Puzzle of Prayer

Inspired by a thread on the UG, also posted on OG....

The encouragement of prayer contradicts the claim that god is all good and all powerful. For any given action, X, that one might pray for, one of two conditions holds, either X is something that an all powerful, all good being SHOULD do, or X is something that an all powerful, all good being SHOULD NOT do.

If god should do X, then he should do it anyway, without people praying for it. If god should not do X, then he shouldn't do it no matter how many people pray for it.

Hence, prayer is necessarily ineffective if god is both all good and all powerful.

For those who say prayer is to build a relationship with god, I would wonder then why people ask for things during prayer at all. You really should just ask god what's happening, "hear" his reply, reply back, etc.

Finally, one might say that prayer is to influence god to do one of a number of things that are morally equivalent. I would counter by saying i) the chance of any two actions being EXACTLY the same from a moral standpoint seems highly improbable, and ii) if two courses of action are morally equal, then a moral person should be INDIFFERENT to which one gets done, again rendering prayer useless.

We do not pray to change God but to change ourselves.

-Tom Bombadil

I don't think that there is any point in asking God for things.

However, prayer bolster the spirit and has a bunch of other good things it does. Prayer=good, asking for things=bad.

There are lots of ways to pray.

So, can I conclude from your posts that you think it's a waste of time to pray FOR things?

Yes, and it probably has the effect of making the person more materialistic. And it would re-inforce a wrong idea towards religion and the purpose of God.

Not only is it a waste of time, it's harmful.

I guess it depends on what sort of things one is praying for. For instance one may pray for patience, kindness, mercy, thankfulness, etc, and if you pray to ask God how to make yourself that way, perhaps you will learn some new things about yourself.

"I don't think that there is any point in asking God for things."

If you don´t ask your friends to help you, how will they know they can help you, and, what is more important, that you will accept the help they have to give you?

That is a matter of free-will.

I´ve seen many people suffering in vain because they didn´t think it would be useful to ask for help, or didn´t deserve it.

"ASK AND IT SHALL BE GIVEN"

prayer is a personal communication between you and God.....i find it very important and effective.....it is all a matter of faith....

chemicalsage,

i have discussed this before....i don't know many people who pray for material things......asking for wisdom, strength to accomplish something or compassion and understanding when dealing with someone....if you ask God to help you with a financial problem you would ask him for the guidance to make right decisions when it comes to money, not for you to win the lottery or something

I agree, asking for the increase of personal traits is ok. Wealth, etc, is something that should be avoided.

Donna - there is a big difference between asking people for things and asking God. God already knows what you want. I agree, people do need to ask for help more from the people around them.

A father knows that a child want some more pizza. Would he give it?

No, he would give it some lettuce instead. And the child is thinking that didn´t receive what was asked.

"I agree, asking for the increase of personal traits is ok"

See initial argument. If you want to build a relationship with god, shouldn't you just chat with him?

Right, which is why asking in the first place, given an omni-max god is pointless.

Jbraswell - to bolster the spirit, and focus yourself.

"If you want to build a relationship with god, shouldn't you just chat with him?"

that would be prayer imo.....