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Why do Christians never pray for impossible things?

Discussion in 'Christian Apologetics' started by InterestedAtheist, Sep 12, 2020.

  1. InterestedAtheist

    InterestedAtheist Veteran

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    Interesting, what you see if you observe Christians praying.
    They pray for things which, really, might happen anyway, if they get lucky.

    They pray for a friend to be healed. Well, people do recover from illnesses all the time. But you never see Christians praying for a person's leg to grow back.
    Is it because they know God wouldn't do this (even though - if He exists - He certainly has the power to)?

    Christians pray for people who have suffered a bereavement to find peace. Well, of course, people usually do get over their feelings of grief, sooner or later. But they hardly ever pray for a person to be brought back to life.
    Christians claim that God is quite capable of bringing people back to life.
    Do they not ask Him to because they know that God doesn't actually answer prayers for impossible things?

    Christians pray for people suffering cancer to have the strength to face their ordeal. Maybe they even pray for the cancer to vanish. But they never pray for all cancer all over the world to vanish and never return. I wonder why?
    Maybe they know that, no matter how hard they pray, that just isn't going to happen.

    Um. Do Christians actually secretly know that God isn't real?
    They certainly don't seem to act like He's real.

    Very confusing.
     
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  2. public hermit

    public hermit social troglodyte Supporter

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    Dear Lord, please turn InterestedAtheist into a square circle. Thank you. Amen. (Fingers crossed)
     
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  3. InterestedAtheist

    InterestedAtheist Veteran

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    Cute.
    Why don't you pray for God to appear before me and speak with me? A burning bush that isn't consumed, maybe?
    That doesn't sound "logically impossible".
    Just impossible.
     
  4. InterestedAtheist

    InterestedAtheist Veteran

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    I remember an article on the Progressive Christian blog Slacktivist.
    It told the story of a hospital preacher. His job was to comfort the terminally ill. He had love and faith and worked hard. He prayed with all sorts of people in distress. He did good work and comforted the afflicted.

    But.
    He said that after a while, he noticed something.
    When the doctors said that a person was likely to die, they usually did.
    When the doctors said that a person was likely to recover, they usually did.
    And when the doctors said that a person had a one in ten chance of survival, about nine out of ten of them would die.

    "Are all these prayers," the preacher wondered, "actually doing anything?"
     
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  5. public hermit

    public hermit social troglodyte Supporter

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    Christians do pray for the end of cancer, for the dead to be raised, for legs to grow back. We pray for all of that when we pray for God's kingdom to come. Moreover, we believe it will all happen.
     
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  6. InterestedAtheist

    InterestedAtheist Veteran

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    Do they?
    Funny. I never find that when I listen to what Christians say.
    Take a look at the Prayer Wall on Christian Forums, for example. All very careful prayers. "Lord, give me the strength to get through my troubles." "Lord, please help me find a job." "Lord, please help my brother with his depression."
    I really have never seen a Christian praying that all cancer could be ended - except possibly along the lines of, "Lord, please help scientists wh are working to eradicate diseases."
    Perhaps you'd like to take a look at what Christians are actually asking God for, and find me a case in which they ask Him for something impossible?
    (edited to add)
    Hmm - I've just taken a look at the front page. It's not looking good, I'm afraid. Of course, I hope that all of these people who are praying for things get what they want. They might. None of them are impossible.
     
  7. public hermit

    public hermit social troglodyte Supporter

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    Yes, they do. You can do it, too. Just pray the "Our Father." You should try it. At any rate, your premise is flawed.
     
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  8. InterestedAtheist

    InterestedAtheist Veteran

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    Why should I try it? Is there a point? Will anything happen?
    And in what way is my premise flawed?
     
  9. InterestedAtheist

    InterestedAtheist Veteran

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    Mmmm. I just prayed the Our Father. Not for the first time, by the way. We used to pray it all the time in school.
    Okay. Is something going to happen now?
    I mean, "Christians do pray for impossible things, and you can do it too, by praying "Our Father" does rather encourage high expectations.
     
  10. Dave G.

    Dave G. Well-Known Member

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    And we believe as an atheist you won't ever be part of it. Suppose He is real and you're just deceived and can't see that, as scripture says it to be so. We don't look at life as just this lifetime but eternal. In that next stage there are two places to be, one for the lost, one for the found in Christ and once passed over, there is no way to get between the two. Now is the time for that choice. You're living in the natural, life to you is about here and now. Here and now to us is a flash in the pan. You have no idea the depth of prayer or prayers answered in private by looking at the prayer wall. Jesus said not to display your strongest prayers anyway, not to put it on display, do it in private, tell no one.

    What you need and don't know it, is the Holy Spirit delivers a mustard seeds worth of faith to you and you act on that. Not a burning bush. Anyone could possibly believe because they saw a miracle but still may not without a touch of faith. Instead you would go looking for the natural cause rather than trusting, shooting yourself in the foot. Often turning to God/Jesus in faith is an act of desperation, everything has fallen apart in life, maybe even life is shortened with no seeming way out and in that desperation you turn to Him and a miracle happens. Things change, peace enters your heart and you are changed. Your eyes and ears opened. The devil just lost, your address for eternal destination is changed. Why? Because like Abraham, you believed, you called out in your time of need to the Lord. I don't expect any of these words to effect you today, just file them away. Because deep down inside, you don't really know there is no God.. And you don't really know there is no miracle of salvation through Christ.
     
  11. InterestedAtheist

    InterestedAtheist Veteran

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    Thank you. I appreciate your sincerity.
    But I still wonder. Why do Christians never pray to God for impossible things?
     
  12. public hermit

    public hermit social troglodyte Supporter

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    I'm glad you asked.

    If it is possible that God can raise the dead, end cancer, restore lost limbs, etc., then you should try it, that is if you care about the dying, the sick, the injured, etc. I don't know if you care. But, if it is possible, then you should try it. This brings us to the issue of God and possibility.

    Given your earlier reply, you seem to know the difference between that which is impossible and that which seems highly improbable. My initial post, which you rightly understood to be a joke, was meant to hit on that difference. The fact that you seem to discern the difference and yet created such a sloppy argument is befuddling to me, but oh well.

    Let's assume that the God Christians pray to actually exists. Christians have not been promised that God would bring about that which is technically impossible (square circles, married bachelors, etc.). Hence, Christians don't pray for those things. Likewise, Christians have not been promised that they are somehow exempt from the ills, trials, troubles, evils, etc., that are common to all of humanity. They have not even been promised that they will not die. What they have been promised is that there will be a moment when God's kingdom comes in its fullest and all those things that are wrong and evil wil be set right. This is the kingdom for which we pray.

    Now, you may believe that such a kingdom is highly improbable. Or at least, that's the way you should frame it. If you say it is impossible, then you are back to not understanding the difference between impossibility and improbability (hence, your flawed premise). But, if such a God exists, as we believe does, then such an improbability is exactly what we pray for. But, of course, if such a God exists, then that improbability becomes highly probable since we worship the God who raises the dead and brings into existence that which did not previously exist.

    What kind of kingdom do you think we are praying for? Do you think it is a kingdom where the dead stay dead, cancer exists, the maimed remain maimed? If so, you're wrong. That is not the kingdom we have been promised and that is not the kingdom for which we pray. So, your argument does not hold. We pray for just those things you think we don't pray for, and we believe they will happen. If you cared, and since it is possible, maybe you should be praying for that kingdom too. What do you have to lose? As much time as you spend on here, it appears you have time.

    Given what I have just said, and assuming it is true, the only legitimate question you should have is,"What is God waiting for?" I have some sympathy with that question. Most Christians do. And so you can also join us in praying, "Come, Lord Jesus, come." And if your are looking for proof, which I am sure you are, then you can prayerfully wait with us and see. If he comes, you will have your proof. If not, you won't exist to care. At any rate, your argument is flawed, as has been shown.
     
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2020
  13. Francis Drake

    Francis Drake Returning adventurer.

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    I see you are a man of great faith.

    You believe that nothing will happen if you pray, and you get nothing.
     
  14. InterestedAtheist

    InterestedAtheist Veteran

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    Hmmm.
    I just wonder why Christians, who believe that God can do impossible things, never ask Him to.
     
  15. Pavel Mosko

    Pavel Mosko Arch-Dude of the Apostolic Supporter

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    Not necessarily. Instead of conceptualizing God as a great wish granting Jinni strawman... what if Christians and other similar theists see him more as an architect and referee? Like a old school RPG Dungeon Master or in the days of the internet one of the Moderators etc. of those online massively multiplayer games....

    But in Biblical terms though this sort of thing is called "Economy".

    Economy (religion) - Wikipedia


    IF you have really been here long enough to be a "veteran" you should know about "the Fall" etc. Cancer etc. being just one fallout from that.
     
  16. InterestedAtheist

    InterestedAtheist Veteran

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    But I don't believe it is possible that God can raise the dead, etc. I don't believe it, because I don't believe that God exists. I'm an atheist.
    Christians, on the other hand, do believe that God exists. And they believe that God will give them things they ask for. Oh, sure, not all the time. But sometimes. Christians may tell you that there's no guarantee that prayers will be answered, but they will also tell you that some prayers are answered.
    And so, Christians do definitely ask God to do things for them, in prayer. For good and selfless reasons, I have no doubt.
    I just wonder why they only ask for things that might happen anyway. Why do they never ask God for impossible things?
    Let's not quibble over the word "impossible," by the way. I'm sure we all understand what we mean by it. Generally speaking, most people would say that a person coming back from the dead, or regrowing an amputated limb, or all cancer simply disappearing on a prearranged symbol fits the bill for impossibility.
    So why do Christians never ask God for that?
    Excuse me if there were some of your points I didn't address. I just want to make sure we stay on topic, and this is a question I'm particularly interested in.
    I don't pray to God for impossible things (or indeed for any things) because I don't believe such prayers will be answered.
    It looks like Christians don't believe such prayers will be answered either. Strange, really.
     
  17. InterestedAtheist

    InterestedAtheist Veteran

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    No, no, not at all. I'm not saying we have a right to have prayers answered. I'm not angry at God for not doing every little thing we ask Him to do. I quite understand that God says yes sometimes, and no other times, and maybe on other occasions, and later sometimes.

    I'm just saying, Christians do believe that prayers are sometimes answered. And they do ask God for things. They actually do pray to God, asking Him to help them in tangible ways. Heal an illness. Help them find a job, or lost car keys, or some extra money, or a way to save a relationship.

    But the thing is, they never ask God for something that is actually - well, what we would commonly speak of as "impossible".

    Just wondering why.
     
  18. InterestedAtheist

    InterestedAtheist Veteran

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    Of course, sometimes you can get exceptions. Humans being so human, you will find people who do actually pray for the impossible. Here's a tragic example. A little girl died, and her parents enlisted their church to pray that she be brought back to life. Sadly - and I promise that I speak very sincerely here - she was not.

    The Daylight Atheism blog wrote about it.
    The Strange Sad Story of Olive Heiligenthal
    Here are some excerpts:

    "I want to be absolutely clear that I’m not gloating or making light of anyone’s grief. I can understand why parents who had lost a child would cling to anything that seemed to offer a ray of hope. I don’t condemn them for the impulse to seek comfort."

    "Of course, their prayers weren’t answered. Olive didn’t return to life, and her church looks naive and credulous for expecting that she would. But that just illustrates the point.


    Most Christians – and most adherents of organized religion, for that matter – practice an elaborate form of doublethink. They say they believe in miracles, divine intervention and the supernatural, but they act as if they live in a Democritean universe governed by impersonal physical laws: a universe where fire is hot, food doesn’t appear out of thin air, and the dead don’t return to life. Why wouldn’t they ask for miracles more often, unless they knew they wouldn’t receive them?
    As I’ve said often, the only fatal error in religion is putting your beliefs to an unambiguous test. I’m convinced that most theists know this on some level, and skillfully avoid opportunities for disconfirmation. They do this because, in a kind of natural selection, religious beliefs which don’t shrink away from testing fail the tests, look foolish, and eventually fade away. The faiths that survive are the ones that are most adept at coming up with rationalizations for why the things they believe in are never observed to happen in the real world."

    "An example: this tweet from a Christian who urged people to pray for Olive in the mistaken belief that she was on life support. When he found out she was in the morgue, he withdrew his request. Why does he think that makes a difference?"
     
  19. public hermit

    public hermit social troglodyte Supporter

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    See, this is what is so annoying. What you call a quibble is an essential part of your argument. Just admit you overstated your case, there's no shame in it. You being an atheist has no bearing in whether or not your argument holds. It comes down to your premises and conclusion.

    I'll tell you what. I'll share with you what I find highly improbable: an atheist who admits when they're wrong. But, then again, maybe I spend too much time on CF. Prove me wrong.
     
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  20. Dave G.

    Dave G. Well-Known Member

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    Don't go by just what you see. We call that walking by sight. Actually we are instructed that our deepest concerns be submitted to God in private and not put on display as the pharisees would do, puffing themselves up before people. Or in small groups of believers on a mission etc. The prayer wall really is a small sample most often prayer for a prayer request.
     
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