Dear Lord, please give me the strength . . .
So, because I read so many apologetic and counter-apologetic articles on my computer, the advertisements are often religious based. We've all seen the Christian dating adds and the online religious education programs. The other day I was reading something and saw an ad for this site:
The site is full of claims such as:
You can scroll through the site to find many more. There are also sections where people are asking for your prayers, of course. That's the whole point of the website, is to spread the "power of prayer". When I was a believer I would pray everyday. I would ask of god all the things that most people would ask of an interventionist deity. I thought that god could do in my life what I could not; that would be a common belief that draws us to theism. Just read that passage in John again. Christ tells us that by asking for anything in his name, he will do it. Now, the apologist will say that your prayers have to be within reason . . . this is where I struggled with this idea. What is within reason? My health? My wealth? My prosperity? Most people would say yes to those. So, what am I to think then, when as a believer, if I would pray to Christ about healing a friend, or my self, and nothing happens? What if I pray for more money, and nothing happens? What if a prayer of mine is "answered", but someone on the other side of the world dies horribly and doesn't have an answered prayer? How is it that we can praise a god for blessing our food and bringing us together, when that god doesn't care to answer the calls of a starving village and feed their children?
People say they know that prayer works because they've seen it. Prayer does not perform a successful surgery. Prayer does not feed the hungry. Prayer does not make your health better. Prayer does not finish the education you need so that you may prosper. Prayer does not cure mental illness. Prayer is not greater than science and it is not greater than our own will and determination to make things better. There was a study done in 2006 that, I feel, is very telling.
People will say that god shouldn't be coerced, that's why the study didn't prove it successfully . . . bullshit! Prayer "works" when something we want is successful. When the desired outcome doesn't happen, then we say "god just didn't want the same thing for you that you wanted" or "maybe it's gods way of telling you something". Is he telling you that he doesn't give a shit about you if he doesn't provide you with the basic necessities to eat? Is he telling you that he wants you dead if he doesn't cure the cancer you have? Is he telling you that he wants you to burn in hell if you've been born with a mental deficiency that precludes the possibility of belief? Does god want me to burn in hell because he doesn't answer my mothers prayers to make me believe in him?
The efficacy of prayer should be challenged and god should be coerced. Songs like the one below may sound pretty and all, and you may even have an overwhelming feeling when you sing that in a group setting. You're spirits may feel lifted. You may feel this shared love with everyone around you. That's the work of music, not god.