Opinion

After Las Vegas, who says prayer doesn’t ‘work’?

Photo by Eric Enstrom

(RNS) — There’s a cartoon making the rounds in response to the devastating Las Vegas shooting tragedy. It features a switchboard full of colorful buttons, on all of which but one is written “DO SOMETHING.” The one button that is different is labeled “Thoughts and prayers,” and the joke is that it’s the only button being pushed by the lone finger in the drawing.

The biting cultural commentary offered is: We content ourselves with shallow promises of prayer even though we should be undertaking real-world action to solve an urgent problem.

This idea has been playing out on social media ever since a shooter killed at least 58 and injured hundreds of others in Las Vegas. For every one tweeter offering prayer, there was one tweeter mocking them.

People load into buses destined to different casinos on Oct. 2, 2017, following a mass shooting at the Route 91 music festival along the Las Vegas Strip. Yasmina Chavez/Las Vegas Sun via AP

Some people were more civil about it than others. Actress Emmy Rossum said she believes in prayer, but thinks that more than prayer is needed to reform America’s gun laws. Columnist Charles Blow was less polite: “I am so SICK of our hollow, ritualized response to these tragedies: Outrage, prayer, ‘thought go out…,’ debate, then…NOTHING! This is gross.”

This discussion made its way into my own Twitter feed when I responded to a tweet by Andrew Seidel, an attorney with Freedom From Religion Foundation, a nonprofit group dedicated to “freethought activism.”

“#PRAYERSFORVEGAS or any other mass shooting won’t end gun violence in America,” he wrote.

OK … that’s true enough. But neither, I replied, will being clever with a hashtag. (That really got things going.)

Seidel made himself very clear: Prayer, he insisted, wasn’t “real action,” and it often runs the risk of giving people who do nothing an excuse to feel as if they are. Finally, he accused me of missing his main point, which was: “Prayer doesn’t work.”

As a person who both prays and writes about people who pray, I found these comments naive, arrogant and misinformed. First of all, how is prayer supposed to “work”? What does “success” even look like when we’re talking about prayer? How quickly does success have to “happen” after the initial prayer for it to count as a result of the prayer? It seems like this accusation is informed by a very elementary notion of prayer: Unless we get something (say, a red lollipop) almost immediately after praying for it, then we can’t say the prayer worked.

But I don’t know many religious people who think of prayer this way. Instead, many of us see prayer the same way that St. Therese of Lisieux sees it: It’s “a surge of the heart; it is a simple look turned toward heaven, it is a cry of recognition and of love, embracing both trial and joy.” If this is what prayer is, then every prayer — insofar as it gets us to pause in the midst of tragedy, take a breath, and remember that the future is still coming to meet us — “works.”

Another problem with the “Don’t pray; act!” accusation is that it fundamentally misunderstands the relationship of prayer and real-world action. There’s an apocryphal quote attribute to Pope Francis (and if he didn’t say it, it definitely sounds like something the Jesuit would say): “You pray for the hungry. Then you feed them. That is how prayer works.” He said something similar in a July 2013 address: “Prayer that doesn’t lead to concrete action toward our brothers is a fruitless and incomplete prayer.”

“Prayer and action must always be profoundly united,” he concluded.

This isn’t any different from the way Jesus taught his followers to pray: “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” In other words, God’s kingdom comes to earth through the humans who behave as if it is already here. The praying is the doing.

Plenty of religious people seem to believe this. A recent Pew survey found “a clear link between what people see as essential to their faith and their self-reported day-to-day behavior.” For example, more than 60 percent of Christians who believe that helping the poor is essential to their Christian identity regularly donate time and money to actually … help the poor. This suggests the majority of Christians surveyed realize that a truly prayerful posture requires real-world action.

To be fair, if praying actually does prevent someone from taking necessary and appropriate action to fix a problem — for example, religious parents who refuse medical treatment for their children —  then that prayer is hypocritical. But this isn’t a criticism invented by Twitter — it’s as old as religion itself. The Bible, for example, is full of passages condemning unjust people who pray:

When you spread out your hands,

I will hide my eyes from you;

even though you make many prayers,

I will not listen;

your hands are full of blood.

If you want God to hear you, Isaiah tells his listeners, then you must “learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression.” If you’re not going to make those changes, then God won’t hear your prayers so you might as well not even offer them. This is why I think it was right for someone to challenge Vice President Mike Pence when he tweeted that he and his wife were praying for the victims of Las Vegas. “Your campaign took $30 million from the NRA last year. Save your prayers for something else,” wrote author Molly Knight.

Police vehicles block a street corner on Oct. 2, 2017, after a deadly shooting the day before at a music festival in Las Vegas. AP Photo/Ronda Churchill

But while it might be reasonable in this instance to question the prayers of those collecting money from gun lobbyists, it seems mean-spirited to issue a blanket condemnation of anyone who turns to prayer in response to suffering.

Prayer is a very human response to the world’s enormous evil. It grew up within that part of our collective soul that said, “This world is dark … and yet I will keep moving forward.” Andrew Seidel is right to be outraged with yet another mass shooting — we all should share that outrage! But heaping some of that outrage on prayer ignores the fact that humanity’s sense of justice evolved alongside its sense of prayerfulness and reverence. The impulse that makes us rage against evil is the same one that leads us  to “look toward heaven.”

We all have different views on prayer, but at the end of the day, #praying on social media comes down to solidarity. It’s my way of saying, “I see you hurting, and I am here for you.” Those expressions of solidarity can’t take the place of calling your local politicians and demanding reform. At the same time, retweeting a bunch of graphs that prove your political points can’t take the place of gentle reminders of human compassion.

(The views expressed in this opinion piece do not necessarily reflect those of Religion News Service)

About the author

Brandon Ambrosino

124 Comments

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  • You ask, “First of all, how is prayer supposed to “work”? What does “success” even look like when we’re talking about prayer? How quickly does success have to “happen” after the initial prayer for it to count as a result of the prayer?” And then you don’t answer those questions.

    “Prayer is a very human response to the world’s enormous evil.” It’s one response, certainly. But, as you note, “Those expressions of solidarity can’t take the place of calling your local politicians and demanding reform.”

    Prayer is what you do when you don’t want to do anything, but don’t want to appear to be an ahole who doesn’t want to do anything. People of a religious bent tell me, a gay man and an atheist, all of the time that they are going to pray for me. Sometimes they even intend it as a gesture of good will. but mostly, it’s a way to inform me that my actual thoughts, feelings, and existence are not as important to them as their beliefs about me.

  • More “Prayer” nonsense from the presumptuous…The author shamefully tells us prayer is “…a surge of the heart; it is a simple look turned toward heaven…” — as if it’s all about us doing the praying — not about the victims of atrocity. And he fails to inform us what we could not do — without prayer? Notice that less prayerful places outside USA — Japan, secular Europe — don’t seem to have these massacres (unless carried out by religious extremists).

    So, how much help did prayers do after previous mass killings? … We prayed after Columbine — we prayed after Sandy Hook — we prayed after Orlando, et-al…and the results…The biggest massacre ever in Las Vegas — one child of God kills 60 and maims over 500 more, some with horrifying life-long wounds and extreme pain to look forward to…Thanks for everybody’s prayers…working great — so please, more of the same prayers after the next massacre too 🙂

  • I love me some Ben rant?. I knew of the serenity prayer, now I know of the ahole prayer :-).
    Not disputing what you said and what you have experienced, but prayer should be something different, this would be an example to me.
    A desire to be reconciled with someone or something, that leads to prayer, leads to actions that facilitate reconciliation. They don’t lead to agreements, they lead to reconciliation despite the disagreement.
    Those religious bent folks that keep you on their prayer list are praying for your agreement with them, not any reconciliation with you. I say that is more of a pray’er problem than prayer problem.

  • Well, I for one have **never** said I would pray for you. Not even once, AFAIK. Plus iffen’ it wuz up to me, I would just let’cha git to the end of the dirt road and just receive what all’s a-comin’ to ya — with eternal postage due of course.

    But I keep on getting these rather irritating emails from Upstairs Management, they say they ain’t forgot about you. You seem to have something in you the Boss favors, apparently. Says He remembers when you was a kid, and never did step out on you, even in the worst times. Says He still got some big plans ready to go, 67 or no 67.

    He says some of the blokes who told you they would “pray for you”, actually DID (and still do) have real electricity in their batteries, regardless of their attitudes OR yours. (Wait a minute — this new email says that’s classified information and I’m not supposed to tell you about such things. Oh snap!)

    Anyway, you’re still a mess on steroids; you’re the cause of me receiving unwanted invisible emails; and I’m STILL not gonna pray for you (unless it’s behind your back and out of earshot, and even then I promise NOT to enjoy the experience!!)

  • I pray, but the last thing I think this week needs is a defensive, argumentative put-down of those who don’t, or those who insist “not enough.” Pray, and call your Congressman. And stop this inane argument.

  • Great commentary Mr. Ambrosino. I first started reading RNS after I was linked to it by several Washington Post op eds. It is informed commentaries like this jewel that motivated me to donate to RNS. The general character of the comments below amply demonstrate why we need a news organizations like RNS funded. Keep writing, the world is tiring of those that only detract from the conversation.

  • ““You pray for the hungry. Then you feed them. That is how prayer works.”
    Why? Surely the prayer is just wasting time in which more people might be fed isn’t it? Or is the suggestion that thought without prayer isn’t translated into action – which is false.

    “Unless we get something (say, a red lollipop) almost immediately after praying for it, then we can’t say the prayer worked.
    But I don’t know many religious people who think of prayer this way. Instead, many of us see prayer the same way that St. Therese of Lisieux sees it”
    Except that someone more important than the St. is supposed to have instructed followers to pray “give us this day our daily bread”. Not that getting “daily bread” establishes cause and effect – but demand is clear – “ask and ye shall receive”, with the implication that if you don’t ask you don’t get.

    “In other words, God’s kingdom comes to earth through the humans who behave as if it is already here. The praying is the doing.”
    So no need for a blood-sacrifice then.

    Prayer means talking to a (probably non-existent) deity with multiple personality problems. He wants praise (low-self-esteem?), he needs to be asked to do things that a compassionate being would do without hesitation (lack of empathy), he’s never wrong (it’s always someone else’s fault), he acts on a whim without considering the consequences (impulsivity), he ‘s a control freak and a thief (“God giveth and God taketh away”), he regards everyone else as there to serve him and, though he might occasionally claim to regret things he never shows true remorse. Look up “psychopath.

    Why would anyone worship a psychopath – I don’t know, but then I wouldn’t knowingly vote for one either.

  • i was just taking about this “does prayer work?” debate with my students the other day and the conclusion was that prayer “works” for the prayER, not the prayEE. Mr. Ambrosino makes an assumption that people follow the Francis path and ACT after, while, or before praying. the issue he addresses is the tendency, especially in this era of social media, to offer these facile “praying for…” messages in the wake of tragedies like those in recent news (Nevada, Florida, Texas, etc.) and the critique of those who tweet, post, or otherwise advertise their prayer efforts. in my mind, these social media pietists aren’t even praying to help themselves feel better, which one could definitely make the case “works,” but rather to elicit appreciation for their own benevolence.

  • many of us see prayer the same way that St. Therese of Lisieux sees it: It’s “a surge of the heart; it is a simple look turned toward heaven, it is a cry of recognition and of love, embracing both trial and joy.”

    That’s success? Getting darn desperate to prove prayer works, it seems. Guess the studies are right! Prayer works at the rate of chance or LESS. So, it is useless.If you feel meditating clears your head, by all means do so. But please, don’t pretend god has something to do with it.

  • Is a prayer supposed to get God to change his mind? Did He make a mistake? To paraphrase George Carlin, what’s the point of a divine plan if any schmuck with a fifty cent prayer book can mess it up?

  • How is prayer supposed to work? Simple, just look at Mark 11:24

    “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours”

    OK, there you have it. That is how The Bible says prayer is supposed to work.

    Now, think of all of the hundreds of thousands of people who die of Cancer each year. Lots of these people probably pray for remission… But they don’t get it. Ergo, prayer does not work.

    Think of all the children who starve to death every day, many of whom are just praying for something eat. Guess what… they don’t get it. Once again, prayer does not work.

    So, there we have direct, real world contradictions of the way that The Bible (aka the irrefutable and unchanging word of an omniscient and benevolent God) explicitly states that prayer is supposed to work. I wonder how long it will be before an apologist tells me I’ve taken it out of context….

  • Dear Mark
    Those who reject God and Prayer tend to be focused on worldly pleasures and sexual gratification. In the absence of Biblical morality the ungodly seek to change society and make it more decadent, sinful and immoral, they threaten our children and religious institutions.

  • PRAYER IS BULL SHIT! AS A MATTER OF FACT; PRAY IN ONE HAND AND GRAB A HANDFUL OF DIRT IN THE OTHER AND SEE WHICH ONE FILLS UP FIRST. THAT’STHE REAL PROOF…BELIVEING THAT THERE IS SOME KIND OF IMAGINARY FORCE IS GOING TO LISTEN TO YOU AND A GAZILLION OTHER PEOPLE AT THE SAME TIME IS LUDICROUS. THE ONLY THING THAT PRAYING DOES IS TO STOP PEOPLE FROM REALLY DOING THINGS THAT ACTUALLY HAVE TO BE DONE. IT’S AN EXCUSE IN IT’S SIMPLEST TERMS.

  • Those who reject God and Prayer tend to be focused on worldly pleasures and sexual gratification

    I assume you can prover this outrageous claim?

    Biblical morality? Are you for real? Your god murders babies regularly in your bible and you tell me about morals? He also condones rape and slavery. See, here’s the thing. Believe WHATEVER you want. Keep it to yourself because the secular world thinks you are delusional and we make laws that render your weakling god even more powerless
    Morals come from people, not some imaginary beast

  • prayer actually works for hunger
    A friend of mine said she prays for hunger in Africa all the time.
    I told her, he listens. There’s millions of them

  • ““You pray for the hungry. Then you feed them. That is how prayer works.”

    slight amendment
    you pray for the hungry
    then you force them to listen to sermons
    then you feed them

  • I’m surprised someone would post to pray after reading how ridiculous people think the act is

  • The gifts of Free Will and Future are inherent to all the thinking beings in the Universe. This being the case, it is not possible to alter life with prayers. Statistically, your request might come true but it is simply the result of the variability/randomness of Nature..

    So put down your rosaries and prayer beads and stop worshiping/revering cows or bowing to Mecca five times a day. Instead work hard at your job, take care of aging parents, volunteer at a soup kitchen, donate to charities and the poor and continue to follow the proper rules of your religion or any good rules of living as gracious and good human beings.

  • All something religious conservatives do at higher rates than anyone else in the US, though religious liberals are close behind.

  • That’s interesting. Let,s take just one counter example.

    There is former Congressman Tim Murphy, a godly, godly man, opposed to those evil gays, railing about sexual immorality, implacably opposed to abortion.

    Congressman Murphy just resigned, in the wake of a scandal wherein this godly, godly man was revealed to be having an affair, and upon getting his skeezyhor pregnant, urged her to get an abortion. Now he has resigned because he “wants to spend more time with his family.” You know, the family he sh*t upon, the marriage he trashed,the children he betrayed.

    Let’s get a few more.

    Dennis Hastert: family man, good Christian, professional heterosexual. anti gay, but seemed to have a thing for teenaged boys.

    ROman Catholic priests: called by your god himself to the priesthood, they seem to have a thing for other people’s children. Or for looking the other way. Or both.

    The Graham “boy.” How many times has he been caught with other women? And he’s a pastor!!!

    And then there is your own rather sex obsessed and filthy mind.

    No, I think your assessment of worldly pleasures, sexual gratification, and biblical morality is just a fanatasy. Your religious institutions are a hot bed of decadence, money grubbing, and immorality.

  • Prayer is what you do when you don’t want to do anything, but don’t want to feel bad for not doing anything.

  • There’s one other problem with the “don’t pray, do something!” response that Ambrosino doesn’t mention, perhaps because he agrees with it — the assumption that “do something” must be in accordance with the respondents’ views on HOW the problem should be solved. In the case of gun violence, all those engaged in trying to lift young men out of poverty by teaching them how to be responsible adults are doing as much if not more than any gun control advocate. Responding to gun violence doesn’t necessarily require being in favor of gun control.

  • “Prayer means talking to a (probably non-existent) deity with multiple personality problems. He wants praise (low-self-esteem?), he needs to be asked to do things that a compassionate being would do without hesitation (lack of empathy), he’s never wrong (it’s always someone else’s fault), he acts on a whim without considering the consequences (impulsivity), he ‘s a control freak and a thief (“God giveth and God taketh away”), he regards everyone else as there to serve him and, though he might occasionally claim to regret things he never shows true remorse. Look up “psychopath.”

    My lord! You just described Donald TrumP!

  • “How MEAN of you!” Get over it. We’re sick and tired of christians claiming credit for all the good that happens, but when it comes to putting the rubber to the road and real tragedy strikes, instead of action all we get from you is:
    1) Racism/Xenophobia because the perpetrator wasn’t a white american
    2) Religious phobia because the perpetrator wasn’t a christian
    3) Your leaders telling us that we’re ultimately to blame for the tragedy because we’re not christians
    4) Your leaders blaming the victims for their own murders just for being there
    5) Your fellow ammosexual christians screaming that we can’t talk about gun control EVER
    6) A stream of useless “thoughts and prayers” that you make sure everyone knows about, but that do nothing to help anyone.

    Think thoughts at the ceiling/sky all you want, but stop telling us about it as though we should praise you for or it makes you a better person.

    To answer the question you asked yourself and didn’t answer, in your own bible prayer was not nearly as vague and mythical as it clearly is for you now (Mark 11:24, John 14:13-14 are just two specific examples). So the fact that you keep praying for things that never come is one good indication that no one is listening.

  • Prayer is used by people to make them feel that they have done something constructive when they can’t seem to do anything else. But, in these cases, there is something that can be done. Write to your congressmen or women and say you want change. It is more effective than prayer and will make you feel that you have done something.

  • Totally agree! It is the “Hey everybody, see me praying” statement. Also, some use the Pontius Pilate approach of praying to “wash my hands” of this mess without a guilty conscience.

  • We need to recognize that there is petitionary prayer (which does not work) and the kind of prayer the St. Therese quote describes, which is more of a meditation.

    I don’t think my fellow skeptics have a problem with the latter form.

  • Correlation without causation which is good = my prayer worked.
    Amazing how prayer and random chance have the same success rate…

  • So the fact that you keep praying for things that never come is one good indication that no one is listening. Though my experience is quite contrary to this.

  • Like many other issues in our national dialogue, the prayer vs advocacy one is being argued often from the extremes, as demonstrated by the response comments here. I am a Buddhist who prays every day, and who has seen repeatedly the power of prayer in my life and the lives of others. Prayer can help us to to regain a sense of balance and compassion during difficult times and can indeed make a powerful difference. Period. Full-stop.

    At the same time we cannot remain blind to the need for action in they midst of this very serious public health crisis of gun violence. For my faith-centered friends, please understand that this reaction against “thoughts and prayers” is NOT always an attack on religion. I believe it is a sane response to the cowardice and greed that has been demonstrated time and again by those whose job it is to protect the public welfare. These so-called leaders have staunchly refused to even permit research on the impact of gun violence by our Public Heath Service or to consider common-sense solutions to a problem that has killed more Americans than all the wars of the 20th century.

    I think it’s also a rebuke against those faith leaders who offer their “thoughts and prayers” but then preach the absolutism of the Second Amendment. It’s enough to cause a reasonable person to question the sincerity of their compassion.

    So, yeah, as thoughtful as Mr. Ambrosino’s points are, I think it’s a bit of red-herring, and misses the real meaning of the “enough-with-the-thoughts-and-prayers group”. The message here is that – however wondrous the power of prayer, it is past time for action to protect and defend the people of this society.

    Can’t help but feel like its seizing on a major national crisis in order to make an irrelevant point.

  • “There’s a cartoon making the rounds in response to the devastating Las Vegas shooting tragedy. It features a switchboard full of colorful buttons, on all of which but one is written “DO SOMETHING.” The one button that is different is labeled “Thoughts and Prayers,” and the joke is that it’s the only button being pushed by the lone finger in the drawing.”

    This indeed was a most horrific act–the very worst mass murder in our country’s history. The “DO SOMETHING,” button is definitely no joke, and the “Thoughts and Prayers” button is right on target. Those advocating stricter gun control laws, though they might be sincerely motivated, are still advocating something that will NEVER do anything to prevent more mass murders. The causes of these are severe mental illness and evil in the human heart.

    The only possible solution is the same one for all of us and particularly for those who turn to violence to ease their anger and frustration. That solution is the transforming power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We can never pass a law requiring that. That can only happen when people undertake the simple action of letting their thoughts and words, and examples of their lives show the world how their lives have been transformed.

    Curiously, the cartoonist didn’t provide us the button for this! .

  • Have you been praying for minor things that will just as easily happen if you had waited without praying, or are you praying to stop tornadoes, stop hurricanes, etc.?

  • My late mother learned her “christianity” in the Sally Army. Boy does this amendment ring a bell.

  • English I am, a member of the peerage I’m not. 🙂
    I did rather hope someone closer to the outflow might make a connection!

  • What do you call minor things? In relation to hurricanes and tornados, wouldn’t almost everything be considered minor? How do you measure whether something will occur had one waited? Can I identify all of the parameters and mechanisms of an event to predict or verify how these things would have come together?

    If I said that several times I have prayed for a tornado to stop, such as having seen a funnel descending, and it receded, or maybe others had veered off harmlessly, could one not protest, “If you had waited they would still have all done the same thing”?

    Do you presume that, “if prayer were effective,” a mighty pray-er could stop and/or control all unwanted weather phenomena? Wouldn’t that require the wisdom of God in order to choose appropriately for the best effects for the health of the earth? Or are we to assume that hurricanes and tornados are inherently useless and “evil” phenomena and therefore must all be stopped?

    What if prayer entailed concern for the safety and wisdom of those in the paths of those things? Would you presume that every person would mechanically respond to the wisdom given in such an answer to prayer, even though they may have their own will to choose whether they would even believe that wisdom from some other source would be that which they would follow?

    Suppose I could say that on varied occasions I have prayed and had seen all those things occur, such that I could say, for myself, that I am satisfied with the belief that prayer (though not prayer of itself, but the One who answers the prayer) is a sufficient means of addressing problems through phenomenal result as well as gaining guidance as to how best approach a problem? How could you refute that?

    If you read my Disqus profile you’ll see what I have responded to Rational Conclusions (Under “What is wrong with white Christians?”) along these lines. If you do read those answers and would like to further discuss them I would be glad to respond.

    I’m not trying to change your mind or make you a believer. I am simply saying, that I have prayed for some things, often when things were actually getting worse, and have seen them turn around at the right time.

    I also have prayed and have not gotten what I desired, but have learned much in the aftermath of such loss, such as the death of my daughter, and have gained, for myself, greater understanding of love, life, and goodness. And I have also addressed my respresentatives concerning things that politics can possibly change.

    There is much to talk about along those lines. Some of your complaints are valid, but some are simply cynicism about things you are missing in your thinking.

  • Thanks Hypnotist.
    Now don’t you think our efforts might be better spent in trying to change gun regulations then arguing about who is right and who is wrong about prayer? We are going to need each other on this matter and so many others.

  • Not only is your suggestion that “the transforming power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ” is the “only possible solution” totally wrong on many levels, it is dangerous to our society.

    If as you say “The causes of these are severe mental illness and evil in the human heart” then the solutions in many cases would be widely available mental health services, and proper parenting, neither of which need the involvement of, nor can it be proven that they would benefit in the slightest from, “the Gospel of Jesus Christ”.

  • Prayer is for the once-born people worshipping the demiurge Potter or creator of male and female, the creation at large. We are sons of our Most High Supernatural Father called Elohim, Allah, Parbrah, etc. More on my Youtube videos; channel nijjhar1.

  • Do you say, our father in heaven alienated from us? But in Jesus, our body is the Temple of God and He lives in his Temple if it is free of the hypocrisy. You need to be like little children impartial and unbiased with no dirt of Mammon.

  • Well Mr. Hypnotist, someone must have done a rather shoddy job hypnotizing you, and they must also have forgotten how to snap you out of that spell you’re still under! You’re quite clueless and “wrong on many levels!”

    This country has already spent missions–if not BILLIONS, of $$ on those “widely available mental health services,” which–I imagine the Las Vegas murderer himself had received his share of in the attempt to cure his severe mental illness. I imagine his parents even spent some of their own $$ attempting to improve their parenting skills. I expect that’s true with most of the sad individuals now serving sentences for serious violent crimes.

    None of that matters at all, since hundreds of personal testimonies of reformed violent criminals, affirm that “transforming power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ” was the only solution for the evil in their heart.

    So, Mr. Hypnotist, I hope you can find someone who’s able to snap you out of that spell you’re under, so you can start to think clearly about this critical matter.

  • In our natural tribal fathers, we have colour of the skin to identify and hate in animal instincts but when we come to know our Super Natural Father Elohim, Allah, Parbrahm, etc. of our “souls” that has no physical attributes but light called NOOR, then we are twice-born of God and treat others as we wished to be treated and there is no more injustice and hatred. For detailed expositions of the Parables, watch my almost 6000 Youtube Videos; channel nijjhar1.

    Atomic War is expected on 14/05/2023 when Israel is 75 years old. Trump will trigger Tribulations by invading N.Korea in May, 2018 when Israel is 70 years old. Then you have FIVE years of very Hard Tribulations to Atomic War in which the Brazilian and African Jungle people with tribal marks will survive.

  • I don’t believe prayers will bring about any changes in an any of our lives, but I do believe that you may feel better about who you are just because you prayed. The only change that will come is from action in doing something that will bring about a change.

  • The point I was making was that “answered prayer” always comes in the form of expected, natural things that are easily accomplished without pausing to think at the sky. No miraculous power needed. The winners in the Olympics are athletes in the prime of their lives, train constantly, and have access to state-of-the-art equipment and facilities. Not 93-year-olds with crippling arthritis who win by praying for it. If you claim to be praying to an all-powerful deity, and the extent of his awesome power is that he helps you find your keys, while the victims of hurricanes continue to suffer and people continue to die of starvation all over the world, technical discussions about the nature of prayer are useless.

  • Seriously? You have to stoop to insults as a way of attempting to support your position? How very un-Christian of you. That’s the kind of thing someone with “evil in their heart” would do. Too bad you missed out on that transformative power you spoke of.

  • Mst of the politicians who offer prayers are cynical, simply courting their base. And many of the “Bible Christians” keep saying that God directs everything. They have a serious problem with adversity, natural disasters, etc because these phenomena do not fit into their belief that God is always the one in charge and the one making things happen. They seem to have a problem with a God who made human beings with free will, and gave the the imperative to govern this world justly, for everyone. Of course the Bible can be used to eliminate the “for everyone.”

  • The oldest Christian prayer is “Gratias agimus tibi propter magnam gloriam tuam.” One high point in a musical Missa. “We give you thanks for your great glory.” Nothing asked for. Maybe that’s what prayer is about, nothing asked for, just uplift. Jut an increase in the ability to be thankful and forgive. Meanwhile the world is a mess, on the whole. But the Missas are glorious music.

    How is Christian smugness any different from the PBS cult of “everything happens for a purpose”? Yeah, like people are tortured and raped for a purpose.

  • Each and every one of the 290+ Republicans in Congress claims to be a Christian. For each and every one of them, “thoughts and prayers” means nothing more than “I think I’ll pray that nobody actually expects to DO anything to curb the loss of tens of thousands of American lives EVERY YEAR due to firearms, which would also cut back on campaign contributions from the active accomplices to these deaths”

    In Matthew 25:42 ff, Jesus, whom these Republicans in Congress claim to be their lord and savior, states explicitly that people who are indifferent to the poor, the hungry, the sick, the homeless will burn in hell until the end of time and beyond. This clearly has not stopped these purveyors of pointless prayers and thoughts from striving to deprive tens of millions of Americans from meaningful access to health care. And undoubtedly many of the people directly affected by hurricanes, earthquakes, flood, fires, tornadoes, etc., which seem to cluster in the parts of the country most afflicted by fundamentalists, whose prayers seem utterly to have been rejected by God.

  • Poor atheists. They obsess over what they hate. So they are prisoners of religion, even though they claim to be free from it.

    Funny. They’re like divorcees who never shut up about their former spouses.

    Must be a burden, carrying around so much baggage.

  • Okay. I have seen people healed, when medical treatment was not producing results. I have seen a woman bent over a walker for several years instantly toss the walker and dance, never to need the walker again. I have been healed. While I was in hopeless poverty God has provided things through surprising channels. I have even seen a television miraculously restored to normal before my eyes–without human aid. I have seen tornados turned and stopped. Hurricanes are much more complicated so it’s hard to say definitively about them, though paths have surprisingly changed and their strength reduced (but how can you measure the inevitiability of that?).

    Though I had seen my daughter healed several times, she was killed instantly. It was through prayer that I came to a deeper understanding of dealing with one of the greatest fears and losses a parent could ever know.

    Your assumption is that of many people, including many of faith, also that which is addressed in this article, that praying is supposed to somehow cure all the ills of humanity or it is useless. Famine, disaster, and pandemic disease according those who work with it, though the conditions that give rise to those may be uncontrollably natural, the most direct cause is human inaction, and often, action against the relief of those things through human channels. That food and medicine are not justly distributed is a result of insidious and overt human forces that try to eliminate or exert biases against hated groups. If one studied human action in these disasters one would see how much could be prevented from human action and just plain sense.

    As some on the post have said, prayer also is a means of working within those who pray, if they would take advantage of it, to connect us to one another with compassion and communal action. That humans refuse to submit to those purposes is not God’s fault. The result of such refusal has natural consequences that humanity will experience, just as though one refuses to get out of the way of a hurricane.

    Still, I agree, that I would rather act than pray if action is needed. I am just saying that prayer is effectual and God does answer. I have seen it and still see it in my life and those of others.

    But I wouldn’t demand that those who find it useless pray. It’s something that has to arise from within one’s own being in trust to the Unseen. Nor do I fault those who find it useless, since, even in the faith community, it is an extraordinary trust.

    Like I said, if you are open to discuss it, rather than keeping your mind closed to it, I would be glad to do so. I would not demand you accept for yourself that which I believe about it, but simply hear and consider honestly my experience just as I would do the same for you.

  • to be fair, we’d like nothing more than have nothing to do with you. Unfortunately, you keep bringing up religious beliefs that are bigoted and backwards. This forces us to make laws that render your silly god and your silly beliefs, useless. Until you learn your ONLY right is to believe and NOT force your beliefs, we will continue putting you in your place!

  • The only “proof” of God I can offer is that God has called me, I have responded, and what God has shown me has continued to transform me, for I have found the Divine trustworthy. Call it what you will, but the Voice of Christ has inscribed divine love on my inner being. What others experience I can’t say, I can only trust that they are being honest, that is, honest with themselves.

  • if he has called you, we can record that. Why don’t we set up an experiment and prove you are right, once and for all?

  • Or some may say that the phrase “believe that you have received it” is the condition that actuates it.

  • I don’t mind that you mock me. If you knew me you would find much to make fun of. But to take your question as a serious inquiry I would have to say that the voice of God is not a phenomenon of physics, but an inner sometimes visual, thos invisible, light that vibrates the consciousness with a lively joy of Someone of Love. It is recorded on the synapses that confirm the realities of life experience.

    However, should one be able to record the Voice of God on a CD or such, it would not prove anything, for all of us humans have a seeming infinite capacity for denial of that which we desire not to believe. There is a story in John (12:27-29) in which Jesus expresses his distress over his current path and asks, “Father Glorify me!” And voice from heaven says,”I have glorified it, and I will glorify it.” Those standing by heard the voice. Some said it was an angel, others said it was thunder.

    Besides that If the existence of God could be proven then you’d have no choice but to believe, and, therefore, no option of faith or claim of ignorance of doing wrong, etc.

  • I’m not at all mocking you. You say he communicates with you. I say, no matter how he does that, there is a way to record it. That’s a fact. Even a supernatural being can be recorded if his actions occur within nature. If it occurs through synapses, we can record that. I’m being very logical, not mocking.
    At least you admit, it cannot be proven.Logic DICTATES, when there is insufficient evidence, you must NOT believe

  • Dude, I DO in fact, claim and attempt to model that transformative power I spoke of. I’m sorry you took it as such an insult and didn’t notice I was just speaking in jest! I decided to do a semi-humorous take-off on your handle.

    This is a friendly discussion and exchange of opinions! Please LIGHTEN UP!!

  • I don’t doubt prayer creates brain activity. So what?
    I had a friend see god on LSD before. Doesn’t mean either case has ANYTHING to do with a god.
    Here’s the thing, christians see a little tiny piece of evidence and then extrapolate it into god. Just because you create brain activity similar to conversing in no way proves a god. It proves brain activity

  • Here’s the thing, christians see a little tiny piece of evidence and then extrapolate it into god. Your assuming all christians are the same. And have “tiny pieces of evidence.

    Just because you create brain activity similar to conversing in no way proves a god Yet it is exactly what you asked for.

    There again I am not trying to prove to you God exists but merely stating my experiences with God as I know the Divine. You may call it whatever you like.

  • If you think that I am fake, then tell me why John, the Baptist never baptised a woman, Gentile or a Samaritan?

    Spiritually blind once-born Disciples of Rabbis say prayers to their alienated heavenly father Yahweh. Our Father lives in us called Emmanuel.

  • and I’m saying, you have experiences. You CALL THEM GOD but you are making a leap based on incorrectly extrapolated information.
    Your ‘god experiences’ can be explained in many ways. Ways that can be backed with actual data and yet you choose the way that has no evidence. That is literally, the definition of delusion

  • lmao, who cares? Nothing in the bible (relating to religious claims) has ever been independently verified so your book is a joke

  • I’m not! Everything I’ve stated I can prove

    de·lu·sion
    dəˈlo͞oZHən/Submit
    noun
    an idiosyncratic belief or impression that is firmly maintained despite being contradicted by what is generally accepted as reality or rational argument

    Where am I mocking?
    (ps. when I mock, there’s no mistaking it! lol)

  • maybe what you see as mockery is actually me looking at you as someone who is actually listening to my arguments. I’m not saying you believe them but I think you are hearing me.

  • Okay, maybe mockery is too strong. But to call my beliefs delusional, though that may be the way you actually see it is not exactly invitational to conversation.
    I’m not bothered by it, nor do I view you as antagonistic nor derisive. In fact I find it somewhat amusing, especially since “generally accepted reality” is that God exists. There are immensely more believers in the Divine than there are atheists, while that is not proof, it is still generally accepted as reality–even some scientists believe, real scientists not just “creationist scientists.”

    I’m glad you accept that I am listening to you.

    One thing though is that you seem to consistently express that you perceive me as trying to prove God’s existence. Or are you trying to prove God’s non-existence? We both know that neither stance is possible to verify. I just am sharing my experience. I have to tell yo though I did not grasp at the evidence, it grasped me.

  • and you nailed it!
    See, when you bring up the topic of god, you are the only one that requires to prove it. I take the default position and logically, that means there is no god (until one is proven)
    No different than me claiming the flying spaghetti monster is the true deity. I am required to prove it. You get to say, fool, I don’t accept that evidence as valid!

  • Not only does prayer never “work” (work being the opposite of fail), it has never and will never. one might as well kneel before a barn door and light up the night with prayer. At least in that case, the one doing the praying is actually praying TO something.

  • Wow! That astounds me. I am sorry that you have apparently experienced a lot of contrariness from believers. I’m also glad you are good humored about it.

  • There is an agnostic brother of some of my congregation who comes from California to Louisiana to visit. He actually enjoys our church. One time his girlfriend encountered a neighbor and her ten-year-old child in deep trouble–dangerously according to him. He commented that he was impressed how our church cared for and prayed for one another and asked us to pray.

    When he returned from California I asked how things were with the child (which was his major concern) he said that the issue was resolved. I asked him to what he attributed that. He said, “When people put their minds together in genuine concern good things happen.” He is a great guy to talk to.

  • My biggest problem with religion occurs when believers feel compelled to force their opinions on others.
    “When people put their minds together in genuine concern good things happen.”

    Every religion makes that statement, SHORT the genuine part. I believe you, and your church friends are good people. I also think you would be with or without a god! When you add the genuine part to your religion, you’ll never hear from an atheist, I think

  • You’re sorry in regards to how I took it, but not for what you wrote.

    Well, you are an ignorant fool.

    Sorry for how you took that, not that I wrote it, because I only said it in jest.

    See how easy it was for me to be rude to you without taking any responsibility?

  • Well, that’s the thing if God doesn’t force belief on humanity, since there’d be no unbelievers because of that, then how can believers in that God justify their trying to force their beliefs on others?

    I enjoyed bantering with you. Thanks. So often in the past (maybe it was me) I have experienced rejection of any conversation about God from atheists. But on these RNS comments pages the atheists are most often open to challenging (for me at least) respectful conversation. It surely helps to find where each of us is coming from when we can do so.

  • I tend to give what I get. I should be more patient.
    You were the patient one and it made for a great chat!

  • Dude, Give it a REST already!

    Go and try to rest your mind, and try to grow you some thicker skin! I meant you no insult here, as I was simply trying to kid you into not taking yourself quite so seriously!

    As I’ve said, “This is a friendly discussion and exchange of opinions!”

    So PLEASE LIGHTEN IT UP!!

  • “You pray for the hungry. Then you feed them. That is how prayer works.”

    “Dear God, please help the hungry. Uh, God … ? OK, so you’re not going to do it? Should I do it then? God … ?” And then you go feed the hungry because it’s clear that prayer doesn’t do anything.

    You mean like that?

  • how is prayer supposed to “work”? What does “success” even look like when we’re talking about prayer? How quickly does success have to “happen” after the initial prayer for it to count as a result of the prayer? It seems like this accusation is informed by a very elementary notion of prayer: Unless we get something (say, a red lollipop) almost immediately after praying for it, then we can’t say the prayer worked.

    Pretty much. Read your Bible–ask and ye shall receive.

    Or look up the word “work.” My computer “works.” My car “works.” Electricity “works.”

    No, prayer doesn’t work.

    But I don’t know many religious people who think of prayer this way.

    Right. Everyone knows that the promises for prayer in the Bible don’t work, and they handwave some excuse so that they can say that prayers do work just like Jesus said but don’t really.

  • I sure wish I could post several pictures of starving African children so that I could show how well works. The. I would post my correspondence with Food for the Poor, an evangelical outfit that I made the mistake of giving money to and who, despite numerous pleas not to waste my donation by asking for more money, have done so repeatedly.

  • “forces us to make laws…” I was unaware that atheists have a constitutional mandate or majority to make laws for the balance of the population…a stance you regularly accuse religionists of making. Pot to kettle.

  • Sure it’s different. When you ‘re talking to people they are real and mien is not the appropriate word to use here.

  • and now you know
    That’s why homosexuals are given equality and you and your god are powerless to stop it. lol, sweet, irony

  • An additional argument for the benefit of those who dispute and disdain the efficacy of prayer. Apart from the countless examples of affirmed testimony from those who have experienced answered prayer, an important precept which arises from the law of cause and effect in philosophical terms is the necessity of belief in order for supplication to produce the desired result. Prayer loses all impact in an atmosphere of skepticism or unbelief. Skeptics who have observed no benefit from prayer in their personal circumstances, or in the broader circumstances of national or world events are merely receiving the natural non response to be expected in such a case. I posit that if greater numbers of people were to suspend their unbelief and thus offer prayer in earnest expectation…more affirmative outcomes would result. Sometimes it is necessary to dispose of our preconceptions in order to experience alternative consequences.

  • I am content to wait upon the judgment of the Lord, which will occur in His due time, to the chagrin and dismay of all deniers.

  • Uh………..yeah. Everything about gods and religions is imaginary. It’s made up. It’s not real and it’s not true. It’s all BS. Just look at the type of people who participate in it. Like Trumpanzee backed by his hateful hoard of holy howling kooks. Worst people in the world. They are no different than the religious nuts in the middle east that they criticize so much. Each group embraces a different version of the same hateful, fairy tale nonsense they are brainwashed with, and it serves a useful purpose for them as they think the veneer of religion hides the fact they are the worst people in the world. I have come to the conclusion that the only thing that can be done with religious nuts is to kill’em. It would reduce the population of an already overpopulated world by about 6 billion and leave only mature, rational, thinking, logical reasoning people. It would be a much better world without the divisiveness, hatred and conflict caused by religion-the only things it’s ever done and the only things it’s good for.

  • Been hearing the same stupid shyt for 2000 years now. You have any idea how F’King crazy you sound when you say shyt like that? Apparently not, or you wouldn’t embarrass your self by babbling such BS. F’King kook.

  • Such BS. Pretending to talk to imaginary beings never did a G’Dam thing for anyone. It’s silly, ridiculous, stupid , embarrassing and as useless as burnt mule shyt. Religion and religious kooks like you are ruining our world. Please kill yourself.

  • you can posit all you want. It’s nothing more than an opinion.
    To date, all data indicates prayer works the same result as chance, or worse.
    Gotta love these christian inventions to make you feel like you’re doing something. Why not grab that rosary next? lmao

  • You have heard that it has been said: You shall love your neighbor, and hate your enemy. But I say unto you: Love your enemies; bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that despitefully use you and persecute you: That you may be the children of your Father, which is in Heaven, for He makes His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust! For if you love them that love you, what reward have you? Do not even the publicans do the same? And if you salute your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the publicans do so? Therefore, you be perfect, even as your Father, which is in Heaven is perfect! Take heed that you do not your alms before men, to be seen of them, otherwise you have no reward of your Father, which is in Heaven. Therefore, when you do your alms, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you: They have their reward! But when you do alms, let not your left hand know what your right hand does: That your alms may be in secret, and your Father which sees in secret, Himself shall reward you openly. And when you pray, you shall not be as the hypocrites are, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you: They have their reward! But you, when you pray, enter into your closet, and when you have shut your door and pray to your Father, which is in secret; your Father, which sees in secret shall reward you openly. But when you pray, use not vain repetitions as the heathens do, for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Be not therefore, like unto them, for your Father knows what things you have need of, before you ask Him. (Matt 5:43–6:8) cf: (James 2:15-26)

  • Read your word salad. If you can make sense of your ramblings, you need to adjust your meds, not your views.

  • Hi Brother,

    This our physical body is the Temple of God and God will live in His Temple or within us if it is free of Mammon. If you love Mammon, then God is out and Mammon is in. You cannot love Mammon and God, which is clearly demonstrated by the Thief Juda Iscariot who was thrown out at the Last Supper before Jesus took the rest 11 into the House of our Father where he entertained them by washing their feet which the haughty Pharisee Simon didn’t but Mary Magdalene did out of her tears of extreme Love for Jesus.

    That is why people who formed the First Church of God went home and sold all their possessions to buy this Field of God that is Mammon Free, Only truthful person can love Gospel truth and that is why two blasphemers Ananias and Sapphira were killed by Peter who had the Key to the Kingdom of Heaven in Law and order.

    In such Mammon-Free Temples of God, our Father took His abode and helped them Preach Gospel by His Grace. Much more if you are interested in my over 6000 Youtube Videos; channel nijjhar1.

    Labourers of Jesus, our Bridegroom used to help people who hated them but they never took money from them but rendered philanthropy.

    Here is the Family of God enjoying Storge Love in which there is neither giving nor taking.

    Family of God in which although everyone is solitary yet of one accord. God is our Merciful Father, Holy Spirit, our Mother of all Wisdoms and Son who possesses the attributes of both Father and Mother.
    Youtube Video on channel nijjhar1:-
    https://youtu.be/bzWFWMyKNjE

  • Tell me if God is living in His Temple, then do we need to say prayer to ourselves?
    Children used to pray to their creator demi-urge god Yahweh, the Potter Lord of the Nature and Prophet Elijah (My god is Yahweh) John, the Baptist came before Jesus to make the Jewish people faithful to Abraham and Yahweh.

    Chosen People know why they are suffering outside their Promised Land because they are unfaithful to Abraham and Yahweh. Today, Matt. 13v24-30, the Parable of Wheat and Tares is taking shape. The Tares are getting uprooted worldwide that will leave the Wheat Plants in the Brazillian and African Jungles to reproduce Humanity and the set of new Eras that we call Yugs as depicted in Swastika.
    Watch my almost 6000 Youtube videos; channel nijjhar1. Atomic War is expected on 14/05/2023 but next year USA will attack N.Korea to start the GREAT TRIBULATIONS FOR 5 YEARS.
    Is this Medicine any good for you?

  • Love is in the midst of irrational joy, since Good health alleviates subjective belonging.
    The ego is rooted in the door of neural networks, and The secret of the universe differentiates into infinite bliss , while Your desire unfolds through visible space time events.
    Interdependence is inextricably connected to formless sexual energy, yet Greatness depends on the doorway to creativity.

    The future constructs precious observations, but The universe reflects pure mortality because A formless void is the wisdom of the light of excellence.

    Is your medicince any good for me? Well I tried your meds, now I’m spouting complete nonsense too.

    (Nonsense courtesy of the Deepak Chopra quote generator which can be found at http://wisdomofchopra.com )

    Seriously, you need psychiatric help.

  • At that time of the Rabbis, the Disciples of the Rabbis did what they told them to do or they were spiritually blind whilst the Rabbis used to be devoted and honest. When the Rabbis become greedy and hypocrites, then our Supernatural Father of our souls sends his own Royal High Priest Christ Jesus who introduces to us our Supernatural Father Elohim, Allah, Parbrahm and tells us that we need to have a direct approach to Him through His Word only. So, no more alienated as Yahweh was but within us, the Temples of God.

    That is why no more prayer and fasting. Further, no more Law and the Whipmaster Prophets as John, the Baptist was the Last Prophet on earth.
    Here is a Youtube video on this topic:-
    https://youtu.be/Wu0A82LM1ZQ

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