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Source: (consider it) Thread: Why doesn't prayer work?
Gamaliel
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The intriguing thing about Stott - and I met him once - was that highly evangelical though he was in theology and praxis, he had the kind of aura about him that you find with monastics and contemplatives - or at least with some of those I've met.

Nothing 'plug-in' about him or them - more what the old school types would call 'abiding'.

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

http://philthebard.blogspot.com

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mr cheesy
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quote:
Originally posted by Martin60:
mr cheesy, thanks for that poignant eyewitness snapshot of the ABC. My flinty hearted response BEFORE this is reinforced by it. JW is a nice, privileged chap who nicely embodies two nasty things common to Christians which I certainly nastily embodied: he's a de jure and therefore de facto homophobic warmonger.

No wonder he's pained. The cognitive dissonance must be gnawing at his vitals. Prayer isn't the only thing that doesn't work as evangelicals let alone charismatics claim. Or may be it IS working and JW is having a Damascene moment.

I'm not sure Will Self is a particularly good source for information on Christianity in general or the Anglican church in particular.

The fact is that whilst HTB represents a particular form of evangelicalism, it is not actually particularly charismatic. Unlike, say, St Andrews, Chorleywood - which was the origin of New Wine and Soulsurvivor. Furthermore, Alpha is not a charismatic evangelical course, and has been run by many others - including Roman Catholics.

I accept that there are some ties between these organisations, but they are not simply interchangeable - those who are "into" New Wine are not also always "into" the Alpha course.

As to Justin Welby: as someone who has at various times been a congregant of JW as priest, I would not say he is particularly charismatic, unlike (his previous colleague in the International Department of Coventry Cathedral) Andrew White, nor as evangelical as his previous boss at Coventry Cathedral, John Irvine.

Many used to complain about these in Coventry Cathedral, whereas few would complain about JW, who was always very liturgical and a perfectionist with regard to his liturgical role. Of course, he also had a major role during most of his time in Coventry abroad as a kind of unpaid roving diplomat.

Of course he is privileged. But let's not pretend a few things. His kids all went to state schools. He is a very straight person to talk to. He does not have airs nor does he privilege speaking to important people over normal people. I know that many people respected Rowan Williams very much, but one has to wonder how he was not also an example of privilege, given that he is now in a job-for-life at Cambridge University.

Yes, it is true he came from the HTB stable, but it is quite untrue to state that he is "Sandy Millar’s men". He was a curate in a rough part of Coventry diocese, he then was a vicar in a more leafy part. He then spent a long time as a sub-Dean in Coventry before a short time in Liverpool as Dean and then Durham as bishop. None of these are typical of those who come out of HTB.

In fact, the only part I recognise from the nastiness of your post is that JW experiences "cognitive dissonance". I'm sure he does.

In fact I have it on good authority that he never wanted to leave Coventry, never wanted to become bishop and certainly never wanted to become archbishop. This is a man in a position he never asked nor wanted to be in.

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arse

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Gamaliel
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I'm not a huge Welby fan but I'll second what mr cheesy says. As for Self ... he's regressing into the kind of smug 6th form school magazine satire he shouls have grown out of by now.

There's more to evangelical and charismatic evangelicalism than the HTB brand.

The problem is, from the outside, one might get the impression it's a monoculture but it isn't. The other day I snorted into my tea when someone suggested that Tim Farron was an HTB type ...

Other evangelicals - both Anglican and otherwise often find common cause with HTB for purely pragmatic reasons - because it seems to 'work'. That doesn't mean they necessarily imbibe the HTB culture.

As for RCs using Alpha - well yes, they do - again for purely pragmatic reasons. Alpha is pretty full-on charismatic but it can be used in a bolt-on kind of way in more sacramental settings - and sacramentalism and the charismatic dimension are not mutually exclusive of course.

Tangent over.

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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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Martin60
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What, the nastiness of Welby being a warmongering (from the same Cov stable as White) homophobe? Like that of Bergoglio? Christianity isn't working yet, no wonder prayer doesn't.

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Love wins

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Anglicano
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I'm not a huge Welby fan


Any reason why not? He seems to be doing a difficult job well, without the huge PR support enjoyed by Popes.

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Martin60
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Prayer will have worked when Christianity does. When its leaders do. If one has to defend them, justify them, they aren't leading. George is to an enormous extent compared to what has gone before. But it's not enough. It's a start. But it won't be sustained. Justin and Andrew? Sorry. I should be too. But I can't be. Not when these three are demanding war. Still, we must keep on praying that they will repent, no?

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Love wins

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Erroneous Monk
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quote:
Originally posted by quetzalcoatl:
quote:
Originally posted by Erroneous Monk:
quote:
Originally posted by quetzalcoatl:
quote:
Originally posted by Erroneous Monk:
quote:
Originally posted by SusanDoris:
Can you think of one thing in your life which can only be explained by something non-natural?


Yes: dissatisfaction.

I know of only one plausible explanation for it: You have made us for Yourself, and our souls are restless until they rest in You.

Prayer, then, is not intended to supply our wants, but to remind us that there is only one way to be entirely satisfied, and to bring us as close as possible to that satisfaction in this life.

That's pretty, but surely there are quite a lot of explanations of dissatisfaction. For example, in some areas of Buddhism, there is the idea that the ego has split itself from reality, and then yearns to return 'home'. This does not involve God.


It doesn't involve the *word* "God" but...
I think you are moving the goal-posts. You said, that there is only one plausible explanation for dissatisfaction, that is, our yearning for God.

I dispute that, and cite as an example, the idea in Buddhism that the separation and alienation caused by the ego also produces dissatisfaction. Interestingly, this is religious but not theistic.

So you say, 'but ...', implying that God might be involved. So you are saying that the ego idea is not plausible for someone who already believes in God. Well, OK, that is a bit circular.

No. I'm saying that I think the two ideas are entirely consistent, just use different language.

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And I shot a man in Tesco, just to watch him die.

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Jude
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Originally posted by Martin60:

quote:
Christianity isn't working yet, no wonder prayer doesn't.
Christianity isn't "working" because we're all fallible human beings. However, I don't believe that God needs us to be perfect in order to answer prayers, otherwise none of our prayers would be answered - and some are, unquestionably.

What I am wondering about is rather, if there is some kind of block to our prayers being answered, and how that can be overcome.

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Gamaliel
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The problem with that, though, Jude is that it can all too easily lead to guilt and to 'blame' for unanswered prayer - 'That person wasn't healed because they didn't have sufficient faith ...' etc.

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

http://philthebard.blogspot.com

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Gamaliel
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The problem with that, though, Jude is that it can all too easily lead to guilt and to 'blame' for unanswered prayer - 'That person wasn't healed because they didn't have sufficient faith ...' etc.

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

http://philthebard.blogspot.com

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cliffdweller
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I'm with Gamaliel. In fact, it's hard to imagine a "blocked" answer that wouldn't turn into a guilt-producing blame-the-victim pat answer.

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

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Boogie

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quote:
Originally posted by Jude:
- and some are, unquestionably.
.....

There is no 'answered prayer' which can't be accounted for by co-incidence.

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Garden. Room. Walk

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Martin60
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quote:
Originally posted by Jude:
Originally posted by Martin60:

quote:
Christianity isn't working yet, no wonder prayer doesn't.
Christianity isn't "working" because we're all fallible human beings. However, I don't believe that God needs us to be perfect in order to answer prayers, otherwise none of our prayers would be answered - and some are, unquestionably.

What I am wondering about is rather, if there is some kind of block to our prayers being answered, and how that can be overcome.

Jude, of course Christianity is working on an individual and collective level, it just can't at the highest. Our prayers for that cannot be until our titular leaders; Andrew, Justin and George follow our once and future leader and declare peace. My prayers for enlightenment are obviously being answered, what's being answered for you?

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Love wins

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Jude
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Blocked - it depends what's blocking it, or so I've heard. Lack of faith may not be it - after all, faith as small as a mustard seed and all that.


It seems to me that there are many demons - however you want to interpret that term - getting in the way of healing. Where do they come from and how do we defeat them? With God's help for ourselves, being strong in our faith in Christ - but how, when our prayers are for others, who may not have the same strong faith? Is our faith meant to cover theirs or what? It's a hard thing to ask.

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Martin60
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Peace Jude.

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Love wins

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Gamaliel
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With respect, Jude, blaming demons for apparent 'blockages' is just as reductionist and potentially open to abuse as blaming individuals for not getting healed in response to prayer.

People get ill. Get over it already. People recover from illnesses - good ... but eventually we'll all die of something or other no matter how hard we pray. Get used to it. It's called real life.

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

http://philthebard.blogspot.com

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Komensky
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quote:
Originally posted by Jude:
Originally posted by Martin60:

quote:
Christianity isn't working yet, no wonder prayer doesn't.
Christianity isn't "working" because we're all fallible human beings. However, I don't believe that God needs us to be perfect in order to answer prayers, otherwise none of our prayers would be answered - and some are, unquestionably.

What I am wondering about is rather, if there is some kind of block to our prayers being answered, and how that can be overcome.

Here you have it. 'some [prayers] are [answered, unquestionably'. Jude, now is your chance to utterly change the world. You could net a million USD through the James Randi Foundation and you would be on most newspapers and your work could answer questions long abandoned by scientific journals. At last! You finally have proof that prayers are answered 'unquestionably'!

This is the kind of destructive behaviour I complained about earlier in the thread. And the total bollocks about 'blockages' again. To be honest, I'm glad that Jude has weighed in on this. I think that some of you were beginning to think that I had made it all up! There really are people like Jude, though.

K.

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"The English are not very spiritual people, so they invented cricket to give them some idea of eternity." - George Bernard Shaw

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Erroneous Monk
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quote:
Originally posted by Komensky:
There really are people like Jude, though.


We are *all* "people like Jude", whatever that means, aren't we? - made in God's image, broken, trying to be whole, longing. Always longing.

[Votive]

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And I shot a man in Tesco, just to watch him die.

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Komensky
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quote:
Originally posted by Erroneous Monk:
quote:
Originally posted by Komensky:
There really are people like Jude, though.


We are *all* "people like Jude", whatever that means, aren't we? - made in God's image, broken, trying to be whole, longing. Always longing.

[Votive]

Always telling people that God isn't answering their prayers for some reason. As God is perfect and it cannot be his fault, it's the fault of the petitioner. Probably a blockage or demons! Time to get onto Dyno Rod!

I apologies for the 'people like Jude' comment, I didn't mean to personalise it in that way. Sorry, Jude.


K.

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"The English are not very spiritual people, so they invented cricket to give them some idea of eternity." - George Bernard Shaw

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Komensky
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On the subject of HTB™ brand evangelicalism, it could have gone any number of directions around 10 years ago. After Sandy Millar left things moved a little bit to the centre (and politically to the left too, though most of my friends there were liberals of one sort or another). However, it wasn't long until Nicky made a very sharp turn back to the Right. There were two very clear signs of this. The first was his harsh stance on homosexuality (it's a sin, it is a choice, it us 'curable' through prayer. 'excessive' masturbation is also 'curable' through prayer). He tries to dodge this in interviews, but that is what he published. The second worrying area of HTBs shift to the Right was their use of their so-called Leadership Conference. This began to feature the stars of the American Right-wing mega-church culture: Rick Warren, Joyce Meyers and at least one preacher from Joel Osteen's enterprise. Bill Johnson from Bethel (and his son) were also guests.

The HTB attitude to prayer was completely clear: prayer is an external force, a power, which the 'faithful' can use for others and for themselves. They fully believed that prayer could be used like The Force to move and change objects in the physical world. We heard the full gamut of miracle stories, including resurrection stories, mind reading, you name it.

Once you create an entire church culture on this kind of BS, it makes it very difficult to back down or alter your beliefs. Moreover, it makes any dissent from the party line practically impossible. There was certainly private muttering about the charlatanism of several of Nicky's mates who came to speak, but if you were in the Inner Circle, you would soon find yourself on the outside should you challenge any claims. In short, the unquestioning belief in 'the power of prayer' to act as a force of its own, suspending the laws of nature if favour of the wishes of the petitioner, were taken as axiomatic. We head a lot about 'blockages' and 'obstacles' too.

You may have noticed that HTB-type evangelicals now refer to themselves as 'orthodox'. This is part of their strategy to achieve a paradigm shift so that their theology is seen to sit at the centre of Christian life.

K.

--------------------
"The English are not very spiritual people, so they invented cricket to give them some idea of eternity." - George Bernard Shaw

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Gamaliel
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To be fair, I've heard a vicar who is otherwise heavily influenced by HTB and New Wine etc distance themselves from the 'power of prayer' type teaching - you know, the idea that it possesses some kind of 'force' in and of itself.

That said, I've also heard that same vicar say things I'd certainly find unacceptable and beyond the pale - including a reluctance to dismiss the kind of numpties that Big Nick has been courting and giving air-time to in recent years - despite his own misgivings about several of these characters.

'I don't like what they write but some people seem to find it useful ...'

That's the problem I have with contemporary charismatic Anglicanism, it's so desperate for apparent 'results' that it'll switch off its bullshit detector and allow almost anything through the filter provided its endorsed by someone like Big Nick or some other celebrity figure.

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

http://philthebard.blogspot.com

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itsarumdo
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Rules for prayer to work

1. it has to be from the heart - to start with that's a big call - a lot of the "why can't we do this..." comments I've seen above are about trying it out like it's a new playstation

2. Faith/trust/belief. If you have a tiny doubt, then the request dissolves and you have to start again.

3. Intermediary with good connections - Maybe God answers prayers direct, but I get the impression that this is the job of His local representatives - Christ is one of the options. There are other options, though as far as I know they all are (spiritually, if not in official dogma/doctrine) servants of Christ and therefore of God. God wants us to be in Divine order (i.e. follow the rules).

4. It's in divine order - no - you don't get to win the lottery. Unless that is going to create a higher state of divine order - so it's not impossible. Money is unfortunately connected to evil more than it is to the divine, so although we're not meant to lack, we're also not meant to be filthy rich - unless we also use that for good, or the evil that it is allowed to create eventually leads to divine order.

5. why are there rules? why should there NOT be rules? Being healthy, living our allotted span (be it 100 seconds or 100 years), being happy are part of the divine order. But if we don't follow the rules, then there is no divine order and health, life, happiness, etc are no longer in God's hands - they are in the hands of evil (because that's what fills the gap if there is no divine order). This is the bottom line - we live on a planet of choice, and the choice is rather stark. We can look one way - or by default we look the other way.

6. And - I know this is not so popular on here - you have to take in the holy spirit - it's an energisong force that (this is my interpretation, OK?) links us to God and provides some kind of step-down force that allows the answer to manifest. As soon as we pray and ask, it's answered, but a) lack of faith so the intention bubble bursts, or b) lack of oomph from this end to connect, and it doesn't nappen so easily

7. But there's always Grace - thank God. When the request comes from the deepest part of our heart, then sometimes all the other rules are overriden

8. It's only coincidence. Well, when you see several coincidences in a row, then they start to look like ducks. I have personally met many people who were medical basket cases who followed the above rules and are now walking around alive and very well, much to their doctors astonishment. Cynicism, doubt, despair, worry, etc are just other forms of disbelief and then the thought/intention bubble pops and prayers are not able to be answered - except through Grace. So when these are the state of mind prayers are only very rarely answered.

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"Iti sapis potanda tinone" Lycophron

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quetzalcoatl
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quote:
Originally posted by Komensky:
quote:
Originally posted by Jude:
Originally posted by Martin60:

quote:
Christianity isn't working yet, no wonder prayer doesn't.
Christianity isn't "working" because we're all fallible human beings. However, I don't believe that God needs us to be perfect in order to answer prayers, otherwise none of our prayers would be answered - and some are, unquestionably.

What I am wondering about is rather, if there is some kind of block to our prayers being answered, and how that can be overcome.

Here you have it. 'some [prayers] are [answered, unquestionably'. Jude, now is your chance to utterly change the world. You could net a million USD through the James Randi Foundation and you would be on most newspapers and your work could answer questions long abandoned by scientific journals. At last! You finally have proof that prayers are answered 'unquestionably'!

This is the kind of destructive behaviour I complained about earlier in the thread. And the total bollocks about 'blockages' again. To be honest, I'm glad that Jude has weighed in on this. I think that some of you were beginning to think that I had made it all up! There really are people like Jude, though.

K.

Well, the 'unquestionably' is a safe guess, really, since nobody can disprove that. There are always going to be some coincidences, which amaze and enthrall. Furthermore, prayer probably has effects on the person doing the praying, but then so does meditation and yoga, or in fact, going for a ten mile walk. (It knackers me).

I am rather amazed to see examples of Star Wars type prayer, (may the force be with you), but there you are, people need it. That's one reason that Star Wars is so popular.

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I can't talk to you today; I talked to two people yesterday.

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Komensky
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Absolutely, 'it makes me feel better' is an honest reason to pray, do yoga, meditate, etc., or engage in some kind of spiritual activity. That's different from saying there is a positive external force at work. There simply isn't. To answer the other comment above, it's not for me to disprove, it's for those claiming The Force to do the proving. To date, it hasn't been done. It might happen one day—and I'm certainly open to that possibility, but that's a long way away from claiming there is an external force available to some Christians. Lots of other religions make similar—and similarly unsubstantiated—claims.

The problem is that those who believe they have The Force, cannot be dissuaded. The very act of saying you have The Force is the same, in their ears, as actually having The Force.

'We pray in hope', I heard a (now) Bishop say. That seems fine to me.

K.

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"The English are not very spiritual people, so they invented cricket to give them some idea of eternity." - George Bernard Shaw

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Lamb Chopped
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quote:
Originally posted by Komensky:
Absolutely, 'it makes me feel better' is an honest reason to pray, do yoga, meditate, etc., or engage in some kind of spiritual activity. That's different from saying there is a positive external force at work. There simply isn't. To answer the other comment above, it's not for me to disprove, it's for those claiming The Force to do the proving. To date, it hasn't been done. It might happen one day—and I'm certainly open to that possibility, but that's a long way away from claiming there is an external force available to some Christians. Lots of other religions make similar—and similarly unsubstantiated—claims.

The problem is that those who believe they have The Force, cannot be dissuaded. The very act of saying you have The Force is the same, in their ears, as actually having The Force.

'We pray in hope', I heard a (now) Bishop say. That seems fine to me.

K.

Awk! Logic alert, logic alert...

Start with "That's different from saying there is a positive external force at work. There simply isn't."

You don't know that, you can't know that, unless you can directly access the experience of basically every human being who ever existed. "There simply isn't" is a faith position, not a fact.

And as for the burden of proof, of course it lies with the claimers. Unless they can't or won't be bothered. It is extremely hard to prove certain supernatural experiences to the satisfaction of someone else who wasn't there, is predisposed to doubt them already, and who isn't willing to accept your word on the matter. What are you to do--rig up a time machine?

People have lives. And most have gotten weary of arguing with people who already have their minds made up. If someone genuinely wants to know what I think and why on the subject, I'll tell them. But I won't attempt to prove it unless I'm stuck for days in an airport somewhere and have nothing else to do.

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Er, this is what I've been up to (book).
Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down!

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quetzalcoatl
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quote:
Originally posted by Komensky:
Absolutely, 'it makes me feel better' is an honest reason to pray, do yoga, meditate, etc., or engage in some kind of spiritual activity. That's different from saying there is a positive external force at work. There simply isn't. To answer the other comment above, it's not for me to disprove, it's for those claiming The Force to do the proving. To date, it hasn't been done. It might happen one day—and I'm certainly open to that possibility, but that's a long way away from claiming there is an external force available to some Christians. Lots of other religions make similar—and similarly unsubstantiated—claims.

The problem is that those who believe they have The Force, cannot be dissuaded. The very act of saying you have The Force is the same, in their ears, as actually having The Force.

'We pray in hope', I heard a (now) Bishop say. That seems fine to me.

K.

The anthropologist Scott Atran has written some interesting stuff on religion (e.g. 'In Gods We Trust'), and one of the things he often says, is that it's important that religion is counter-intuitive.

If you like, it's vital that it is unreasonable, and hard to believe, and I suppose in a modern climate, a blow against positivism, or 'facts' in a Gradgrindian sense. ('You are never to fancy').

The reasons for needing the counter-intuitive are probably legion! I suppose at some level, we feel that life itself is improbable, or my existence is, or love is, and so on. Yet it's also mundane - the mind boggles.

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I can't talk to you today; I talked to two people yesterday.

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SusanDoris

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K
Well said, as usual.
And I don't think the 100% unanswered prayer for the replacement of amputated limbs has been mentioned yet, so I'll just do that very quietly.!

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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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SvitlanaV2
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quote:
Originally posted by Komensky:


The HTB attitude to prayer was completely clear: prayer is an external force, a power, which the 'faithful' can use for others and for themselves. They fully believed that prayer could be used like The Force to move and change objects in the physical world. We heard the full gamut of miracle stories, including resurrection stories, mind reading, you name it.

Once you create an entire church culture on this kind of BS, it makes it very difficult to back down or alter your beliefs. Moreover, it makes any dissent from the party line practically impossible.

It sounds like the sort of church that 'dissenters' would want to leave in any case. Too big and too influential to allow much room for voices that are off-message. Perhaps this is an argument for smaller, weaker churches with a more democratic tradition of lay leadership?

And why would a congregation that's so visibly defied the usual expectations of church decline and irrelevance tell its members not to expect miracles? AFAICS this church has been through its own resurrection over the past couple of decades or so! It makes little sense to attend such a church and expect a low-key approach to prayer.

Psychologically speaking, it's surely easier for churches that have faced difficulties, shrunk and struggled to adapt to new social realities to be more restrained in their expectations.

[ 20. October 2015, 14:30: Message edited by: SvitlanaV2 ]

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Erroneous Monk
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quote:
Originally posted by SusanDoris:

And I don't think the 100% unanswered prayer for the replacement of amputated limbs has been mentioned yet, so I'll just do that very quietly.!

Unless starfish are really really good at prayer.

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And I shot a man in Tesco, just to watch him die.

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Gamaliel
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I think there's a lot in that, SvitlanaV2 - which shows how important the sociological context is in all of this ...

There all sorts of factors affecting why churches grow or are able to 'turn themselves around' - and having the 'right' mix of personnel, resources and so on clearly has a lot to do with it ...

The trouble is, in places like HTB there can be such a rarefied and almost 'super-spiritual' or over-realised spiritual atmosphere that any or all progress of any kind is attributed to the directly miraculous - rather than it being a case of the appropriate resources and opportunities being available at the right time.

I'm not saying that there's nothing 'divine' about it - but there's a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy thing going on to a certain extent. Like attracts like and when you've got a lively, vibrant congregation that seems to be going places it's easy to get carried along on the crest of a wave ... and, sadly, equally easy to get hurt when the wave eventually crashes onto the beach ...

There's a balance in here somewhere.

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Praise the Lord for He is kind.

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Pomona
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quote:
Originally posted by SusanDoris:
My answers to my own questions go something like this:
Praying to God is of no benefit at all to the children, since it asks them to listen to an adult talking to something that many of them nowadays know or believe does not exist. I do not know the statistics, but not only are far more children nowadays from homes with a wide variety of religious beliefs, but there are possibly as many from homes where the idea of God/god/s simply does not arise.

I suppose it could benefit the Head teacher and Governors, if their funding depended on ( a)still obeying an old law and (b) current sources of funding, but not being a cynical person, I will say no more on that account! 

An Assembly, say, once or even twice a week – if managed well, can benefit the smooth running of the school I think, but I have been out of teaching for a long time.

With all the astronomical, scientific, technological, geographical, biological,, etc detailed knowledge available to all, why show children how to do something like saying prayers to a God?

For the same reason children are taught about art and poetry and music.

Beauty is useless - that is part of its beauty. Prayer to me is similar.

I know some contemplative Anglican nuns in Oxford - their lives are entirely devoted to prayer and they do not leave the convent except for medical treatment/going to the post office etc, and slightly unexpectedly, Greenbelt (a progressive Christian festival). Their novice guardian has spoken about the uselessness of that kind of life, but that useless doesn't mean without value or beauty.

Look up a book called New Habits - if anyone knows the whys and hows of prayer, it's nuns.

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Consider the work of God: Who is able to straighten what he has bent? [Ecclesiastes 7:13]

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Martin60
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Or healing Down's syndrome or ANY other genetic disorder Susan Doris.

So what can God heal? That shows in the statistics? In anyone's experience? Anyone here?

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Love wins

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SvitlanaV2
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quote:
Originally posted by Gamaliel:

[...]
There's a balance in here somewhere.

Hmmm. The only 'balance' I can see in our church landscape is that you can leave one type of church to attend another, and hence benefit from a good all-round view (as you yourself have done).

Yes, churches develop partially in response to social and psychological conditions, but few of them are openly going to discuss the need to tone down their spiritual rhetoric (if you like) unless that kind of language were obviously causing them problems. At the moment, HTB is presumably still attracting many members who, among other things, want to believe that prayer can work miracles. Once the market for such prayers seriously declines in central London then the church leaders may gradually stop talking that way.

Until then, Londoners who don't want to hear that sort of thing can attend one of the many other churches in the area who would no doubt love to have them. (I'm supposing that the neighbouring churches haven't tried to become clones of HTB!)

Maybe we should all admit that a single church can hardly provide enough 'balance' for one human lifetime, in which case the only thing to do is to have a taste and then move on.

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Pomona
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I would have said that MOTR/liberal churches should ramp up the spiritual talk.

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Consider the work of God: Who is able to straighten what he has bent? [Ecclesiastes 7:13]

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Martin60
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In what way?

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Love wins

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SvitlanaV2
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I agree that the MOTR churches need to be more spiritual.

Regarding prayer, perhaps there could be more groups using prayer styles from the various sacramental and monastic traditions. There could be more Christian meditation. Courses/workshops for people who want to feel comfortable praying with others, or leading prayer groups, etc. Or more Christian meditation - more silence. Simply more teaching on how to pray. More worship time given over to prayer, rather than the usual wordy monologues and liturgies.

There are retreats you can go on, etc. but to me, these seem very distant from congregational life. The sense is that you can go in for this sort of thing if you like, but it really isn't necessary; what's necessary is putting your name down on a rota or getting involved in admin. (Perhaps this is just a Methodist thing!) Church life isn't infused with a special respect for prayerfulness or with a longing to listen to God.

Hopefully others have a more inspiring experience of the contemporary MOTR prayer scene.

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Martin60
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What does 'spiritual' mean?

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Love wins

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Gamaliel
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All good points, SvitlanaV2 - and much as I might wish you were wrong - I don't think you are.

There is a precedent for churches toning things down - it only took the Quakers a generation or two to change from a rather enthusiastic and illuminist movement to a fairly staid but highly principled one


I can see that happening on the 'left' of the charismatic scene to some extent.

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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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Martin60
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Anybody NOT like Taizé?

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Love wins

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no prophet's flag is set so...

Proceed to see sea
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quote:
Originally posted by Martin60:
Anybody NOT like Taizé?

Not any more. It used to provide me with great comfort, but it glosses over too much, and often affirms a world and God view I cannot but stumble over, e.g.,

"[You] protect me O God, I trust you, you show us the way to live, with you is joy, joy in the fullest" (My translation from German, the French is a bit different) Link to words, at bottom. Pretty, but I mustn't accept.

The idea of God providing protection is too much. I find I need things more complete, where we acknowledge perils of life, and while we hope for something, we do not and cannot affirm our confidence in them. Taizé is too confident.

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

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SvitlanaV2
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I like Taizé, but it seems to be out of fashion in the circles that I know. I don't know why.

As for the Quakers, yes, obviously, churches do develop, and normally in a less intense direction. But I think they do it as circumstances change for them rather than because they're deliberately looking for 'balance'. (And it might be argued that Quakerism here has developed into a very liberal faith rather than something particularly balanced.)

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cliffdweller
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quote:
Originally posted by Komensky:

You may have noticed that HTB-type evangelicals now refer to themselves as 'orthodox'. This is part of their strategy to achieve a paradigm shift so that their theology is seen to sit at the centre of Christian life.

K.

Much as I agree with a lot of your criticisms of HTB and the American evangelicalism it often imitates, I would have to disagree here. Of course, it all hinges on your definition of small-o "orthodox". Myself, I would define orthodoxy by the ecumenical creeds: Apostle's and Nicene. By that definition, HTB definitely and most American evangelicals are very much orthodox, for all their other faults.

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

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SusanDoris

Incurable Optimist
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quote:
Originally posted by Pomona:
quote:
Originally posted by SusanDoris:
With all the astronomical, scientific, technological, geographical, biological,, etc detailed knowledge available to all, why show children how to do something like saying prayers to a God?

For the same reason children are taught about art and poetry and music.
]Yes, I agree. I should have added that of course the subject should be taught about as it is an integral part of our history.
quote:
Beauty is useless - that is part of its beauty. Prayer to me is similar.
But if appreciation of the Arts is such an important part of human life, it must have been a survival strategy.
quote:
I know some contemplative Anglican nuns in Oxford - their lives are entirely devoted to prayer and they do not leave the convent except for medical treatment/going to the post office etc, and slightly unexpectedly, Greenbelt (a progressive Christian festival). Their novice guardian has spoken about the uselessness of that kind of life, but that useless doesn't mean without value or beauty.

Look up a book called New Habits - if anyone knows the whys and hows of prayer, it's nuns.

Very interesting point. A topic on the value and 'usefulness' of monks and nuns, or not, could be a good one, I think. Their choice of life sthyle could well be considered to be a selfish one.

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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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Ikkyu
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I had an experience last night that made me think about this thread. We had rain here in Arizona and being such a rare event it makes roads slick and rather unsafe due to the many drivers that lack experience driving in the rain.
On my way to the pharmacy I slowed down too fast and lost control of my car. I spun but was able to avoid hitting anything and stopped safely out of harm's way. I felt quite lucky, I stopped short of saying a prayer of thanks since I haven't prayed in many years. And I'm not much of a believer, but it definitely crossed my mind.
And then this morning I open the local papers and find that on that same night an SUV with a young couple in their twenties and their 3 young children was not so lucky. Ill spare you the tragic details.

I wondered what would have been the value of my prayer if I had prayed giving thanks for my luck that very same night. And I wondered if anyone prayed for them before they left on their car trip.
I am sure many are praying for them now. But going back to the title of the thread. Does it work?

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Raptor Eye
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quote:
Originally posted by Ikkyu:
I had an experience last night that made me think about this thread. We had rain here in Arizona and being such a rare event it makes roads slick and rather unsafe due to the many drivers that lack experience driving in the rain.
On my way to the pharmacy I slowed down too fast and lost control of my car. I spun but was able to avoid hitting anything and stopped safely out of harm's way. I felt quite lucky, I stopped short of saying a prayer of thanks since I haven't prayed in many years. And I'm not much of a believer, but it definitely crossed my mind.
And then this morning I open the local papers and find that on that same night an SUV with a young couple in their twenties and their 3 young children was not so lucky. Ill spare you the tragic details.

I wondered what would have been the value of my prayer if I had prayed giving thanks for my luck that very same night. And I wondered if anyone prayed for them before they left on their car trip.
I am sure many are praying for them now. But going back to the title of the thread. Does it work?

When I was in an accident, in the split second when I could see a car was obviously going to directly hit the driver's door with me in the driver's seat, I prayed. I didn't ask that I would come out of it alive or in one piece. I simply said 'I love and trust you Lord.' I knew the closeness of God in that moment. The car was a write- off, and I came out of it without a scratch.

The point is that God is with us through everything, not that nothing will happen to hurt or to kill us. If I had been hurt, I still would thank God for his presence with me, as I did when I was not hurt.

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Be still, and know that I am God! Psalm 46.10

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SusanDoris

Incurable Optimist
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quote:
Originally posted by Martin60:
Or healing Down's syndrome or ANY other genetic disorder Susan Doris.

So what can God heal? That shows in the statistics? In anyone's experience? Anyone here?

Nature, human evolution, and the ever-advancing skills of Medicine have done it all. The difficulty for so many is that, by accepting this, they would have to relinquish all the beliefs which require faith alone. If this is going to happen - and of course I think it will eventually, [Smile] after maybe several hundred years, probably more, it will have to work through and evolve, as it cannot be any sort of instant imposition.

In the meantime, it is always a privilege and a pleasure to be a member of this community.

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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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Anglicano
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The difficulty for so many is that, by accepting this, they would have to relinquish all the beliefs which require faith alone.

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Please could you give us some examples of such beliefs and why we would need to relinquish them all?

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mr cheesy
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quote:
Originally posted by SusanDoris:
Nature, human evolution, and the ever-advancing skills of Medicine have done it all. The difficulty for so many is that, by accepting this, they would have to relinquish all the beliefs which require faith alone. If this is going to happen - and of course I think it will eventually, [Smile] after maybe several hundred years, probably more, it will have to work through and evolve, as it cannot be any sort of instant imposition.

In the meantime, it is always a privilege and a pleasure to be a member of this community.

The problem here is that, of course, science has proven that faith is a very strong influence on healing - hence the placebo effect and numerous studies which have shown the impact on health of belonging to a faith community.

Expectation has a big part to play. Of course, that's not the same as believing prayer A leads to healing B. But still - being a part of a community that believes miraculous things can happen may indeed have an impact on the rates of effective medical treatment. As weird as it sounds.

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arse

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Komensky
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quote:
Originally posted by Lamb Chopped:
Awk! Logic alert, logic alert...

Start with "That's different from saying there is a positive external force at work. There simply isn't."

You don't know that, you can't know that, unless you can directly access the experience of basically every human being who ever existed. "There simply isn't" is a faith position, not a fact.

Correction accepted. I would change it to 'there is simply no evidence for it.' It is the same approach I have for aliens, ghosts or Elvis sightings. Lots of people believe in them and with absolutely heaps of anecdotal evidence, but I see no reason to believe them simply because I cannot prove those claims to be untrue. You are shifting the burden of proof. 'Some people believe in an invisible power for which there is no evidence, but it may be true because it cannot be proven to be false'. Hardly the stuff that's going to get people into your tent.

K.

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"The English are not very spiritual people, so they invented cricket to give them some idea of eternity." - George Bernard Shaw

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Komensky
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Please forgive the double post. Martin was asking about success rates. Let's say that the prayers of the faithful are, on average somewhere between 1% and 20% successful. That's a complete guess. In which case, proving the 'power' of prayer would be the easiest thing to do. Tomorrow, you get as many Christians as you can organise around the world (I would think it pretty easy to get 10m to join in) and pray for a single person to grow back a limb, or be healed of downs syndrome, for example. If you're right and I'm wrong, I will be the first to accept the power of prayer and completely change mind.

Why do you suppose such things are never attempted?

K.

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"The English are not very spiritual people, so they invented cricket to give them some idea of eternity." - George Bernard Shaw

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