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Source: (consider it) Thread: The Power of Prayer?
Dormouse

Glis glis – Ship's rodent
# 5954

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You may (or may not) know that I have been recently diagnosed with breast cancer, and before my surgery on 3rd January, have been subjected to various scans, in order to see if the cancer has spread.

Many friends have been praying for me, as I have for myself, my prayers mostly being of the "Please be near/ help me to deal with what is found/ thank you for medical staff" ilk. I have truly felt God near and felt very calm about the possible results. Indeed, the power of prayer.

However, I have now received the results of the scans, and thankfully they are normal. No sign of the cancer having spread. I sent the news to some friends who had been praying for me, and L replied with the message "The power of prayer! Thank God! That is wonderful news!"

She had been praying that the cancer would not have spread, and so, for her, the power of prayer was demonstrated in the fact that it had not spread. But what if it had?

If it had already spread into my bones, then would we say that L's prayer had not "worked", that prayer had in fact been useless? I believe that God could have healed the cancer (had it spread) but I certainly wouldn't expect Him to do so.

I don't want to rain on L's parade, and I certainly don't want to seem ungrateful for her fidelity in prayer for me - but I wonder whether "the power of prayer" was indeed demonstrated in the fact that the cancer had not spread, but rather in the calmness, and ability to rely on God's love and goodness that I had...

What are other people's thoughts?

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What are you doing for Lent?
40 days, 40 reflections, 40 acts of generosity. Join the #40acts challenge for #Lent and let's start a movement. www.40acts.org.uk

Posts: 3017 | From: 'twixt les Bois Noirs & Les Monts de la Madeleine | Registered: May 2004  |  IP: Logged
Nick Tamen

Ship's Wayfaring Fool
# 15164

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My thought is that there are times to wrestle and try to nail down what we believe and what we think is going on, and there are times to simply live with the mystery. I think this may be the latter sort of time.

I tend to pray as you have been doing, not as L has been, so I tend to be a little skeptical of claims like L is making. But there are more things than are dreamt of in my philosophy . . . .

Meanwhile, and more importantly, YAY!

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The first thing God says to Moses is, "Take off your shoes." We are on holy ground. Hard to believe, but the truest thing I know. — Anne Lamott

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Crœsos
Shipmate
# 238

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Sir Francis Galton published a study in 1872 examining this question. He reasoned that since members of the clergy of the various state religions are typically instructed to pray for he health of the sovereign that such sovereigns should be the healthiest and longest lived individuals, if the prayers were having any effect at all.

His study, which was limited to men in relatively affluent professions who reached the age of at least thirty and excluded deaths by violence or accident, came to the opposite conclusion.

quote:
The sovereigns are literally the shortest lived of all who have the advantage of affluence. The prayer has therefore no efficacy, unless the very questionable hypothesis be raised, that the conditions of royal life may naturally be yet more fatal, and that their influence is partly, though incompletely, neutralized by the effects of public prayers.


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Humani nil a me alienum puto

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Nicolemr
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# 28

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In 12-step programs, the 12th step involves "praying only for the knowledge of God's will, and the power to carry that out".

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On pilgrimage in the endless realms of Cyberia, currently traveling by ship. Now with live journal!

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Tortuf
Ship's fisherman
# 3784

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I do not believe in prayer as a way to get what I want. God is not a galactic vending machine dispensing blessings when I ask, or when I use the proper words. That is so, for me, whether I ask for myself, or for someone else.

That being said, I believe there is power in prayer because is strengthens the connection between people when prayer is for someone else. Strengthening my connection with other children of God helps my connection with God.

When I pray now I pray for acceptance and guidance and connection with God. Being mindful about those things and placing them before God confers the blessing of acceptance and peace. Those prayers are for myself and everyone else.

God is always seeking me out (as God seeks all of us.) I just don't see that unless I leave myself open to that.

In your case I can, and do, share your happiness that the cancer has not spread and the implication that it can be successfully treated. That is wonderful news.

Posts: 6937 | From: The Venice of the South | Registered: Dec 2002  |  IP: Logged
cliffdweller
Shipmate
# 13338

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First of all, let me join others in celebrating a good diagnosis and prognosis, wherever that may come from.

As an open theist, my belief is a bit different.

Open theism for me is tied closely to inaugurated eschatology-- the notion that the world as we see it right now represents the reality that God's Kingdom is both "now" and "not yet". If that assumption is correct, we should expect in this "in between era" to see signs of both Kingdoms-- "the powers that be" and "the world to come". We see signs of "the powers that be"-- the brokenness and "not rightness" of this world-- which would include human-made evil like war, violence, injustice-- but also signs of "natural evil"-- including cancer. But we also see signs of the coming Kingdom-- God's gracious breaking in. We see that in human actions like compassion, reconciliation and sacrifice, but also in miraculous things like healing.

In a time between the two eras, we expect to see signs of both Kingdoms. I believe God's desire is always on the side of healing and restoration. So we don't need to have any anxiety or hesitation to pray boldly and confidently for healing. We SHOULD so so. But we should also recognize that it is clear in this era that not everything turns out the way God wants it-- there are far too many examples of things that are not right. So we pray knowing that we live in this era where often our hopes are dashed and we do not see the promised restoration. But we also pray in hope, knowing that God is breaking into the world, and we want to align with that hope.

So I believe your friend was quite right in praying boldly for your healing, and for celebrating that healing. I'm not saying it was her prayer, rather than other's more moderate prayers or even medical intervention or just pure dumb luck that made the difference. I'm simply saying it is good and right that your friend prayed for healing and celebrated it as a foretaste of the coming Kingdom when all will be healed.

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"Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don't be afraid." -Frederick Buechner

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Jengie jon

Semper Reformanda
# 273

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There is power involved in prayer but we do not control that power. In the end prayer is an engagement with the divine. The most likely outcome of prayer is that we(the people praying) will be changed by engagement with that power we engage with. That may be why three of the four standard forms of prayer are from our perspective. Confession, Thanksgiving and Intercession are focused on the human experience while Adoration is focused on the Divine.

It is most easily understood when I am engaged in intercession. When I prayer for something to happen, if I am truly asking then I am also saying I am willing to be part of the solution. If it is healing, it may be through physical nursing, cooking a meal so the sick person will find it easy to eat or supporting medical research. If it is for a disaster then maybe through contributing to the appeals. Sometimes we may not be able to or the answer might be that our opinion needs to change.

Jengie

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"To violate a persons ability to distinguish fact from fantasy is the epistemological equivalent of rape." Noretta Koertge

Back to my blog

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Gamaliel
Shipmate
# 812

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My wife had primary breast cancer about 4 years ago, Dormouse. On that occasion they treated it with radiotherapy and the lump cleared up.

She'd detected it in time and had persisted even though her GP couldn't find anything at first.

Then, 18 months ago, she was diagnosed with secondary breast cancer. It had returned in a less detectable form, a mass rather than a lump, and had spread to her pelvis, spine and liver.

We were told that it was controllable, but incurable.

So, what happened there? The power of prayer was evident the first time but wore off?

No, I don't think of it in those terms.

I'll be honest, we aren't praying for healing as such - although some of our more earnest charismatic evangelical friends are.

Rather we are praying, as in the words of the old hymn, 'Father, hear the prayer we offer ...', for 'strength that we may ever, live our lives courageously.'

https://hymnary.org/text/father_hear_the_prayer_we_offer_not_for

Recently, I met up with some dear friends from my more full-on charismatic evangelical days and they offered to pray for us. Mercifully, they didn't go in for any heebie-geebie stuff and I was pleased to note that they'd introduced some liturgical material into their repertoire.

I was moved to tears by their concern but I'm afraid I couldn't go along with some of their assumptions and the way they pitched things.

'Gamaliel, I pray that God would plant a seed of hope ... yadda yadda yadda ...'

Sorry guys, I'd far rather be realistic and trust the diagnosis and make preparation to steel ourselves for when the time comes.

My wife openly talks about her death and is making plans for it. We want it to be a 'good death' as they used to say in years gone by. I hope it works out that way.

We have no idea how long we've got. It could be 2 years, it could be 5, it may not be anywhere near as long as that. Nobody knows. We only know what the average is for people with that form of cancer, which doesn't tell us a great deal as it depends on age, circumstance and a whole range of other factors.

I wasn't upset or offended by my friends' prayers that Mrs Gamaliel and I would 'come to a place of faith, a place of hope ...'

One of them even prayed that we'd come to 'believe for healing' even though we didn't believe in the possibility at the moment.

As if we can 'control' or regulate the progress or otherwise of the cancer by how fervently we pray or believe.

Sorry. That's not how I see it.

I can't work anything up.

What we can do is draw on the resources we have and what hidden resources of inner strength and fortitude we may find that the Lord has endowed us with.

I have no idea how things will pan out. We might go to pieces, we may find it our 'finest hour.'

I'm glad people are praying for us. I appreciate their concern.

I don't get cross or irritated by those who act all fervently charismatic about the whole thing. I just think, 'Ah well, they'll face something similar themselves one day and I hope they come to terms with it when that time comes ...'

I can't theologise or pontificate.

I can only speak as I find.

And this is as I find.

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Let us with a gladsome mind
Praise the Lord for He is kind.

http://philthebard.blogspot.com

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Rossweisse

High Church Valkyrie
# 2349

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Oh, Dormouse, that is wonderful news!

I am now just over seven years past my first diagnosis of Stage III Inflammatory Breast Carcinoma (aka "the Big Cancer"), which involved six months of chemo, followed by surgery, and radiation; five years past my second, unrelated early-stage cancer, which resulted in a double mastectomy; three years since the original metastasis into my lower spine; 19 months past the secondary metastasis into my hip and brain.

Through it all, I have been conscious of the many people, from many faiths, who pray for me. I think those prayers help give me acceptance and hope - and I do think they're a reason I'm still here and functioning at a remarkably high level (considering).

I would never turn down an offer of prayer, although I'm aware that healing is not apt to come in this life. And I give thanks for all those who care enough to put in a good word for me.

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I'm not dead yet.

Posts: 14956 | From: Valhalla | Registered: Feb 2002  |  IP: Logged
no prophet's flag is set so...

Proceed to see sea
# 15560

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I was introduced to the concept of "annoying Samaritan" a while ago. An AnSam is someone who, in good will and kindness, tries to be helpful, but actually interferes and creates problems.

I think a measure of praying for others has least as much to do with them comforting themselves about their faith and how the world and God are ordered than it has with the person with cancer, a family member in distress and other suffering. They pray for other people in their actions, but the heart of it is themselves and reassuring themselves. I am okay with people deriving comfort from prayer themselves but imposing their view of the miraculous and God intervening in the natural order is distinctly bothersome. Comfort from prayer yes, intervention to cure etc no.

[ 29. December 2017, 19:10: Message edited by: no prophet's flag is set so... ]

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Gamaliel
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# 812

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Surely there is something, though, in seeking to understand the 'Annoying Samaritan' and putting up with them to some extent?

They too may one day have to face what those to whom they offer some bogus comfort are facing. In that day, surely it behoves us to show them mercy and grace, however annoying and irritating they may have been?

That said, I'm some deserve a good kick up the pants ...

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Let us with a gladsome mind
Praise the Lord for He is kind.

http://philthebard.blogspot.com

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Enoch
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# 14322

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Thank you for all that you've said. I'm particularly moved Gamaliel, as so often, by your words.

No prophet do you mind if I keep and reuse your word, an AnSam. It makes me squirm when I think back and remember occasions when I reckon I fitted that bill. I hope I don't so much these days and won't again. Thank you.

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Brexit wrexit - Sir Graham Watson

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Martin60
Shipmate
# 368

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Dormouse
Gamaliel
Rossweisse

You are the answer to my unsaid prayer.

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Love wins

Posts: 17352 | From: Never Dobunni after all. Corieltauvi after all. Just moved to the capital. | Registered: Jun 2001  |  IP: Logged
no prophet's flag is set so...

Proceed to see sea
# 15560

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quote:
Originally posted by Enoch:
Thank you for all that you've said. I'm particularly moved Gamaliel, as so often, by your words.

No prophet do you mind if I keep and reuse your word, an AnSam. It makes me squirm when I think back and remember occasions when I reckon I fitted that bill. I hope I don't so much these days and won't again. Thank you.

Oh yes please do. I think it's a helpful term. The origin to my ears was related to "good works tourism" where someone canvases for donations so they can travel somewhere to help build a school or dig a well etc for the "less fortunate" (or as my late aunt would have said, the "heathen"). It's about making the AmSam feel good more so than those "helped".

[Disclaimer]
I am rather jaded this Christmas as my father goes in and out of hospital re likely losing his sight totally in the next few months, a friend's husband dying of cancer in his early 50s, my sister's husband walking out just before Xmas and having to travel unexpectedly to help. "Faith without works is nothing", is my rigid retreat since other crises in the past. "Get off your knees and do something" is my second. Kind regards to those recovering and to those not, is the best I can authentically do, though I do go through the motions where politeness and decorum is required.
[/end disclaimer]

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Out of this nettle, danger, we pluck this flower, safety.
\_(ツ)_/

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Gramps49
Shipmate
# 16378

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Someone once told me prayer was not about changing the mind of God but changing our minds in God. I certainly agree with how you have been looking at prayer for calmness or serenity.
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SusanDoris

Incurable Optimist
# 12618

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All the best to you on the 3rd, Dormouse.
Prayer itself has no power as far as I'm concerned! Having friends who wil, I know, support me if I feel a bit wobbly occasionally is reassuring, but prayers will not alter my mostly relaxed attitude to the cancer. It helps, I suppose, knowing that I've had a long life so far! I just get on with taking the pills (a better and effective treatment for older women it seems) and with everyday life, and can honestly say that the cancer stayes in the back of my mind. Next check-up on 10th.

[ 30. December 2017, 14:07: Message edited by: SusanDoris ]

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I know that you believe that you understood what you think I said, but I am not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.

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Martin60
Shipmate
# 368

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I'm astounded at the burden of your friends' delusions that you and your wife carry so lightly G.

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Love wins

Posts: 17352 | From: Never Dobunni after all. Corieltauvi after all. Just moved to the capital. | Registered: Jun 2001  |  IP: Logged
Gamaliel
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# 812

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Why is that so astounding?

They could believe the moon was made of green cheese. That doesn't alter how well-intentioned they were. Besides, these particular pals live 80 miles away and we don't see them that often these days.

It'd be a different thing if we surrounded by that sort of thing week by week.

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Let us with a gladsome mind
Praise the Lord for He is kind.

http://philthebard.blogspot.com

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Galilit
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# 16470

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quote:
Originally posted by Martin60:
I'm astounded at the burden of your friends' delusions that you and your wife carry so lightly G.

There is simply no limit to the cr*p theology and psychology you will have thrown in your face when you are in cancer treatments

[Voice of experience]

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She who does Her Son's will in all things can rely on me to do Hers.

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Gamaliel
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# 812

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We have found that too, Gallit, but most people know us well enough not to try it on.

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Let us with a gladsome mind
Praise the Lord for He is kind.

http://philthebard.blogspot.com

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Helen-Eva
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# 15025

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Not for the first time, I find myself awed by the people who post here and equally but adversely awed by the utter pillocks they have to encounter out there in the real world.

[Overused] [Votive]

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I thought the radio 3 announcer said "Weber" but it turned out to be Webern. Story of my life.

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cliffdweller
Shipmate
# 13338

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Perhaps, then, I can just pray for you Gamaliel, and for Mrs G-- for strength, for courage, and that your home would be filled with love, with laughter and joy, with good wine and great friends and family. For relief from pain and fear.


[Votive]

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"Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don't be afraid." -Frederick Buechner

Posts: 11175 | From: a small canyon overlooking the city | Registered: Jan 2008  |  IP: Logged
Rossweisse

High Church Valkyrie
# 2349

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quote:
Originally posted by Galilit:
There is simply no limit to the cr*p theology and psychology you will have thrown in your face when you are in cancer treatments ...

"God doesn't give us more than we can handle." (How do I loathe this? Let me count the ways.)

And the second is like unto it: "Everything happens for a reason."

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I'm not dead yet.

Posts: 14956 | From: Valhalla | Registered: Feb 2002  |  IP: Logged
Gamaliel
Shipmate
# 812

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quote:
Originally posted by cliffdweller:
Perhaps, then, I can just pray for you Gamaliel, and for Mrs G-- for strength, for courage, and that your home would be filled with love, with laughter and joy, with good wine and great friends and family. For relief from pain and fear.


[Votive]

You can certainly do so, Cliffdweller, but I'm afraid Mrs G wouldn't be able to imbibe a great deal of the wine as she is meant to go easy on it due to the drug she's taking.

Meanwhile, I don't think my charismatic evangelical friends are pillocks, or at least no more than I was when I was more that way inclined.

To be fair to them, I've encountered worse elsewhere - 2nd, 3rd or 14th hand accounts of people who only drank cabbage water and whose cancer cleared up ... Yadda yadda yadda ...

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Let us with a gladsome mind
Praise the Lord for He is kind.

http://philthebard.blogspot.com

Posts: 15842 | From: Cheshire, UK | Registered: Jul 2001  |  IP: Logged
cliffdweller
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# 13338

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quote:
Originally posted by Rossweisse:
quote:
Originally posted by Galilit:
There is simply no limit to the cr*p theology and psychology you will have thrown in your face when you are in cancer treatments ...

"God doesn't give us more than we can handle." (How do I loathe this? Let me count the ways.)

And the second is like unto it: "Everything happens for a reason."

Turns out,
there's a card for that.

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"Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don't be afraid." -Frederick Buechner

Posts: 11175 | From: a small canyon overlooking the city | Registered: Jan 2008  |  IP: Logged
Rossweisse

High Church Valkyrie
# 2349

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Oh, thank you, Cliffdweller. That's a card I would have appreciated. (Not that I didn't appreciate lots of other cards - knowing that someone is thinking of you and cares enough to put evidence thereof into the actual mail is always a blessing - but this one is special.)

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I'm not dead yet.

Posts: 14956 | From: Valhalla | Registered: Feb 2002  |  IP: Logged
Martin60
Shipmate
# 368

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quote:
Originally posted by Rossweisse:
quote:
Originally posted by Galilit:
There is simply no limit to the cr*p theology and psychology you will have thrown in your face when you are in cancer treatments ...

"God doesn't give us more than we can handle." (How do I loathe this? Let me count the ways.)

And the second is like unto it: "Everything happens for a reason."

I just read this out to the missus. Her response? 'Oh fuck off!', that's WITH you [Smile]

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Love wins

Posts: 17352 | From: Never Dobunni after all. Corieltauvi after all. Just moved to the capital. | Registered: Jun 2001  |  IP: Logged
Rossweisse

High Church Valkyrie
# 2349

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Whew!

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I'm not dead yet.

Posts: 14956 | From: Valhalla | Registered: Feb 2002  |  IP: Logged
Dormouse

Glis glis – Ship's rodent
# 5954

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Thank you all for sharing your stories, for the generous PMs I've received, and for your considered answers to my question.
I am in awe of people's strength...I'm not sure how sanguine I could be when/if faced with a diagnosis of terminal. But for now, we're looking at a lumpectomy and further radiation/hormone therapy.

God bless all of you - give you strength, laughter, serenity and whatever else you need. This thread and your responses on it remind me again how much I love The Ship.

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What are you doing for Lent?
40 days, 40 reflections, 40 acts of generosity. Join the #40acts challenge for #Lent and let's start a movement. www.40acts.org.uk

Posts: 3017 | From: 'twixt les Bois Noirs & Les Monts de la Madeleine | Registered: May 2004  |  IP: Logged
Martin60
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# 368

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Things have got very dark recently, grim. More so than usual, for a good few weeks. Some of the dips within that have been... intense. As bad as anything over 8 years ago. Which was bad [Smile] Staring death in the face for 6 months recently was nowt.

Of course I've prayed. Without hope. With raw fervour. With, "You've GOT to do something. But you won't, you can't.".

One day last week, in a hidden, deserted hinterland wood in the middle of Leicester that nobody but me goes to (I leave markers), I looked up at the sky through the twig canopy and remembered what the secret to survival was. Gratitude.

He did.

[ 31. December 2017, 13:08: Message edited by: Martin60 ]

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Love wins

Posts: 17352 | From: Never Dobunni after all. Corieltauvi after all. Just moved to the capital. | Registered: Jun 2001  |  IP: Logged
rolyn
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Nice post Martin.
Indeed so, gratitude and a thankful heart is key. No matter if one is a believer or an atheist.
In many ways I think people are all believers of one sort or another because blowing gratitude into thin air doesn’t cut the mustard much.

As beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so goes the power of Prayer.

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Change is the only certainty of existence

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Martin60
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quote:
Originally posted by Gamaliel:
Why is that so astounding?

They could believe the moon was made of green cheese. That doesn't alter how well-intentioned they were. Besides, these particular pals live 80 miles away and we don't see them that often these days.

It'd be a different thing if we surrounded by that sort of thing week by week.

You, Sir, are a big minded, big hearted man. And a bloody dour northerner to boot. Not daft. I'm afraid I'd LOVE to be there if they were in your congregation and lived next door.

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Love wins

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Gamaliel
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That's very nice of you to say that, Martin.

I am, in fact, Anglo-Welsh but have lived in the North of England most of my adult life. I studied in Leeds and stuck around afterwards.

I moved here to Cheshire about 11 years ago now.

I love my charismatic evangelical friends to bits, but if they lived next door or if I had to worship alongside them week by week I might find my patience somewhat strained ...

I might not be as big hearted and patient as you think I am.

[Hot and Hormonal]

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Let us with a gladsome mind
Praise the Lord for He is kind.

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Martin60
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Thank God for that! Otherwise, beneath your saintly perfection, there would be bodies.

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Love wins

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Gamaliel
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Bodies or 'bogies'?

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Let us with a gladsome mind
Praise the Lord for He is kind.

http://philthebard.blogspot.com

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roybart
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Coincidentally, I have just been reading about the nature of prayer, the various forms of prayers, etc.

Even as a child I found it difficult to pray for specific outcomes. I don't know why. Currently, my petitions involve silence, asking God to help the person or collectivity in need of help, and thanking Him. The prayer consists solely of the words "Please give Your help to ... [whomever]" repeated slowly while focusing my mind on the person or group I am praying for.

Dormouse said something that I have come to feel strongly since joining the Ship: "This thread and your responses remind me again how much I love the Ship." It's wonderful how even small details in Shipmates' posts, accumulating over time, give me a sense of who you (are at least in terms of the discussion here). Knowing you leads to wanting you to be well.

For Dormouse, Gamaliel, and Mrs. Gamaliel: [Votive]

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"The consolations of the imaginary are not imaginary consolations."
-- Roger Scruton

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Gamaliel
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Thank you, roybart.

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Let us with a gladsome mind
Praise the Lord for He is kind.

http://philthebard.blogspot.com

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Dormouse

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Indeed, Roybart, thank you.

I echo too the lovely words of Cliffdweller. That's what I wish for all of us, cancer sufferers or not.

May 2018 bring us all a release from dis-ease, and instead bring us closer to the One who brings ease and strength. (usually...)

And following on from the card that Cliffdweller linked to, I found another one that sums up my thoughts beautifully: "If this is God’s plan, God is a terrible planner. (No offense if you’re reading this, God. You did a great job with that other stuff, like waterfalls and pandas.)"
[Smile] [Biased] [Snigger]

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What are you doing for Lent?
40 days, 40 reflections, 40 acts of generosity. Join the #40acts challenge for #Lent and let's start a movement. www.40acts.org.uk

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Curiosity killed ...

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I too have been enjoying the cards cliffdweller linked to.

I have thought for a long time that maybe we should see prayer as a way of aligning our will with God's, rather than a shopping list of demands (for supplication). And that the adoration, confession and thanksgiving parts relate to mindfulness (if you follow the ACTS pattern of prayer.)

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Mugs - Keep the Ship afloat

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Eliab
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quote:
Originally posted by Curiosity killed ...:
I have thought for a long time that maybe we should see prayer as a way of aligning our will with God's, rather than a shopping list of demands (for supplication). And that the adoration, confession and thanksgiving parts relate to mindfulness (if you follow the ACTS pattern of prayer.)

I don't think I'd ever pray for the sick at all, if I saw it as merely a way of aligning my will with God's. I don't want my will to be aligned with anything if that means that I'd be OK with people I love suffering or dying. What I want is for them to get better, and my sole motive for praying is to ask that as a favour from an all-powerful God.

I know, of course, that prayer isn't magic, and that God will ultimately refuse to grant the prayers for the continued life of each human being, and I trust that he has his good reasons for this. A side effect of prayer may well be increased trust in God and confidence that the outcome of every illness is in his hands, and that in the end all will be well. But that's not why I do it. I do it because I want the people I love who are ill to get better. If I didn't think that there was at least the possibility of a miracle, I wouldn't bother.

I don't know whether the outcome of the prayer in the OP was an "answer" in the sense of an intervention by God to ensure one possible result rather than another. I'm not sure that anyone could know that - even if the result were outside the normal range of expectations, even if it were inexplicable to medical science, that wouldn't prove that it was a miracle, or that the miracle (if there was one) was triggered by the prayer.

I think that if you believe in God at all, you have to accept that it's at least possible that God sometimes intervenes, and thus might have done so when something non-trivial that was prayed for happens, but I'm not aware of any fool-proof way to test that. I think you can be thankful to God regardless, though, because it's not only the miraculous that he's God of.

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"Perhaps there is poetic beauty in the abstract ideas of justice or fairness, but I doubt if many lawyers are moved by it"

Richard Dawkins

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Curiosity killed ...

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Someone I met a few years ago, who set up housing options for young people made homeless, things like Nightstop and longer term supported living, said that when she prayed, God's answer was often that if she thought the particular provision she was organising was needed then she was going to be the answer.

What I was trying to suggest was that if praying for the sick or dying on a prayer list, surely my response should be holding them in prayer, but also what can I do to help? Is it appropriate for me to get involved? How can I be the hands and feet on earth?

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Mugs - Keep the Ship afloat

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Martin60
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That's sincerely, genuinely and the edge of movingly true for you eliab. I'll never knock that. This being Purgatory, I believe in God at all, but do not accept that He ever intervenes beyond His provision and in the quantum tunnelling effect that his yearning has the other side of ours. Talking of which, in a desperate, dark place recently I was reminded by the sky of the need for gratitude. It lifts me now beyond the window.

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Love wins

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Anglican_Brat
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We may be overthinking the mystery of prayer.

Person A and Person B both get cancer. They both pray to God. Person A gets cured, Person B does not. Person A give thanks to God for being healed.

We twist and turn and conclude:
1) Prayer does not work or God does not exist.
Or
2) God loves Person A more and could not give a rats behind about Person B
Or
3) God simply is cold and fickle.

Conclusion 1 is atheism, Conclusion 2 or 3 is misotheism (God is an evil being).

But maybe we are overthinking, all we can do is pray what we desire, and let the chips fall where they do, trusting in a God of love, whatever it happens.

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It's Reformation Day! Do your part to promote Christian unity and brotherly love and hug a schismatic.

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leo
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quote:
Originally posted by Curiosity killed ...:
What I was trying to suggest was that if praying for the sick or dying on a prayer list, surely my response should be holding them in prayer, but also what can I do to help? Is it appropriate for me to get involved? How can I be the hands and feet on earth?

Indirectly by paying your taxes (which fund the NHS)

Directly by visiting them.

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My Jewish-positive lectionary blog is at http://recognisingjewishrootsinthelectionary.wordpress.com/
My reviews at http://layreadersbookreviews.wordpress.com

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Martin60
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Trusting Him in what regard A_B?

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Love wins

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SvitlanaV2
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quote:
Originally posted by leo:
quote:
Originally posted by Curiosity killed ...:
What I was trying to suggest was that if praying for the sick or dying on a prayer list, surely my response should be holding them in prayer, but also what can I do to help? Is it appropriate for me to get involved? How can I be the hands and feet on earth?

Indirectly by paying your taxes (which fund the NHS)

Directly by visiting them.

This is very interesting.

In the OT there are instances when God rejects the prayers of unrighteous people. The NT doesn't say much about this, but there's still an implication that not all prayers are pleasing to God.

If prayer has to mesh neatly with action then it could be argued that a selfish person has no business praying for the wellbeing of the poor, and a jealous person shouldn't pray for someone else's success. After all, such prayers can turn us into hypocrites, and contribute to our already lengthy tally of sins!

And as has been said earlier, praying for miraculous healing is also a problematic exercise, despite biblical examples. It's clear that very few of us have what it takes to achieve the desired results by praying for 'miracles' - and we can even do ourselves or others harm this way. So such prayers are apparently abortive, maybe even rejected by God as sinful.

All things considered, it seems particularly difficult for Christians to pitch their prayers correctly according to their circumstances, faith levels and their status with God. AFAICS, other religions don't seem to have such a big problem with this.

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cliffdweller
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quote:
Originally posted by Eliab:
quote:
Originally posted by Curiosity killed ...:
I have thought for a long time that maybe we should see prayer as a way of aligning our will with God's, rather than a shopping list of demands (for supplication). And that the adoration, confession and thanksgiving parts relate to mindfulness (if you follow the ACTS pattern of prayer.)

I don't think I'd ever pray for the sick at all, if I saw it as merely a way of aligning my will with God's. I don't want my will to be aligned with anything if that means that I'd be OK with people I love suffering or dying. What I want is for them to get better, and my sole motive for praying is to ask that as a favour from an all-powerful God.

I know, of course, that prayer isn't magic, and that God will ultimately refuse to grant the prayers for the continued life of each human being, and I trust that he has his good reasons for this.

See, I think the evidence from Scripture and from Jesus' ministry is that healing, restoration and life are ALWAYS God's will. I will pray for all those things with the assumption that I am praying for the coming Kingdom in doing so.

I also don't think we can assume that when something bad happens there was a "divine reason" (see card above). I think there are clearly things that happen in this world that are not God's will-- genocide, child rape or really any rape, abuse, hatred, war. I don't have any problem adding some natural things-- disease, birth defects, etc-- to that list. Scripture tells us "the last enemy to be defeated is death"-- which tells us there will be death up until the new Kingdom, but also tells us death is "the enemy". So praying against that is not being out of alignment with God's will.

All of which I think you're pointing to in your last two paragraphs.

quote:
Originally posted by Eliab:


I don't know whether the outcome of the prayer in the OP was an "answer" in the sense of an intervention by God to ensure one possible result rather than another. I'm not sure that anyone could know that - even if the result were outside the normal range of expectations, even if it were inexplicable to medical science, that wouldn't prove that it was a miracle, or that the miracle (if there was one) was triggered by the prayer.

I think that if you believe in God at all, you have to accept that it's at least possible that God sometimes intervenes, and thus might have done so when something non-trivial that was prayed for happens, but I'm not aware of any fool-proof way to test that. I think you can be thankful to God regardless, though, because it's not only the miraculous that he's God of.



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"Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don't be afraid." -Frederick Buechner

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Chorister

Completely Frocked
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Prayer is a way of indicating to God what we most care about. Reflecting and focusing our deepest wishes. I wrote an essay on it once. Reducing that to asking for things is to dumb down the whole meaning of prayer.

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Retired, sitting back and watching others for a change.

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SvitlanaV2
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That's true, but it's asking for things that causes us problems! Saying thank you, telling God how great he is - there's no problem with that.

Once we start petitioning God (which I suspect is what a huge percentage of non-liturgical, personal prayer consists of) we're in the difficult realm of who, what, why, where, how and when.

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jacobsen

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quote:
Originally posted by SvitlanaV2:
That's true, but it's asking for things that causes us problems! Saying thank you, telling God how great he is - there's no problem with that.

Once we start petitioning God (which I suspect is what a huge percentage of non-liturgical, personal prayer consists of) we're in the difficult realm of who, what, why, where, how and when.

We are told specifically to ask for our daily bread. It doesn't get any clearer! I think that any honestly meant prayer ascends. Also, where possible , it should be linked to (appropriate) action. No-one wants at be an Ansam.

I find the best guide is what the catechism describes as the six corporal works of mercy:
  • Feed the hungry
    Give drink to the thirsty
    House the homeless
    instruct the ignorant ( education)
    Visit the sick and imprisoned
    Comfort the dying.

BTW - Has anyone told the Tory Party?

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But God, holding a candle, looks for all who wander, all who search. - Shifra Alon
Beauty fades, dumb is forever-Judge Judy
The man who made time, made plenty.

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