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Do you believe in intercessory prayer?


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I just finished a book which has me thinking about this. I've only dabbled in theology and philosophy so this is outside of my comfort zone. The book I finished is definitely cliched and not intellectual so I'm a little embarrassed to admit that I read it. It was When Bad Things Happen to Good People by Harold Kushner. I've known about the book for years but never read it. It's a quick read. I read it in a day. The author is a rabbi but I don't know if this book is representative of Jewish beliefs about the power of prayer. 

It surprised me because it suggested something that I've never seriously considered before. I've thought of it but hadn't put it in words, if you know what I mean. Basically Kushner's premise is that God is bound by nature. You can't pray that someone be healed because God can't heal because He's bound by nature. 

I was raised Catholic and heard the story of the mustard seed many times; if you only had faith like a mustard seed, you could move mountains. It wasn't ever presented in a prosperity gospel way. I once heard a radio preacher say that someone died of cancer because she did not have enough faith. It wasn't that bad. 

But who actually believes that their faith could move a mountain? Who prays for a healing miracle and doesn't also go to the doctor? I know the standard answer is that God works through the doctor but really? 

I've had prayers answered and prayers that weren't answered. After a lifetime in the church, I think people look for answers to their prayers and see what they want to see. 

During the recent pandemic, I heard many religious people claim that they aren't afraid of death because God could strike them dead if He wanted. How strange. Are we supposed to assume that the fact that someone hasn't been struck down dead means that God wanted them to be alive? Or the reverse? I find that view of God to be very strange. 

A friend married a man who had had a vasectomy. She told me that if God wanted them to have a baby that she would get pregnant anyway. They ended up adopting a baby. When we trying to conceive, my priest told me that if God wanted me to get pregnant that I would get pregnant. 

I've wondered for a long time if I was more superstitious than faithful. I pray for people if they ask me. I pray for my daughter's safety. But I also wear seatbelts, get vaccines, go to doctor, etc. 

 

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Prayer without action is hollow prayer, in many cases. 

I honestly don't claim to understand how prayer works or if it "works". I mean, I ask for prayers, but I also hate the concept of blessings being assigned based on how much prayer you get - like a popularity contest. 

My best guess is that because we are made in the image of God - and God is a healer and creator - we have some of that in us all and when we pray that God given energy is shared with others. Like Reiki, lol. 

but...the whole thing confuses me and I'm pretty sure I won't understand until I go to the afterlife. 

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No.

I believe that prayer can activate something in the person who is doing the praying, or possibly in a person who knows someone is praying for them. I do not believe there is anyone out there who chooses to respond to an arbitrary subset of the requests and denies the others.

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14 minutes ago, lauraw4321 said:

My weak understanding of subatomic physics makes me believe that even if God is limited by nature, actions in one place can have consequences far away. 

What does prayer have to do with subatomic physics???

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Nature is a lot weirder than most of us give it credit for.  So God being bound by nature (or not) isn't that big of a deal, if you ask me. In the meantime, I do intercessory prayer by way of tonglen and metta (I'm not Buddhist, but these are things that make more sense to me than standard Christian forms).

Welp, I just accidentally deleted everything else I wrote, including that story about the guy on the roof during a flood with the two boats and a helicopter. Plus some other undoubtably pithy insight that I've already forgotten. Probably an answer to prayer right there ("Dear Lord don't let me stick my foot in my mouth today"; and/or, "Oh God is someone going to natter on with that one story about the flood and the 2 boats and the helicopter? I am so DONE with that")

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I think that God does work miracles and sometimes interferes with the natural world. However, it's also on humans to do "Their part." We are permitted agency to decide some things and God has, in my opinion, great respect for the Free Will of humans.  We're allowed to make dumb decisions, even if we're praying for a Holy Miracle. 

As in, when King Herod planned on murdering the babies of Bethlehem, God expected Joseph to take his family out of there.  Yes, God could have miraculously stopped the whole thing or protected Baby Jesus, but he expected Joseph to do his part. 

 

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I don't have time to try to find the book right now, but in one of Madeline L'Engle's published journals she has a bit about intercessory prayer that stuck with me.  Something along the lines of prayer is neither a vending machine nor a magic spell, but praying for another is an act of love and love is never useless or wasted.    

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37 minutes ago, ktgrok said:

Prayer without action is hollow prayer, in many cases. 

I honestly don't claim to understand how prayer works or if it "works". I mean, I ask for prayers, but I also hate the concept of blessings being assigned based on how much prayer you get - like a popularity contest

My best guess is that because we are made in the image of God - and God is a healer and creator - we have some of that in us all and when we pray that God given energy is shared with others. Like Reiki, lol. 

but...the whole thing confuses me and I'm pretty sure I won't understand until I go to the afterlife. 

Yep. Me too. And sometime the blessing comes in a way that we would never ever imagine it. 

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1 minute ago, fairfarmhand said:

As in, when King Herod planned on murdering the babies of Bethlehem, God expected Joseph to take his family out of there.  Yes, God could have miraculously stopped the whole thing or protected Baby Jesus, but he expected Joseph to do his part. 

..and let the other babies be slaughtered without warning. Really great.

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1 minute ago, regentrude said:

And the particles respond to my prayer through what mechanism?

I think she was using that as an example of actions in one place having an effect elsewhere.  

But, not being the person who said it, I could be totally on the wrong track here. I'm just spouting off about some of the stuff I've read that sort of sounds similar.

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Just now, pinball said:

Shedding

???

What is shedding ( not a technical term in particle physics as far as I am aware) and in what physical way (since pp brought physics into this) does it affect subatomic particles? 

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Yes I completely believe God answers prayers but at the same time it is clear in the Bible that it’s according to his will. Looking at how Jesus modeled prayer, it’s so much about submitting to Gods will over our own. God sees our hearts and knows our motives and desires.  We may think the answer should be one thing, yet God in his infinite wisdom will answer as he pleases. Also when we ask we need not to doubt, which I do believe many do either by putting God in a limited box of what he can or should do. 

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I do believe in intercessory prayer.  I don't believe God is bound by nature.  I believe rather the opposite, actually, that creation is dependent on God, that all good things, whether they come through the usual working of creation or come through a miraculous intervention in the usual working of creation, are supernaturally worked by God.  So God giving us our daily bread through farmers and bakers and groceries stores is just as supernatural as God giving the Israelites manna in the wilderness or Jesus feeding the 5,000.  The whole question of if a given good thing was "from God" or "would have happened anyway" is a misnomer: *every* good thing is from God and *nothing* would have "happened anyway" without Him - there'd be no world at all if God wasn't actively at work every second of every day - "In Him we live and  move and have our being."

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14 minutes ago, regentrude said:

???

What is shedding ( not a technical term in particle physics as far as I am aware) and in what physical way (since pp brought physics into this) does it affect subatomic particles? 

I think that was a joke related to the anti-vax thing.

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Yes, I believe in intercessory prayer. I think that the Bible gives us examples of that- including praying for the sick. God created nature. He can work within nature but also outside of nature. (I do think that usually He works within nature including through medicine, doctors etc).  I believe that God’s sovereignty means that sometimes/ maybe more than sometimes, our prayers are answered in ways that we don’t expect because He sees a bigger picture than we can see. 

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No, I don't believe that there's any deity listening to all of our needs and wants and deciding to grant some and deny others. I do think the act of praying does something for the person praying--releases some feel good/stress relieving hormones or something like that. And if a person knows that others are praying for them I think it probably has the same impact WRT feel good/stress relieving hormones. But I think simply sending out good thoughts works exactly the same way for both the person sending them and for the person who knows he's on the receiving end of them.

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I believe in intercessory prayer because I believe that God has created humanity with spiritual agency, and that God expects us to use our agency in our spiritual activities as well as in the more everyday aspects of our lives.

I also (complexly) believe that God (being timeless) 'already' knows when and how people 'will' pray and that such things are accounted for and included in God's will -- since it has always been God's will to collaborate with humanity. God's will being whole, seamless, and timeless is not being changed... it's already pre-changed and fully inclusive of all future acts.

God's will is superior (and sovereign) because it is God who has decided on collaboration with human agency as a baseline. Having made that decision, I believe God retains superiority, but, in wisdom, blends and compromises with the will of humanity when humans choose to express their will in prayer. The blending and compromising means that God is neither ignoring human wishes nor always responding by following human instructions. Wisdom allows God to make the right call. 

I also believe God's will is to allow for ordinary decision-making agency for humans in the regular world, and that God's will also bends around normal everyday human actions. (Therefore I also believe in taking action and being practical about seeking what I need or want other than by prayer alone.)

The results of this perfect will of God (including the will to collaborate through prayer and the will to respect human agency) is not the same as what the will of God might be imagined to be if we imagine the possibility of God having a somehow 'just God's own will' apart from God's choice to gift humans with true agency. I don't believe this idea of 'just God's own will' exists because I think the communication about God's wish for the agency and collaboration of humanity is really clear in the Bible.

In prayer, I believe that human will and God's will grow closer together from both sides. (But not in real time for God, who is timeless, and not 'growing' or changing responsively but has 'already' made his will accommodate the prayer in anticipation (?) of these expressions of human spiritual agency.)

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I believe in God.  

I believe that He can do anything.

I don’t know that I would say I believe in intercessory prayer.  Rather, I believe in the God that I pray to.  And yes, I do ask Him for things.  

I believe that God always answers prayer, and that sometimes His answer is ‘No’ or ‘Not yet’.  Just because He didn’t do what I asked does not mean He did not answer.

I believe that God wants us to pray and I believe that in a way I don’t entirely understand He allows Himself to be effected by our prayers.  But that is up to Him.  It is up to us to do what He says, which is to pray.

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26 minutes ago, regentrude said:

???

What is shedding ( not a technical term in particle physics as far as I am aware) and in what physical way (since pp brought physics into this) does it affect subatomic particles? 

 

11 minutes ago, Danae said:

I think that was a joke related to the anti-vax thing.

 

I thought the same thing. 

If, however, it was not a joke, I apologize in advance for having laughed. 😉 

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Posted (edited)

PS. I have read the book mentioned in the OP, but it was a very long time ago.

My recollection is that that it references God talking to Job, and interprets this differently than I have seen elsewhere.  In the book, I believe, the author portrays that God kind of implies in Job that He is bound by natural law, as if it is too big for Him to change.  Whereas when I look at that part of Job in context, the response is what I find so telling.  Job switches entirely from angrily holding God to account for Himself to full on adoration and wonder at God’s infinite power and accomplishments, and repenting of challenging Him as he had.  This is not how you would respond if the author was right and God was calling Himself bound.  Rather, it is how you respond if you realize that God is greater than you can even imagine, and that you have been presumptuous to question Him. 

Edited by Carol in Cal.
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55 minutes ago, regentrude said:

..and let the other babies be slaughtered without warning. Really great.

A priest once told a story during his homily about a Roman officer who embraced Christianity. I can't remember the specifics of the story but the Romans killed his servants and separated him from his family. He kept the faith for years and then one day he finds his family again. The priest presented this story as an example of faith. I remember thinking, what about the servants? They get killed and we never think of them again? They're red shirts so who cares, right? 

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31 minutes ago, Carol in Cal. said:

PS. I have read the book mentioned in the OP, but it was a very long time ago.

My recollection is that that it references God talking to Job, and interprets this differently than I have seen elsewhere.  In the book, I believe, the author portrays that God kind of implies in Job that He is bound by natural law, as if it is too big for Him to change.  Whereas when I look at that part of Job in context, the response is what I find so telling.  Job switches entirely from angrily holding God to account for Himself to full on adoration and wonder at God’s infinite power and accomplishments, and repenting of challenging Him as he had.  This is not how you would respond if the author was right and God was calling Himself bound.  Rather, it is how you respond if you realize that God is greater than you can even imagine, and that you have been presumptuous to question Him. 

Yes, he has a chapter on Job and his interpretation was unique. 

To provide context, the author is a rabbi whose young son died of a degenerative illness. So the question of why bad things happen was very personal to him. 

 

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4 minutes ago, Dreamergal said:

You ask the most thought provoking questions @Ordinary Shoes and honestly they are helping me with processing things.

Prayer has always been a part of my life from a child. I grew up in a multi-religious society where we woke up to the azaan or adhan in Arabic (the Muslim call to prayer), puja bells ringing in Hindu neighbors houses. So many Christians including my family used to wake up with those sounds and started our day with prayer even before we started our day.  Hindu homes have puja rooms (prayer room or closet where the family Gods are kept). They usually say a prayer there before they left the house, light a lamp before turning on lights at twilight. Muslims would pray in school even if they went to a Christian one. Elders of all religions pray over you and say a blessing when you visit homes. All these rituals seeped into Christianity as well so prayer is a big part of my life. The ritual of prayer that is and it is something I love.

The belief in the effectiveness of it is something that has waned over time. 

One of the things that makes me believe that prayer is more for the person praying as a means of comfort or ritual than being effective is suffering. It is beyond hubris to believe that the suffering masses do not cry out to God, any God of any religion and no one seems to listen while someone prays for something trivial and it is granted.

The pandemic especially what is going on in India has put a further spanner in the works. If anything, it makes me immensely angry because I know how much people are praying of any religion and no God seems to be listening. One thing I find when I speak to my friends of any religion is how much their faith in God has been shattered, that their prayers matter. Still they find comfort in the ritual of prayer.

I am in the same boat. I find the ritual of prayer immensely comforting of any religion. I find Gregorian, Vedic (Hindu), Buddhist chants incredibly calming and comforting to listen. I do not believe my prayers make a difference or anyone's for that matter. 

I think it is incredible hubris to imagine that one is so worthy that their intercessory prayer is effective that God, any God who does not seem to listen to the masses suffering and praying for deliverance due to poverty, COVID will listen to their trivial wishes. 

Why do things happen to good people ? The answer is I do not know. 

I know so many pastors who have died in India due to COVID, young pastors. I have not heard in all my years the weariness in my pastor's voice. I have seen so many people in twitter say Bhagwan Raksha Karna which means God save us. So many people are praying in India and yet what makes the day to day difference is people. 

So I believe in the kindness of people more than intercessory prayer making a difference. I however love the ritual of prayer especially with smells and bells as they say. The more ritualistic the better. 

 

I love ritual too. I'm not a spontaneous person and a very free-wheeling prayer service feels very awkward to me. 

I love the idea of being connected to people in the past through the rituals of prayer. 

What's happening in India is so sad. 

You might want to check out the book that I read. 

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2 hours ago, Ordinary Shoes said:

I just finished a book which has me thinking about this. I've only dabbled in theology and philosophy so this is outside of my comfort zone. The book I finished is definitely cliched and not intellectual so I'm a little embarrassed to admit that I read it. It was When Bad Things Happen to Good People by Harold Kushner. I've known about the book for years but never read it. It's a quick read. I read it in a day. The author is a rabbi but I don't know if this book is representative of Jewish beliefs about the power of prayer. 

It surprised me because it suggested something that I've never seriously considered before. I've thought of it but hadn't put it in words, if you know what I mean. Basically Kushner's premise is that God is bound by nature. You can't pray that someone be healed because God can't heal because He's bound by nature. 

I was raised Catholic and heard the story of the mustard seed many times; if you only had faith like a mustard seed, you could move mountains. It wasn't ever presented in a prosperity gospel way. I once heard a radio preacher say that someone died of cancer because she did not have enough faith. It wasn't that bad. 

But who actually believes that their faith could move a mountain? Who prays for a healing miracle and doesn't also go to the doctor? I know the standard answer is that God works through the doctor but really? 

I've had prayers answered and prayers that weren't answered. After a lifetime in the church, I think people look for answers to their prayers and see what they want to see. 

During the recent pandemic, I heard many religious people claim that they aren't afraid of death because God could strike them dead if He wanted. How strange. Are we supposed to assume that the fact that someone hasn't been struck down dead means that God wanted them to be alive? Or the reverse? I find that view of God to be very strange. 

A friend married a man who had had a vasectomy. She told me that if God wanted them to have a baby that she would get pregnant anyway. They ended up adopting a baby. When we trying to conceive, my priest told me that if God wanted me to get pregnant that I would get pregnant. 

I've wondered for a long time if I was more superstitious than faithful. I pray for people if they ask me. I pray for my daughter's safety. But I also wear seatbelts, get vaccines, go to doctor, etc. 

 

I don't believe God is limited by nature.  And furthermore, nature isn't limited either since the more we learn about science, the more questions we have.

Do I believe that God is in charge and all knowing and immortal, etc= yes.

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I do believe in intercessory prayer, but I don’t believe in praying for things that aren’t the will of God. I’ve seen it change people’s thoughts mostly.  Very rarely I’ve seen or heard stories of small miracles, but I think they are uncommon. 

When it comes to not doing your part, I’m always reminded of Jesus being tempted in the desert & stating we are not to tempt the Lord our God (by doing something obviously dangerous and stupid and relying on God to save us).  So for the most part I try to use common sense.

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2 hours ago, GailV said:

I think she was using that as an example of actions in one place having an effect elsewhere.  

But, not being the person who said it, I could be totally on the wrong track here. I'm just spouting off about some of the stuff I've read that sort of sounds similar.

Yup, that’s it. There is evidence of “communication” occurring faster than the speed of light at a distance. As if particles far apart are connected. As of what happens here affects what happens over there. 

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2 hours ago, regentrude said:

???

What is shedding ( not a technical term in particle physics as far as I am aware) and in what physical way (since pp brought physics into this) does it affect subatomic particles? 

It was a joke related to the idea of the Covid vaccine shedding.

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Nope.

Particularly, if intercessory prayer worked for healing, we’d see that being used effectively in states with high religiousity. Instead people kinda die about the same everywhere, or at rates tied to the quality of medical care they receive.

It may help people feel better and connected but being emotionally supportive would do the same bit. Except, interestingly, this one study where if people were prayed for and they knew about it they had worse outcomes. 🤦

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/no-prayer-prescription/

People love to attribute good outcomes to god and bad outcomes to reasons for his supposed nonintervention or allowing for the will of man. 

 

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I’ve never read that particular book. I believe in God, who taught us to pray. Prayer is an exercise of faithfulness for us. Probably the  most well known teaching on prayer is commonly known as “The Lord’s Prayer.” The words immediately preceding that text in Scripture are a set of instructions on how we should approach prayer, ending with, “this then, is how you should pray.” This is then followed by The Lord’s Prayer” which teaches us about the content of our prayers. I could go through it verse by verse, let me know if you’re interested in that kind of detail - here or by DM. You can read  Matthew 6:5-13 in the New Testament if you’re interested.  When taken to heart, praying this way transforms us. It’s hard, in all honesty. 

I believe that God is not at all bound by nature because He is omnipotent- all powerful. If He were not, He would not be God. He exists outside of time and space and so He is not restricted by them at all. 

 

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3 hours ago, Carol in Cal. said:

PS. I have read the book mentioned in the OP, but it was a very long time ago.

My recollection is that that it references God talking to Job, and interprets this differently than I have seen elsewhere.  In the book, I believe, the author portrays that God kind of implies in Job that He is bound by natural law, as if it is too big for Him to change.  Whereas when I look at that part of Job in context, the response is what I find so telling.  Job switches entirely from angrily holding God to account for Himself to full on adoration and wonder at God’s infinite power and accomplishments, and repenting of challenging Him as he had.  This is not how you would respond if the author was right and God was calling Himself bound.  Rather, it is how you respond if you realize that God is greater than you can even imagine, and that you have been presumptuous to question Him. 

I haven’t read the book referenced, but my mind immediately went to Job when I read the OP’s question and the statement that “God is bound by nature.” The passage I thought of is Job 38:1 - 42:6. I often think of this as the time when God said to Job - “Who do you think you are?” 
 

Is this the passage you’re referring to perhaps? 

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27 minutes ago, TechWife said:

I haven’t read the book referenced, but my mind immediately went to Job when I read the OP’s question and the statement that “God is bound by nature.” The passage I thought of is Job 38:1 - 42:6. I often think of this as the time when God said to Job - “Who do you think you are?” 
 

Is this the passage you’re referring to perhaps? 

Basically, yes, but also the part where Job responds, settled in heart, soul, and mind at long last.

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Posted (edited)

I don't believe God is bound by nature, as He created it and is outside it. I do believe that most of the time He operates within the rules of nature that He designed, but He is not obligated to, and sometimes He chooses not to. I believe that God wants us to pray, since Jesus taught us how. And I believe that He hears and listens to sincere prayers and sometimes says "yes" to our requests, sometimes in miraculous ways.

My church uses lay ministers, no one whose only job is the church, so they all also have jobs/careers. One is a farmer and was driving an open cab tractor with his 5 or 6 year old son and was rear ended by a semi and the tractor tire ended up sideways on top of the boy's head while the dad, who had been thrown farther, watched helplessly and cried in the ditch. Other members of our church were notified while rescue workers worked to move the tractor and retrieve the boys body, and soon we all knew about it and began praying. I don't know what the dad or anybody else prayed for specifically, but I know that the rescue workers were shocked to find the boy still alive and he is now getting ready to start his senior year and he's completely fine.

I also believe that sometimes God's answer is "no" or "not right now". I don't understand why God said "yes" to keeping this particular boy alive and "no" to other parents' requests for their children. ETA: I do not believe that it's because the parents didn't pray enough or in the right way.

I believe that prayer's primary purpose is to remind us of who God is and of His sovereignty and to help us to mold and change our will to whatever His might be.

Edited by Momto6inIN
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Posted (edited)
19 hours ago, lauraw4321 said:

Yup, that’s it. There is evidence of “communication” occurring faster than the speed of light at a distance. As if particles far apart are connected. As of what happens here affects what happens over there. 

No, that is not at all what quantum entanglement is about!

Here is a simple analogy: Let's say, you have two babies whom you know are identical twins, but you don't know what sex they are. One baby is in China, the other baby in America. You look at the America baby and find he is a boy - and then you know the twin in China is also a boy. NO information has been transmitted between the two babies across the distance.

The statement "identical twin" is the analog to "entangled state". You prepare the particles in that entangled state, i.e. for example know they have a specific wave function that is a superposition of only "like" spin states.
The one thing this analogy does not capture is the probabilistic nature of quantum mechanics (i.e. you know the spin states are entangled, but whether the spin of the particle is up or down is not determined until it is measured; you just have probabilities - whereas the baby of course will be of a specific sex). But the aspect of entanglement is described quite well with the twin analogy.

Edited by regentrude
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18 hours ago, prairiewindmomma said:

Nope.

Particularly, if intercessory prayer worked for healing, we’d see that being used effectively in states with high religiousity. Instead people kinda die about the same everywhere, or at rates tied to the quality of medical care they receive.

It may help people feel better and connected but being emotionally supportive would do the same bit. Except, interestingly, this one study where if people were prayed for and they knew about it they had worse outcomes. 🤦

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/no-prayer-prescription/

People love to attribute good outcomes to god and bad outcomes to reasons for his supposed nonintervention or allowing for the will of man. 

 

Wow, I'd been looking for that article because someone mentioned it in passing, and I couldn't find it.  Yay for you linking it!

I love stuff like this because I like to drop a big ol' "ON THE OTHER HAND" into conversations. 

 

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38 minutes ago, regentrude said:


The one thing this analogy does not capture is the probabilistic nature of quantum mechanics (i.e. you know the spin states are entangled, but whether the spin of the particle is up or down is not determined until it is measured; you just have probabilities - whereas the baby of course will be of a specific sex). But the aspect of entanglement is described quite well with the twin analogy.

Yes, but I'm the only one who says/thinks this. Measurement is an action that I'm doing here that affects something way over there. I get that you don't like how I think about it. http://isciencemag.co.uk/features/superluminal-communication-were-talking-faster-than-light/

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16 minutes ago, GailV said:

Wow, I'd been looking for that article because someone mentioned it in passing, and I couldn't find it.  Yay for you linking it!

I love stuff like this because I like to drop a big ol' "ON THE OTHER HAND" into conversations. 

 

This article was actually a huge comfort to me in the years after my daughter died. 
 

———-

I also find comfort in the ritual aspects of prayer—silence, meditation, candles, seeking to connect—but if there is a God I think s/he is not a vending machine that drops out blessings when you put in the right amount of money (number of people interceding) and push the right buttons. It’s kind of crazy right—imagining a God that says—“oh, not enough effort—only 14 subscribers on that one” or “you only prayed on this 3/7 days this week.” And yet in churches we ask others to unite in prayer, or we appeal to others with more authority to pray for us, or the like. If we just get enough likes/subscribeds, god will finally hear us and answer our prayers.
 

When I really sat and analyzed prayer rather than continuing the traditions I had been raised in....I realized a lot of what I had been taught was emotional manipulation—trying to help us make sense of the world we are in, and trying to reconcile us to sickness and death and tragedy. And yet prayer is marketed as solving those things directly. Prayer doesn’t help us in those things because it can’t.  it’s efficacy is really in helping us process—but there are better tools for doing that.
 

 

 

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I don't believe in it, but I revert to the habit in times of great stress. 

It's comforting to me to pray to Mary for her intercession, so although it makes no sense, I don't put any energy into policing my own stress responses. Clearly, it does something positive ( just not in an intercessionary way). 

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1 hour ago, prairiewindmomma said:

This article was actually a huge comfort to me in the years after my daughter died. 
 

———-

I also find comfort in the ritual aspects of prayer—silence, meditation, candles, seeking to connect—but if there is a God I think s/he is not a vending machine that drops out blessings when you put in the right amount of money (number of people interceding) and push the right buttons. It’s kind of crazy right—imagining a God that says—“oh, not enough effort—only 14 subscribers on that one” or “you only prayed on this 3/7 days this week.” And yet in churches we ask others to unite in prayer, or we appeal to others with more authority to pray for us, or the like. If we just get enough likes/subscribeds, god will finally hear us and answer our prayers.
 

When I really sat and analyzed prayer rather than continuing the traditions I had been raised in....I realized a lot of what I had been taught was emotional manipulation—trying to help us make sense of the world we are in, and trying to reconcile us to sickness and death and tragedy. And yet prayer is marketed as solving those things directly. Prayer doesn’t help us in those things because it can’t.  it’s efficacy is really in helping us process—but there are better tools for doing that.
 

 

 

Yes, I see what you mean about emotional manipulation. The world is a scary place and I think we're all trying to feel like we have some control so we feel safer. One of the ways we try to feel safer is to assign fault to people who suffer. They did something wrong. I didn't do that wrong thing so that won't happen to me. 

I've been speculating about the connection with actions that we know will help. Why believe in prayer but not get a vaccine? 

The book's author wrote about how someone will claim that God must have been looking out for them because they avoided a calamity. He claimed that makes God into a monster because why didn't he protect another person? 

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On 6/3/2021 at 6:26 PM, Danae said:

I don't have time to try to find the book right now, but in one of Madeline L'Engle's published journals she has a bit about intercessory prayer that stuck with me.  Something along the lines of prayer is neither a vending machine nor a magic spell, but praying for another is an act of love and love is never useless or wasted.    

If anyone know which book this is in, I'd love to know. I tried to do a quick search, but wasn't able to find much.

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22 minutes ago, scbusf said:

If anyone know which book this is in, I'd love to know. I tried to do a quick search, but wasn't able to find much.

I was thinking it was one of the Crosswicks journals, but thinking about it more my first guess would be Friends for the Journey

Edited by Danae
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Going back to the original question (which I did answer once), I believe in intercessory prayer because the Bible says that God wants us to pray. . And the models given include intercessory prayer.  Ie. .it specifically "let your requests be made known unto God." 

I don't trust my own judgement on why we should do things or whether we should do things with regards to God.  I trust the Bible as God's message to us on what He wants us to do. 

When I pray, I don't have any expectation of the answer.  I ask and then leave it up to God in His wisdom to answer in His way and in His timing.  This doesn't mean that I don't often struggle while waiting and don't find "no" answers very very difficult.  But I trust what the Bible says about God's character. 

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On 6/3/2021 at 7:26 PM, Ordinary Shoes said:

A priest once told a story during his homily about a Roman officer who embraced Christianity. I can't remember the specifics of the story but the Romans killed his servants and separated him from his family. He kept the faith for years and then one day he finds his family again. The priest presented this story as an example of faith. I remember thinking, what about the servants? They get killed and we never think of them again? They're red shirts so who cares, right? 

I always thought this with the story of Job, which is certainly used very often when people experience tragedy. In the end, Job has more kids and his new daughters are widely said to be the foxiest women in the land! How that makes up for his first set of kids getting crushed in a building collapse is a bit hard to figure though...

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Prayer is conversing with God, not rubbing Aladdin’s magic lamp.

I tell my kids to always talk to me, even if they don’t think I can or will change things for them.  Because relationship begins with being open to conversation.

As for intercession prayers... Just the other day during Bible in a year Fr Mike pointed out in Mark that the four friends bring this other person to Jesus for healing. And it says Jesus saw their faith and healed their friend. Not by that person’s faith. But by that person’s friends’ faith. They interceded for him and Jesus met that intercession. Now idk God’s reasonings for why some get answers and others don’t seem to.  But I do believe God hears intercessory prayer.

Also part of conversing with God is trying to confirm our will to His and not trying to use God like a wish dispensing genie.  Even Jesus said he’d like the cup to pass from him but God’s will not his will. 

I don’t think Job was intended to forget he ever had terrible loss. But he was to remember he had tremendous blessings too. Also keep in mind that his loss was temporary bc his beloved children that died were with God. Granted if you don’t believe that, the loss is all the more painful. But obviously Job would have believed that. 

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On 6/3/2021 at 6:27 PM, regentrude said:

..and let the other babies be slaughtered without warning. Really great.

Bingo!

I do not believe in prayer, as in a god who gives a care and would intervene for any reason. I do believe that prayer, like meditation, has positive, calming effects that are good for us - I certainly occasionally vent my frustrations to the universe even though I know no one is listening and it does help me center myself/ get it off my chest - and for those that believe it could help, they gain some comfort and peace when they ask others to pray for them.

 

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7 hours ago, Jean in Newcastle said:

Going back to the original question (which I did answer once), I believe in intercessory prayer because the Bible says that God wants us to pray. . And the models given include intercessory prayer.  Ie. .it specifically "let your requests be made known unto God." 

I don't trust my own judgement on why we should do things or whether we should do things with regards to God.  I trust the Bible as God's message to us on what He wants us to do. 

When I pray, I don't have any expectation of the answer.  I ask and then leave it up to God in His wisdom to answer in His way and in His timing.  This doesn't mean that I don't often struggle while waiting and don't find "no" answers very very difficult.  But I trust what the Bible says about God's character. 

Yes.  This is what I believe, too.

1 hour ago, Murphy101 said:

Prayer is conversing with God, not rubbing Aladdin’s magic lamp.

I tell my kids to always talk to me, even if they don’t think I can or will change things for them.  Because relationship begins with being open to conversation.

As for intercession prayers... Just the other day during Bible in a year Fr Mike pointed out in Mark that the four friends bring this other person to Jesus for healing. And it says Jesus saw their faith and healed their friend. Not by that person’s faith. But by that person’s friends’ faith. They interceded for him and Jesus met that intercession. Now idk God’s reasonings for why some get answers and others don’t seem to.  But I do believe God hears intercessory prayer.

Also part of conversing with God is trying to confirm our will to His and not trying to use God like a wish dispensing genie.  Even Jesus said he’d like the cup to pass from him but God’s will not his will. 

I don’t think Job was intended to forget he ever had terrible loss. But he was to remember he had tremendous blessings too. Also keep in mind that his loss was temporary bc his beloved children that died were with God. Granted if you don’t believe that, the loss is all the more painful. But obviously Job would have believed that. 

These are also some really good thoughts!

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