actual use in prayer?

I think that prayer is just about the most futile thing you can do, and besides making yourself feel more assured, perhaps, it has no actual benefits.

Even to the very religious, the power of prayer can be disproven through Aristotlian logic:

Assume that God does exist, and that he is the omniscient, omnipotent being all established religions hold him to be, then, before making any decision, he would be able to see forward in time and would be able to know all the consequences of making a decision.

In effect, God does not make a decision he will end up regretting.

But in praying to him, you are asking of him a favor, which expresses some discontent with the present condition and begs for some change. This would mean that the present condition is not optimal, and not what should have been ordained by the Lord, etc…

But were God actually to hear your prayer and carry the wish out, this would imply that the perfect being is in fact regretting a past decision, but this would contradict a point previously arrived at, so the whole system of prayer falls apart.

That’s basically it, and the implications of this are still to be found.

Prayer has been research with plants, animals and all kinds of things, it has been shown effective.


Lee Chow, you’re assuming that prayer is us attempting to hornswaggle, wheedle, or bargain God into doing our wills. It can be that, of course, but the proper style of prayer, according to one Jesus of Nazareth, involves such petitions in the context of subordinating our wills to His, and relying on Him to ensure that we can obtain our necessities. ("…Thy will be done on earth as in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread…")

It also ignores the fact that God’s followers are commanded to pray, not because He needs to be reminded of what needs to be done, but because in His opinion it’s good for us to remind ourselves that He and not we are in charge.

All this, of course, is based on the presumption that there is a God and that Jesus had the Straight Dope on what He wants. But, as you might have gathered, I do believe that.

Given that presumption for the sake of argument, does that explanation help make it make sense?

(Neglected in composing previous post – “our daily bread” is synecdoche for “the necessities of our life” – Jesus was fond of pithy synecdoches like this.

–Prayer has been research with plants, animals and all kinds of things, it has been shown effective.–

Really? I’d like to see the proof on that. (Not sarcastically)

Polycarp , so basically you’re agreeing with me that prayer has no inherent purpose except to bolster our faith in God?

Someone once said (I’ll find the cite if necessary) they knew there was not a god because he realized that when he prayed he was talking to himself.

My opinion. If you don’t hear God answer… you’re sane. If you hear him you’ve got problems.

“God is not willing to do all things by Himself and so take away that share of glory that is rightfully ours.” – Niccolo Macchiavelli

By answering prayer He lifts us to the status of partners with Him in the carrying out of His will. But junior partners – we need to keep in mind that He is still in charge, and has a better handle on the situation than we, and that our bright ideas about how He could better do things may not always be the best move.

So now you’re saying we pray so that God offers us with an illusion of actual importance in making decisions whereas he really has all the power?


Prayer is the means by which we brings our souls closer to our Lord. It is the nature of man that such acts are more frequent when we are feeling doubt, need, pain, fear, or the thousand other ills of the world in which we live. However prayer of thanksgiving, and prayer of the “Joyful noise” variety is just as dear to us.

Many groups of Christians, and non Christians as well, spend many hours in prayer on a regular, even daily basis. They do not feel that effort is wasted. While the benefit may not be measurable in a way that would satisfy the more objectivist portion of our audience, it is not pointless. It builds our faith, and our faith is precious to us.


You’re obviously too young to know about the '69 Mets.

Otherwise you would not have created this thread in the first place.


leechow09 We Christians pray to God to communicate with Him. Like have a relationship. To share our desires and concerns as well as implore for understanding and guidance.

Your implication that the present situation is less than optimal hardly requires a logical deduction. Look around. Try observation. I hardly need to go into a dissertation of God’s great plan for mankind involving the perfecting of free will do I ? :slight_smile:

It might well be that the only purpose of prayer is communion with God and increased assurance in one’s faith. It strikes me as futile because I do not experience this communion with God, nor do I experience greater faith through prayer. However, to one who does experience communion with God through prayer, prayer is of great value in strengthening their faith in God and aiding their communion with God.

It may be human nature to pray for a specific outcome, but perhaps the perceived benefit of prayer is not in specific outcomes.

To speak on the humanistic side of the fence (Polycarp has the spiritual side extremely well covered), prayer’s a form of meditation. Meditation tends overall to calm, to lower stress; ongoing stress does unpleasant things to a person’s health and mind.

Beyond that, the placebo effect is a powerful thing, and can function well even when you’re intellectually aware that it may “only” be a placebo.
here it is again

I have always wondered what a “placebo effect” was and why naming the event causes us to think we understand it.


Not all prayer involves “asking . . . a favor”:

  1. Where is the actual research published?
  2. Where was it duplicated by independent researchers?

As Polycarp already pointed out so eloquently, prayer is not for God’s benefit, but for our own.

I instruct my children that when I (or anyone else) gives them something, they should say “thank you.” Why? Do I really need the “thank you?” No, I don’t. The point is that they should learn to acknowledge the good that is done for them.

There are words in Hebrew that have a active tense (shavarti I broke) and others that have an passive tense (nishbarti I was broken). The words “to pray” hispallel is a reflexive word. We pray, not for God per se, but for ourselves, for our own benefit.

Zev Steinhardt

It hasn’t been duplicated. The most likely explanation for this? The file drawer effect. Do enough research and sometimes the deviations will be fairly large. The research where prayer is shown to have no effect, or adverse effect, is either not published, or just ignored by the media, while the occasional freak hit is front page news.