Author Topic: The Nature of Prayer?  (Read 1609 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline JamesR

  • The Second Coming of Jason
  • Taxiarches
  • **********
  • Posts: 6,924
  • Remember me?
  • Faith: Christian
  • Jurisdiction: OCA
The Nature of Prayer?
« on: July 16, 2013, 06:14:16 PM »
There is something here I do not get about the way that humans often pray.

In prayer, we often ask God to grant us something in specific. For example, Protestants especially pray for specifics--like, I remember hearing them pray that God would give them a good parking spot or grant a certain American football team victory over another. But even we do the same thing in Orthodoxy. For example, "Grant us good health, peace, prosperity," etc.

Now, this is what I don't get. AFAIK, Orthodoxy, as well as all of the Abrahamic religions actually, seems to glorify and romanticize this odd, right-wingy, concept of "freedom" or "free-will,"--like, bad things happen because of our "freedom" (which, doesn't make much sense tbh) and God wants to "preserve freedom" and so He doesn't stop the badness because any interaction on His behalf would threaten or destroy this "freedom." Is this a fair summary?

Well, if that is the case, then why do we ask God for specifics when we pray? What's the point of asking Him "Please grant X event" if He is not going to do it? People often ask me to pray for specifics, like "pray my sick relative will get better" etc. but what's the point? If God doesn't interact and stop the suffering at all because of some hell-bent obsession with preserving freedom then what's the point of praying for specific events or asking for things to happen?

Millions of people pray to Him everyday asking for miracles but go unanswered. I'm sure several cancer patients have prayed for Him to cure them, tons of forced child prostitutes have as well, I'm sure the Orthodox Byzantines prayed for victory in 1453, yet, all of these people's prayers have gone unanswered. Am I really to think that out of the millions of people who pray and go unanswered that God is going to hear my prayer and shatter this whole "free-will" thing just to answer it? Seems kinda stupid to me.

Wouldn't it be better to simply pray for endurance and strength to overcome all of the BS that God allows us to face? Praying for specific things to happen seems stupid and pointless.

Offline Mor Ephrem

  • A highly skilled and trained Freudian feminist slut
  • Section Moderator
  • Hypatos
  • *****
  • Posts: 35,838
  • I am the Provisional Supreme Church Authority
    • OrthodoxChristianity.net
  • Faith: Mercenary Freudianism
  • Jurisdiction: Texas Feminist Coptic
Re: The Nature of Prayer?
« Reply #1 on: July 16, 2013, 06:59:16 PM »
Now, this is what I don't get. AFAIK, Orthodoxy, as well as all of the Abrahamic religions actually, seems to glorify and romanticize this odd, right-wingy, concept of "freedom" or "free-will,"--like, bad things happen because of our "freedom" (which, doesn't make much sense tbh) and God wants to "preserve freedom" and so He doesn't stop the badness because any interaction on His behalf would threaten or destroy this "freedom." Is this a fair summary?

Bad things don't happen because of "freedom" any more than guns kill people.  People do bad things with guns, and people do bad things with freedom.  

Does God respect our freedom?  Yes.  Does he never intervene because it would impinge on our freedom?  I don't know.  In general, I think he respects our freedom enough to allow us to make bad decisions; sometimes he will save us from all the consequences of those decisions, and other times he won't.  I've suffered many things due to certain bad decisions, but I know of at least one instances where I believe my guardian angel intervened directly to save my life from certain death due to another bad decision.  

Quote
Well, if that is the case, then why do we ask God for specifics when we pray? What's the point of asking Him "Please grant X event" if He is not going to do it?

Because he might do it.  You don't know that he definitely will, or that he definitely won't.  All you can do is ask, and trust him to handle it.  The latter is usually the hard part.  

Quote
Millions of people pray to Him everyday asking for miracles but go unanswered. I'm sure several cancer patients have prayed for Him to cure them, tons of forced child prostitutes have as well, I'm sure the Orthodox Byzantines prayed for victory in 1453, yet, all of these people's prayers have gone unanswered. Am I really to think that out of the millions of people who pray and go unanswered that God is going to hear my prayer and shatter this whole "free-will" thing just to answer it? Seems kinda stupid to me.

I agree, that idea is stupid.  All we can do is ask.  I can't say "I'm not going to ask because if he won't answer the prayers of terminally ill people for healing, he's definitely not going to answer my request for X", because I just don't know.  We believe God answers our requests in the way that is most oriented toward our salvation.  How do we know if, from God's perspective, X is most oriented toward your salvation, but healing is not oriented toward the salvation of those terminally ill folks?  We just don't know.  All we can do is ask.  

Quote
Wouldn't it be better to simply pray for endurance and strength to overcome all of the BS that God allows us to face? Praying for specific things to happen seems stupid and pointless.

If praying for specific things is stupid and pointless, why would praying for generic things be sensible and beneficial?  ISTM, based on this logic you're proposing, praying for anything at all would be ludicrous.  

Edited to fix tags.
« Last Edit: July 16, 2013, 07:00:00 PM by Mor Ephrem »

Offline Dionysii

  • High Elder
  • ******
  • Posts: 642
Re: The Nature of Prayer?
« Reply #2 on: August 07, 2013, 04:59:29 AM »
There is something here I do not get about the way that humans often pray.

This link is a short talk about prayer by a muslim woman.   
I'd say she really hit the nail on the head, and we can use this.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uhbj-H9yKrs&feature=youtube_gdata_player

Offline J Michael

  • Older than dirt; dumber than a box of rocks; colossally ignorant; a little crazy ;-)
  • Toumarches
  • ************
  • Posts: 11,549
  • Lord, have mercy! I live under a rock. Alleluia!
  • Faith: Cafeteria CHRISTIAN Heretic
  • Jurisdiction: Here and now (well...sometimes...)
Re: The Nature of Prayer?
« Reply #3 on: August 07, 2013, 02:41:40 PM »
There is something here I do not get about the way that humans often pray.

This link is a short talk about prayer by a muslim woman.   
I'd say she really hit the nail on the head, and we can use this.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uhbj-H9yKrs&feature=youtube_gdata_player

Can you summarize for me what she has to say?  No youtube access.
"Sometimes you're the windshield.  Sometimes you're the bug." ~ Mark Knopfler (?)

Offline Dionysii

  • High Elder
  • ******
  • Posts: 642
Re: The Nature of Prayer?
« Reply #4 on: August 09, 2013, 12:03:18 AM »
There is something here I do not get about the way that humans often pray.

This link is a short talk about prayer by a muslim woman.  
I'd say she really hit the nail on the head, and we can use this.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uhbj-H9yKrs&feature=youtube_gdata_player

Can you summarize for me what she has to say?  No youtube access.
Here is a transcription of most of it:


…It is only once that love is gone or weakened that serving that person goes from being an honour to just being a burden.  
It goes from ‘tashliff’ to only ‘takliff’.
Sadly, our worship of God is like this – just a burden.  We don’t pray to seek refuge from the storm of our lives.  
If we pray at all, we do it to get it out of the way or maybe because our parents won’t stop nagging until we do.  
On the day of judgment every man and woman will stand alone in front of Allah,
and there is nothing that anyone can do for you except by the permission of Allah.  

Please understand the reality that we have forsaken because we are so caught up with our phones, our apps, our friends, our parties, our highs.  We’re so caught up with the cute guys and the pretty girls.  Please understand that ignoring a reality does not make it any less real.  It’s still going to happen.  Being unprepared for something doesn’t stop it from happening.  If you choose, for example, to stay up all night partying instead of studying for your final exam, it doesn’t mean that the final exam won’t happen.  It still will, and you only end up failing.  If we spend this life just partying, pretending that the final isn’t coming, it won’t stop it from happening.  Nothing will stop death.  Nothing.  Nothing will delay the day of judgment.  Like that final exam, the question is only are we prepared or are we too busy playing.  

Imagine for a moment that a news reporter tells you that a huge storm is coming.  Imagine that you’re told that unless you seek shelter, you and your family will be destroyed.  What would you do?  If we really believed that a storm was coming, we would run to shelter, right?  Only a person who didn’t believe the forecast would continue playing, ignoring the countless warnings - only if you thought it was a lie or you were too drunk to realize - only if you didn’t really believe or if you didn’t understand, but how could someone know, really know that a storm was about to hit and do absolutely nothing to protect themselves and those they love?  Would anyone say “I’m actually too busy hanging out right now?  I’m too busy on my phone or on facebook to run to shelter.  I’d rather check out this guy’s profile than prepare myself from the storm.”

No one would say that, and yet every single time we put off our prayers, put off wearing hijab, put off giving up dating, put off leaving our poisonous bad company, put off abandoning alcohol, or smoking or pot or pornography, that is exactly what we are saying.  The fact that we cannot leave these haram things, the fact is that we insist “I will never leave alcoholic drinks.  I will never give up illegal sexual intercourse.  I will never give up smoking hookah or pot or pornography.  I will never give up dating and all the so-called pleasures associated with it.”
  
The fact that our worship has become only a burden is a sign that there is a problem internally.  There is a problem with our sight.  We don’t really see the storm coming.  We don’t really see the day of judgment.  We haven’t purified and rectified the lump of flesh that the prophets of Allah spoke about, and as a result the rest of our bodies, the rest of our actions, the rest of our lives have become corrupted.  We don’t really see Allah with our hearts, and we haven’t built our love for him.  We haven’t really used the heart for the very purpose for which it was created – to know, to serve, and to love God.  

“…as a matter of certainty, just as certain as I am standing in front of you today,that you and I will meet our maker.  You and I will stand in front of Allah, and we will be asked “What did love most in this world?  What did you spend your life doing?  What did you run after?  Will it last?  The things that you chase – will they last?  Will they help you or will they hurt you when the illusion of this life has passed?”
« Last Edit: August 09, 2013, 12:07:52 AM by Dionysii »

Offline Dionysii

  • High Elder
  • ******
  • Posts: 642
Re: The Nature of Prayer?
« Reply #5 on: August 09, 2013, 12:19:29 AM »
No one would say that, and yet every single time we put off our prayers, put off wearing hijab, put off giving up dating, put off leaving our poisonous bad company, put off abandoning alcohol, or smoking or pot or pornography, that is exactly what we are saying.  The fact that we cannot leave these haram things, the fact is that we insist “I will never leave alcoholic drinks.  I will never give up illegal sexual intercourse.  I will never give up smoking hookah or pot or pornography.  I will never give up dating and all the so-called pleasures associated with it.”
  
The fact that our worship has become only a burden is a sign that there is a problem internally.  There is a problem with our sight.  We don’t really see the storm coming.  We don’t really see the day of judgment.  We haven’t purified and rectified the lump of flesh that the prophets of Allah spoke about, and as a result the rest of our bodies, the rest of our actions, the rest of our lives have become corrupted.  We don’t really see Allah with our hearts, and we haven’t built our love for him.  We haven’t really used the heart for the very purpose for which it was created – to know, to serve, and to love God.  

I like this section.
It brings to mind the first of the three stages of Christian life which Niketas Stithatos wrote about it the Philokalia:  purification, illumination, divination.

Offline J Michael

  • Older than dirt; dumber than a box of rocks; colossally ignorant; a little crazy ;-)
  • Toumarches
  • ************
  • Posts: 11,549
  • Lord, have mercy! I live under a rock. Alleluia!
  • Faith: Cafeteria CHRISTIAN Heretic
  • Jurisdiction: Here and now (well...sometimes...)
Re: The Nature of Prayer?
« Reply #6 on: August 09, 2013, 11:54:55 AM »
There is something here I do not get about the way that humans often pray.

This link is a short talk about prayer by a muslim woman.  
I'd say she really hit the nail on the head, and we can use this.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uhbj-H9yKrs&feature=youtube_gdata_player

Can you summarize for me what she has to say?  No youtube access.
Here is a transcription of most of it:


…It is only once that love is gone or weakened that serving that person goes from being an honour to just being a burden.  
It goes from ‘tashliff’ to only ‘takliff’.
Sadly, our worship of God is like this – just a burden.  We don’t pray to seek refuge from the storm of our lives.  
If we pray at all, we do it to get it out of the way or maybe because our parents won’t stop nagging until we do.  
On the day of judgment every man and woman will stand alone in front of Allah,
and there is nothing that anyone can do for you except by the permission of Allah.  

Please understand the reality that we have forsaken because we are so caught up with our phones, our apps, our friends, our parties, our highs.  We’re so caught up with the cute guys and the pretty girls.  Please understand that ignoring a reality does not make it any less real.  It’s still going to happen.  Being unprepared for something doesn’t stop it from happening.  If you choose, for example, to stay up all night partying instead of studying for your final exam, it doesn’t mean that the final exam won’t happen.  It still will, and you only end up failing.  If we spend this life just partying, pretending that the final isn’t coming, it won’t stop it from happening.  Nothing will stop death.  Nothing.  Nothing will delay the day of judgment.  Like that final exam, the question is only are we prepared or are we too busy playing.  

Imagine for a moment that a news reporter tells you that a huge storm is coming.  Imagine that you’re told that unless you seek shelter, you and your family will be destroyed.  What would you do?  If we really believed that a storm was coming, we would run to shelter, right?  Only a person who didn’t believe the forecast would continue playing, ignoring the countless warnings - only if you thought it was a lie or you were too drunk to realize - only if you didn’t really believe or if you didn’t understand, but how could someone know, really know that a storm was about to hit and do absolutely nothing to protect themselves and those they love?  Would anyone say “I’m actually too busy hanging out right now?  I’m too busy on my phone or on facebook to run to shelter.  I’d rather check out this guy’s profile than prepare myself from the storm.”

No one would say that, and yet every single time we put off our prayers, put off wearing hijab, put off giving up dating, put off leaving our poisonous bad company, put off abandoning alcohol, or smoking or pot or pornography, that is exactly what we are saying.  The fact that we cannot leave these haram things, the fact is that we insist “I will never leave alcoholic drinks.  I will never give up illegal sexual intercourse.  I will never give up smoking hookah or pot or pornography.  I will never give up dating and all the so-called pleasures associated with it.”
  
The fact that our worship has become only a burden is a sign that there is a problem internally.  There is a problem with our sight.  We don’t really see the storm coming.  We don’t really see the day of judgment.  We haven’t purified and rectified the lump of flesh that the prophets of Allah spoke about, and as a result the rest of our bodies, the rest of our actions, the rest of our lives have become corrupted.  We don’t really see Allah with our hearts, and we haven’t built our love for him.  We haven’t really used the heart for the very purpose for which it was created – to know, to serve, and to love God.  

“…as a matter of certainty, just as certain as I am standing in front of you today,that you and I will meet our maker.  You and I will stand in front of Allah, and we will be asked “What did love most in this world?  What did you spend your life doing?  What did you run after?  Will it last?  The things that you chase – will they last?  Will they help you or will they hurt you when the illusion of this life has passed?”

Many thanks!
"Sometimes you're the windshield.  Sometimes you're the bug." ~ Mark Knopfler (?)

Offline Robert scho

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 68
Re: The Nature of Prayer?
« Reply #7 on: October 30, 2013, 01:49:36 PM »
Older post, though I still reply;

Hi James, and god bless.

Interesting analogy, I just wanted to throw one scripture in there from the book of James.

You've probably allready considered this but the one that came to mind was "ye pray and recieve not because ye pray amiss that ye may consume it on your lusts".
This scripture did help give me just a little more insight to the truth of how we people pray and what may be our true desires.

I know for a fact that humility in prayers (true humility) has a much greater chance.

If the question pits predestination up against divine grace, then I believe our church doesn't hold the doc of pre dest-and one more script comes to mind-"I will have mercy and not sacrifice"

And remember, Abraham was afforded to communicate directly with god over the fate of Sodom & Gomorah, and recall Abrahams purpose in such a fearful discourse (to try to save as many as possible) and what happened? Just Lot and his daughters were granted passage by the angel of vengeance.

May god bless you in your search for truth as well.

PS: After looking back on your post I recall your question to be more in line with free will,though I hope this may still be somewhat comparable.





« Last Edit: October 30, 2013, 01:53:46 PM by Robert scho »
For a Christian ending to our life, painless, blameless, peaceful; and a good defense before the dread judgement seat of Christ, let us ask of the Lord.
And He said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End.