When it comes to prayer being answered, most of us do not get answers. We
don't. That is why I enjoyed Teryl Givens talk titled Letter to a Doubter.
There is truth in reality.
Using the logic of the author, I am the king of the world (but just not in the
way I expected), I can speak Chinese (but just not in a way that anyone can
understand) I am the richest man in the world (but not in money), I am a great
musician (to my own taste) and my dad loved me (just not in a way I could
understand). So why do I need religion to believe any or all of the
above? When your thesis statement is only supportable by isolated
anecdotes and distorting reality, your thesis statement is weak. Perhaps a
better, more supportable, thesis would be "I have faith that prayers are
answered" or "I hope prayers are answered".
I like to think of prayer in the same way I think about the majority of herbal
supplements: the important thing is to believe that it's going to work.
Kristine, I enjoyed reading your article and have personally known the truth of
these same thoughts on prayer.
If you are totally devoid of faith, then you cannot expect to receive answers to
your prayers. Faith comes first before revelation; the natural man cannot
receive revelation, because it comes through the Spirit, and things of the
Spirit are foolishness onto him. The comments thus far on this article indicate
a failure to understand how God works, rather an expectation that he should work
in the ways of men, and operate in a manner that we choose, rather than as he
chooses. It shows a great deal of pride and frankly arrogance about the capacity
of one's own mental faculties, which is the most distinguishing trait of
atheism. Those of us who earnestly seek to receive answers to our
prayers and have the faith to listen to whatever we are told, by whatever manner
it is given to us, will receive answers to our prayers. Prayer is not like
making a call on your cell phone. It requires a lot more effort than that.
Thus we pray, Thy will be done.And it is.
If God answers prayers in ways I cannot expect or predict, then how can I
possibly know whether or not whatever happens is really some form of an answer
to my prayer? Perhaps the result is purely coincidental or maybe just the
natural (as opposed to the supernatural) ebb and flow of life. Those willing to
accept the premise that their prayers are always answered should try not praying
and see if they can detect a discernible difference. I suspect that most folks
who hold such a belief have never really tested it. Sure, such an experiment is
difficult (perhaps impossible) to control because of the subjective nature of
faith. The heart of the matter is not whether God actually answers prayers, it
is whether or not a person wants to believe He does.
One way to test empirically the efficacy of prayer would be to confirm the
prescence of a broken bone with an x-ray. Then introduce an intervention,
prayer, followed up with another x-ray to see if any improvement was made. Sam
Harris proposes that people could pray that an amputee would regrow their
missing limb. These tests could help control for the ambiguity sometimes seen
with the efficacy of prayer.
Despite the myriad of doubters and comments to the contrary, prayers are
answered. Those of us who have them answered know it to be true. Most of those
are very sacred experiences and since the doubters doubt that sacred even exists
it is hard to "prove" otherwise. Sad, they will really never know. Sad
When we discuss prayer and their answers, we seem to draw the skeptics out of
the woodwork. The doubter claims it is just a trick our mind plays and we only
think that some divine intervention has been conveyed and that we must stretch
the facts to believe that a prayer was answered.For those, like me,
who pray regularly and have had multitudes of prayers answered -- well, I
can't and I won't try to prove it to anyone. I know what I have
experienced and that is sufficient for me.Even so, I am aware that
my reasoning will be debated and so be it. Still, I am grateful for the
Lord's blessings in my life and always will be.
ulvgarrd, well said.
For myself, I know God answers prayers, but often not the way we expect, at
least not initially. When I was much younger, I often got answers that at first
I thought were wrong somehow. (Sometimes, indeed, I have gotten it wrong due to
my own emotions, pride, preconceived ideas, influence of others etc.) But
sometimes I would feel a peaceful impression and try to follow it, only to have
it turn out totally different from what I expected, not a conclusive solution,
but rather an experience, sometimes maybe a little disquieting, but, that taught
me to understand for myself what the right answer was and maybe more about life
than I had originally asked about. God doesn't want robots. He wants us to
grow and be able to know and decide things for ourselves. Yes, sometimes we
have to make a critical yes or no decision in a moment, and I believe he will
help us as we have need and to the extent we have made ourselves willing and
able to listen and follow. But I do believe, that otherwise he desires us to
grow to be able to make good choices for ourselves. He loves us.
When we discuss prayer and their answers, we seem to draw the extremists of the
woodwork. Where certainty exists, faith is over. The writer of this article and
many commenters sound like they have no need of faith at this point. They know.
Naysayers are operating on the premise that God does not exist, therefore,
prayers to him cannot be answered. Believers are operating on the opposite
premise: God does exist, therefore, prayers are answered. The former must accept
that beneficial circumstances they experience in life are circumstantial. The
latter accepts that answers that come are for the benefit of the praying
individual, regardless of whether and when his/her wants are met. I fit the
latter category, and have learned to wait upon the Lord for his wisdom to be
revealed. It is very real. Sometimes the answers are yes, sometimes no,
sometimes silent because he wants me to learn and progress. In this last case,
the answers come silently and slowly. But in his time, not mine, the answers
One of the most powerful prayers I ever heard about concerned the Martin Company
at the Sweetwater River.These people were cold (freezing) and hungry
(starving).What did they pray for? I would have prayed for an elk
or deer to wander by, or for one to drop dead in camp.But these people had
learned more than I.They prayed that their bodies might take nutrition
from the leather straps and pieces they would boil. Something they already had
in their possesion.This teaches me a lot about faith and prayers.
GL W8: There is no such thing as coincidence. Things always happens for a
reason. I firmly believe that when things are placed before us it is our
decisions that determines the outcome. Prayers are answered every day, every
minute and every second. A young man gets a call to meet a friend
at the mall. His gut tells him not to go because of some unforeseen reason. He
goes and is involved in an accident. Coincidence. No, he had a prompting not
to go but he went. If he had listened he wouldn't have been in the
accident. Many of us fails to listen to what is given to us because we feel it
is nonsense. There are some that will laugh and latterly roll on the floor
because they have never experienced such a thing. Joseph Smith
received an answer to his prayers and the Doctrine and Covenants are all answers
to prayers, not questions but prayers. Prayers are answered by the actions of
others or through divine intervention but they are always answered in the
Lord's time and in the Lord's way.
"Naysayers are operating on the premise that God does not exist, therefore,
prayers to him cannot be answered. Believers are operating on the opposite
premise: God does exist, therefore, prayers are answered. "This
is an extremely simplistic and inaccurate portrayal of reality. I believe God
exists, but He does not waste his time helping people find car keys, etc. He
does not help sports teams at the expense of other teams. His desire to observe
the laws of agency (or perhaps other rules) prevent him from answering many
prayers. It is ridiculous to say that God exists, therefore prayers are
answered.Simply restating (your belief or hope) that all prayers are
answered does not make it so. Simply stating anecdote after anecdote is equally
unconvincing as there are anecdotes supporting the opposite view. You who seem
to "know" everything lack faith (or are at least missing the point
regarding faith and hope) in my opinion.
I like the part in the article relating of the early saints' faith being
tried. This is an important concept to remember -- that faith needs to be tried.
The same goes with getting answers to our prayers sometimes.3 Nephi
26:9,11 has some similar concepts about faith needing to be tried; but this
example relates to the amount of scripture God allowed to be given to the
people. "9 And when they shall have received this, which is
expedient that they should have first, to try their faith, and if it shall so be
that they shall believe these things then shall the greater things be made
manifest unto them.11 Behold, I was about to write them, all which
were engraven upon the plates of Nephi, but the Lord forbade it, saying: I will
try the faith of my people."Faith is such an important
principle. And if we pass the trial of our faith, we are given greater things!
I'm not sure what to think of a God whose answer to prayers was to allow
the deaths of 1.5 million children during the Holocaust.The world I
live in is just a little more complex than the pat answers we sometimes dole
out. In the end it is merely a choice: to exercise fatih in such a
God or not. I judge no man who chooses to not believe in such a
bj-hpFor every little hypothetical story you give there are
literally hundreds of thousands of stories that illustrate that prayer
doesn't work. If I pray that the sun will come up in the morning, does that
mean the prayer is the reason it came up? Of course not. If a person gets a gut
feeling not to go, and goes anyways and everything turns out ok then why did he
have that feeling. What about the people who never have a gut feeling to not go
somewhere and they get killed in an accident? Why would prayer be needed if god
knows what we need anyways? Plenty of people have great things that happen,
despite not praying. And many people have terrible things happen to them,
despite praying to avoid them. What about the family that prays to travel in
safety and they get killed in a car accident? Is that a prayer being answered in
a way that we don't always expect? Of course not, it is coincidence. Those
who believe in prayer always say it works when they get what they pray for, but
ignore the times when it doesn't work.
Fred TDo you forget how many poor souls died on that trek? Men,
women, and children? Why didn't god answer their prayers? I don't
think you can consider it a prayer answered when you have a huge group of people
crossing the wilderness and half of them die. I am quite sure they would have
ran across a deer or an elk anyways, because it is, you know, the wilderness.
Johnny MoserMost of us have already tested it, and found that the
same things happen when we don't pray as happened when we did pray. It is
all the same. Only difference is that when you pray you attribute all of the
good things to you having prayed, and all the bad things to being a 'trial
of faith.' When you don't pray you realize the good and the bad come
no matter what, and that prayers don't help either side.
The primary purpose of a prayer is not to receive something, but rather to
express thanks and love to our Heavenly Father. Sometimes we are blessed and
instructed in return, and this is an added benefit. We should pray because this
gives joy to our Heavenly Parent, Who rejoices greatly when we take steps to
return to Him. I often gain glimpses of heavenly things while praying, and this
is deeply appreciated. It really isn't that hard to believe.
bj-hpTell me then how a family prays to travel safe and they get
killed in an accident on that very trip. How is that an answer to the prayer to
travel safe? Conversely, many travel safe who don't pray for that safety.
It is all coincidence and I am sure you don't have a rational explanation
as to why those 2 scenarios happen.
Brahmabull-From LDS.org under 'Prayer': "Heavenly
Father hears our prayers. He may not always answer as we expect, but He does
answer — in His own time and according to His will. Because He knows what
is best for us, He may sometimes answer no, even when our petitions are
sincere."Here are some good scriptures to consider as well:Alma 7:23 - "And now I would that ye should be humble, and be
submissive and gentle; easy to be entreated; full of patience and
long-suffering; being temperate in all things; being diligent in keeping the
commandments of God at all times; asking for whatsoever things ye stand in need,
both spiritual and temporal; always returning thanks unto God for whatsoever
things ye do receive."3 Nephi 18:20 - "And whatsoever ye
shall ask the Father in my name, which is right, believing that ye shall
receive, behold it shall be given unto you."
Brahmabull: When did you stop praying? No rationale that I give is going to
satisfy you. Nothing is going to convince you that Heavenly Father answers all
prayers. As noted in your comments above, you're looking for something
that no one on this earth can explain to you. You want to oppose it because you
have lost the faith and belief in something that really works. In the past on
much the same type of subject you've been given many examples of how
prayers are answered. The key though is it isn't our will. Just as the
words of blessing carry very little weight as to the will of the Father.Until you have an open mind and an open heart to hear the spirit (Holy
Ghost) speak to you nothing will give you the rationale you seem to seek. Elder
Bednar in his talk during the past General Conference, "The Windows of
Heaven" gave an excellent talk on the questions you've asked. Don't mock the things of God but embrace them. Quit trying to prove it
is wrong. There is no such thing as coincidence. Stating it is coincidence is
a cop out.
bj-hpYou said it. Gods will will happen either way. Thus us praying
one way or another doesn't influence god's will. Same thing with
priesthood blessings. I have seen blessed people who were blessed to heal who
died, and I saw a man who was sealed up to heaven during a blessing who
didn't die, but lived for a long time. Thus, those things don't affect
the will of god. Just because you attribute random acts to god, and others
don't, doesn't mean anything.
Bj-hp: I don’t find anything in your response that disagrees with my
comments. You put it very well!1aggie: true, my syllogisms were
simplistic. Keep in mind I only had 200 words, which made fleshing them out
impossible. I was merely trying to introduce two opposing viewpoints.