Is it more effective to vote or to pray?

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This week, the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) started a new #PRAYforMARRIAGE campaign. It is asking people to pray that the U.S. Supreme Court will decided against same-sex marriage. The ERLC runs a 40 day prayer vigil before a national election.

Prayers may have little chance of changing the outcome of an election or a Supreme Court case, they may still be worth the effort. Prayer is about more than changing God’s will. People pray for many reasons that have little to do with the outcome of prayer — they pray to be faithful to their religion, express themselves, or feel closer to God.

voting sticker

Obviously, those who do not believe in God or the supernatural would see prayer as ineffective in changing events. Even some religious people are skeptical of efforts to shape politics through prayer.

But is prayer really that different than voting?

Yesterday, I voted in our local elections. I live in a small town, and we had some races decided by a dozen or so votes. But what would have happened if I had not voted?

Nothing. All of the election results would have remained unchanged.

Political scientists have long recognized that each individual vote is rarely (very, very rarely) effective. Unless you cast the deciding vote, then your trip out to the polling station could have been better spent doing something else. The only way voting is worth the effort is if it is personally rewarding. We do it because it is our civic duty, because we like participating in the process, or because we simply like being able to have a say in who runs our government.

Some of us vote because we like to wear the “I voted!” sticker.

Prayer may not be the most effective way to change government, but it is no less effective than voting. And we do that all the time, too.

So vote if you want. Pray if you prefer. Choose both. Do neither. Just realize that people do a lot of things that are far less effective than we would like to admit.

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  • Janus JanusVi

    It is marriage a personal right or a tool created by society with a goal in mind?

    If it is a personal right all this kinds of marriage must be allowed

    Dad -Son
    Mom- Daughter
    Between brothers
    Between Sisters.
    Grandpa – Grandson
    Grandma – Granddaughter

    And ABC will have the right to show teenage twin brothers in love and kissing.

    The next point is who will decide if marriage is a personal right?

    The Supreme Court Judges.

    Do they need some help?

    Forums like this will be helpful to them to collect ideas.

  • Fran

    Definitely prayer instead of voting! It should be for God’s kingdom or heavenly government (Daniel 2:44) to come and for God’s will to be done, as in heaven, also upon earth (Matthew 6:10). It was also a major teaching of Jesus on earth (Matthew 4:17).

    It’s God’s kingdom that will soon put an end to all human governments and make all things right on earth for man (Isaiah 11:1-9).

    It will even put an end to all sickness, disease, old age and death (Revelation 21:3,4), impossible for man to do on his own.

  • MikeT

    Don’t forget Galatians 6:9-10, “let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap…As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men…”

    It is rather clear that people can make a positive difference (are are commanded to try!), even if we can’t completely solve all of the world’s problems. Very often this “well doing” or doing good can be had by expressing our beliefs and values in the voting process to affect the laws that are created. If you are serious about caring for all people, then you don’t say “I will not help anyone right now, instead I’ll wait for God’s kingdom to come”, no – instead you help the person here and now. That is the purpose of the voting process – to express your personally-held beliefs in a way that will help people. For religious folks, voting is a way to help people receive the best opportunity for improvement and faith building by making an environment that is more amenable to that.

  • gary

    I was once a born-again evangelical Christian who for years prayed for God to speak to me in my heart, as I had been promised he would. He never did. God never spoke to me in a still, small voice. God never “moved” me or “led” me. I finally blamed myself for God’s refusal to speak to me and left the Church. Now that I am older, I have had time to look at the evidence, and I’ve come to the conclusion that the problem wasn’t me…it was God.

    Here is the evidence I found:

    Disease and Illness: Christians have the same rates of disease and illness as non-Christians. Jesus doesn’t seem to answer prayers for healing. The percentage of non-Christians, including atheists, who recover from illness is the same as that of Christians. Christians who claim that they were healed due to prayer cannot prove that their healing was not due to some other factor, such as the medication that their doctor was giving them or pure coincidence. If Jesus really heals people due to prayer, Christians…