Thread: Praying and Respect Board: Purgatory / Ship of Fools.

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Posted by Jude (# 3033) on :
I was praying for a long time for somebody who I considered to be a friend to get help for a problem he had. Apart from attending a drop-in centre occasionally, he seemed to be doing nothing to help himself, but I carried on praying for him. Then something happened and sadly we fell out. He told me that he didn't want my help. I feel hurt that he has been so negative towards me, but on the other hand I want to respect his wishes. So should I stop praying for him?
Posted by Arethosemyfeet (# 17047) on :
It seems to me that praying is asking someone else to help so not a violation of his request.
Posted by Bishops Finger (# 5430) on :
And you are still his friend, even though he may not acknowledge you as such at the moment, and you are clearly still concerned for him.

So yes, carry on praying! Just keep it between you and God...

Posted by Schroedinger's cat (# 64) on :
Yes pray for him. lots of people get prayed for without wanting it, or knowing it often.

But yes, respect his wishes. That is so important, because it is respecting him as a human. But praying for him is not "giving him help", but - depending on your view - asking another to help, or keeping him in your mind, or seeking his best, without insisting on it.

And generally, I am not sure why you need to tell someone that you are praying for them, unless it is a natural part of a conversation.
Posted by Tortuf (# 3784) on :
If you are wanting a person to get better far more than they want to get better you may find it is time to let that person find their own personal bottom. People who are not putting in effort have not found sufficient reason to put in that effort.

Praying for them in privacy is reaching out to God yourself and is a wholly different thing. Pray if you want. What is between you and God is between you and God.
Posted by Jude (# 3033) on :
Thank you for your replies thus far, and for reassuring me that I should continue to pray for this person. I hope that one day we will be friends again, but while I, due to my Christian upbringing, want to seek forgiveness and make amends on both our parts, he is being very stubborn at present,and will not even speak to me. So it's going to be a very long haul, if we ever do get to make amends.
Posted by Martin60 (# 368) on :
You need to unconditionally apologize.
Posted by Chorister (# 473) on :
I think you need to accept that this person sees jettisoning old friendships as a way of 'moving on'. Many of the motivational posts on social media advocate this approach so, although it is not something I'd personally wish to do (preferring to keep lifelong friends), I acknowledge that many people see leaving the past behind and going forward into the future involves leaving old friends behind too.

But it doesn't mean that YOU have to stop thinking about THEM.
Posted by lily pad (# 11456) on :
He may not be able to interact with you and that may be entirely his issue. It isn't about you and what you do. Accepting that he is unable to do what you want him to do is the utmost act of respect. Keeping the door open on your end is all that you can do.

If you want to pray for him, I'd think that the prayer is that you would keep an open mind to the hurts and upsets of others and the ability to interact as would be a benefit to them when given the opportunity.

Not everyone stays friends for always and sometimes people have to withdraw in order to regroup. Respecting his needs and accepting who he is today is what you can do.
Posted by roybart (# 17357) on :
jude, I wish you well with your dilemma.

tortuf's point that people may need to reach their own personal bottom (and awareness of that bottom, I might add) is a good one. It makes me think of how helpful the spirituality of Twelve Step programs have been in my life.

In my experience, praying for someone is entirely a matter between me and God. On the other hand, telling people you are praying for them, whether this is done once or continually, can often be more harmful than helpful. For the person praying, I find that talking about it insidiously undercuts the other person's problem and makes everything about "me" and my unwanted prayers. I find that ego slips in unexpectedly, especially when religiosity is involved.

Your problem (as expressed in the OP) and your friend's problems are not at all the same. I know that in cases of alcoholism and addiction of a loved one Alanon can be very transformative, helping one towards new insights and strategies.

You write: "... due to my Christian upbringing, [I] want to seek forgiveness and make amends on both our parts." And then: "he is being stubborn." You might want to look more closely at your priorities here. Are they, as you wish them to be, completely devoted to your friend's situation as he is experiencing it now?

You love your friend. Perhaps you have to find new ways of imagining and expressing what this love entails.
Posted by Anselmina (# 3032) on :
Originally posted by Jude:
So should I stop praying for him?

Depends what you mean by praying for him.

If that involves petitioning God in public for him to see the error of his ways and turn back to the truth, or to buck up his ideas, you probably should stop praying for him. But I imagine you wouldn't do this!

If, however, your method of praying for people you care about is to speak to God about them, asking for his blessing on them, sharing your concerns about them with God etc, I can't see how you can't not pray for him.

That would be a bit like someone saying: you see that thing I told you not to think about? Well, stop thinking about it! No, really - that thing that you shouldn't think about; don't think about it. Now!
Posted by rolyn (# 16840) on :
Whilst not suggesting this is the case in the OP, I do wonder if it is altogether wise to tell someone you are fervently praying for them in one on one situation.

We have the names of seriously ill folk occasionally read out at Church services and offered up during formal prayer. I assume the people concerned have given their permission for this to be so.
Posted by Boogie (# 13538) on :
Pray for your friend if it helps you.

Don’t tell him you are praying for him, he doesn’t need to know.
Posted by no prophet's flag is set so... (# 15560) on :
Originally posted by Boogie:
Pray for your friend if it helps you.

Don’t tell him you are praying for him, he doesn’t need to know.

This seems deceptive.

On the other hand, people who pray for people think they're giving the person they're praying something good. But what is it that really prayer does? In my mind, it changes or has the possibility of changing something in the person doing the praying. It does not do anything for the prayed-for person. So with this view, praying for someone who doesn't want it is fine, because it really isn't about them.
Posted by Jude (# 3033) on :
I have never told him that I prayed for him. It was just between me and God. I continue to pray for him as I pray for others, because he is unwell.

No prophet - if praying does nothing for those who are prayed for, how do you explain the results of a study where people in hospital got better when they were prayed for, whether they knew they were being prayed for or not?
Posted by no prophet's flag is set so... (# 15560) on :
I am aware of no evidence that prayer does anything. There are individual studies which suggest no effect, small positive effects and small negative effects. When effects are summarised in "meta analysis" there is no detectable effect for intercessory prayer. Which as it must be, because then there would be evidence from prayer which would compel faith.

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