22 Replies to “You knew this was coming — prayer is the latest addiction

  1. 1
    bornagain77 says:

    Here is a humorous note:

    What happened when an semi-famous atheist dared God to show Himself? Sci-fi author John C. Wright shares his story. – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DfO0raZlMCQ

    A few more notes:

    Power of Prayer: Studies Find Prayer Can Lead to Cooperation, Forgiveness in Relationships – May 14, 2013
    Excerpt: “My previous research had shown that those who prayed for their partner reported more prosocial behavior toward their partner, but self-reports are subject to potential biased reporting,” Fincham said. “This set of studies is the very first to use objective indicators to show that prayer changed actual behavior, and that this behavior was apparent to the other partner, the subject of the prayer.”
    In addition, objective observers found those who engaged in partner-focused prayer exhibited more positive behavior toward their partners compared to those who did not pray for their partner.
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....184139.htm

    Scientific Evidence for Answered Prayer and the Existence of God – Rich Deem
    Excerpt: Obviously, science has demonstrated in three separate studies the efficacy of Christian prayer in medical studies. There is no “scientific” (non-spiritual) explanation for the cause of the medical effects demonstrated in these studies. The only logical, but not testable, explanation is that God exists and answers the prayers of Christians.
    http://www.godandscience.org/a.....wIolZKZqed

    A Systematic Review of the Empirical Literature on Intercessory Prayer – March 2010
    Excerpt: Meta-analysis indicated small, but significant, effect sizes for the use of intercessory prayer,,
    http://rsw.sagepub.com/cgi/con.....t/17/2/174

    Does God answer prayer? ASU research says ‘yes’ February 23, 2007
    Excerpt: In other words, does God – or some other type of transcendent entity – answer prayer for healing? According to Hodge’s study, “A Systematic Review of the Empirical Literature on Intercessory Prayer,” the answer is “Yes.”
    http://asunews.asu.edu/node/1545

    Prayer – Meta-Study reveals overall positive effect for intercessory prayer – 2007
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....195638.htm

    Study Of The Therapeutic Effects Of Proximal Intercessory Prayer (PIP) On Auditory and Visual Impairments In Rural Mozambique – 2010
    CONCLUSIONS: Rural Mozambican subjects exhibited improved audition and/or visual acuity subsequent to PIP. The magnitude of measured effects exceeds that reported in previous suggestion and hypnosis studies. Future study seems warranted to assess whether PIP may be a useful adjunct to standard medical care for certain patients with auditory and/or visual impairments, especially in contexts where access to conventional treatment is limited.
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20686441

  2. 2
    bornagain77 says:

    The following video is a very informative video from the Dr. who helped conduct the preceding study:

    Testing Prayer: Science and Miraculous Healing – Candy Gunther Brown at Boston College – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rRfLooh3ZOk

    Dr. Craig Keener, author of “Miracles: The Credibility of the New Testament Accounts” – video playlist
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v.....38;index=1

    the SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test) scores for students showed a steady decline, for seventeen years from the top spot or near the top spot in the world, after the removal of prayer from the public classroom by the Supreme Court, not by public decree, in 1963. Whereas the SAT scores for private Christian schools have consistently remained at the top, or near the top, spot in the world:

    The Real Reason American Education Has Slipped – David Barton – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4318930

    I have a fundamental belief in the Bible as the Word of God, written by men who were inspired. I study the Bible daily…. All my discoveries have been made in an answer to prayer.
    Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1727), considered by many to be the greatest scientist of all time

    Music and verse:

    James 4:3
    When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.

    Kari Jobe – Revelation Song – Passion 2013
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3dZMBrGGmeE

  3. 3
    bornagain77 says:

    For those who believe they are praying to nothing when they pray to a higher dimension, let me inform you that there really is a higher dimension above this 3-Dimensional world:

    Please compare the similarity of the optical effect, noted at the 3:22 minute mark of the following video, when the 3-Dimensional world ‘folds and collapses’ into a tunnel shape around the direction of travel as a ‘hypothetical’ observer moves towards the ‘higher dimension’ of the speed of light, with the ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ reported in very many Near Death Experiences: (Of note: This following video was made by two Australian University Physics Professors with a supercomputer.)

    Approaching The Speed Of Light – Optical Effects – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/5733303/

    Here is the interactive website, with link to the relativistic math at the bottom of the page, related to the preceding video;

    Seeing Relativity
    http://www.anu.edu.au/Physics/Searle/

    Ask the Experts: What Is a Near-Death Experience (NDE)? – article with video
    Excerpt: “Very often as they’re moving through the tunnel, there’s a very bright mystical light … not like a light we’re used to in our earthly lives. People call this mystical light, brilliant like a million times a million suns…”
    – Jeffrey Long M.D. – has studied NDE’s extensively
    http://abcnews.go.com/Nightlin....._gydvW8jbI

    The NDE and the Tunnel – Kevin Williams’ research conclusions
    Excerpt: I started to move toward the light. The way I moved, the physics, was completely different than it is here on Earth. It was something I had never felt before and never felt since. It was a whole different sensation of motion. I obviously wasn’t walking or skipping or crawling. I was not floating. I was flowing. I was flowing toward the light. I was accelerating and I knew I was accelerating, but then again, I didn’t really feel the acceleration. I just knew I was accelerating toward the light. Again, the physics was different – the physics of motion of time, space, travel. It was completely different in that tunnel, than it is here on Earth. I came out into the light and when I came out into the light, I realized that I was in heaven.
    Barbara Springer

    Near Death Experience – The Tunnel – video
    http://www.vimeo.com/29021432

    “Regardless, it is impossible for me to adequately describe what I saw and felt. When I try to recount my experiences now, the description feels very pale. I feel as though I’m trying to describe a three-dimensional experience while living in a two-dimensional world. The appropriate words, descriptions and concepts don’t even exist in our current language. I have subsequently read the accounts of other people’s near-death experiences and their portrayals of heaven and I able to see the same limitations in their descriptions and vocabulary that I see in my own.”
    Mary C. Neal, MD – To Heaven And Back pg. 71

    Dr. Quantum in Flatland – 3D in a 2D world – video
    http://www.disclose.tv/action/....._2D_world/

    Near Death Experience – The Tunnel, The Light, The Life Review – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4200200/

  4. 4
    Breckmin says:

    In skimming the article…I couldn’t help but put together a couple of lines that stood out:

    But he also smoked too much….So Mr. Gold created a god he doesn’t believe exists: a large African-American lesbian with an Afro that reached the edges of the universe.

    Before the article I was already concerned about “who” they were praying to (and Who they SHOULD be praying to)..

    Now I’m not entirely certain that tobacco was the only thing being burned here…

  5. 5
    Barb says:

    Some may wonder if the effectiveness of prayer is limited to human ability: A person prays, arranging his thoughts and expressing them in words. Having thus defined his problem, he seeks a fitting solution and is alert to everything that may contribute toward finding it. When his problem is solved, he may credit God, but it was actually his own mind and efforts that produced the desired results.

    Many today think that that is all there really is to prayer. Do you? Is the power of prayer thus limited? Granted, a person’s mental and physical efforts in harmony with his prayers play a significant role in receiving answers. What, however, of God’s own role in the matter? Does God listen when you pray to him? Does he count your prayers important, giving consideration to their content and responding to them?

    The answers to these questions are significant. If God does not give his attention to our prayers, then prayer is of no more than psychological value. On the other hand, if God does receive and listen with interest to each of our prayers, how grateful we should be for such a provision! It should move us to make use of that provision every day.

  6. 6
    bornagain77 says:

    News you might appreciate this:

    Neuroscience and the Soul – Full Interview with J.P. Moreland – video – July 2013
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v.....DA-E_2yjM4

    Or if you are not a big J.P. Moreland fan as I am, there are other notable speakers on Neuroscience and the Soul that Biola has recently uploaded:

    http://www.youtube.com/user/BiolaUniversity/videos

  7. 7
    bornagain77 says:

    This looks to be a playlist of the conference:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v.....C32wkupUcg

  8. 8
    Breckmin says:

    @ 5

    Barb,
    I appreciate your wisdom. From a theological view, however, you may raise more questions for the critical thinker. Often the question is asked, “If God is sovereign, then why pray?” and the answer we sometimes give back is “it is because God is sovereign that we should pray.” Inherent in this question is “Does prayer change God’s immutable mind?” Systematically the answer is (or should be)always “of course not” – not only because God is omniscient (and we have nothing to add to change God’s plan/mind – and God already knows our prayers before we pray them), but also because if anything alters God’s plan, then God is not sovereign. How human free will is reconciled with this – is a very important one to understand – and the theological terminology of “secondary causes” and other terms (and what we mean by these) must be explained and more distinctions must be made.

    In the end it all comes back to a relationship between creature and Creator (a Father/adopted child relationship)…and how the creature/child can still beseech the Creator as a secondary cause and still be a part of God’s omniscient plan. These experiences are personal and are seen throughout a life time of what the world might think are “coincidences” (with the exception of miracles of course – wish I personally have seen).

    On a completely different note – the biggest problem for the skeptic is the inability to ever “test” prayer. The reason is that those who are “adopted” into Christ have a biblical command to never test God (and also because Holy prayer is so personal – a true “mature” follower of Christ would never WANT to be part of testing his/her Heavenly Father out of disbelieving/distrusting activity.

    If you can’t get mature born-again Christians to participate, then you can’t ever test the prayers of those who are seeing God’s hand at work and testifying about it the most. Any experiment therefore involving “testing prayer” is going to be empty of the saints who are thus “the closest” to God from a historical Christian P.O.V.

    Those willing to test the Holy Creator…could actually bring more judgment (of both disbelief and lack of answer to prayer) upon those testing. Question why.

  9. 9
    Axel says:

    An interesting thing about prayer is that, after praying for a while, your heart will actually continue to pray informally for while of its own accord!

    Prayer: ‘the raising of the mind and heart to God’, but the heart’s more of a die-hard desperado, it seems. Which is as it should be, surely, since it would be a sad day if we were to be judged on our minds.

  10. 10
    Axel says:

    #5 It’s all about the disposition of the heart, Barb, as I expect you know. Prayer doesn’t even have to be formal. Any appropriate response to divine inspiration would be a form of prayer, wouldn’t it?

    Are you familiar with J P De Caussade’s Abandonment to Divine Providence, and the Sacrament of the Present Moment, as he calls it? It is better to put a piece of paper in the waste-paper basket if that’s what God wants of you at that moment, than to give your body to be burnt at the stake, instead.

    One can see the rationale for the saying that to work is to pray (when performed for the glory of God), granted that it was pursuant to God’s wish in that situation.

  11. 11
    Mung says:

    The psalmist appeared to suffer from this addiction, as did Jesus.

    And then Jesus taught his disciples to likewise become addicted.

  12. 12
    Andre says:

    It was prayer that transformed me from a nihilistic atheist three years ago. I still don’t know why exactly I prayed, maybe it was fear or desperation perhaps both, but the results were life changing.

    And if you told me I was going to change the next day, I would have told you exactly where to get off.

  13. 13
    Chance Ratcliff says:

    Andre @12, I think that experience is both remarkable and common. I believe many conversion experiences are rooted in supplication. In my case I think my conversion had its genesis in the prayers of others (intercession), although the result was my willingness to offer requests and concessions of my own to an unknown God in prayer, to which He responded.

  14. 14
    Andre says:

    Chance

    In my case, boy did He respond!

  15. 15
    Axel says:

    ‘Some may wonder if the effectiveness of prayer is limited to human ability: A person prays, arranging his thoughts and expressing them in words. Having thus defined his problem, he seeks a fitting solution and is alert to everything that may contribute toward finding it. When his problem is solved, he may credit God, but it was actually his own mind and efforts that produced the desired results.’

    On the contrary, Barb. I often read individual’s laments that sometimes they found it very difficult to pray, beset, moreover, by a host of distractions – and they are talking about in a church setting.

    However, if a Christian (not necessarily, an atheist) puts himself/herself in God’s shoes, who’s efforts would they be most touched, most moved by? Someone who was justifiably enjoying a beautiful communion with God in prayer in peace and tranquility of mind and heart? Or a poor soul struggling, seemingly fighting a losing battle, but pressing on, limping and clomping along, game as a pebble, downhearted, but determined? It’s not an exact parallel obviously, but the situation reminds me of the Parable of the Lost Sheep, except that this sheep is struggling to find the Shepherd again.

    I say, not necessarily, an atheist, because many seem to be of the opinion that an almighty deity would have far more important things to do than to show compassion to a little dot, less than a dot, in his universe.

  16. 16
    Axel says:

    From your #8, Breckmin:

    ‘Inherent in this question is “Does prayer change God’s immutable mind?” Systematically the answer is (or should be)always “of course not” – not only because God is omniscient (and we have nothing to add to change God’s plan/mind – and God already knows our prayers before we pray them), but also because if anything alters God’s plan, then God is not sovereign. How human free will is reconciled with this – is a very important one to understand – and the theological terminology of “secondary causes” and other terms (and what we mean by these) must be explained and more distinctions must be made.’

    I believe it was St Ambrose who, commenting on the Our Father, made the point that God knows our needs in any case, but that by prayer we establish and nurture our loving personal relationship with God.

  17. 17
    Barb says:

    Axel @ 16:

    by prayer we establish and nurture our loving personal relationship with God.

    Agreed. It’s not simply a psychological crutch, as some would think.

  18. 18
    Brent says:

    Breckmin @8,

    The thing we can say easily, though to work it out is very deep, is that God’s sovereign decision was, from the foundation of the world, to answer to His children’s cries. This is basically the point at which Calvinism goes completely wrong: Calvinism limits God’s sovereignty by decreeing that God must not allow freedom to His creatures; He had to, and was not free to do otherwise.

    God doesn’t always get what He wants. If he did, it would mean that God wanted us to sin. God must have sovereignly decided to limit his will where it comes to man, and that because of a higher desire to create men with free will.

  19. 19
    Breckmin says:

    #18 Brent

    This is basically the point at which Calvinism goes completely wrong: Calvinism limits God’s sovereignty by decreeing that God must not allow freedom to His creatures; He had to, and was not free to do otherwise.

    I’ve never heard it put this way by a Calvinist, though I’m sure there are so called “hyper” Calvinists which may wrongfully think of “ordination” this way. Is there something specific you read from Augustine, Luther, Calvin or Edwards? (that is making you think of it this way?) Your phrase “God must not allow freedom to His creatures” is what is in dispute here. I don’t think that (know if) Theodore Beza, Louis Berkhof, Abraham Kuyper, or even John Gill would speak this way.

    God doesn’t always get what He wants. If he did, it would mean that God wanted us to sin. God must have sovereignly decided to limit his will where it comes to man, and that because of a higher desire to create men with free will.

    But please don’t confuse man’s free will (libertarian) with God’s Decretive Will…and don’t confuse God’s Decretive Will with God’s perceptive will. In layman’s terminology there has been a historical usage of “God’s Desired Will” to be put inside a circle of “God’s Sovereign Will” but in systematic theology we do not generally say that God’s Permissive Will is not/never His Desired Will. We must understand that a single English word “will” can not encompass what we mean when we talk about God’s Decretive Will (sometimes called efficacious will or hidden will).

    I think I agree with what you meant in this last paragraph and can see how it is reconciled with the second sentence (of the third point) of the London Baptist Confession 1989:

    -“Yet in such a way that God is neither the author of sin nor does He have fellowship with any in the committing of sins, nor is violence offered to the will of the creature , nor yet is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established.”

    We must remember that “decree” does NOT mean “cause” or “authors.” That would wrongfully make God the author of moral evil and fail to make the free will distinction.

    So when it says that God has ordained all that comes to pass or Decrees all that comes to pass this is “inclusive” of His Permissive Will to “allow” things rather than to just cause everything.

    I do not call myself a Calvinist or an Augustinian because I believe in an esoteric philosophy called Theostiacism or Logosism which includes different concepts (i.e. I reject all Lapsarian views and hold to a position of “Simul Lapsarianism” rather than Infra Lapsarianism (if I was stuck with the conventional choices)). I do, however, spend much of my time explaining/defending Augustinian concepts (sometimes inaccurately called Calvinism).

    Your phrase “God doesn’t always get what He wants” by itself before you clarified it in relation to sin was therefore a slight disagreement in the way in which you worded it. Sin is not part of God’s Perceptive Will but it IS part of His Permissive Will and therefore His Decretive Will. God will deal with all sin to His full glory…and He will “together act with it” to bring about His Perfect Plan.

    That last sentence alone could be a topic of a 300 page book so I won’t try to explain it unless you ask.

  20. 20
    Brent says:

    Breckmin, thanks for your thorough response. I’m often unclear because I think people will immediately get what I mean, and I try not to be wordy which I utterly fail at on my best days. I think you did get my points basically, however.

    To quote myself:

    This is basically the point at which Calvinism goes completely wrong: Calvinism limits God’s sovereignty by decreeing that God must not allow freedom to His creatures; He had to, and was not free to do otherwise.

    That was stated clumsily. Calvinists seem so bent on “protecting” God’s sovereignty that they deny man choice. God chooses who He chooses because we as sinners haven’t the ability to even choose God. “If we were able to choose God, then God isn’t sovereign,” they say. But this misses the point by not allowing God to choose to give man a choice, and in this way, they have not “allowed” God to be sovereign. According to them, if man has a choice in the universe, God’s sovereignty is seen as limited, and since this cannot be, therefore God, according to them, was actually constrained to not allow man free will.

    As for “speaking this way”, as you say, no, I’m sure not many (any) Calvinists would. It seems the logical conclusion from other of their premises, however.

    Now that I’m sure I’ve confused you more, let me say that I think we are generally in agreement, and apologize because laymen terms are all I’ve got (just as happily so, though I can appreciate the technical as it may speed up and clarify discussion). The problem with the technical often comes in because sometimes further implications of what is meant by a technical term aren’t so immediately obvious, and people start missing the forest for the bark. The Devil’s in the details, while God is enveloping all.

    I must say, though, that I wonder about how “decree” is being used. I have an issue if it is supposed to be taken as something outside of God’s will. Either God decrees something because that is what He knows is best, or He is forced to. Obviously He isn’t forced to, so He apparently decrees things because they are what’s best, which is consistent with His nature. But if that’s the case, God’s decrees are the same as His will because it is simply the outworking of His will to do what is best.

    And as I think about it, what are these different “wills”? They are all the same basic sort of thing; i.e., will. Perhaps this is just one area where the technical is getting in our way a bit. I said “higher desire”, by which I mean higher will. I think it is the same thing which is being attempted to be distinguished by a more technical term, but it is less confusing. Or are perceptive, permissive, and decretive will actually different sorts of things? I don’t think so.

    A great last sentence it was. I have no trouble accepting and believing it. God’s greatest “defeat” was His greatest achievement.

  21. 21
    Breckmin says:

    All day long I was worried when I came be to read #19 that what I feared had happened with spell check happened. “Preceptive” came up with the red underline so I wrongfully changed it to “Perceptive” using spell check and didn’t think about it. Preceptive will is based on “precepts.”

    @ 20 Brent

    Your last line show the perspective (or point of view) on how words are used. We normally would say the Cross of Jesus is a Victory not a defeat.

    There is a lot here that I feel I could/should clarify, but perhaps at a later time.

  22. 22
    Brent says:

    And now we see the limits of the dogmatic layman! If I knew anything at all I would have realized you meant preceptive.

    I suppose that it all comes down in the same place in the end, however: Different types of God’s will are still all God’s will. It can certainly be helpful to distinguish why God may will one thing over and against another, but we must always be careful, I think, to remember God isn’t facing a dilemma between this or that, unlike when we have a conflict of will. He always acts perfectly in accordance with His own nature.

    In that sense, God acting always perfectly in accord with His own nature, it is perhaps a little untrue to speak of God as having a will at all (at least it’s different from man’s), although permissible, I think, in that it helps us understand Him better.

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