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Asking the All-Knowing: You, God, and Your Prayers

I love being inspired. Inspiration is… maybe quite literally what I live for. Nothing tickles my bits like that glorious moment where the chemicals in my brain shortcut and the mental phone calls with a scream: “YOU MUST DO THIS NOW!”

Now, I'm really inspired
Tried to find a cool ‘idea bulb’… I think this fits

And then  I must do it, before I forget, before my brain sets itself aright, and I’m left with reasoning and sensibility. Responsibilities. All with the overhang that in about a decade, I may have forgotten this moment, and several decades after, I will be dead.

At one time, nothing inspired me more than the word of my god saying this- THIS will be what gets you into heaven. This will lead to that which will lead to that and you will die and go to heaven and god will be pleased. God is pleased in heaven and will bring you rewards in this life and the next for all eternity. Someone, someone, the only ONE, was pleased in my work and all was good. 

I no longer believe in any god, of course, and so inspiration has come less, for I can no longer make the excuse that the god of my fabrication conveniently enjoys all the things I enjoy doing, and so I was always inspired to do things that I enjoyed doing.

What I used to enjoy was praying, which eventually ended up as me thanking god for all that he had done for me for that day and apologizing for all the wrong that I had done. I had stopped asking for things, though I knew I wanted them, I knew god knew as well, so why ask? My, what faith I had!

Years later, and I have become unwholesomely (teehee) strident about my disbelief in anything supernatural, perhaps because it is getting in the way of relationships, kink or otherwise, mental health help in my location, and familial help for what I want to do in life- not to mention the problems from society because of religion.

I regularly check Fundies Say the Darndest Things! to blow off steam and get my laughs on (speaking of which, I’m way behind on Colbert and Stewart). The comments on fstdt tear apart so many religious quotes, sometimes in obvious ways, and sometimes a comment just stands out to me… and I’m like…

I stole this... But we all love it, right?
I stole this… But we all love it, right?

 

#1509887 says,

Christians tell us that God knows all and everything is his will, then they pray to God to make him do stuff. Do they not see that this is a contradiction?
Either pray to God to do stuff, or believe that everything that happens is already his will. You can’t have both.

in regards to this woman’s prayer on the site. Besides the utter insanity that is the woman’s prayer, I had the inspiration to write this post (plus HarsH ReaLiTy‘s writings on religion herehere, and here, helped), and at the same time I recollected when I had stopped asking for things in prayer- for this exact reason. 

As I knelt one night, I thought, hey, god already knows what I want and when I want it, why make my prayer longer than it already is? Why be so greedy? Do I doubt he’ll answer? You know what, I will take out asking for stuff, it’ll make me a better person (yes, it will, [my name]) and I won’t feel much more disappointed over not getting something my way for which I prayed, and prayed, and prayed, and prayed, and prayed, and prayed.

At the time, I thought I was just being particular, like how there are priests in some forms of Christianity and pastors in others, and how women can be pastors here but not there- you know, stuff that doesn’t really matter when you’re a liberal-minded fourteen-year-old Christian.

Now that I’m a staunch atheist, I know all of that above is pretty important- if gods were real- and that 1509887 has a huge point- and I’ll take this a bit further. If prayer was how I used to do it in my later years of belief- thanking and apologizing- then this post wouldn’t exist. But as Pray America suggests, praying is about asking for things, with the ‘faith’ that god will do them.

Pray for God's help!

I find  ‘letting Him know’ to be in direct defiance of faith in an All-Knowing God, and yet believers do this all the time, as in every night before bed, and in the morning, and wanting it in school.

When I first started this post, I thought, I don’t remember/know everything about the Bible- maybe I’m missing something. I also looked for pictures of people praying and came across the perfect pic that displayed the right/ or some amount of doubt/irony/sarcasm/drama-for-laughs. I didn’t want to outright steal the damn thing and get in some trouble. Fortunately, this was also a WordPress page on clarifications about prayer (Praise Jesus, a coincidence!).

If the link works, here, Todd Pylant writes about practical prayer. He writes about how “Prayer Asks“, which I’m sure we’ve all got down. Then the next section is “Prayer is a Battlefield, But Make Sure It’s the Right One” as in “Prayer is hand to hand combat on the battlefield of doubt” and, I thought, Oh, so Christians have thought about this and Hand-to-hand combat, if he did that on purpose, he gets a gold star.

And Pylant goes on:  “It is the bouncing back and forth between the one side of my heart and soul that believes God is all powerful and will answer my prayers and the other side which fears that God is either not all powerful or doesn’t care enough about me to listen to my prayers.”

Fuck, yeah, that’s right! Basically because asking an all-powerful, all-knowing superbeing with its own mysterious plans for things is a huge contradiction.

Buuuuut, that quote, I don’t think it means quite what I thought it meant. First: “But all of that is different from doubt. Seeking to understand the will of God in a given situation is different than questioning whether God is present, powerful, or concerned about a given situation.”

Now, this threw me off because asking god for stuff- doing prayer correctly- doesn’t sound too much like “seeking to understand the will of God”. To me, it’s like, ‘Hey, God, I have no idea what you’re planning, but I really want this. Please let me have it and if I don’t I will try to understand why, but I really, really, really want this!’

I might not be reading it correctly (follow the link, or ask, to find out for yourself), but the first quote is surely doubt. And then this: “Prayer struggles with the divine timing of God. Prayer struggles with the divine plan of God. Prayer struggles against the spiritual forces of evil. But the prayer of faith does not doubt the sovereignty of God nor the goodness of God nor the love of God.”

Now that sounds like the first quote, with the added prayer of faith bit. I’m sort of getting that the meaning behind prayer, for Pylant, must be faith that god will do as you ask, without doubt that he would do it, and some people say prayer without that faith- which would then be a prayer with doubt, more like “Where are you, God? Can I have this? Come back to me when you can!”

confused

 

If I’m getting Pylant correctly, I’m back at square one. How can you have complete faith in god’s will, but still pray for things, physically pray, on your knees, in the closet or in a stadium? Why would you do that?

I read the article over and over to get some clarity, and then I realized something along my fourth or so read: the Bible says several times to pray. Well, not several- numerous, maybe even a hundred or so times to pray. Pylant has over a dozen references about prayer in his post. And so I now chalk it up to contradictions about what the Bible asks and what the Bible makes its god out to be.

But why all these standards for prayer, when and where and how, why ask your followers to pray, why not only ‘believe and it shall be given to you’. Why do people say, ‘I pray God will show you the way’, ‘I pray God will heal you’, ‘I pray this is successful’, ‘I pray God will keep the bullies away’?

You might think that these people don’t know god’s will, so they don’t want to be presumptuous. But I’ve heard people say, just as easily, ‘God will show you the way’, ‘God will heal you’, ‘God will make this successful’, ‘God will keep the bullies away’. Doesn’t that just, you know, sound familiar?

Looked up 'the answer anime' to see what I could get...
Looked up ‘the answer anime’ to see what I could get…

 

(Picture makes me laugh- I mean, all these anime pictures and there’s this thing being all perfect! Praise Jesus!)

And so I’m thinking, if the Bible had nothing on prayer (woo, that’s like a couple chapters’ worth of material) what would believers lose?

My mind is whirling in confusion, as if I was thrown into some terrible paradox. I am surprised on how unnatural it feels to think of religion without prayer, without asking for stuff, even after working these last few hours on this post, a post on the contradiction of letting an All-Knowing god know that you want your dad’s cancer to go away, despite how often a jackass he is. I mean, do I really have to ask or tell anyone such an obvious request?

And now I realize…

I DON’T PRAY!

And what do I feel? I feel as if  no god is out there listening to me, and none ever will.

Now, imagine a Christian in my place, one who doesn’t pray (not even pseudo-pray like I used to do. Really, it’s not prayer unless you ask for something right?). Just how deeply connected to god will she feel? Even with, ‘I don’t have to pray. God will do his thing, and I have nothing to worry about’, and with every trouble that comes by, ‘God will make this better’, and that was that- just how fast will her faith deteriorate?

Praying is religion covering its ass. With the added padding of ‘the mysterious unknowable ways of god(s)’ or ‘true faith is answered’ or ‘the correct followers are given what they ask for’, asking for something and thus putting flexibility on God’s willingness to answer it makes it more palatable to the believer as people die lost, people die sick, people die penniless, and people suicide.

Or when ‘prayers are answered’, one remembers how deeply she prayed for it and ‘realizes’ that, yes, GOD has ‘answered’ her prayer! And it barely crosses her mind the numerous times her prayers were denied for whatever reason, or others’ prayers that are going unheeded that are so much more important than acing the ACTs she has been studying all year for. And it doesn’t matter, because she’s gotten what she wants, and god is pleased.

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