Posts tagged Prayer

Can You Hear Me Now, God?

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Everybody knows long distance relationships (LDRs) usually don’t work. The love interest you had in the Niagara Falls area probably isn’t the person you married and had kids with. The odds are stacked against it. I’ve met a few couples that started out as LDRs and managed to finish well together, but it’s rare.

>I find trying to build closeness with God through prayer is ten times worse than any other LDR.

It’s an LDR that spans not only the world, not just the universe, but even different dimensions. I mean, who exactly am I talking to? Where is he?

Ground control to Major God! Do you hear me? I sure don’t hear you.

Now I’ve met people who claim they “hear from God” all the time. And I’ve tried to get away from them quickly. Those words always seem to be the precursor to an individual’s evolution into a serial killer. Those words are just foreign to me.

>If I’m going to honest, often when I pray, my words seem to evaporate and hit the ceiling.

You may be thinking, “Did he just say that?” Oh yes he did.

I pour out my heart in hopes of feeling a touch or getting some interaction with God, but it seems he doesn’t answer. And I hate being left hanging and all alone. I never hear his comforting voice. God’s door is closed, and I just want some face-to-face time. It’s kind of a tease—a cosmic one. It’s not what I expected when it comes to talking to God.

>I think most people probably feel this distance at some point, yet they continue praying.

Even the hard-line atheist calls on God before rear-ending the car in front of him at full speed: “Oh God, help!” It’s funny—everyone prays. I think everyone feels like it’s a good habit with some therapeutic benefit.

But still we wonder: does it work, or is it pointless? 

I think it does, but there’s a lot to understand and wade through along the way.

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[Read more here]

Quote Of The Week On Christianity From Atheist Christopher Hitchens

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“I would say that if you don’t believe that Jesus of Nazareth was the Christ and Messiah, and that he rose again from the dead and by his sacrifice our sins are forgiven, you’re really not in any meaningful sense a Christian.”

-This is from notorious atheist Christopher Hitchens. Talk about nailing it. By the way please copy and past this in your social media status: Pray For atheist CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS #PrayForHitchensHere’s why>>> http://bit.ly/hIdSco

Notorious Atheist Christopher Hitchens Will Die!

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Did you know famed Atheist Christopher Hitchens is going to die? Below is a clip from an interview Hitchens did with Anderson Cooper. I found it very interesting and wanted to talk about it, because there is something to learn in there. And as you read, please consider helping spread this around by copying and posting this in your social media status:

PRAY for ATHEIST Christopher HITCHENS #PrayForHitchens. And here’s why>>> http://bit.ly/hIdSco

I have regular interactions with a handful of atheists. So long as they’re respectful, I have not problem with them. Why would I make enemies with someone just because they don’t believe what I believe? That’s stupid. Let’s disagree, be direct, but have fun doing it. In fact, last year I was asked to review a book written by several atheists (and a couple agnostics) called The Christian Delusion: Why Faith Fails. It was a valuable experience, although I’m not sure the writers cared for my review.

Sure, atheists like Christopher Hitchens (and Richard Dawkins) can make me mad. In fact, I actually informally quote Hitchens in my book 10 Things I Hate About Christianity:

I heard a gentleman on a radio talk show say that the Bible is “obviously myth and must be considered a work of fiction.” He said we must all come to terms with the idea that religion in general is untrue and must be put aside for the sake of reason and enlightenment.

That was Hitchens. This may sound strange, but I find him very likable–not to mention articulate and intelligent. There is a certain charm and genuineness about him even when he is venomously bashing Christianity and saying people of faith deserve to be mocked and ridiculed. Ouch!

In some measure, I understand. Faith is strange. Even God says that those who follow him are a “peculiar people” (in the KJV translation). I think it’s important to remember this. What is a given for me, especially considering I have been doing this faith thing for 23 years now, is foreign to a lot of people. I think when Christians forget this, they are more prone to alienate people and create a tense response to their faith-stance–or develop a faith-stance that creates tension.

What is interesting is that Hitchens seems to fall under one of my two reasons people either stay away or stray away from God. As much as people say there is no evidence for God or that there are so many religions no single one is right, it’s much simpler than that. When there’s a way to find out more about a person’s story, I find two common denominators. They were also the main thrust of some recent lyrics I wrote and screamed for a band called VENIA, which I explain here and here.

What are they?

PAIN and PLEASURE.

It is either that a person’s painful situation has caused them to doubt the goodness of God or his existence. It’s just that simple. It has crushed them and destroyed their faith.

Or it is a battle with some form of morality that people wrestle with (or want to engage in), and it usually brings some sort of pleasure. Most people dabble in a behavior that they know is wrong, don’t want to stop, so they change what they believe so that it is not longer wrong in their own mind.

Most people who stray or stay away from God don’t have some sudden epiphany that “there is no God.” Something usually leads us there. Again, I talk about it in greater detail here and here.

Back to Hitchens. My heart broke when I heard about his mother committing suicide. How tragic. And clearly he will carry this with him until day he dies, whenever that may be. I can’t imagine the grief of that.

Yes, I am a Christian, but I do not wish death on Christopher Hitchens. I wish him all the best in his treatment and hopeful recovery.

And yes, I will pray for him. Not because it means something to me (and I know it doesn’t mean anything to him), but because I know he means something to God. I also pray he will at least have comfort in the strain, both physical and emotional.

So please join me and spread this around by copying this and posting it to your social media status: PRAY for ATHEIST Christopher HITCHENS #PrayForHitchens. And here’s why>>> http://bit.ly/hIdSco

Christopher Hitchens will die, but I hope he lives a long and happy life if at all possible.

HERE IS THE CLIP TO WATCH>>>

Book Review: The Christian Delusion: Why Faith Fails-Pt. 2 of 2

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[Click here to read part 1]

So let’s continue.

Context doesn’t matter. That one was a little jab. Of course, this is not a stated value of the book, but this is certainly the practical application as the arguments play out. The authors have little regard for context in regards to the areas of Scripture they do analyze. As a result, they are completely incapable (or unwilling) of determining if a particular area of Scripture is meant to be a special circumstance or a timeless principle. For me, this is a daily and mandatory discipline. But rather than try to determine the context, they liberally vacillate between the literal and metaphorical understandings—depending on which will more readily support their current point or eviscerate Christianity more.

In the same vein, they also make no distinction between the religion of Christianity and those actually desiring to be a follower of Jesus. For example, I did not join a ‘religion’ or belief system (and I did not grow up a Christian). I simply wanted to try to follow the teachings of Jesus and apply them to my life.

Religion kills, Christianity is the worst, and Atheism is all sunny days and yummy milkshakes. If someone in history has claimed to be Christian and done horrible things, like Timothy McVeigh (He is a favorite example of Atheists, although McVeigh was a self-proclaimed agnostic, but I’ll let it stand for the sake of argument.), it was because he was a religious nut and religion is to blame (it made him that way). However, if someone was an Atheist or agnostic and did terrible things, like Mao Zedong, his godless worldview is not responsible. It was just because he was crazy or bad. Christianity is held accountable while Atheism gets a pass.

Plus, Atheism is awesome because it has never had missionaries corrupting societies or hurt anyone. So in the “Age of Reason” France never banished pastors, converted churches to temples of reason, and punished people for claiming to “know the truth” I guess? This is a good place to introduce the 2nd major flaw of the book.

Flaw #2-“The Original Sin”. What is the Original Sin of this book? It takes shape as a HUGE oversight. It does not even delve into the very reason for religion. That is to say, it doesn’t offer one thought as to how this all started or where we all come from. More fundamentally, it does not even do a cursory mention or a courtesy bow to the idea of how you get something from nothing. If you’re going to write a whole reference-type book on debunking Christianity, you better offer something on this.

That’s what this is all about, isn’t it? That’s why I believe at all. Where did this all start? What about our origins? Saying “Darwin” or “Evolution” isn’t enough. Give me “Cosmic Goo” or “X” the “Big Bang.” It isn’t an explanation, but its something. What started this all? Did aliens seed all this as noted Atheist Richard Dawkins said could be possible? To not offer anything is a major flaw of a book seeking to destroy Christianity and promote Atheism. You better offer something, or at least say why you’re not offering anything. But let me say, in offering something you may only put forward what science can prove and test. Remember, the natural (or physical) world is all that we may believe in or that can guide us. That means nothing that can be construed as “extraordinary” or hint at something “supernatural” may be proposed. I suppose that may be why our origins is ignored in this book. It is difficult to explain.

How do you get something from nothing?

Christianity can’t be because it isn’t. Christianity can’t be true because it probably isn’t the only religion you (or I) tried. That’s a major contention. They hold that I must treat every religion with the same amount of validity. If I want to have any integrity I must flush out and try each one before I am allowed to decide.

The Outsider Test For Faith. What I gather to be one of the benchmarks of the book is described as the Outsider Test For Faith (OTF). This is somewhat related to the point above. It is something the editor and main contributor, John Loftus, builds his very Atheism on. Unfortunately, he never stated exactly what the Outsider Test For Faith is. I read the chapter several times to try and find it. He laid out questions that he uses to guide his skepticism based on the OTF, answered objections based on the OTF, but never defined clearly what the OTF was/is. In addition, I know he wants us (Christians) to subject the same amount of skepticism to Christianity as we do other religions. I suppose that is what it is. Still, I’m not sure. Nowhere did Loftus say “The OTF can essentially be summarized as…” and then build from there. Perhaps, I missed it. I guess I failed the test.

Marxism and Atheism. I could be wrong, but it seems to me that most Atheists are Marxists in regards to their socio-political philosophy (most are Socialists and a few admit to being Communists). And I extend this assessment beyond the confines of this book. I find this somewhat inconsistent and even humorous. It is a true lapse of the ‘unwavering’ logic they profess. They don’t have the integrity or decency to be anarchists at best (the only ‘survival of the fittest’ socio-political philosophy) or Libertarians at worst (the only amoral one). Atheists are so often averse and upset about the influence of religion on society and its ‘oppressive’ morality. Their perfect, reasoned, and logical solution? To revert to another form of moralism. They seek to employ all the authoritarianism of a theocracy, minus the God part.

Miscellany.
*The book alleges that the Bible promotes a “flat earth” view of cosmology because it employs such terms as the “four corners of the earth”. This is to show how primitive framers of the Bible were and, subsequently, must have been wrong about God too. Somehow there is no understanding of the poetry and parallelism in Hebrew writings and banter. For example, Jesus once said to take the plank out your own eye before pointing out the piece of sawdust in someone else’s (in regard to being judgmental). This may come as a surprise, but Jesus did not in fact think we are all actually made of wood. It was a creative metaphor.

*The book contends that we are all moral relativists because we view someone else’s view of morality as relative to ours (often a clear distinction between belief and non-belief). But that’s not what I view as moral relativism. I am not a moral relativist because I believe in absolutes that are intrinsic and fixed. Perhaps we are operating from two different meanings of ‘relative/ist.’

*Christians must give opponents of Christianity more validity than promoters of it if they want to truly find the truth. Of course, no one ever does this. Do the environmentalists look to skeptics to learn how to protect the earth? Do pro-choice advocates glean wisdom from pro-lifers when weighing their decision? (And so on) This is simply hedging and an air of moral superiority, because we’re all guilty here—even Atheists.

*Science picks up where philosophy leaves off, is what they say in this book. In direct contrast, I say the exact opposite in my book. Philosophy offers a theory or explanation when science can’t.

*Atheists get mad that Atheism often gets called a religion by Christian apologists. While I understand Atheism is not a religion, in that it is not a belief system and is more accurately non-belief or non-religion, can we agree that sometimes this is an argument about semantics? Religion can be defined as a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe. Does Atheism not sometimes fit that description when having these debates? Perhaps Atheism can sometimes be viewed as a religion with a little “r” and not a big “R”, as it is not an organized and formal religion. But you get the idea, academically speaking, when we’re having these talks, don’t you?

*Atheists also dispute Christianity because there are so many variations of it (with the denominations, non-denominations, and cults, to a lesser degree). In essence, Christianity (and Christians) can’t agree with itself, so it must be false. So am I to understand that because there are varying viewpoints on a particular subject (the result of free will, mind you) then none can be correct or worth considering? That makes no sense. Bring that into a marriage or friendship and see where that gets you. Not to mention, this isn’t exactly a fair point to make at all. Atheists only have to agree on ONE THING: there is no God. In the inverse, Christians unanimously agree on this point (that there is a God). And they agree on the most important element of Christianity: Jesus. Beyond that, there can be no more comparing, since we have doctrine, principles, and lessons to learn from and interpret. If Atheists had the same to consider they would obviously find themselves in the same predicament.

Flaw #1-“The Epic Fail”. The very title “The Christian Delusion: Why Faith Fails” is an epic fail. That is to say, the very premise of the book fails. Why? Because Christianity is alive and well. In fact, it started with just 12 followers 2,000 years ago and has bad BILLIONS of followers since then. If we put this in an empirical and scientific context, as Atheists claim to guide their lives with, we see that the evidence proves that the title breaks down in a major way with very little analysis—because faith hasn’t failed.

In fact, the very first sentence of the first chapter confirms my point. It opens with, “One of the great mysteries is why, despite the best arguments against it, religion survives.” There it is: an inadvertent admission that the title does not stand up under the weight of its own scrutiny. And if that’s the case, then doesn’t the whole premise of the book fail? Perhaps a better subtitle would be something like “Why Faith Should Fail”. A title with a qualitative word in it helps to deliver on the promise. This is something I learned writing my own book. With all the contributors claims of intellect, experience in academia, and fancy letters after their names, how did they miss this epic fail?

Lastly, a word to Atheists:

I do not hate you. I am not trying to convert you. I do not want to control you. I do not want to create a theocracy. I understand your frustrations and doubts—I have them weekly. I believe in God. You do not. I believe there is a spiritual element to life. You do not. I believe Jesus was the Son of God. You do not. But make no mistake:

I believe because I know it to be personally true. Sometimes resolute and sometimes strong. And sometimes a little more dimly. But I know this:

I will always believe Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. To me, that’s just the best news ever.

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Book Review: The Christian Delusion: Why Faith Fails-Pt. 1 of 2

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http://universalheretic.files.wordpress.com/2010/04/christiandelusion.jpgI recently finished reading The Christian Delusion: Why Faith Fails (TCD) in order to review it on my site www.jasonberggren.com. It was recommended to me by one of the contributors, Edward Babinski, who is a reader of my blog (named above). I’ve had many pleasant back-and-forths with him and was excited at the prospect.

I suspect I was approached to read TCD because of the title of my book 10 Things I Hate About Christianity: Working Through the Frustrations of Faith —that I am perhaps a borderline Atheist convert, or a “New Atheist” as they’re called. It’s a fair point, but it is not the case as many Atheists have discovered (and then gotten mad about). I suppose there is a frustration that I used such a shocking title, but used it for good (to build faith and bring attention to Jesus) and used it before they did/could. The irony is, much that is covered in TCD I discuss in my own book.

So what about The Christian Delusion?

Following are my overall impressions and thoughts. By the end of this, I will also reveal the three major flaws of the book, as I see them. Please keep in mind, when I refer to Atheists in this review, I am referring to the contributors of this book only unless otherwise noted.

I appreciate the content of the book. It was well written and presents many valid points. I think it’s important to constantly review the objections many raise concerning Christianity. They are questions worth asking and discussing. We, as Christians, should never resist these dialogues. We should be committed to healthy, productive, and respectful discussions regarding our faith. Unfortunately, the ‘respect’ part is difficult in this heated subject from both sides of this aisle.

Let’s get started.

Summarizing Atheism. Let’s begin at the foundation. From what I gather, Atheism hinges on two rejections (in regard to religion in general): 1) there is no spiritual element to life and 2) there is no such thing as the supernatural. That’s my bottom-line description. For this reason, the physical world can be the only guide. What can be tested and proven with scientific methods can be the only evidence for living. This is summed up quite well by Richard Carrier, PhD on page 296, “That’s why I don’t believe Jesus rose from the dead: it simply isn’t a plausible event, and is not supported by any sources I trust.”

Intellectual honesty. That was perhaps the favorite phrase in this book when critiquing Christianity. Much was made of our (Christians) intellectual dishonesty. In other words, Christians would cease to be Christians if they were intellectually honest about…(and so on). But anyone who is intellectually honest will realize that much of the counterpoints to faith in this book are not exactly intellectually honest themselves. But then again, I am no intellectual, to be honest.

For example, there is a railing of Christian apologists for not being authentic in their approach since they seek to prove their faith—that they shouldn’t enter into the endeavor with a defined bias. It’s a fair point. But nothing is said of many apologists becoming converts by doing precisely this. At face value the Atheists make the same mistake (regardless of what they may say). They also enter into their undertaking with a defined bias: they seek to disprove God and Christianity. Personally, I could care less. Just be honest about it rather than assuming some level of moral superiority, especially when you do the same.

Humorless, condescending, and cynical. That is the overall tone of the book. One of the last lines of the introduction is, “To honest believers who are seeking to test their own inherited religious faith, this book is for you.” Sounds so magnanimous and polite, right? As if we are all just sitting around a coffee table together after Thanksgiving Dinner just shuckin-n-jivin. Unfortunately, up to that point the introduction spends a great deal of time talking down to people of faith.

For example, if you are a Christian, have faith, or believe in God this book has no lack of descriptions or directions for you. Allow me to elaborate about you (and these are no exaggerations). You are mentally ill, an obstacle to society, unenlightened, uneducated, brainwashed, sexist, prejudice, primitive, stupid, gullible, superstitious, uncivilized, racist, ridiculous, inferior, embarrassingly incompetent, perversely dishonest, wildly deluded, a liar for Christ, a tragedy, programmed to distrust skeptics, in a cult, and scary. You will hopefully evolve out of your need to believe, must realize that Rome didn’t really persecute Christians all that much, should know there has never been much of an effort to destroy the canonical evidence of Scripture or supportive artifacts, must be open to Atheists ideas (but not vice versa), may not use the Bible when discussing faith with Atheists (although Atheists can use the bible in every argument against it they make and are allowed any other bit of supporting work, theory, innuendo, or otherwise to proselytize their non-God worldview), believe in a savior (Jesus) who was an ignorant xenophobe, should be a socialist, should follow Marxism at least (according to most) and Communism at best (according to a few), contribute to the violence in the world, need to appreciate that Atheists are patient enough to ‘deal’ with you, and need to realize that the Apostle Paul hallucinated himself into belief because of guilt. Oh yes, and you have also likely hallucinated and have low self-esteem (which explains your need to believe).

Now you may be wondering why I included so many direct descriptions. Believe it or not, this is just a small percentage of what the book included. I think it’s important to point out that the book attempts to cloak itself in a guise of respect, reason, and magnanimity (as I stated before). But as you can see, these words are quite antagonistic. This dialogue environment is not egalitarian and altruistic as it claims to want to create. These are words of anger and revenge. And if that’s the purpose, again, then just be honest about it.

“Insiders” of Christianity. That is the claim of nearly all the contributors—that they were former ones, that is. I am very suspicious of this because of the blatant disregard for context (which I will get into later). It just seems to me, if this is true, there is quite a but of willful ignorance as the arguments play out. Or perhaps they had very bad mentors when they were “insiders”.

The Bible has NO credibility. Any source seems to be more valid than the Bible to them. Even one with only one or two copies citing a particular event holds more weight (so long as it casts doubt on Christianity) than the thousands of manuscripts of the Scripture. If two books record the same event, the Bible is automatically wrong. Why? Well, because it’s the Bible, of course! Aren’t you paying attention? This is a good place to introduce the 1st major flaw of the book (in descending order) and end part 1 of this review (part 2 posts tomorrow).

Flaw #3-“The Idiot Genius Contradiction”. In my observation, this is a major pillar of the Atheists (again, I refer to the contributors of this book) contention to Christianity. And in order to accept it, you must accept two contradictory theories at the same time and believe them both simultaneously. Although they should largely negate each other (if we are ‘intellectually honest’), somehow they survive each other, together.

The contradiction is this: Christianity (and Judaism to a lesser degree) is built on the brilliantly maniacal manipulative writings of an elite group of people (i.e., the Bible). This group has been able to translate, re-translate, craft, and re-craft the Bible in a way that has enabled them to control the masses, proliferate their religion throughout the centuries, and maintain their own positions of power. With it and through it they prey on fears, promise rewards, and punish disobedience.

And at the same time

Somehow this elite group was not smart enough to make God perfect, his followers flawless, and his will universal and clear as the Caribbean waters in those same writings. Obviously, this would require no apologies and phony justifications while helping this elite ensure more power, influence, and amass more money. Instead, in the Bible, they make much of alleging God (and often his followers) is an ethical tyrant, moral monster, racial hatemonger, oppressive master, violent father, indifferent to suffering, and permissive of evil. But somehow we were all tricked into following this God while reading all this. In short, this elite crowd was not smart enough to frame a God that didn’t seem bi-polar and is at least good, yet somehow invented the most successful religion (Christianity) ever. It’s very similar to the 9/11 conspiracy theories: somehow President Bush was an evil genius that destroyed the Word Trade Center to line his (and his cohorts) pockets by starting a war for oil without leaving a hint of evidence but was the biggest bumbling idiot at the same time.

So the Bible is brilliant and stupid all at once. Somehow both are true. That’s the Idiot Genius Contradiction.

Got it?

[Click here for Part 2]

Seniors Told They Can’t Pray Together Before Meals

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Here’s an interesting situation. Seniors at this retirement home were recently told they had to stop praying as a group together before eating. Now let me be clear, they can pray to themselves. They just can’t pray as a group.

Why?

Because the meals for the senior citizens at the program are mostly covered with federal money.

Now it’s not that a resident complained or anything. It’s that an employee from the company that caters the food said it might be a violation of federal guidelines–the separation of church and state–for him not to report it. So he did. And the city attorney is looking into it.

This is so ridiculous. People need to get a life. Separation of church and state had nothing to do with a group of old farts sitting around and praying before the eat a federally funded meal. Give them a break (and me too).

This is such a stupid over reaction. Let’s no forget that the “separation of church and state” clause isn’t actually in the Constitution. And let’s not also forget that the government can not prevent the free exercise of religion either. I mean, many seniors live off federal funds (and many people live on welfare, for that matter). Does this mean they can’t participate in prayer too? Or are we allowed to pray while driving on federally funded roads? How far can this go?

I think there’s a case here in defense of the seniors. I think this a violation of their rights.

AMEN!

Question for Christians: What Is the ONE THING I Need to Know About Praying?

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I’ve been tooling around with some thoughts for my next book (title forthcoming). In fact, I have a brief sketch of it (V will depend on money. I’m still way upside-down from my first book. It will also depend on time. The day-job and family (and current book) keep me very busy–not sure when I will have time to write the new one. I can’t take the time off and pay our bills from our line of credit this time around. Anyway, enough whining…
One of the things I’ve been thinking about is prayer. Yes, I know I discuss it in 10 Things I Hate About Christianity. But it such a huge part of a Christian’s life, it will often be a reoccurring subject. And this is what I’ve been wondering:
Imagine that we are having a conversation over a cup of coffee (or beer, Coke, or whatever you fancy). We both know it’s likely we’ll never see each other again, for whatever reason. So I am asking you a variety of questions. They are mainly life-lessons. I want to glean from your experience and gathered wisdom. One such subject is praying. So I ask you, as a fellow respecter and follower of Jesus, is:
What is the ONE thing I need to know about prayer that I can take with me for the rest of my life?”
So you lean back in the oversized leather armchair (which is standard cafe decor these days) and you say…
That’s what I’ve been thinking about. Lessons like this are the essence of the vision of my next project (in several different areas besides prayer).
So how would I answer that question?
I have one, but you’re gonna HATE me. Because you’ll have to wait for my answer.

Scientific Evidence for Prayer?

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I was doing some more research on prayer, the 2nd thing I hate about Christianity, and wondered if there is such a thing as scientific evidence for prayer? Well I found a study that claims to support this.

Now I don’t know anything about the guy who did the study or his site. But it does seem to be well-documented and had the support and involvement by the hospital that partnered in the process. Here’s the basic premise of the study:

1. A list of thousands of patients was randomly selected by computer
2. The patients were divided into 2 groups
3. One group was prayed for and one was not prayed for until each one was discharged from the hospital
4. The results were documented

The results are very interesting. And no, the patients did not know they were part of this study. There were no statistical differences between the patients before the prayer process was initiated.

But apparently things really changed after the praying began:

The results demonstrated that patients who were prayed for
suffered “less congestive heart failure, required less diuretic and
antibiotic therapy, had fewer episodes of pneumonia, had fewer cardiac arrests,
and were less frequently intubated and ventilated.

As I’ve said, I often wonder about prayer. It’s a very frustrating aspect of my faith. I’m not saying it doesn’t work. I’m just saying that I don’t often notice it working in my life. That’s why I found this article so curious.

Check it for your self. It’s interesting.

Praying & Politics

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Study of an Apostle's Hands (Praying Hands)

On Monday I revealed the 2nd thing I hate about Christianity which I dive (a little Olympic tribute there) in to in my book (read a sample here). I thought it would be interesting to talk about prayer in the news today.

The founder of Relevant Magazine, Cameron Strang, was scheduled to open up the Democratic National Convention in prayer but backed out this week. What is Relevant Magazine you aks? It describes itself as “Covering God, Life, and Progressive Culture” and is at the top of its game in this arena.

The Obama campaign has been courting Strang for a while. This week he backed out saying, “It wouldn’t be wise for me to be seen as picking a political side when
I’ve consistently said both sides are right in some areas and wrong in
some areas.” Don’t worry the DNC isn’t out a blessing. Donald Miller, author of Blue Like Jazz, stepped up to the plate and will do the prayer.

Curious that the act of praying could be so controversial. This leaves me to once again wonder:

What it’s for?

Does it work?

What’s the purpose?

The idea of prayer sure did something in this instance. And I have to say if I was put in a similar circumstance I would be challenged personally. I mean, imagine what kind of publicity I could get for my book!

But I would have to ask myself if praying is really for promotion and personal agenda? Mostly, I think praying should be a private act, or at least personal. After all, that’s what Jesus said to the ‘religious’ people. He blasted them because they would pray in public for show and to display how spiritual they were.

This is not to say that public prayer is out of place, but maybe context, both physically and personally, is important. I think the context can reveal the motivation and purpose. Like at church, a Christian-type conference, etc. prayer fits well and is less emotionally charged.

And not that praying before a convention like this is wrong. If anyone needs prayer, it’s our politicians. But again what is the purpose for the individual here? That’s the question I would have to ask myself personally. That’s what Strang asked himself. And answered it.

Of course, I am nobody special but I have one last question for Cameron Strang and Donald Miller:

Would you have answered the call if the Republicans asked you to pray for their convention?

I wonder…It just seems quite fashionable to reach out to Democratic-leaning leaders and voters, but stick a thumb in the eye of Republican-leaning ones.

Just something to think about as you ‘reach out.’

#2: Prayer

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My book is called “10 Things I Hate About Christianity: Working Through the Frustrations of Faith.” You can click here to read a sample. But what are those 10 things? Today I am talking about the second thing.

Of course, I am not going to post the whole chapter this time. I have to leave some mystery so you’ll buy my book. But I do want to talk about the idea and I’d like you to share your experiences with me on the subject.

#2 is PRAYER.

Pretty much everyone prays. Christians, Jews, Muslims all pray. In my life I have even had an atheist or two ask me to pray for them during a time of crisis. Even agnostics and atheists pray. It might be before crashing into the car in front of them, “God…HELP ME!” But I am convinced at some time and at certain points everyone prays.

Some people pray a lot. They pray long and hard. I have often heard them called ‘prayer warriors.’ Some people pray fairly regularly, just short and to the point. That’s me. These have been called ‘Nehemiah Prayers’ (see the Bible to explain that). Others mostly pray when there is a problem. That’s me too.

I pray and sometimes it makes me mad.

I often wonder if it works. You see, I don’t have things work out exactly like I’ve prayed or even at all most of the time.

Sometimes I think that my morning breath has greater force and effect than my prayers.

This leaves me to wonder:

1. What is prayer?

2. And why should we pray?

These have been some of my reoccurring questions with regard to prayer.

How would you answer them?

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