula is in fact saying, "Have a nice day!" to strangers, because it is polite. It is a magical expression.

Praying out of need is changing your diet so that the mystery of your digestive system will stop hurting you.

Praying for enjoyment is participation in the ever-creative by commenting on your ideas.

Amen to all three previous comments! All three resonate with my personal experience. I, too, have prayed and seen personal results. Are they scientifically documented or measurable? No, but the experiential results foster continued effort.

ET: in 8th grade, my parochial school teacher had the wisdom to suggest to his students that we begin at that early age to pray for a 'good' spouse. I took that advice and was blessed with the best possible answer (no, Brian, I'm not Aishwarya Rai's husband).

Jeanine, as usual, I appreciate your unique perspective on the topic. I've previously commented along these lines on this blog regarding worship.

Edward, again, I've expressed previously here my feelings that prayer is an invitation and agreement with the Divine to participate in and share the defined reality, as best as we (I) can understand it.

Once again, Brian has touched on a meaningful topic and initiated thoughtful responses.

All the best to Brian, Laurel and all you fellow posters. Happy Holidays,

Steve

Amen to the comments above. Happy holidays to all, especially to Brian - Fatrher Christmas of this blog.

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