13 November 2008

Alpha Course Day 5: Additional Prayer Journal Stuff

I forgot to add a few words about Nicky Gumbel's prayer journal. In his Alpha sermon, he recommends that everyone keep a prayer journal. That way you can record all the stuff you pray for and you can "tick" off every prayer that comes true. He says that you'll be amazed how many more ticks than not ticks you will have, and it will convince you of the power of prayer.

Funny, for I've heard that for most people it generally follows that the more of a longshot the prayer is, the more unlikely it is to be fulfilled, and for most people when all prayers, probable and improbable, are taken into account, perhaps 50-50 is the best way of putting it, ie. It’s no different than luck.

Remember all the hubbub about scientific studies testing the effects of prayer on heart surgery patients? And remember how those studies showed that prayer had no effect? And remember how all the religious apologists said that you can’t put God to the test in that way? Well, so much for not putting God to the test in all those prayer-health studies. These prayer journals could easily be viewed as a very rudimentary prayer study, and Gumbel says that they do work.

Does God only answer the prayers of people who won’t publish in a scientific journal? If so, what a bastard, eh?

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At November 13, 2008 11:33 a.m., Blogger Carlo said...

Yet again, this boils down to the age-old problem of Theodicy. Many authors down through the centuries have pointed out that in order to claim that God answers prayers, you implicitly claim that he is also an asshole. It seems odd that God is more concerned with answering the trivial wishes of first-world citizens who want for nothing, while the 'Dear God, please spare my family from the horrible famine/civil war/invasion/ethnic clensing/etc.' prayers of those less fortunate fall upon deaf ears. And this despite the fact that the latter group tend to be more pious...

At November 13, 2008 12:44 p.m., Blogger King Aardvark said...

Whenever I point out that my wife's god is an asshole, my life suddenly turns very crappy for a few hours.

At November 13, 2008 3:01 p.m., Anonymous Karen said...

Whenever I point out that my wife's god is an asshole, my life suddenly turns very crappy for a few hours.

Is this a sign of supernatural intervention? :-)

At November 13, 2008 3:04 p.m., Anonymous Karen said...

If you keep a prayer journal, and discover that god isn't answering more than 50% of your prayers, then that must be an indication to you that you're not praying hard enough.

I'm sure at least one of the religionists will tell you this with a straight face, if you ask. Others will say that their god answers all prayers, just that sometimes he answers "no". Wonderfully flexible, innit?

At November 20, 2008 6:56 p.m., Blogger TheBrummell said...

I think god answering "no" was the headline of an Onion article a few years ago.

As a favour to your readers (i.e., a selfish request from me), could you please post your prayer journal in a few months? Should be good for a laugh...

At November 23, 2008 4:00 p.m., Blogger King Aardvark said...

The alpha course is actually pretty explicit with the fact that God sometimes answers "no". Basically, the impression I got was that you can't count on God to give you anything you want, because he already has a plan for your life that is superior to your own plan. So God will say NO a lot, but it's in your best interests.

I will NOT be starting a prayer journal anytime soon.


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