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Let's Talk About Prayer
Many people are familiar with prayer. Prayer is the practice of invoking the supernatural using words. Much like an incantation or invocation it is designed to call upon a deity or being in order to communicate with them or ask for divine intervention for yourself or others. For anyone who's ever been a Christian or attended Church prayer is a very common thing within the context of a church service. The first thing I want to talk about this week is this practice of praying in public whether it be at the start of a church service or before the opening pitch of a baseball game.
Public Prayer is Anti-Christ
Public Prayer was once far more commonplace than it is today. Thanks to advances in the Separation of Church and State most school and sport functions are now forbidden from offering up religiously specific prayers though some do still provide moments of silence for any so inclined to offer their own prayers. The Christian Fundamentalists here in the USA have taken offense to the banning of public prayer in schools and other institutions. The banning of prayer and Bible reading in schools actually came from an Atheist group and Christians have been on the war path ever since.
What many Christians seem to forget is that Jesus, the guy their ENTIRE RELIGION IS BASED ON, is actually against prayer in public. Scriptural evidence of Jesus' distaste for Public Prayer can be found in Matthew Chapter 6 just before Jesus gives his disciples his most famous prayer, the Lord's Prayer. Matthew 6:5-8 reads as follows:
"And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him."
Not only does Jesus tell his disciples to shut themselves away from the world when praying but he expresses extremely negative opinions of those sects which pray in public. From the babbling pagans to those who pray in the Synagogue. Jesus seems to understand the petty nature of public prayer and how people who pray in public end up more worried about APPEARING pious and SEEMING righteous. They are more concerned with their appearances and other people's opinions than with actually seeking God.
Public Prayer is Anti-Christ Continued
Another thing I'd like to mention is Jesus' use of the word babbling.
The Amplified Bible says those that multiply words, or repeat the same
words. In my opinion Jesus is likely talking about CHANTING, though I am
certainly no theologian. Chanting and repetitious prayers are used in
Catholicism and other forms of Christianity. The other thing that Jesus
might be referencing is what is now known as speaking in tongues, also
called Glossalalia. While most people believe that speaking in tongues
is only a Christian phenomenon it has actually been observed in numerous
religions and was well known even before Christianity (seriously, you
can google it). The version of it commonly practiced today, which is
essentially the spouting of gibberish repeatedly (often accompanied by
writhing around on the floor) is not necessarily the same as that which
was described in the Bible. The version of it spoken of Biblically is
often said to give the speaker the ability to speak in any or all
languages... not merely gibberish. So could Jesus have been speaking of a
pagan version of Glossalalia?
It seems clear that modern day prayer taking place in Church services or anywhere else in public bears a close resemblance to the sort of prayer Jesus’ disliked. Keep this in mind the next time some moron says he/she wants there to be a national day of prayer or makes a stupid comment about how things would be better if prayer were back in schools. Also remember that nowhere and at no time does Jesus EVER tell them to pray to him so the next time you hear someone praying directly to Jesus remember they are doing it wrong.
Does Prayer Work?
Prayer is an attempt at making telepathic contact with a magical being in order to gain something for yourself or others. As such it is wholly faith based and every study that has ever looked into prayer has found it ineffective at doing, well, anything.
Many people take the stance that prayer is harmless and that if people want to believe that prayer assists them than they should be able to. While I agree that the right to Freedom of Religion is paramount to a free society I am also aware that prayer isn’t always harmless. In fact prayer can be deadly. There are numerous cases, both here in the Western world and abroad, of parents withholding medical care from their child in order to pursue supernatural alternatives. This is negligent, abusive and downright stupid behavior that can often lead to the child’s death from a disorder or disease that is entirely treatable by medical science.
So while praying that you get that promotion or meet the right girl may be harmless the attitudes prayer and religion in general can nurture can be quite dangerous. Another aspect of prayer that is detrimental is the Evangelist Conmen who pretend to do healings. In demonstrations eerily mirroring a scene from the Disney movie Pete’s Dragon these snake oil salesmen pretend they can cure everything from slight discomfort to cancer. A recent viral video showed one of these serpents pretending her could replace a woman’s plastic hip with a new hip replacement merely by pressing on her forehead and demanding Jesus to heal her.
Which is, of course, another issue with prayer. Treating Jesus like a celestial genie hardly seems right especially when he supposedly died for your sins. Then again Jesus himself admits that if you ask it shall be given to you. So then the effectiveness of prayer is meant to be, according to Christ 100% which leads to Christians coming up with rationalizations when their prayers go unanswered. False promises that lead to the Christian involved believing themselves to not have enough faith to get what they want or need or that the cure for their Mother’s cancer wasn’t part of God’s Will.
Here’s an experiment to see if prayer works: Walk into a graveyard. Nearly everyone you see in there, before their death, had people praying for them. You can claim it was “just their time” or that it was God’s will for them to die despite prayer however Jesus said ask and you shall receive, he also said the disciples would be able to raise the dead after he left. John 3:!6 also says that those who believe in Christ will have eternal life... Yet every year more and more people, many times while still young and having their lives ahead of them die even when being prayed for.
Conclusions and Wrap Up:
Prayer is a solution for nothing and does little aside from stimulating false hope. Here’s a suggestion instead of prayer - try to succeed on your own and lean on your fellow human beings because supernatural men in the sky aren’t going to help you. I know this comes as a surprise to most but even if gods exist I highly doubt they’re all that interested in us mortals and our back surgery or inability to get over our last girlfriend.
I leave you with one of my favorite phrases from before I was an atheist: “God helps those that help themselves” - my translation: “Stop sitting on your ass waiting for gods and messiahs and start making your life and this world a better place on your own.”