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Potentially touchy subject discussion: prayer

I am not religious, but I was raised in a very religious household.  I have a question about prayer for those who believe in it, but I'm kind of afraid of coming across in a nasty way.  I honestly don't mean to - but I have a question for people who believe in the power of prayer. 

If God has a plan for each of us, and if what happens in life is God's will, then why pray for certain things to happen?  Those things will either happen or not, according to God's plan.  Why do you think God's plan will be changed or influenced by your prayers? 

I am thinking specifically of a case where there is a very sick, potentially dying person.  This person's family asks for prayers for her recovery.  If God plans for this person to recover, she will, but honestly - if it's God's plan for this person to die, will God change his mind because enough people prayed for her recovery?  Does that mean that God was wrong in the first place? 

I guess this can apply to any situation where people pray for a certain outcome.  Can anyone help me understand? 

If this is offensive to you, please accept my apologies.  I would love to have a real discussion of the issues, but I understand how my questions can rub people the wrong way.
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Re: Potentially touchy subject discussion: prayer

  • OWN you and your offensive self.......j/k.

    I can say I honestly dont know why people pray, if it wont possibly change the outcome.

    I think in all honesty it makes the people feel better and it falls under the reasoning that if you believe in god you are going on faith that there is a higher power that controls our lives then praying to it/him will make things better. Does this make sense?
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  • I wondered the same thing when I was watching a football game last week. It was a big play and they showed people from both sides praying, I guess for their team to win. Now, I don't pray, but to me that seems selfish. It's a football game, not life or death, not solving any major world issues. You really need to pray for your team to win? Doesn't God have bigger things to worry about?

    But I'll admit, I'm entirely uneducated on religion.
  • In the church I was raised in, we were taught to pray for things to happen if they are in God's will. So, for instance, when I was 8 years old, my Grandma was in the hospital dying from lung cancer and emphysema. My mom and I prayed that if it was in God's will for her to live, then we asked that she survive, but if she was meant to die, then may it be peaceful and pain-free. (She died)

    I'm not as hardcore as those ladies on the CW board are about "I'll pray for you" I think that's about as condescending as you can get, but I do believe in the power of prayer. I don't know how to explain it other than that's how it is for me, and I'm not going to ask others to be that way simply for the fact that I want to take over the universe.
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  • I don't find this offensive.  I'm glad you ask rather than judge as a lot of people do =)

    I was taught that God does indeed have a plan for everyone and he knows the plans from the very beginning before you are even formed.  While yes, as a christian we can't help but pray for certain things to happen that doesn't mean it is going to happen.  Prayers are not always answered, but there is always a reason for that (if we pray for a sick person to not die yet he does anyway, maybe it was to relieve his pain).  I was always taught to pray for God's will to be done and if my prayers are not His will then for Him to show me comfort in times of sorrow and open a new door in times of unknown.

    I don't know if that helps to answer your question but it's my take on it and what I believe. =) 
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  • Most people believe in the power of prayer, and miracles. Again something they may not see, but most religions are faith based. If you dont have faith in god to help you in your time of need, what do you have.

    Sorry TK wont let me edit anymore.

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  • In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/wedding-boards_snarky-brides_potentially-touchy-subject-discussion-prayer?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Wedding%20BoardsForum:17Discussion:e48c9626-e1e7-42ca-8331-47caca60e5cdPost:2db943bc-23fc-4e50-8c6a-02e041ae539f">Re: Potentially touchy subject discussion: prayer</a>:
    [QUOTE]I wondered the same thing when I was watching a football game last week. It was a big play and they showed people from both sides praying, I guess for their team to win. Now, I don't pray, but to me that seems selfish. It's a football game, not life or death, not solving any major world issues. You really need to pray for your team to win? Doesn't God have bigger things to worry about? But I'll admit, I'm entirely uneducated on religion.
    Posted by Seshat411[/QUOTE]

    Perhaps they were praying to play their best.  Or for no injuries. 

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  • God has a plan, but we have free will. We can choose to drink and drive; no magical hand is going to appear over that glass.

    God also doesn't always answer prayers the way WE want them to be answered. When a person prays, it shouldn't be a gimmie this gimmie that, it should be more of a "if it is Your will, or please help me understand." Lots of times, you're praying more for peace and understanding than for something to actually happen.

    Prayers can be said in your head; it isn't a case of kneeling by the bed and folding your hands. I've never said them aloud, unless it was a recitation in church (or bedtime prayers as a child).
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  • Prayer is not necessarily about getting something, sometimes its about comfort for the person praying, or being prayed for.  Even when I'm asking for something, just asking can bring comfort. 

    Also, I believe there is a plan or guidance, but its general.  A person could live just a little more, my grandmother came back to us for a year, I believe because of prayer.  Now a year isn't that long, but its a year more than we would have had.  We just weren't ready yet, God gave her back to us for a while, it didn't mess up the plan, as the plan wasn't that specific. 

    I also believe that the plan is more of a push then predestination.  If I pray for a job, I might get it, unless its totally wrong.  The world and God will push me towards the right direction, that doesn't mean I can't push back and do something else.  That is a better example when its not someone's life, as there is less we can do there much of the time, but I play about many more things that health. 

    I hope that made sense, its a complicated issue. 
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  • I was also taught that you should pray for God's will to be done. TO me, that meant that I was praying for God's plan to not be interrupted by someone's free will. But to me, mostly its giving myself a sense of control over a situation where I have absolutely none. The perception of control, and the perception that you have the ear of someone with authority, is generally a comfort. 
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  • I don't think all religions believe that it's already mapped out.  I'm not terribly religious.  I believe there is a God and an afterlife of some sort, but I think prayer is comforting.  I don't know that I've ever believed that my words actually get to God, but in my times of need, it seems to help me from bottling things up.

     If you're going through a hard time, it would make sense that prayer would be therapeutic - just getting your feelings out to someone (whether or not they exist) and asking for the best outcome.  Regardless of how real or how much it works, I certainly believe that people who pray probably get something out of it.  
  • My personal belief is that while we're all here for a reason, the plans for us aren't absolute. That although we might have a purpose, what happens to achieve that purpose, and everything surrounding it, isn't set in stone. And that's where prayer comes into play.
    But this isn't based on anything my religion taught me, just my own feelings on it.
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  • In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/wedding-boards_snarky-brides_potentially-touchy-subject-discussion-prayer?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Wedding%20BoardsForum:17Discussion:e48c9626-e1e7-42ca-8331-47caca60e5cdPost:80dbb480-e05f-4456-b69a-1f154c14a970">Re: Potentially touchy subject discussion: prayer</a>:
    [QUOTE]<strong>I don't think all religions believe that it's already mapped out.  I'm not terribly religious. </strong> I believe there is a God and an afterlife of some sort, but I think prayer is comforting.  I don't know that I've ever believed that my words actually get to God, but in my times of need, it seems to help me from bottling things up.  If you're going through a hard time, it would make sense that prayer would be therapeutic - just getting your feelings out to someone (whether or not they exist) and asking for the best outcome.  Regardless of how real or how much it works, I certainly believe that people who pray probably get something out of it.  
    Posted by marissa_claire[/QUOTE]

    <div>This is true. Some denominations do not believe in predetermination. </div>
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  • Speaking only for myself of course.
    I pray because it makes me feel better, it's a way to get things off my chest.  I believe that things happen as a part of God's will, and understand that I don't know what that will is. I don't feel slided if I pray for something and it doesn't come true, I accept that there was a reason it happened, and that God is in a better position to assess that situation.  Often people say if there is a God how can he let children get sick.  Well maybe that childs illness is a bigger lesson for everyone involved.  Who's to say that if the child didn't get sick, that they wouldn't be in a horrible car accident that left them in excruciating pain for the rest of their life? I have faith that God knows what he's doing, and I can understand how people have a hard time trusting blind faith.

    In the case of an elderly sick loved one, I don't always pray that the person will recover (as heartless as that sounds) I pray more that God will have mercy and not let the person suffer.  I also pray for strength, understanding, and acceptance for the family.  Again, God doesn't answer all of my prayers, but I use prayer as a way to state my opinion, and try to look at unanswered prayers as a lesson. 
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  • I appreciate the answers.  I understand that many people simply pray for understanding or comfort or strength - I can understand those. 

    I guess I still don't understand the prayers that ask for certain outcomes, though  - why pray for God's will to be done?  Won't God's will always be done, whether you pray for it or not? 
  • salt78salt78 member
    5000 Comments
    edited October 2010
    I've always just assumed that prayer was more of a comfort thing. 
    I don't "pray" perse, but I do dedicate my good energy to people that need it (through my yoga practice, etc.). Do I think it's going to do any good? Probably not, but who can really ever know for sure.

    There are too many what if's in the world and that's why I'm very spiritual, but don't subscribe to any religions.
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  • I guess I can liken it to when we send good knottie vibes to people for a certain outcome i.e job, family health etc.
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  • In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/wedding-boards_snarky-brides_potentially-touchy-subject-discussion-prayer?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Wedding%20BoardsForum:17Discussion:e48c9626-e1e7-42ca-8331-47caca60e5cdPost:b76d6cc6-58ce-4ba3-be64-f6047b2c2d89">Re: Potentially touchy subject discussion: prayer</a>:
    [QUOTE]I appreciate the answers.  I understand that many people simply pray for understanding or comfort or strength - I can understand those.  I guess I still don't understand the prayers that ask for certain outcomes, though  - why pray for God's will to be done?  <strong>Won't God's will always be done, whether you pray for it or not</strong>? 
    Posted by ohwhynot[/QUOTE]

    <div>Not if you believe in free will as well. My understanding is that God has a plan, but each of us sins against that plan all the time, and can change the outcome for other people trough our own selfish actions. But that's just my take on it. </div>
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  • In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/wedding-boards_snarky-brides_potentially-touchy-subject-discussion-prayer?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Wedding%20BoardsForum:17Discussion:e48c9626-e1e7-42ca-8331-47caca60e5cdPost:b76d6cc6-58ce-4ba3-be64-f6047b2c2d89">Re: Potentially touchy subject discussion: prayer</a>:
    [QUOTE]I appreciate the answers.  I understand that many people simply pray for understanding or comfort or strength - I can understand those.  I guess I still don't understand the prayers that ask for certain outcomes, though  - why pray for God's will to be done?  Won't God's will always be done, whether you pray for it or not? 
    Posted by ohwhynot[/QUOTE]<div>
    </div><div>Yeah, there's definitely an issue there.  I think we all know lots of people who only turn to God when things aren't going well. 
    </div><div>
    </div><div>In a way it makes sense though.  What can you really do if you have a relative dying in the hospital?  You can't really beg the doctor to not let them die, because that's his job anyways.  I think in some regards, prayers are almost more like wishes, because you can really really want something to happen, but often enough it's out of your control and I just don't think we're brought up to say "Oh well, guess there's nothing I can do."  Those are times when people turn to prayer, or maybe if you're short on cash you go buy a lottery ticket and that's basically a wish for a million dollars.  I mean, what can you do when a situation is out of your control?  I don't necessarily pray, but I sit and hope, and I don't think a prayer is that far off.</div>
  • In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/wedding-boards_snarky-brides_potentially-touchy-subject-discussion-prayer?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Wedding%20BoardsForum:17Discussion:e48c9626-e1e7-42ca-8331-47caca60e5cdPost:9a4f1d80-6925-40f4-8754-b75950c5e721">Re: Potentially touchy subject discussion: prayer</a>:
    [QUOTE]In Response to Re: Potentially touchy subject discussion: prayer : Not if you believe in free will as well. My understanding is that God has a plan, but each of us sins against that plan all the time, and can change the outcome for other people trough our own selfish actions. But that's just my take on it. 
    Posted by SarahPLiz[/QUOTE]

    I really like the way you put this and I agree.
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  • In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/wedding-boards_snarky-brides_potentially-touchy-subject-discussion-prayer?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Wedding%20BoardsForum:17Discussion:e48c9626-e1e7-42ca-8331-47caca60e5cdPost:b76d6cc6-58ce-4ba3-be64-f6047b2c2d89">Re: Potentially touchy subject discussion: prayer</a>:
    [QUOTE]I appreciate the answers.  I understand that many people simply pray for understanding or comfort or strength - I can understand those.  <strong>I guess I still don't understand the prayers that ask for certain outcomes, though  - why pray for God's will to be done?  Won't God's will always be done, whether you pray for it or not? </strong>
    Posted by ohwhynot[/QUOTE]

    The way I remember this being explained to me once, (and this was awhile ago, so I might butcher it) is that evil like Satan may still try to influence God's will, even though Satan kind of sucks at that stuff and doesn't usually succeed.  So it's just kind of a reaffirmation that you're supporting and trusting God's will, and on His side to help kick Satan's butt. 

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  • In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/wedding-boards_snarky-brides_potentially-touchy-subject-discussion-prayer?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Wedding BoardsForum:17Discussion:e48c9626-e1e7-42ca-8331-47caca60e5cdPost:1e7f5e47-fcf2-4dd6-92e1-afa56647f770">Re: Potentially touchy subject discussion: prayer</a>:
    [QUOTE]In Response to Re: Potentially touchy subject discussion: prayer : Perhaps they were praying to play their best.  Or for no injuries. 
    Posted by J&K10910[/QUOTE]

    This is true. I didn't think of that. But while it may be narrow-minded of me, I find it hard to believe that every bare-chested-and-painted drunk guy at the game was praying for no injuries. Even still, it's possible so who am I to judge.
  • In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/wedding-boards_snarky-brides_potentially-touchy-subject-discussion-prayer?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Wedding BoardsForum:17Discussion:e48c9626-e1e7-42ca-8331-47caca60e5cdPost:9a4f1d80-6925-40f4-8754-b75950c5e721">Re: Potentially touchy subject discussion: prayer</a>:
    [QUOTE]In Response to Re: Potentially touchy subject discussion: prayer : Not if you believe in free will as well. My understanding is that God has a plan, but each of us sins against that plan all the time, and can change the outcome for other people trough our own selfish actions. But that's just my take on it. 
    Posted by SarahPLiz[/QUOTE]

    I don't understand what you mean.  If a woman has been diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer, how does another person's sin change God's plan for this woman's health and possible early death?  How will prayer affect the outcome for this woman? 
  • Prayer is often just another form of meditation for a lot of people. It helps calm their minds and helps them process their reality. 
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  • You girls make me type out stuff I can't necessarily admit to myself.

    I don't really know what I believe.  I never pray for myself, because I don't think I believe in prayer.
    I pray for my family and friends that believe in prayer.  When my grandfather was dying, I prayed for comfort for him, no pain, and guidance for my other family members.  I could deal with everything that was going on, I was just worried about them. 
    I didn't pray for intervention.  I prayed for my family members to understand what was going on. 

    I have tried really hard to make myself believe in prayer, God, and religion, but I just can't force myself.  If in fact, I am wrong, then I still want my family protected.
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  • In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/wedding-boards_snarky-brides_potentially-touchy-subject-discussion-prayer?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Wedding%20BoardsForum:17Discussion:e48c9626-e1e7-42ca-8331-47caca60e5cdPost:13826f04-f85c-4cde-90fd-404844436724">Re: Potentially touchy subject discussion: prayer</a>:
    [QUOTE]In Response to Re: Potentially touchy subject discussion: prayer : This is true. I didn't think of that. But while it may be narrow-minded of me, <strong>I find it hard to believe that every bare-chested-and-painted drunk guy at the game was praying for no injuries.</strong> Even still, it's possible so who am I to judge.
    Posted by Seshat411[/QUOTE]

    Ok, well I'll give you that. 

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  • In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/wedding-boards_snarky-brides_potentially-touchy-subject-discussion-prayer?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Wedding%20BoardsForum:17Discussion:e48c9626-e1e7-42ca-8331-47caca60e5cdPost:f1cb9d60-c029-4352-a9b2-ce84ff3ed2da">Re: Potentially touchy subject discussion: prayer</a>:
    [QUOTE]In Response to Re: Potentially touchy subject discussion: prayer : I don't understand what you mean.  If a woman has been diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer, how does another person's sin change God's plan for this woman's health and possible early death?  How will prayer affect the outcome for this woman? 
    Posted by ohwhynot[/QUOTE]

    <div>It may not. However, there could be environmental factors, caused by another's sin against God and his creations, that caused the cancer. Prayer may or may not affect the outcome for this woman. Only God knows that. </div>
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  • Also, and this may sound completely lame, but I always loved what Morgan Freedman said in Evan Almighty to the wife, about when a person prays for courage, giving them a situation in which they can be courageous, instead of just giving them courage. Or if someone prays for patience, does he give them patience, or an opportunity to BE patient, and so on.

    I don't pray to a God, per say, but I do believe in a more Cherokee spirituality that connects back to nature. So, I guess I do choose to believe in opportunities, if that makes sense.
  • In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/wedding-boards_snarky-brides_potentially-touchy-subject-discussion-prayer?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Wedding%20BoardsForum:17Discussion:e48c9626-e1e7-42ca-8331-47caca60e5cdPost:c5149524-7c9d-472e-b692-35375f83ef3d">Re: Potentially touchy subject discussion: prayer</a>:
    [QUOTE]You girls make me type out stuff I can't necessarily admit to myself. I don't really know what I believe.  I never pray for myself, because I don't think I believe in prayer. I pray for my family and friends that believe in prayer.  When my grandfather was dying, I prayed for comfort for him, no pain, and guidance for my other family members.  I could deal with everything that was going on, I was just worried about them.  I didn't pray for intervention.  I prayed for my family members to understand what was going on.  I have tried really hard to make myself believe in prayer, God, and religion, but I just can't force myself.  If in fact, I am wrong, then I still want my family protected.
    Posted by Wrkn925[/QUOTE]

    <div>Most of the time, this is how I feel as well. </div>
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  • In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/wedding-boards_snarky-brides_potentially-touchy-subject-discussion-prayer?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Wedding BoardsForum:17Discussion:e48c9626-e1e7-42ca-8331-47caca60e5cdPost:fd16affc-e9f6-41a9-9254-48c0ef9b371a">Re: Potentially touchy subject discussion: prayer</a>:
    [QUOTE]Prayer is often just another form of meditation for a lot of people. It helps calm their minds and helps them process their reality. 
    Posted by SarahPLiz[/QUOTE]

    That's true, and I can understand that easily enough.  It makes sense to me to kind of check in with the divine and seek peace, strength, understanding, acceptance . . . those kinds of things. 


    But that's not what I hear when I get requests to pray for something, usually. 
  • OWN, every person makes their own choices in life, especially whether to follow the teachings of God/Jesus or not. There's a difference between predetermination and God having a plan but giving us free will. Predetermination is that no matter what, (for example), no matter how many prayers you send up, you're going to turn left and get hit by a dump truck on November 21st 2011. There is nothing you can do to stop it (think Final Destination movies).

    God having a plan with us having free will is more that ideally, God would have all of His children end up with Him, in their own time, and their own actions lead to that. That's where forgiveness comes in. A person can pray for forgiveness and mercy and it be granted by God. That's where prayer comes in. But, if you're praying for things like "I want this new car", that isn't the way you pray. You ask for help in making it happen if it's God's will. It sounds odd, and I'm not explaining it the best, but its sort of the difference between a kid saying gimme that candy and an adult saying please pass the mashed potatoes when you get a moment.
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