12 steps away from faith?: 5-18-09
A changing Christianity: 5-20-09

Enough of prayer studies: 5-19-09

Can prayer heal illness or injury?


For years a bazillion (or so) studies of this question have intrigued people, and yet I continue to believe that this is one area (among many) in which religion gets seduced by science, to borrow the title of Steven Goldberg's excellent book of a few years ago.

That is, when so-called prayer studies are done, they focus just on intercessory prayer and they pretend they can somehow measure medical outcome based on whether people are being prayed for. Even the best of these studies falls victim to the idea that it's possible to measure the results of religious practice in some tangible way. It's goofy, and people of faith should resist the temptation of having their beliefs and practices "verified" by science.

I was thinking about all of this recently for several reasons. First, because of a piece I read in the May issue of Christianity Today, "What Do Prayer Studies Prove?" That piece is not available yet on the Web, but it's about a recent study by Health Care Direct Research that showed most doctors believe miracles are possible and yet fewer than 29 percent believe the outcomes of medical treatments are related to God.

Beyond that, I recently met a man who teaches psychiatry at Columbia University who, based on his own experience as a patient, has come to believe that prayer can be an imporant part of what is required to heal people. He has written a book, When Doctors Become Patients, and wrote this piece about the subject for a New York Times blog. It's worth a read.

As a person of faith, I think prayer is important. But prayer is much more than begging God to fill our wish lists. There are, for starters, many different kinds of prayer with different purposes. To focus just on one kind of prayer and try to prove its worth in a scientific study is, to me, like trying to see if banging on a pan in Boise, Idaho, increases the population of chickens in Streator, Ill. Chickens there respond to way too many variables to be able to tell.

But at the very least, health care providers should understand what prayer means to their patients and try to acknowledge that, even if they themselves don't want to join the patient in prayer.

(As a semi-unrelated aside, as a boy I watched the population of chickens in Streator, Ill., change from time to time as my grandmother, who lived there with my grandfather, offed the head of one to fix for our Sunday dinner. I admit that, thinking of my stomach, I rooted for Grandma Helander and never prayed for the chicken.)

* * *


France's first lady has gone public with criticism of Pope Benedict XVI. Fine. But why is her opinion worth any more than the opinion of any other citizen of France? Yes, yes, I know she's famous and beautiful and her husband is powerful. And she's been active in trying to battle AIDS in Africa. But I tend to be pretty skeptical of the news value of celebrity opinions on almost any subject -- especially theology. Just as I was skeptical of the previous pope's reported opinion about a movie. Just because anyone can be a critic doesn't mean everyone should be.


Will Graham

Prayer saved my mom's life, after the doctors had abandoned herr after out family had suffered greatly from medical malpractice...and its not just us; by the AMA's own statistics, doctors negligently kill over 100,000 people a year. When you throw in hospital errors and pharmaceutical mistakes, the figure doubles.

You have more chance of being killed by a doctor or in a hospital than in a car wreck or by a terrorist.

And no, Susan, I am not saying give up on medicince...I am saying you need to be aware and watch you back. And know a good malpractice lawyer.

Will Graham

Here are the stats...when you combine doctors negligence, hosptital errors, and pharmaceutical mistakes, the total averages 195,000 a year.

So while you are pooh poohing prayer, keep in mind that medicine fails time after time but gets excused because it is "science"...to ingnore this and just say "we can't give up on medicine" is to miss the point.

You need to watch what is happening and not just rely the doctors.

And yes, Susan, it is really cool how you think every anti religous statement your atheist buddies make is "really cool" but your bias is showing. At least you are not even trying to hide it any more.

Will Graham

The states on medical, hosptial, and pharmaceutical deaths...


Dolores Lear

Seduced by Science: How American Religion Has Lost Its Way by Steven Goldberg.
Review Comment: "In the end, he sees religion as a brake on unbridled materialism. We are free, he says, "to make spiritual values temper material progress. The question is whether we will choose to do so."

What are Spiritual Values? To be Good and Sharing, and have Peace with Each Other? How do we learn this? By belonging the the Right Religion, and Prayer?

Jesus was Celibate and the Males in his Movement were also Celibate? The Catholic Religion, and other Religions with Monks and Nuns have this Male Celibate practice also.

Then how would Humans Procreate? By Literal High Tech Science Equal Clone Reproduction in a High Tech Lab, and the High Tech to Keep them Living Forever?

Accident of Body Birth, of who your Parents are, and the Environment where you are born, makes Imperfect Humans have sickness and death. Prayer is all they have.

Body Birth through Generation Birth, Death, and Rebirth, is again up to High Tech Science Human Reproduction of Clones, and many have been helped with High Tech Science.

Body Birth Killer Humans with their High tech Science. Pollute their Planet with Toxic Waste, and Nuclear Bombs on land and sea.

Why hate our Brothers/Sisters of LIFE? Because of our Unequal, Unsharing Birth Lifestyle?

Eternal Physical Life After Equal Birth, is for High Tech Eternal Living Purebred Human Clones, on Planets and in Spaceships.

The Lord God 'Us', Male and Female Clones 'in our Image' in Genesis, Literally Proves Male and Female Human Clone Eternal Physical Life After Birth.

They did Colonized Equal Male and Female Clone Life on Earth. What happened? Generation Heterosexual Unequal Body Birth.


Bill, I think I agree with you that the studies can't really measure prayer. I imagine people with lots of people praying for them, may also have stronger support-systems and more will to live, so like you said you can never be sure just what you are measuring.

But I still pray, and I still do believe God hears and responds. I agree with you though that it's not just about our wish-list, though I don't think God minds if we start out with that. It's what's pressing on our mind, and He wants us to unburden ourselves so we can commune with Him.

When I was young I learned prayer was "talking to God." Then I grew and realized it was also listening -- maybe even more listening than talking. Learning to care about what God cares about, and to love the way that He loves. And just learning to hang out and enjoy life with Him.

Just Thinking

Prayers were answered and God finally stopped Iggy's regular psychotic-sounding spam/rants in this blog. You could literally see his hostility suddenly and abruptly melt as the Gospel message began to go out again. God always has the final Word.

Mark 5 - The Healing of a Demon-possessed Man

They went across the lake to the region of the Gerasenes. When Jesus got out of the boat, a man with an evil spirit came from the tombs to meet him. This man lived in the tombs, and no one could bind him any more, not even with a chain. For he had often been chained hand and foot, but he tore the chains apart and broke the irons on his feet. No one was strong enough to subdue him. Night and day among the tombs and in the hills he would cry out and cut himself with stones.

When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and fell on his knees in front of him. He shouted at the top of his voice, "What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? Swear to God that you won't torture me!" For Jesus had said to him, "Come out of this man, you evil spirit!"

Then Jesus asked him, "What is your name?"

"My name is Legion," he replied, "for we are many." And he begged Jesus again and again not to send them out of the area.

A large herd of pigs was feeding on the nearby hillside. The demons begged Jesus, "Send us among the pigs; allow us to go into them." He gave them permission, and the evil spirits came out and went into the pigs. The herd, about two thousand in number, rushed down the steep bank into the lake and were drowned.


I just saw a beautiful slideshow of the images captured by the Hubble Space Telescope. Because this telescope is out in space, it can capture images we can't with telescopes here on Earth, partly because of Earth's murky atmosphere.

This made me think of differing perspectives -- and how prayer really is one way in which we (or those of us who pray) attempt to move beyond our finite human perspectives and see situations through God's eyes, as they really are.

Here's a link to the slideshow --


IGGY - www.KCFreeThinkers.org

Christian Looney Alert for Just Thinking!

JT wrote>>>>>Prayers were answered and God finally stopped Iggy's regular psychotic-sounding spam/rants in this blog. You could literally see his hostility suddenly and abruptly melt as the Gospel message began to go out again. God always has the final Word.


Wow, this is very cold! - or shall I say "childish?"

Sorry, I will not be able to entertain you too much as there are other important things to do in the world - e.g. like "live" :o) and not dwell in Bronze Age Myths.

I know Cole prays to Bugs Bunny but doesn't worship him, so I hear Bugs Bunny is the one responsible for telling me telepathically to slow down on this cute little blog and do other things in the glory of the Flying Spaghetti Monster and Hannibal Lector?

Bugs Bunny has the final word :) Do you see how it works?

Please, understand, JT - YOU ARE AN ATHEIST WHEN IT COMES TO ALL OTHER GODS, some of us just take it one godlet futher.

I love reading these Bible quotes you put out. Please, watch some Bugs Bunny cartoons - the message of truth is there.


I find these studies odd, too. Every person follows a story about how the world works and how we fit he or she fits in it. There are various religious stories and various scientific stories. I don't know what it proves if you use one story to verify the other. Does that further knowledge?

Also, science has to isolate parts of a phenomenon in order to test it. So it has to take the kind of prayer that makes the most sense in its story: intercessory prayer. But what about the ideal prayer in Christianity, that God's will be done? How "effective" is that prayer? Can you measure it? How would you do so? The prayer is supposed to work on the heart of the believer, incrementally. Even less measurable are prayers for God's mercy on Judgment Day.

So the most important prayers in Christianity, it seems to me, aren't able to be measured. It this area, then, science does not seem all that useful.

adam harrison

Watch out! Iggy is off his meds again! LOL!

adam harrison

And JT, whats this about the gospel message going out?

Around here?

Where, exactly?

But to be accurate about Iggy, he never left...he just posted under Cole's Login and Red BiGGy's.

Analysis of sentence structure, grammar, and spelling errors indicate that the angry little Russian atheist made many of them!

By the way, Iggy, how is the Real Estate business?

Dolores Lear

I liked Iggy's posts about Bible verses, and Spaghetti Monster, until he started all the everlasting postings without limits.

But for me, that was also a blessing. Bill putting limits, does keep posts more informative.

More Atheists posted to bring out more information, than Christians get normally.

And it does make sense, that Christians are Atheists to other Human versions of the One GOD of LIFE.

If Humans accept a GOD/LIFE of the Universe, that could not possibly be a Human Person, or Three Human Persons in One God, then they are also Atheists to the GOD of the Universes.

And their Human God is just one more Man-Made God for Planet Earth. Look how many versions, and divisions, there are of the Christian God.

And the Christian Gods are just one more Man-Made God for Planet Earth. So as Iggy says: YOU ARE AN ATHEIST WHEN IT COMES TO ALL OTHER GODS.

How many religions are there today, that have the Lord God in Genesis as their God?

This was not the GOD/LIFE that made the Elements that make Life as Humans Know it, made by GODs Elements. Humans cannot make the Elements of LIFE.

The Lord God in Genesis, were Humans in our Image, Male and Female.

How many accept Jesus, also a Human, Equal with the Lord God in Genesis? He also is not the GOD of the Elements, but made from GODs Elements.

So All Man-Made Religions are Atheists to the GOD of the Elements, that NO Human has ever or will ever See.

Humans should not Worship in Pagan temples made by Humans Hands, but use their Hands to Take Care of GODs Temple, our Planet and our Bodies.

Then they can have High Tech Science Eternal Life, After Birth on Planets and in Spaceships.

After Death, Humans Elements return to the GOD of the Elements, to be used again.

Just Thinking

Don't get upset, KCFreeThinker, just because I've pointed out how your angry, voluminous rants have ceased. Keep the progress going in the right direction. You sound much more like a reasonable adult this year, and we all know that it was because of a significant change in you. What was that change? Can you explain what has caused such a remarkable change in you?

I think there was a real healing in you, based on the way you used to behave, even though I still might not get in front of your car if you were mad at me. :)

You know, just because you don't believe in a spiritual world where God and demons live, doesn't mean that you're not influenced by the spiritual. Your lashing, venomous, spitting, and uncontrolled anger could have been due to such influences. What else would explain it, especially when you consider the sudden change? Can YOU explain it?

We'll continue praying for you. You'll have to admit that there has been real change in your behavior in recent months. And, believe it or not, there can be further change, too.

The Gospel message is that God loves you, and He wants you to be saved and to come to the knowledge of truth. Now that you're looking, He's demonstrating that truth to you. Now that you're repenting, He's showing you grace. I think that Bill's respect toward you in the midst of your abuse of him has taught you something, too.

Red Biddy


JT's "Gospel Message" appears to be the unlikely story of the Healing of the Demon Possessed man, which he took the trouble to completely copy out of his bible.

I think it is obvious who he thinks is the demon possessed man in our neighborhood !

I always felt sorry for the pigs ! On the other hand it is unlikely, in a country where pigs are considered unclean, there would have been such a thing as a two thousand strong herd of this intelligent animal.

Never happened.

So the message is ?

Red Biddy

I was delighted to read of France's First Lady sounding off about the Pope's much publicized remarks on contraception in Africa.
I agree with Bill, that we do have to be skeptical sometimes of the "news value of celebrity opinions" but when the opinion is one shared by so many of her fellow citizens, I say to Carla Bruni "go for it girl" She's obviously not just a "pretty face."

The Catholic church has always had things backwards on matters sexual and to try and impose their particular moral restrictions, on a culture, so very different from their own is a waste of time.

The present Pope needs a PR man. This is a case where the news value of his celebrity opinion is very high. Not that anyone in Africa would take any notice of his opinion, however, well publicized.

We had an ex nun Dr. Pat Kenoyer at the COR meeting last Sunday. She represents the Loretta NGO to the United Nations. Dr. Pat was telling us of the many aspects of African culture that are so different from our own, She said that the Catholic priesthood in Africa (at least the one's she's met) will never understand or comply with the celibacy rules of the church.

The celibacy rule on the priesthood only began in the 11th century and were imposed not for any spiritual reasons but because the church did not want to support the priests wives and families !

Just Thinking


Yes, part of the Gospel message is that you can be spiritually healed by Jesus. You bet that is part of the Gospel message. The Gospel (good news) message is that life extends beyond the physical and that eternal life is available by the healing grace of God. Jesus performed many miracles to demonstrate healing effects on both the physical body and on the spirit.

Jesus proved by Resurrection that life transcends the physical. "For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. After that, HE APPEARED TO MORE THAN FIVE HUNDRED of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born." There are no ancient writings disputing any of it.

The death to be feared is the second death, not the first physical death. "Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell." There is more to existence than just the physical body. Each of us has a spirit that can, by grace, enjoy eternal life with the Creator God Almighty.

That's the good news (Gospel), for those who want it. Anyone who wants to repent and follow God can start their eternal life today, in spiritual rebirth by the grace of God. Jesus showed the way. Jesus is the way.

Red Biddy

As for prayer, I've always felt it's like having a telephone conversation with no one on the other end !

Prayer is somewhat like the idea of Santa Claus dropping presents down every chimmney in the world, all at the same time ! Only those children who are "being good, for goodness sake" get them of course.

How can any God be listening to the prayers of 7 billion people ? with the Internet it might be possible. But it is the assumption that "God" might be listening - I find very strange indeed.

It is as Bill said a rather "goofy" idea to study the efficacy of prayer for sick people as it could only prove that it doesn't work. Surprise, surprise !

WG thinks his prayers were answered in regard to his mother's cure and I'm happy for him if he wants to believe in a kind, loving God who "heard" him. But how about all the other children in the world who are unsuccessfully praying for their dying mothers and whose prayers are not answered ?

It's like people you hear, thanking God, for having survived a tornado,or some other natural disaster. I can understand them feeling thankful....but what about the other people who weren't saved ?

Nothing fails like prayer.

Dolores Lear

Home Page for the Theological Works of Thomas G. Lederer.
According to A.W. Richard Sipe, the concept that the offerers of a sacrifice should remain untainted by sexual encounters goes back to ancient civilizations. He provides such examples as the yellow-capped Lamas of Tibet, the ascetic hermits of Egypt, the virgin priestesses of Thebes, the Astorte cult of Syria, the primitive worshipers of Dodona, the Vestal Virgins of ancient Rome, and the temple priests of the Aztecs. (page 35)

"At the origin of the law of abstinence, and later the law of celibacy," said Schillebeeckx, "we find an antiquated anthropology and ancient view of sexuality." (ibid) Rice follows with a quotation from St. Jerome which expressed the views of both pagans and Christians at the time that, "All sexual intercourse is impure." (ibid)

"One does not approach the alter and consecrated vessels with soiled hands," had been the pagan view and then became the cornerstone for compulsory Christian celibacy. (ibid)

Another factor was an economic development as the Church began acquiring his own property. According to Rice, there was a real danger that legitimate children of priests could inherit and deprive the Church of its land. At the time, common law prevented illegitimate children from inheriting property.

In reality, the 1139 law did not enact celibacy but merely changed marriage into concubinage. Rice quotes from a document on celibacy prepared by church historian Hubert Jedin for the Second Vatican Council:

"We know of many cases where these `keepers of concubines' possessed the sympathies of their parishioners and were looked upon as good and virtuous pastors." (ibid page 162)

Jesus and his group also taught Celibacy for the Male, and probably was in the Jewish Christian Movement, before it became the Catholic Trinity Religion.

Dolores Lear


When the Reformation indirectly brought forth the Council of Trent in the mid 1500's, the Roman Catholic Church reformed itself and remodeled the priesthood to its present form. Not only did the Council reiterate the Church's prohibition of a married clergy but also instituted reforms to try to insure the implementation of the decrees of the Church on this subject.

Since the Council of Trent, celibacy has remained Church law, specifically upheld by Pope Paul VI in his 1967 encyclical Sacerdotalis Caelibatus. Despite opposition from half of the bishops attending the Synod of 1971, requests from bishops in the United States, France, and Latin America in 1988, Pope John Paul II has not budged from his opposition to a married priesthood.


According to several authors on the subject of priestly continence, there are basically two passages in the New Testament that are most often interpreted as endorsing the celibacy of church leadership. The first is Matthew 19:12 in which Jesus responds to questions from his disciples about marriage and divorce by saying, "...and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of Heaven." (New Jerusalem Bible page 46) In a comparable informational format in 1 Corinthians 7:7, Paul includes in a complex presentation on "marriage and virginity," the statement, "I wish that all were, as I myself am, but each has his own special gift from God, one of a kind, one of another." (ibid page 297)

1John 3:9. KJV. "Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God."
Celibacy was part of Jesus' Movement for the Male.

The Lord God in Genesis, Our 'High Tech' Human Ancestors, are Celibate also. They Reproduce Males, and reproduce the Female from the male rib, in a High Tech Womb. No sex needed.

Red Biddy

Thank you Dolores for all that information but it doesn't explain why it took the early church so long (1,100 years) to get around to slapping the celibacy rules on their priests. It actually took a lot longer than that.

Here's a bit of 16th century English history you might be interested in. Archbishop Thomas Cranmer, who as a young divinity and law student came to the favor of Henry VIII by coming up with a good legal and religious reason for Henry to divorce his wife of 25 years and marry Anne Boleyn, was married !
In Europe, under the laws of that time, priests were allowed to be openly married, in England they were certainly not !
So when Cranmer got called back to England, from Mantua, where he was living, to assume the post of first Archbishop of Canterbury, of the newly formed Church of England, his wife travelled seperately. Until Henry died, Cranmer's poor wife was kept hidden and when they travelled together in England, she was stuffed into a vast chest specially designed to conceal her !

Jesus was hardly a good example of traditional family values was he ? Didn't he ask his followers to dump their families and follow him ? Nice !

The early Christians should have stuck with the Egyptian model of a "Holy" Trinity: Osiris, Isis and Horus. Man, WOMAN and Child.

Just Thinking


There are several components of the Gospel message that have been going out here.

* There is a natural moral authority that is undeniable. "The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them."

* There is a natural power and order that clearly points to the existence of intelligent, powerful God. "For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse." Science reveals part of that natural order.

* Natural laws alone CANNOT explain what goes on in this world, though. There's always something missing, made unavailable to Science, and when you ask what causes those things that Science cannot explain, you come face-to-face with belief.

* Finally, there is a fallen nature that EVERYONE recognizes each time they conceive of perfection. Perfection does not exist in this world. So how come we imagine and strive for perfection? How can a fish know about the air when it has never been out of water? We retain off-limit knowledge of what once was before the fall. We know this world is not as it should be. Why is there death? Why are there thistles, disease, disorder? Why is there pain? We live in world fallen from perfection.

We see our nature, come to terms with God's divine nature, and recognize that we are separated. We suddenly recognize our need for reconciliation. The Gospel message is that there is reconciliation. Only one man ever claimed to know how.

Can you see the evovling message, Adamh?

IGGY - www.KCFreeThinkers.org

As many Xians, as many answers as to what prayer does and what it doesn't.

Let's go to horse'/Jesus' mouth - "ANYTHING" you ask in his name or name of his father is going to be given to you. This is from his lips and not made up - well, Jesus may have been made up, but it may not, it's irrelevant for the sake of the mental experiment.

Next "normal" and "logical" question, UNDER WHICH CIRCUMSTANCES this "ANYTHING" will be given to you?

When you start asking this in any variation - YOU ALWAYS ARE CONFRONTED WITH "You don't understand, you have to accept Jesus" or a compbination thereof of sorts of silliness.

As if to say that something is red one has to be a "red neck" :o)

So, when are the "Anythings" given to you? When you are alive? or dead? When god decides? Or when stuff happens?

And what is the manifistation of "given"? - wishes granted? postponed? no answer from god, till you get some "inner deeper" knowledge inspired by him. etc.?

Either way, there is always a cop out with the faithful - they are always "faithfully" right.

And how is this different from any other form of sourcery or voodoo?

Better have intellectual honesty and not claim that you know the mind of god with regards to the prayer.

How do you know that there is not a lost gospel where Jesus said - "Screw it all! I just was pulling your leg! I just made it all up? or I have accepted the Flying Spaghetti Monster as my Savior?"

Sorry to sound like a broken record about the Monster ...

But the standard of "truthiness" against which Christians are compared and judge others (thou shall not judge though :o) appears to be so rudimentary and also so arbitary that is makes me wonder if they understand that they are ATHEISTS already :o) when it comes to other gods.

adam harrison

You know, looking at Iggys last post, I realized that he is old news.

He has no arguments...just jokes that are a broken record, insults, misrepresentations, an inability to recognize context, and a convuluted "argument" crippled by lousy grammar. (I don't know if that is because English is a second language to him, or because he is on meds or something.)

Anyway, Iggy is PWNED. Its over, sport!

Dolores Lear

Red Biddie.
All Human History is about Killing, Inequality, and Killing and Inhumanity for All Humans. All History was trying to set up some kind of Unity through Religion and all that happened was War.

Scripture and Myth is about High Tech Male and Female Clone Life on Earth 'in the beginning in Genesis. The Clones began Heterosexual Body Birth, made Genetic and Physical Misbred Children.

Killing and Religion began, and we have all types of writings. Most of the writings were about Humans populating the Earth up to a High Tech Population and Science Explosion in the Noah/Atlantis Society.

They were destroyed not by God but with there High Tech Weapons and Pollution, in a Planetary Flood.

A High Tech Human Species do Reproduce with the Female reproduced in the Lab, from the Male Rib or some type of stem cells. It is recorded in Genesis, and other Scriptures.

Humans can see how all this High Tech Celibate Information, has been misunderstood, Without High Tech Science, Knowledge of Planet Colonization and Reproduction in a High Tech Lab.

All the Monks, Priests, and Nuns in most religions, do not make sense, except to keep this High Tech Celibacy Knowledge on Earth. It could not be understood until we found another Way to Reproduce.

Heterosexual Generation Birth, Death, and Rebirth, Results in disagreement over Celibacy and Marriage.

The Humans on a Planet with Eternal Physical Life After Birth, only have Purebred Male and Female Clone Helpmeets, No Misbred Defective Killer Mates, Children, and GLBTs.

I do not Know why I Can accept this High Tech Lifestyle, maybe I have some Genetic Memory, or I am being used to put this Other Lifestyle that was not possible on Earth, until today, to be Considered.

For me it is not Impossible for Humans, to have Eternal Equal High Tech Clone Peace Life After Birth, without Body Birth and Killing, on Planets and in Spaceships.


Red Biddy -- about prayer: I don't expect to persuade you of what I myself am persuaded of; I just know that when I make that effort to get in tune with God, it really and truly does work for me.

Crappy things still happen ... I don't see prayer so much as making a glorious path open up in front of me, such that my way is always easy and enjoyable ... and prayer certainly doesn't interfere with the free will of others, either. I see prayer more as me learning to see people and situations through God's eyes, and while I believe God does speak to hearts in response to our prayers, people always have a choice whether to listen.

But God is always speaking to the pray-er, too. That's something I DO have control over, whether or not *I* listen. So I think the most important part of prayer is listening. There's a Bible verse that says He knows our needs even before we ask Him -- I still think He wants us to ask Him, and talk about our concerns because it's what's on our minds. He wants that sharing and fellowhsip with us. He loves LISTENING to us.

I liked how "The Shack" dealt with this -- by introducing the idea that God chooses, while we're sharing with Him, to temporarily put what He "knows" about us out of His rememberance, so He can hear it from us as if it's the first time.

I realize this doesn't have much meaning if you don't believe in God. I just can't imagine life without Him.

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