So I had an interesting discussion with a few religious friends of mine the other day (anyone else get grilled about atheism on a regular basis?), and at one point we were talking about prayer and its utility. Of course, I argued that prayer is completely pointless. One of the more liberal Christians there agreed with me in the sense that God "doesn't always answer prayers" (which almost led to the whole 'omnipotent/omnibenevolent' debate), but that prayer is useful in other ways. Specifically, he said that when someone tells him they are 'praying for him', it makes him 'feel good'. At the time, I immediately thought 'Oh hey, this is bullshit', but I've been thinking about it and it seems that a lot of people feel the same way.
So here's my four-pronged question/topic of discussion:
1. Do you think most Christians realize that prayer is useless, but 'pray' anyway because it 'feels good'?
2. If/when someone says they are 'praying for you', do you feel better?
3. Is there something special about the word prayer? (What I mean by that is that when you tell someone that you 'hope' things get better for them, it doesn't seem to have the same effect as telling someone you're 'praying' for them.)
4. And now for the rhetorical question: Is 'prayer' bullshit? ;) hehehe
I've formulated my own answers to these, which I may post, but I wanted some outside feedback first ;)
Praying for you, atheists!
Let me give my two cents worth here.
1) I think majority of Christians actually believe that prayer can lead to something good.
2) I don't feel better (or worse). I just think, every man to himself.
3) To religious people prayer is a sacred word that can do anything. On my part, I think it has been useless and totally meaningless.