Angela, the difference is: we don't expect our hope or wishes to change anything and when things do work out as hoped, we don't claim our hopes and wishes made a difference.
Prayer has to be one of the most useless endeavors that any human can engage in.
Haha, I had so many people pissed at me when the Tsunami happened in Japan and I posted a rant along those lines on my FB.
The difference between praying and wishing is that prayer, by definition, is the desire for the intercession or some other help of a deity. That deity either doesn't exist, or if S/He does, can't or won't get involved, and, historically, simply hasn't. Wishing or "hoping" involves desiring that turn of events, luck, or, whatever, goes in a way that benefits the recipient or desirer of that wish, not necessarily dependent on a deity of any kind. So, no, wishing and hoping are not the same as praying.
Prayer makes you feel good. If it's directed at a person of a particular mindset, who wants it, it makes them feel good. That's about all it's good for.
Except...prayer sometimes motivates people to do good. Sometimes if a Christian prays for something, they'll hear god reminding them to give money or donate time, or even travel across the world to volunteer. Of course you can do all those things without prayer.
I guess I don't know what my point is. Christians would say "Don't just pray, start helping."
........and some of us can do those things without a god having to remind us :-)
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