If I pray for faith and it doesn't come...

I should preface this by saying that I’m fairly certain that I would be accurately described as an Agnostic. I don’t know whether God exists, and I’m not sure that I’ll ever know.

However, when certain stresses or worries have become acute in my life, I have prayed for answers, solutions, or for the well-being of my family.

Basically, I pray for things that are either out of my control or beyond my abilities. I pray for God to change things in me, to make me a better father, husband, etc. Sometimes, the things I pray for work out (my daughter is healthy and happy), sometimes they don’t (my marriage is on the rocks).

I’ve prayed a lot lately.

I’ve even prayed for God, if He’s out there, to give me a little faith or inspiration, but that hasn’t happened.

I’m not sure I believe there’s anybody listening.
So, am I an Atheist in a foxhole?

Are those things really beyond your control? All you can do is try your best. Are you doing the best that you can? Maybe you should stop looking outside yourself and start looking inside.

Have you ever noticed that the results of prayer bear a striking resemblance to randomness?:wink: An ounce of marriage counseling is worth a pound of prayer.

I think you are leaning towards atheism, but you’re not yet ready to admit it to yourself. It’s tough to face the fact that there’s no daddy in the sky to take care of us. But if you need support from outside yourself, sometimes we plain ol’ human beings can be very helpful.:slight_smile:

Well, I pray about things from time to time and more often or not, I get answers. Maybe not the answer I want, but an answer none the less. God is there. I know it. If the results of prayer bear a striking resemblance to randomness, then I am the luckiest man alive when it comes to these things.

Well, like I said, I’m more or less Agnostic. “Who knows?” tends to sum it up.

And of course I’d be an idiot if I was trusting “Who knows?” to fix all my problems. Marriage Counseling is in the works, etc.

Well, see, there’s the problem right there. You can’t really pray for faith because it takes faith to pray. You can pray for inspiration, to know God more, for Him to help you become a better person, etc, but he is never going to prove he exists just because you said something on your knees with your eyes closed. You have to believe for the prayer to do anything, otherwise you might as well be pleading to a rock.

The results of prayer are bound to be random if the person praying doesn’t believe the prayer will be answered. He or she has already sabotaged the outcome by thinking “I know this isn’t going to work”. If you are sure you won’t hear anything back - you won’t. It’s a self fulfilling prophecy.

But don’t lose hope. I wasn’t praying when I found my faith. God just reached down, grabbed me by the brain, and said “HI!”. Shook me up for weeks.

But all this assumes that you have no faith. Even if you just have a little, your prayers can be answered. Only you know if you have none or a little, but for prayer to work you have to believe.

I think it depends very much on what you pray for.

You said:

See, that’s the problem. Praying for your daughter’s health or happiness, praying taht your marriage works out, that’s like praying for a winning lottery ticket. That’s not how prayer works.

What you need to pray for are the things that ARE within your control or abilities. Try praying for the strength and courage to work on making your marriage better…and then go and WORK ON IT. Pray for the patience to be a better father, and then go and practice.

My experience is that praying for things that are beyond my ability or out of my control is futile. I pray for the strength and courage to work on changing the things that ARE within my ability, that are within reach, that I CAN control… and then my prayers are almost always answered.

Futile? In that God doesn’t have the power or will to change such things?

So you’re saying that if I earnestly invite God to reveal Himself to me in the form of non-material inspiration, it doesn’t do me any good because I don’t already have the faith I’m asking him for?

Is this God or Joseph Heller?

If this is really His position, then I don’t see why I should even bother.

Well, not to be a nit-picker, but the previous sentence said I couldn’t pray at all, because I don’t have faith that it will work.

And I didn’t say in my OP that I demanded proof of His existence. I also didn’t pray for that. I may be Agnostic, but I’m familiar with the proof and faith paradox.

It seems to me the opinions have so far been divided thus:

1 - Don’t bother praying. God’s a myth. Look to the people around you.

2 - Don’t bother praying. God doesn’t listen unless you have faith.

3 - Don’t bother praying. Faith just happens or it doesn’t.
Strange to hear the non-religious answer being the most inspiring.

Well, perhaps “futile” is the wrong word. I probably should have said “a misuse of the power of prayer.”

Could be worse. You might end up having the wrong God answer your prayers. Then again, how could you tell?

Whoah, good point! I might end up with faith in Wotan or Osiris. Then where would I be?

[sub]Man, I hope Great Cthulhu wasn’t listening.[/sub]

I don’t think you should be telling people, indirectly or not, that there is no God. What kind of knowledge would you have that would disprove the existance of God. If somebody is looking for guidance or advice, don’t give them bad advice and mislead them. Eternal life in Heaven is a big thing to try and take away from somebody. I think you should do a little more research into what you’re talking about before you try and tell somebody about it. Thanx.

Ringmaster, if a person believes that there is no God, the possibility that they will cause someone to lose faith (and thus, not get to Heaven, by your standards) is not a big concern, because Heaven, in their view, doesn’t exist.

No, they can’t disprove the existence of God. Can you prove God’s existence? No. So we’re back where we started.

I strongly believe that if there is a God, he or she or it would want us to explore matters of faith – not refuse to discuss them because we are afraid. Does that sound like a loving God to you? “I won’t prove my existence by showing myself (to everyone, at least), but should you dare discuss that I don’t exist, straight to Hell with you!”

Fear of Hell goes a long way to keep people from leaving Christianity, but it’s an essentially irrational fear if you have no evidence that God exists. If you do, then bully for you; the OP doesn’t.

This isn’t exactly what I meant. I was trying to say that prayer won’t work if you are already convinced that it won’t work. It takes at least some faith that it will. If you don’t have at least some smidgen of belief to begin with, you have already sabotaged yourself. By convincing yourself that there won’t be an answer, you are turning a deaf ear to any possible reply. It ain’t God’s fault if you refuse to listen.

Oh, so you have all the answers, do you? Who are you that you should dictate what I believe, especially since you have no evidence to back yourself up. I have in fact given GREAT advice, and if you read the o.p.'s response, I believe you will see that he felt my advice was the most inspiring. I did not mislead him in any way. In fact, it is YOU who are trying to mislead. I have no problem with you believing your God myth, but you do not have the right to force everyone to share it with you.

I have done plenty of research, and I am convinced that if YOU would do a little yourself, you would be forced to realize that there is no rational reason to believe that you are going to have “eternal life in Heaven”, or that prayer has any effect on events outside of your own mind. Of course, I’m always willing to consider any intelligent evidence you want to share, but do us a favor and spare us if it’s just some tired old circular reasoning or “it’s true cuz the Bible says so”.

Furthermore, I have many friends who do not share your beliefs, and they are very moral, kind, and loving people. It is not necessary to believe in God to be a good person. In fact, I could go so far as to say that religion is responsible for a lot of the mess the world is in right now, but to be fair, I think the kind of person you are comes from within - you can choose right or wrong regardless of your spiritual beliefs. So, believe if you like, but don’t have the audacity to expect the rest of the world to have to share your fantasy.

And puh-leeze, read at least one of the multitude of threads that deal with “proving a negative”, and you might realize how silly your insistence is that I disprove God. (Here’s a hint: substitute “Santa Claus” for God in your post, and see what result you get). While you’re at it, kindly look up Occam’s Razor.

Sorry for the rant, but I think you had it coming:mad:

I don’t know if you’re noticing, but already the answers are all over the map. One person says “prayer doesn’t work like that”, another says prayer works but you have to believe first. Still another says he always gets an answer, but it’s not always the answer he wants. Isn’t that just another way of saying sometimes you get what you want and sometimes you don’t? How is that different than not praying at all?

I have a Christian friend who was very keen on getting me to believe. She told me that if we just prayed for God to reveal himself to me, then He would. Since it was very important to her, and I certainly couldn’t HURT me, I agreed. But after praying, God still did not reveal Himself. Of course, she then changed her argument and claimed that I was not sincere, even though before she was adament that simply praying was enough, and was positive that it would work. I’m telling this story as an example - I think that those who believe prayer works are actually just coming up with convenient excuses to mask all the times when prayer DOESN’T work. How many gamblers do you know who swear they win every time they go to Vegas, yet they never get any richer? Of course they’re losing plenty, but they’re only remembering the times that they won.

Scupper, you’re much better off doing something constructive (as you said you are doing) than wasting your time praying. I mean, c’mon - do you really think God is sitting up there saying “Well, I was gonna reveal myself to Scupper, but he had his fingers crossed when he prayed to me, so burn in hell.”

And He wants to come to know His love for you. He also wants to trust in Him and realize your life will never to content until you and He have a relationship and you turn all your worries over to Him. Instead of praying for how YOU want things to be, pray that things will go the way HE wants them to be because HE knows what it is your life craves and is willing to fed that craving if you will ask and allow Him to do so.

As prayer is an act of faith, I’d say your prayer has been answered, and rather quickly, too.

Yes, however, if you say a prayer with absolute surety that there is a God, and that he’s concerned enough about you to answer a prayer, then you’ll find your answer in another. Also self fulfilling prophecy.

Er, I meant “then you’ll find your answer in something.”

But God is omnipotent. Why would I need to pray that things turn out the way He wants them?

To accept them and be at peace with them.

Repetition of narratives strengthens them within the brain, and thus within consciousness. If you want to recite a poem, you repeat it and repeat it and repeat it until it’s burned in.

Prayer is (or should be) more than just recital of words, however–it’s a commitment of will and emotion and trust along with those words. And, the shaping of that committment. Each prayer is the pray-er shaping themself.