Thursday, June 30, 2011

What's The Point in Praying?

At the Wild Goose there were a few talks that were set up in such a way that the "speaker", instead of speaking on a topic within her expertise, would instead ask a question to the audience that she didn't know.

The only one of these type talks I ended up catching was the conclusion to a question asked by Dr Tony Jones.

The question he asked in which he didn't know the answer to was, "Why Pray?". I really liked the parts I did get to hear of the conversation, but this mere question also brought a sense of relief to me as well. I consider Tony to be a smart theologian, I really like his work, and yet he doesn't know why we, as Christians, should pray. A question many Christians would see as A "fundamental" of the Christian faith.

Well guess what... I don't know what the point of prayer is either. I haven't for a long time. My wife and I have had many conversations over the subject, and neother of us have come to any conclusions. Again, I didn't hear much of the actual talk, and I wish I would have sat in on more of the responses, for They seemed to be very interesting.

I have had several people ask me to write on prayer... And well, I didnt know what to write except that I don't know why I do it. Yes, I still do it. Why? I don't know, but i find myself doing it often.

So I thought I would do the same thing as Tony, Ask a question that I really don't know the answer to and see what responses I get. And If I don't get any responses then I will assume we are all in the same boat here and you all don't know either :)


What's the point in praying?

Does it accomplish anything?

Does it change anything?

Does/Can it change God?

Are we (christians) suppose to pray merely because it's in the Bible or because Jesus did it?

Is prayer merely for us? Instead of changing circumstances, it does something to us instead? This way of viewing prayer sounds ok at first but seems to end up being more like mere therapy than anything else, and doesn't have much to do with Jesus... or God for that matter.

Is prayer communication between us and God... And if so, what does that even mean?

How is prayer presented in the Bible?

Also, Tony asked what makes "Christian prayer" any different than prayer within other religions? (i would think this question is more for my pluralistic, liberal readers :). What part does Jesus play? I don't know the answer to that either.

Im looking forward to the responses and I hope that dialogue will proceed. also, I would really like to hear from all perspectives.


Anonymous said...

I'm glad you posted about this. At least partly because I feel less alone in my lack of understanding on this topic! I do have one thought on the issue of "does it change anything?"
Working in medicine, I can tell you that there are medications that have no statistical or empirical value but are prescribed simply because of anecdotal evidence. That is, patients claim they feel better after taking it so there is some measure of 'placebo effect' involved.
Not to suggest that I think God is impotent, but I wonder if claims that prayer change things are some of the same experience.

Jkub said...

There is a discussion going on over on my Facebook page here

If anyone wants to join in.