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ScottO

Divine Intervention? Purpose of prayer?

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One Sunday morning, a very nice woman who had the role of beginning our church services

with announcements, prayers and inspirational stories

told the story of how that week she had been texting while driving

and narrowly avoided having a terrible accident in spite of her foolish

behavior. She credited God with saving her life. "And the congregation said Amen!"

Last March, a young man was texting and driving in our same area and he

hit a church van killing 13 elderly church members. I no longer attend church and had

no opportunity to discuss with anyone what they might think of the very different outcomes

for presumably devout christian people. I can only wonder what they thought of this.

As I have moved forward on my spiritual path, I have come to a place where I use prayer

as the path to the peace, rest and love of Christ. My way to access the divine within my soul

with the goal of loving God, others and myself through my attitudes and actions. 

But I no longer ask God for specifics with any expectation of anything happening.

And I have a hard time believing that God intervenes in any material way with people's lives.

But I did have a moment with God as a young man that totally changed the trajectory of my

life for the better. Maybe it's valid to pray for moments like those.

 

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1 hour ago, ScottO said:

But I no longer ask God for specifics with any expectation of anything happening.

And I have a hard time believing that God intervenes in any material way with people's lives.

But I did have a moment with God as a young man that totally changed the trajectory of my

life for the better. Maybe it's valid to pray for moments like those.

 

Scott,

 

I have never had such a 'moment' with God and actually have no idea what that means. However, your question is part of theodicy. I don't believe that God intervenes but I do believe that God is Present and, in and through man, can make a difference in creation (i.e. in a material way). 

One of the best book on this subject, a subject that has interested me for years is one I just discovered in 2017 and it is perhaps the best: Wendy Farley's Tragic Vision and Divine Compassion, A Contemporary Theodicy.  Very reasonable price on Amazon. Try it.

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Hi Scott,

Yes i believe it is valid to pray for moments like those. I have had a number of those moments that changed the trajectory of my life. For the better? I believe so but in truth i cannot say as i rarely think of things or compartmentalize them in terms of better or worse.

Joseph

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I started a nonprofit in 1990.  Twice we had a financial crisis and I prayed for assistance.  Both times a check for $3k arrived before the end of the week.

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3 hours ago, thormas said:

I have never had such a 'moment' with God and actually have no idea what that means.

Hi Thormas,

I guess you had to be there! :)   Perhaps "encounter" is a better word. 

Thanks for your reply and book recommendation. Theodicy has driven me crazy.

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48 minutes ago, JosephM said:

I have had a number of those moments that changed the trajectory of my life. For the better? I believe so but in truth i cannot say as i rarely think of things or compartmentalize them in terms of better or worse.

Hi Joseph,

Thanks for the reply. My big "moment" with God removed so many destructive behaviors from my life that I can enthusiastically call the changes "for the better". But that's my life I'm talking about and I appreciate your comment about how you view your own experiences.

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22 minutes ago, Burl said:

I started a nonprofit in 1990.  Twice we had a financial crisis and I prayed for assistance.  Both times a check for $3k arrived before the end of the week.

Hi Burl,

Thanks for the reply. 

What do we do with all the prayers that don't have positive outcomes like yours? Feel free to treat that question as rhetorical.  In my church experience, the "authorities' would say something like there are 3 answers to prayer. Yes, No and Wait. Sometimes lack of faith or unworthy intentions would be in the discussion. Blame the supplicant. But it makes prayers of petition seem sort of like going to Vegas.

At this time in my life, I am content to meet God in prayer and meditation seeking to be inspired to follow the harder teachings of Jesus. Love each other,  love your enemies, forgive your brother no matter what and no matter how many times. Judge and condemn no one. Do good to those who mistreat you, care for the least of Jesus brethren, etc. As for material needs, I just believe that things will ultimately work out all right. And if they don't, that's mostly out of my control as retired guy on a fixed income. :)

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17 minutes ago, ScottO said:

Hi Burl,

Thanks for the reply. 

What do we do with all the prayers that don't have positive outcomes like yours? Feel free to treat that question as rhetorical.  In my church experience, the "authorities' would say something like there are 3 answers to prayer. Yes, No and Wait. Sometimes lack of faith or unworthy intentions would be in the discussion. Blame the supplicant. But it makes prayers of petition seem sort of like going to Vegas.

At this time in my life, I am content to meet God in prayer and meditation seeking to be inspired to follow the harder teachings of Jesus. Love each other,  love your enemies, forgive your brother no matter what and no matter how many times. Judge and condemn no one. Do good to those who mistreat you, care for the least of Jesus brethren, etc. As for material needs, I just believe that things will ultimately work out all right. And if they don't, that's mostly out of my control as retired guy on a fixed income. :)

I just pray that God's will be done, and that I be aware of His presence.  I think praying for knowledge of the presence of God is important.

Prayers of petition are not like going to Vegas.  Verbalization and visualization are important in both, but prayer does not require a craps table with a low minimum wager, high X odds and a martingale system.

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Sounds like a pretty reasonable approach to me, Scott.

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