Prayer is the way you communicate to God.  Some people claim that God does not answer prayer, but this is not correct.  God answers every single prayer, just not always in the way the person wanted the prayer answered.  The answer can be “yes”, but often it is “no” or “not now”.

How does He choose which answer?  God only knows.  Literally.  If your prayer is in tune with his wishes, and it would be good for Him and/or good for you without being harmful to Him, then the odds of “yes” can be fairly good.  Otherwise, the chances of “yes” would be pretty slim.

Prayer can be efficient in times of need; “Help!” might be a very good prayer as your car crashes through the guardrail hundreds of feet in the air.  However, usually you will want to approach your communication with a fair degree of formality, particularly if you are asking for something.

First of all, “address” your prayer.  Who are you talking to?  Use the name or title or relationship you most admire, or which the entity you are talking to is claimed to prefer.  “Hey, you” probably would usually not be one of the better choices.

Next, don’t just list your wants.  This is COMMUNICATION, not a spiritual Home Shopping Network.  Comment on the good stuff you have experienced.  If you are asking for something, be polite about it and try to keep it aligned with the views which it is claimed the one you are praying to holds.

And if you get a “no” or “not now” answer, don’t freak out.  Expect it, so the “yes” answers are special.

Again, you are conversing, as part of a relationship.  How often?  As often as your relationship expects, plus any time you just need to chat.  How long?  As long as it takes and no longer.


8 thoughts on “Prayer

  1. Here’s something I never understood, even when I was a Christian. How do you know what God’s answer was?

    If you pray for something, and it doesn’t happen, is that because he didn’t want it to happen? Or is it because you didn’t push hard enough to make it happen? I’ve heard “God closed the door” too many times when something someone’s praying for doesn’t come off. But that just amounts to fatalism – it didn’t happen, even after trying as hard as we could, therefore it can’t have been God’s will. Hang on, aren’t we meant to have free will? Does anything we do affect the outcome, or is it all down to him? Is the answer always: what happens is your answer?

    Perhaps this is why I’m an atheist… Ideally, what we’d have would be for God to give us a yes or a no or a not now somehow after we prayed, then you can see whether the thing actually happens or not. But I’ve never known that to happen over an above what you’d expect from random chance. And I’ve known quite a lot of times where the “answer” people have said they’ve had has been wrong.



    • Yes, it would be ideal if God not only specifically told us what His answer was, but why. He doesn’t, for reasons of His own. My theory is that it is part of the whole “faith” thing. He is fond of faith; I don’t know why, but it seems to me that is why He does not allow Himself to be proven beyond doubt or communicate in a traceable, unambiguous manner.

      As I said, prayer is a conversation, not Home Shopping Network, not begging. It’s kind of like you are saying to your friend, “Boy, I’d sure like one of those new Lexus”. You don’t expect your friend to run right out and get you one, although if they ever win the PowerBall, you would be happy if they got you one then. Prayer is not and should not be an effort. It should be like calling your best friend to commiserate about your crummy day, or exalt over something wonderful. And if you are asking for something, it is like asking your father for something you are pretty sure he wants to give you. Nobody like a whiny, rapacious, brat, so one expects if you approach God in that manner, He will be less inclined to respond positively.

      If God wants to say “yes”, then one word may be enough, while if not, one million words will never be enough.

      How do you know what God’s answer was? Simple. If what you asked for happens, then His answer was “yes”. If it does not happen, the answer was “no” or “not yet”. Of course, the thing that happens COULD be just coincidence; we’re back to that whole faith thing.

      When He answers “yes”, it is because what you asked for is good for Him and good for you (by His definition, not yours). If the answer is no, then what you asked for would NOT be good for you (by His definition, not yours), or would not be good for Him, or perhaps even would be bad for someone else.

      Because your prayer was not answered has nothing whatsoever with YOUR free will. It has everything to do with GOD’S will. Your free will is your ability to do what you want or what you think is best or what you feel forced to do. He may or may not approve of what you do, but it does not prevent Him from doing what HE plans to do.

      • I still don’t get it. In a real relationship, having proper conversations, you’d say to your friend, “let’s go and have coffee, I’ve had a crummy day and need to commiserate”, and she’d say “sure, how’s about at 10:30 at the cafe in town” and you’d say “OK, meet you there”. And at 10:30 you’d go down and sure enough, she’d be there, or else, if she wasn’t going to make it, then she’d tell you before you went out in the cold.

        With God, you’d say “let’s go and have coffee, I’ve had a crummy day and need to commiserate” …. silence… “OK, God, how’s about 10:30 at the cafe in town?” … silence… “right, so if you want to have coffee, you’ll be there?” … silence … *travel to cafe in town* … silence … *sit in cafe and drink coffee on own because he didn’t turn up*. “Oh, so you said no to having coffee, God. OK”.

        Obviously just an analogy, your real friends actually give testable answers, whereas, apparently the only way to know God’s will is to see what happens. That doesn’t sound like an answer, it sounds like fate.

        If the only way of knowing that any of this is anything to do with a god is faith, then I’d question whether you’re just imagining it all. I just don’t see any basis in reality for prayer actually being anything other than talking to yourself, then saying “god did that” when something happens, or “god didn’t do that” when something doesn’t happen (or just giving something long enough that the improbable happens, and you can pin that on god too)

      • It is certainly possible that people are attributing to God things which are natural and coincidental. It does not hurt to be grateful when something nice happens, and it might actually be harmful (to one’s self) to not be grateful for good things, even if God does not exist to take offense at the slight.

        Even if we are “talking to ourselves” in prayer, we still are getting positive results. Surely you accept the power of the mind to impact the body (for either good or ill)?

  2. Well, fine, if you’re just in it for the psychological effects then go for it – I’d rather not have all the Christian baggage which comes with it, though… I did think you were talking about an actual being existing, though, which was “answering prayers”.

      • Oh, effects – I’m wasn’t sure you’d described any effects, it looked like you’d merely attributed “what happens” to a god. What are the effects you’re talking about? In my 26 Christian years, I don’t think I ever saw anything that, with the benefit of hindsight and just a little bit of rational thought, I had to say was the result of supernatural action. Of course, you may have different information…

      • I pray for things, and sometimes they happen, and sometimes they don’t. Sometimes good things happen and sometimes what seems to be bad happens. I choose to give God the glory, rather than chalk it up to random, natural, chance. I choose to assume He has a plan, and whatever happens is either part of it or can be used by it. I choose to believe He knows more than I and that my opinion is of no consequence.

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