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What does prayer do?

Discussion in 'Christian Apologetics' started by InterestedAtheist, Feb 2, 2020.

  1. InterestedAtheist

    InterestedAtheist Veteran

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    I have a question.

    Imagine that God stopped answering prayers. Just as a thought experiment - I know He never would, of course! But just imagine if He did. What if, for some reason, God suddenly stopped answering prayers, without telling anyone He was going to.

    What would happen?
    Would people notice? How?
    How would the world change as a result of prayers now going completely unanswered?
     
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  2. yeshuaslavejeff

    yeshuaslavejeff simple truth, martyr, disciple of Yahshua

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    You "know He never would" ?

    Isn't that a contradiction of the definition of 'atheist' ?

    Also, if it matters, He does not answer the prayers of most people. He says He does not even hear them.
     
  3. cvanwey

    cvanwey Well-Known Member

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  4. InterestedAtheist

    InterestedAtheist Veteran

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    Just reassuring the Christian audience.

    So your answer is that nothing would change if God stopped answering prayers?
     
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2020
  5. yeshuaslavejeff

    yeshuaslavejeff simple truth, martyr, disciple of Yahshua

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    Don't assume something not stated.
     
  6. InterestedAtheist

    InterestedAtheist Veteran

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    That's not your answer? Then what is it?
     
  7. Hishandmaiden

    Hishandmaiden The Humble Servant Supporter

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    If God stops answering prayers, the whole earth and whole mankind and whole living beings will simply cease to exist.

    The facts that good things happen to you is a result of prayers, whether by the saints in the past or present.
     
  8. InterestedAtheist

    InterestedAtheist Veteran

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    Interesting. Does that, therefore mean that the world would end of people stopped praying?

    How does this work, exactly? Because I never pray, and my life seems quite good. And yet you seem to be implying that prayer is extremely important. How have I managed without it?
     
  9. yeshuaslavejeff

    yeshuaslavejeff simple truth, martyr, disciple of Yahshua

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    There's no Biblical reason to think this that I know of.
     
  10. Hishandmaiden

    Hishandmaiden The Humble Servant Supporter

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    The prayers of someone else for you.
     
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  11. yeshuaslavejeff

    yeshuaslavejeff simple truth, martyr, disciple of Yahshua

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    Note that I did not say that God stopped answering prayers.

     
  12. MrsFoundit

    MrsFoundit Well-Known Member

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    If I understand correctly, you are not defying your own atheism here, you are asking hypothetically. You want responses other than "God would not do that" because it is effectively, (especially from your pov) a non-answer.

    So, I could reply here, but before I can do so, for the sake of intelligibility I would need to ask you a question. What do you mean when you say "prayer"?

    I am not implying you believe in it as a real thing, or trying to catch you out. I ask my fellow Christians to please not abuse your response likewise.
     
  13. MrsFoundit

    MrsFoundit Well-Known Member

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    I am curious myself about that. It would take God to say "Undo the beginning" :doh:for existence to be obliterated, surely?
     
  14. InterestedAtheist

    InterestedAtheist Veteran

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    I can't think of anything in the Bible that says this either. Or any reason why this would be so. Handmaiden, what is this force that is threatening the world, and why will it destroy us if we stop praying - or if God stops answering prayers?
    But this raises some rather strange inconsistencies.
    So: my life is really quite good, even though I don't pray.
    Point 2: the reason for this is that other people are praying for me.
    But it's pretty unlikely that anyone is praying for me, specifically. Therefore, these prayers which make sure that no terrible things happen to me must be being directed towards humanity in general.
    And that doesn't make sense, because plenty of people have horrible lives, not because they're bad people, but because they're born in severely disadvantaged circumstances.

    So how exactly does prayer work, and what exactly does prayer do?

    And, once again: if God stopped answering prayers, how would we know?
     
  15. InterestedAtheist

    InterestedAtheist Veteran

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    What a kind and thoughtful reply. Thank you very much.

    Yes, you are quite correct. This is a hypothetical question (I asked a similar question a while ago, and a number of people replied "God would never do that.")
    As for prayer - well, really, I'd like to go with what Christians mean when they say praying. It's their religion, after all. What I understand them to mean is talking to God and asking Him for something.
    Now, when I've said things like this before, I have often had the response that it is arrogant to ask God for things. And my answer is: I understand this is what Christians often do, and that asking God for something can be a good act; maybe asking for strength in a crisis, or for wisdom to do good in the world; for healing for oneself or another person; for good luck; or for something that they really want.

    But really, the question "What do you think would happen if God stopped answering prayers" is simply asking you what you think would happen. If, for example, you think that God doesn't answer prayers in any meaningful sense, then I suppose your answer would be "nothing would change".
     
  16. MrsFoundit

    MrsFoundit Well-Known Member

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    Well you said "Christians" plural, I can tell you what I (and many) understand the word to mean, but on account of semantic differences, and various other complications, I cannot speak for every Christian.

    "Prayer" refers to a state of communication or communion with God. In our world view God is a constant, and someone somewhere is at all times in said state. As a result, it is hard to respond to a question "What if God did not answer any prayers", because "answer" is not really a relevant word.

    It is often mistakenly understood to be "talking to God and asking Him for something", sometimes even by Christians, but that is inaccurate. The dictionary is not very clear about it, I assume on account of attempting to include all religions, and avoid statements no one can prove.

    There is more I can say in response to your question, I am not attempting to avoid answering you, but I want to stop at this point in case I failed to make myself clear so far.
     
  17. Quid est Veritas?

    Quid est Veritas? In Memoriam to CS Lewis

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    The problem with this thread, is that Christians are assuming prayers are being answered and atheists that they aren't. So to an atheist, if "prayers aren't answered", everything remains the same. To a Christian though, the world would be radically different, as it would be a situation completely altered from the status quo. How that would look, I don't know, but I would assume something akin to Hell.
     
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  18. MrsFoundit

    MrsFoundit Well-Known Member

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    You are incorrectly assuming the comments from Christians necessitate you specifically being "prayed for". You live in a world that is "prayed for" that is a certainty.
     
  19. MrsFoundit

    MrsFoundit Well-Known Member

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    I would not say "assume", but by definition (Hell defined as a state of separation from God, prayer defined as a state of communion with God).
     
  20. InterestedAtheist

    InterestedAtheist Veteran

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    That's fine, I don't expect you to. I'll be happy just to hear what you think.
    So your answer might be "nothing would happen if God stopped answering prayers, because he wasn't doing that anyway". Fair enough. But let's expand the question to deal with your particular circumstances. You believe that you are in communion with God when you pray. How do you experience this communion?
    The dictionary defines communion as:
    "The sharing or exchanging of intimate thoughts and feelings, especially when the exchange is on a mental or spiritual level."
    Does God share His thoughts and feelings with you as you pray? That sounds like it would certainly be noticeable if it ceased.
    So, adapting the question: if praying no longer meant communion with God, what would you expect to happen? Would you notice the difference? How?
    I have to say, from my experience of Christians, that many, many Christians, quite possibly most of them, and at the very least a significant minority, do think of prayer as talking to God and asking Him for things. As evidence of this, I offer The Prayer Wall on this very forum. As you can see, it's a very busy part of Christian Forums, full of people asking for prayers for very specific things, and full of people answering and giving their prayers. On the front page as I write, there are prayers for a mosquito bite, global safety from the Corona virus, thyroid cancer, "my wife's salvation, and so on.
    And if I may say so, this makes sense. The Christian religion teaches that God can and does work miracles in response to prayers. So whether your wife is dying of an incurable illness, or you've lost your car keys, doesn't it makes sense that you'd ask God for help?
    But that raises some interesting questions. If the whole world is being prayed for, then why am I living such a good life, and why are others living such terrible lives? Besides which, I don't think this issue is really something that you and I should be talking about, because it was raised in response to a person who seems to think that terrible things will happen to me if people stop praying, and I understand that you don't believe this.
     
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