I always hear how your god has a plan, encompassing every person and everything in the entire universe. The Ultimate Perfect Plan (hey, it's gotta be ultimate and perfect if a god devised it, right?). So why would your god even consider altering its Ultimate Perfect Plan on the whims of a puny mortal human? Every shooting star, every bolt of lightning, every boon, every disaster, everything conceivable is part of this plan, yet you would ask to have your god toss its plan aside to alleviate illness, bring rain, win a game, or find you a parking spot close to the door? How arrogant is that?

     Or perhaps you believe that your god has already accounted for your prayers in its Ultimate Perfect Plan? If that's so, then what's the purpose of praying? Either what you're praying for is already part of your god's plan, rendering your prayer redundant and useless, or it's not part of your god's plan, again rendering it useless, for why should it change its Ultimate Perfect Plan at your behest?

     Hopefully you're starting to realize what science has already confirmed: prayer is useless. It has no measurable effect on things or people. Instead of merely praying for victims of terror or disaster, why not actually DO SOMETHING useful to ease their pain and hardship? Volunteer to help clean up the debris. Donate blood and/or money to the Red Cross. Instead of calling around the prayer chain if someone becomes sick or injured, why not DO SOMETHING useful? Take up a collection to help ease their medical bills. Set up a VOLUNTEER CHAIN to take turns cleaning their home, mowing their yard, doing their dishes.

     Here we see the one advantage prayer has: it's easy. Just sit, stand, kneel or lie down, and think or talk to yourself, and feel like you've done a good deed without lifting a finger. Actually doing something to help takes work, it's hard. But as Hamilton Holt said, "Nothing worthwhile comes easily. Work, continuous work and hard work, is the only way to accomplish results that last."

Why pray?

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Comment by Ron Humphrey on June 5, 2013 at 8:20am

It always irritates me that after natural disasters, people pray for the survivors and the victims.  What possible outcome is being prayed for?   To reverse the disaster?--to raise the dead?  Just what.

Instead of praying, roll up your sleeves and help.  Or give to the charities helping the survivors.  Anything but useless prayer.

Comment by Judith van der Roos on June 5, 2013 at 11:56am
My 12 year old daughter once commented after seeing a report on the NY hurricane "Why are they praying for the people there, why not pray to god to rescind his murder of those people, roll back time ?" as she pointedly looked towards my great aunt, devote believer and follower of the Dutch Reform Church. Lene told my daughter to "read the good book". Hilke, never one to back away from enjoying a persons discomfort pressed home her attack.
"In which will I find the answer Tante Lene, is there a book in it called 'Excuses' ?"
Comment by Strega on June 5, 2013 at 3:41pm

Comment by Gregg R Thomas on June 5, 2013 at 5:55pm

"Why pray?"

Because working toward a solutions is difficult and it's easier to blame the loving sky daddy and his mysterious ways.

Comment by Strega on June 5, 2013 at 7:05pm


I love that "Book of Excuses" comment!

Comment by Little Dreamer on June 10, 2013 at 9:01am

"Two hands working do more than 1000 clasped in prayer."

Comment by Tom Sarbeck on June 10, 2013 at 7:53pm

Praying encourages passivity.

That's true for individual people, and true for organizations that open meetings with prayer.

It's possible to argue the reverse: when a situation requires action, passive people pray.

In organizations, some members passively let leaders do the work. When workaholic leaders do that work they encourage more passivity and harm the organization.

Comment by Lauren Mulvihill on June 11, 2013 at 5:17pm

I once read that praying for some who's sick helps them feel better, but only if you tell them about it. It's a kind of placebo, which is interesting. In other contexts, it comes across as a bit self-servicing; it's more to help the person saying their prayers feel good about themselves for considering the other person instead of doing anything to help them, because "god will do that".

Comment by Tom Sarbeck on June 12, 2013 at 4:41am

Lauren, your thought, "It's a kind of placebo, which is interesting" is also interesting.

Researchers give material placebos (inert ingredients) to some of their subjects.

I can give mental placebos (compliments, prayers, etc) to people. The people I give them to might see these mental placebos as active ingredients.

Does it make sense?

Comment by The Editor on June 12, 2013 at 8:30am
Along with the obvious reasons for prayer, I think it has to do with lonliness and powerlessness. No matter how close our real relationships are no one can be as intimately connected to you as a magical father figure who knows your every thought and action, loves you, and is always just a thought away. It's like having an imaginary best friend, free psychiatrist, father who won't walk out on you, and your own personal weapon against the people who do and think things you don't approve of all rolled into one.


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