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Why Doesn't God Answer My Prayers?


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Why Doesnt God Answer My Prayers?

 

Jesus here.

 

Im going to start a thread to discuss why many prayers seem to go unanswered.

 

First of all, Id like to say that this topic is extremely complex. Even from an angels point of view (such as my own), its pretty darned complicated. So Im not promising any simple answers. What Im going to try to do is get you thinking in different ways about prayer. Im going to get you asking different questions.

 

Why has the Christian experience of prayer been so difficult over the centuries? Why have so many prayers Not Been Answered?

 

Well, the problem stems in part from the Bible (Jewish Scriptures + New Testament). There are too many passages in the Bible that tell people theyll get what they pray for. Nothing could be further from the truth, however.

 

Lets take Matthew 7:7-11 from the Sermon on the Mount as an example. Heres the NRSV translation:

 

Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for bread, will give a stone? Or if the child asks for a fish, will give a snake? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him!

 

This is the God-as-gumball-machine kind of theology thats been floating around for millennia, long before I walked in the hills of Galilee as a teacher and healer. Its Wisdom literature: Wisdom literature is an ancient form of theological thinking that says theres a direct correlation between your behaviour and your gifts from God. The more obedient and pious you are, the more things youll receive from God in the form of a benefits package particularly wealth, children, long life, and status.

 

Plenty of Christians operate on the assumption that Matthew 7:7-11 and similar Biblical examples tell people the truth. But not to be the bearer of bad news or anything the reality is that Wisdom passages like Matthew 7:7-11 are telling you the same thing as todays runaway bestsellers such as The Secret by Rhonda Byrne. All these sources falsely claim that you can get whatever you want from God-the-pinball-machine, or the less theistic but apparently no less powerful spiritual Law of Attraction, simply because you want them. All these sources make simplistic promises. Pray hard enough or think hard enough, and good stuff will come to you! Christmas on the 4th of July!

 

I have a problem with these lies. I have a problem with the fact that individual people are being lied to. I have a problem with the fact that these lies have led to profound spiritual disillusionment, fear, confusion, depression, and self-loathing on the part of countless individual believers now and in the past.

 

I have a problem with the fact that these believers are told by their leaders that they didnt get what they prayed for because they didnt pray hard enough. Or they didnt pray the right way. Or they didnt pray in a properly sanctioned temple/church. Or they werent accompanied by a properly sanctioned intermediary/priest. Or they werent cleansed first by the proper sacraments. Or much worse theyre told they didnt get what they prayed for because theyre not worthy of Gods love.

 

Im not happy, not happy at all, that people are being lied to with respect to God and their relationship with God.

 

Human beings live in a complicated world. Many problems exist. Some problems are unique to particular individuals. Most problems I repeat, most problems are not individual problems, but group problems. Family problems. Community problems. Regional problems. National problems. Global problems. God is mostly in the business of solving group problems. It takes a lot of wisdom, a lot of coordination, and a lot of time to solve group problems. The solution to individual problems is inextricably intertwined with group problems. So it takes time to solve individual problems, too. It takes time to build literacy programs, to build health care initiatives, to build inclusive and equitable human rights legislation. It would helpful if Christians would whine less about their prayer rights, and instead apply more compassion and hard work to the ongoing process of change in Gods creation.

 

Ill let you in on a little secret. What matters in your relationship with God is not your prayers, but your intent. Let me define what I mean when I use the word intent. When I use the term intent, Im referring to your conscious motivations and your conscious belief systems in life not you as a group, but you as an individual. Problems are often group problems, and God treats them as such. But intent is unique to each individual, and God treats your intent as a unique matter between you and God. Your intent has an effect on group problems. But your intent is not caused by group problems. Your intent is yours and yours alone. You are responsible for your personal intent, your personal motivations and beliefs. You are responsible, in other words, for your individual choices.

 

(I make an exception here for those with serious medical disabilities that impair an individuals ability to be responsible in legal terms for their actions. This list of disabilities includes dementia, psychotic episodes, major head injury, and the acute stages of a few other illnesses. Obviously, God doesnt hold a person responsible for what they do during a major CNS seizure. On the other hand, God does hold a person responsible for what they do during a drinking binge because that person chose to get drunk.)

 

God is interested in your intent in life, not in the prayers you speak. God couldnt care less if you go to church and pray on your knees every day for salvation. If your mind is filled with hate and thoughts of revenge and a desire to be special and chosen, youre not on the right page as far as God is concerned. If you live in the belief that its just human and not your fault that your mind is filled with a narcissistic desire for status and revenge, your intent is not soul-based. Your intent is biologically based. And guess what God doesnt have to pay any attention to your prayers!

 

God wants you to live a life where youre trying as hard as you can to be the best person youre capable of being. In other words, God wants you to live a life of soul-based intent. God wants you to live a life where you TRY to be kind, and you TRY to be patient, and you TRY to be empathetic, and you TRY to be forgiving. Sometimes youll fall short. But that doesnt matter to God as long as your daily intent is to TRY AS HARD AS YOU CAN.

 

Note that perfection of result isnt required. Only perfection of daily intent is required. It matters that you care how you live your life, and it matters that you care about other peoples needs. It does not matter that you sometimes make mistakes. It only matters if you blame other people for your own mistakes, or if you try to deny a mistake was even made (both responses show an immature lack of self-honesty). If you blame other people for your own mistakes, your intent is not soul-based, and again God doesnt have to listen to your prayers!

 

Im not promising you a bed of roses if you choose to live a life of soul-based intent, but Im promising that youll be able to live according to the Way, the Truth, and the Life if you do.

 

Obviously, Im implying that the Way, the Truth, and the Life cant be reduced to simple answers or quick fixes. Its about journeying deep into ones heart, ones emotions, ones love, and ones pain.

 

I love you all!

 

Jesus

July 29, 2009

Edited by canajan, eh?
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Richard Foster in Celebration of Discipline, wrote, "To pray is to change."

 

I think there are two ways to look at that. First, as we mature, our understanding of prayer in all its practices changes. Second, if you are sitting by an open window praying, you just might see the next God thing, and it might be a change from what you thought you should see.

 

When my son was a toddler he wandered into the garage where I was doing my meditating and devotions. When he was in the third or fourth grade he prayed for a flute and within a week one was offered to him. So he knew adults prayed and he had experienced answered prayer. 27 years later, as an adult, does he expect prayer to be answered as it was when he was in grade school?

 

Our son and daughter believed in Santa Claus until they didn't. The clincher was the Christmas their friend across the street found a new bike on her porch. Why was this the clincher? Because they had helped put the bike there. It was a moment of growth. Was it a lie to let them believe in Santa Claus? I don't think so. What makes it not a lie is that they were encouraged to grow in their understanding so that they could participate more fully and more intentionally.

 

My son, 27 years later, does not expect to get a flute or BMW when he prays, but he continues to experience the providence and the love of God because he has changed how he prays and what he prays for. He waits for the next God thing and the next thing God would call him to do.

 

Prayer is an experience, a discipline and a tool. Sometimes we get stuck at lesson 1, or lesson 2, or lesson 99 and sometimes "prayer" is just misused, even for malice and evil.

 

Dutch

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It seems like a given, that God knows our intentions. Maybe the point we do need to be reminded of, is that prayer is about trusting in God’s good intentions for us. The passage Jen quoted from Matthew is more aptly stated in Luke 11:9 “How much more will the heavenly father give the holy spirit to those who ask him.” It’s related to Jesus’ teaching “seek the kingdom first.” I don’t think the bible is misleading, but as Jen points out there are contemporary books that may be.

 

Personally, I have prayed in a private, informal way since I was around nine, and can’t recall ever praying for anything material – my prayers have almost always been for others, rather than for myself, though I do pray for more wisdom, things like that. I’m thankful every day for the love of family and friends.

 

Two other thoughts that come to mind.

Say a child turns out differently from what we expected -- after intense praying for years for the child to change, we might learn to pray for more understanding of the child as he/she is. (Jen, would you care to share your experience in this respect?)

 

Paul prayed repeatedly for a thorn in the flesh (whatever it was) to be removed, and it was not. Finally he heard God telling him “My strength is made perfect in weakness.” So Paul stopped trying to change it and accepted his weakness, even gloried in it eventually. Our prayers are always heard, and perhaps we can also say they are always answered, though it often takes time to discern.

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Mathew Chapter 7 to me is a beautiful Chapter when taken in context and its teaching assisted in pointing me to the realization of the presence of, and to an approach to God. It seems to me, this Chapter can indeed as many other writings, be taken without understanding and lead to a theology that may not have been intended and instead attributed to a theology as stated in Jen's post. With the exception of an occasional prayer for another which was done without an unction from spirit, I must confess that to my knowledge, all my prayers have been answered, even those that were material, related to my family or for such things as a job and they were answered in a supernatural way and in excess to my asking expectations.

 

Joseph

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Why Doesn’t God Answer My Prayers?

God wants you to live a life where you’re trying as hard as you can to be the best person you’re capable of being. In other words, God wants you to live a life of soul-based intent. God wants you to live a life where you TRY to be kind, and you TRY to be patient, and you TRY to be empathetic, and you TRY to be forgiving. Sometimes you’ll fall short. But that doesn’t matter to God as long as your daily intent is to TRY AS HARD AS YOU CAN.

 

I am concerned about all this TRYING and intention. I can see a little kid showing me his muscles. I think there is a difference in my posture when I say, "I am going to try to be ... good, kind, empathetic." and when I, holding good, kindness, empathy as values, say, "I wonder where God is working today" or "Where is God tugging me to go?" I think the TRYING means that I am focused on what I think I should do and not the next God thing. Maybe that's not what you meant.

 

Peace

Dutch

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I am concerned about all this TRYING and intention. I can see a little kid showing me his muscles. I think there is a difference in my posture when I say, "I am going to try to be ... good, kind, empathetic." and when I, holding good, kindness, empathy as values, say, "I wonder where God is working today" or "Where is God tugging me to go?" I think the TRYING means that I am focused on what I think I should do and not the next God thing. Maybe that's not what you meant.

 

Peace

Dutch

 

Hello, Dutch. Jesus here.

 

Nope, that's not what I meant.

 

It's going to take me a while to explain what I meant. The issue of prayer is extremely complex, as I tried to point out above. In Post #1 above, I was taking aim at the kind of prayer that treats God like a gumball machine -- you put in your coin, turn the handle, and a gumball is guaranteed to pop into your hand. Like magic! Sweet deal! Easy as pie!

 

At no time in the post above did I criticize or attack all forms of prayer. I criticized only the kind of theology that treats God in a demeaning way. I'm sure you'll agree from a purely factual point of view that many, many Christians pray in a "gumball machine" kind of way. Many of these Christians have been taught by their leaders to do this. Others have read the Bible for themselves, and have concluded the Bible teaches them to pray in this way. Since many passages of the Old and New Testaments make the "gumball machine" claim, there is ample reason for Christians (and Jews) to be confused.

 

I did not say that prayer is a lie. I said quite clearly that the issue is not your prayers, but your intent when you speak with God.

 

I repeat my point that rote prayer is not helpful in building a relationship with God. Neither is self-aggrandizing prayer helpful in building a relationship with God. Prayer, from the point of view of God's angels, is a meaningless exercise if there is no compassionate and loving intent motivating the prayer.

 

I can tell you from my personal experience as an angel on God's team that many of the prayers God hears every day are so venomous and so selfish that the makers of a slasher film could hardly come up with more horrible sentiments: eg. "God, I know you'll show your love for our Church by smiting and crushing all our unjust and heretical enemies." "God, thank you so much for the fires you brought today to that community of sinners. They deserved what they got, just as you promised us." "God, today you brought death to 13 of those dangerous foreigners as retribution for the death of one of our soldiers yesterday. You are a just and merciful God." "God, please help me find a way to get revenge on my lying, cheating husband."

 

This kind of prayer is offered to God in "piety and humility" every day in every country on the planet. No one wants to admit out loud that they've prayed such prayers. But most people have done so at one time or another in their lives. So I don't expect anyone on this site to "out" themselves by admitting they've prayed horrendously selfish prayers. The thing you need to know, though, is that God knows who prays with selfish intent and who doesn't. People usually don't like to admit to themselves (let alone to others) that they've prayed like this, in the same way people don't like to admit they've been selfish in other ways -- not admitting the times when they've given their own children a stone when asked for bread, not admitting the times when they've given their own children a snake when asked for fish. Self-honesty is not a big part of prayer for many people. It should be, but it's not.

 

Dutch, you've complained about my strong emphasis on trying and intention. I tried to make this point subtly, but now I'm just going to have to come out and speak my mind: a lot of people have to begin the spiritual journey by making a conscious effort to TRY to be good, kind, and empathetic because so many people today are NOT good, kind, and empathetic. Typically, people are faking it. They pretend to be good, they pretend to be kind, but when nobody's looking, they're full of vitriol, anger, grudge-holding, and abusive habits. Come one, Dutch -- you read the paper. You know the world is full of people who are faking their empathy. It's just a reality. I'm not denying that reality. I'm not hiding my head in the sand. I'm saying that it's a reality for a lot of people, including a lot of "pious and humility-claiming" Christians. These people aren't trying at all to flex their "soul muscles," so to speak. They're aren't trying to be good, kind, and empathetic to the very core of their human lives. They're faking it, applying a layer -- a superficial layer -- that's about one crisis thin. By this I mean they can keep up an appearance of being good and kind as long as everything in their lives is going smoothly. But as soon as there's a crisis, the knives come out, and they start slashing and burning because they can't deal with the stress.

 

Dutch, maybe you have got to the point on your journey where you understand that you're trying to work smoothly with God, that you're trying to hear "Where God is tugging you to go," to paraphrase your comment. If so, you're way ahead of many others. Most Christians in the world today need to hear again and again and again that their efforts matter, that their intent in prayer matters, that trying matters. Nothing changes in the world when human beings don't try to be empathetic in their relationship with themselves, each other, and God. A glance at the newspaper's headlines should amply prove the point that many people in the world are not using their "soul muscles" such as compassion, forgiveness, and self-discipline. When individuals TRY, when people become conscious of their emotional choices, when people consciously make the choice to be good, kind, and empathetic, it slowly begin to change their brain chemistry in beneficial ways. What you put in your brain matters. This is spiritual maturity.

 

So I have to disagree with your comment above: "I think the TRYING means that I am focused on what I think I should do and not the next God thing." I AGREE with you that the end result must be a state of openness to where God is tugging you to go. I agree completely with that statement of yours. What I don't agree on is the practical method by which Progressive Christians can arrive at that state. I am trying to teach a practical method based on a blending and intertwining of both spiritual truth and neurophysiological reality. In this, my teachings are quite different from those of most other spiritual teachers today.

 

You are free, as always, to ignore what I say.

 

I hope I have clarified my earlier comments.

 

Best to you.

 

Love Jesus

July 31, 2009

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I really liked your Lesson 1 in From Jesus: Intro To The Practice Of Forgiving how to actually do it!

 

But here there is a lot of beating up on "them." I suspect there are not many "them" in the audience today.

 

You are free, as always, to ignore what I say

 

I thought this was a dialog.

 

What I don't agree on is the practical method by which Progressive Christians can arrive at that state. I am trying to teach a practical method based on a blending and intertwining of both spiritual truth and neurophysiological reality. In this, my teachings are quite different from those of most other spiritual teachers today.

 

I would like to the hear the teaching without the beating.

 

Peace

Dutch

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I really liked your Lesson 1 in From Jesus: Intro To The Practice Of Forgiving how to actually do it!

 

But here there is a lot of beating up on "them." I suspect there are not many "them" in the audience today.

Peace

Dutch

 

Jesus here, Dutch.

 

It's important to remember that one person's individual experience of growth and change does not represent the reality for other people. There are a great many Christians in the world today who cannot be said to be living a life of soul-based intent.

 

Late on Saturday, August 1, 2009 (the day after I wrote Post #6 above)the Globe and Mail (one of Canada's national newspapers) posted an article by Associated Press journalist Robert Imrie. The headline read "Wisconsin Jury Finds Father Guilty of Killing Daughter by Praying:"

 

"Dale Newmann, 47, was [found guilty Saturday of second-degree reckless homicide] in the March 23, 2008, death of his daughter, Madeline, from undiagnosed diabetes. Prosecutors contended he should have rushed the girl to a hospital because she couldn't walk, talk, eat or drink. Instead, Madeline died on the floor of the family's rural Weston home as people surrounded her and prayed. Someone called an ambulance when she stopped breathing. . . Leilani Neumann, 41, was convicted on the same charge in the spring . . . Their case is believed to be the first in Wisconsin involving faith healing in which someone died and another person was charged with a homicide . . . Mr. Neumann, who once studied to be a Pentecostal minister, testified Thursday that he believed God would heal his daughter and he never expected to die. God promises in the Bible to heal, he said [emphasis added]."

 

Perhaps you think this is an isolated case. It is not.

 

I place a lot of emphasis in my teachings on free will and personal responsibility. You are free to ignore what I say because each person is responsible for his or her own choices. I'm a pretty tough guy, though -- always have been. I call 'em the way I see 'em. The bad news is that my teachings (both then and now) touch raw nerves. The good news is that I'm not afraid to talk about the immensity and wonder and breathtaking beauty of God's love.

 

I said it would take me a while to explain what I mean about prayer and intent, and I meant that. I'm nowhere near finished yet. I've gotta say what I've gotta say. I'm exhausted from crying tears of grief because of the lies and the false teachings that permeate the Church, and if I have to rub some people the wrong way while I say what needs to be said, then I guess that's the cost for honesty.

 

Meanwhile, please try to remember that I believe in your soul. I believe in the integrity of everyone's soul. If I come down a little hard on your brain chemisty, it's only because I'm not at all worried about the integrity and perfection of your soul -- your soul which is your true self. Brain chemisty is fixable, but only if it's properly understood. Brain chemisty can be altered -- biologically altered -- by major belief systems, including religious belief systems. One of the major belief systems that can damage people's brain chemisty is the entrenched belief about gumball-machine prayer. (See AP news report above). These facts about prayer have to be stated clearly. No wiggle room can be given. If the refusal to give wiggle room sounds suspiciously like a 12-Step Program, that's no coincidence. Many Christians are addicted to gumball-machine prayer, and have to go through a long period of healing to overcome its negative effects. It's not fair to anyone to minimize or deny the biological consequences of gumball-machine prayer. Healing begins with self-honesty.

 

I've set the bar high, it's true. But it's nothing your own soul doesn't do (right here and right now). In other words, I'm not treating you any differently than your own inner wisdom treats you. Your own soul is all about integrity of intent. I'm saying it out loud. And you're saying it inside your own heart.

 

Best to you,

 

Jesus

August 5, 2009

Edited by canajan, eh?
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One who would be Jesus

 

This kind of prayer is offered to God in "piety and humility" every day in every country on the planet. No one wants to admit out loud that they've prayed such prayers. But most people have done so at one time or another in their lives. So I don't expect anyone on this site to "out" themselves by admitting they've prayed horrendously selfish prayers. The thing you need to know, though, is that God knows who prays with selfish intent and who doesn't.

 

That's harsh.

 

The Words of Jesus from Matthew 6:7-13 (The Message)

 

The world's full of so called of so called prayer warriors who are prayer-ignorant. They're full of formulas and programs and advice, peddling techniques for getting what you want from God. Don't fall for that nonsense. This your Father you are dealing with, and he knows better than you what you need. With a God like this loving you, you can pray very simply. Like this:

 

Our father in Heaven,

Reveal who you are.

Set the world right:

Do what's best -- as above, so below.

Keep us alive with three square meals.

Keep us forgiven with you and forgiving others.

Keep us safe from ourselves and from the Devil.

You're in charge!

You can do anything youwant!

You're ablaze in beauty!

Yes, Yes, Yes.

Matthew 6:18

 

God doesn't require attention-getting devices. He won't overlook what you are doing: he'll reward you well.

 

Peace

Dutch

Edited by glintofpewter
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