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Ferathil

(Moved from Tinker DG) Religion, what do you think? (no fighting, calling names or bad talk please)

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:) K, now my curiosity bell is really jingling. *lol*

 

Something I would like very much to hear about is what you all think of prayer.

I have been seriously ill before in my life, and I was put on my church's prayer list. During the illness (cancer) I was too busy surviving the treatment to really think about how I felt, other than physically. I got through it (cancer free for 8 years), and I realized one day that I felt different in my mind. I was no longer invested in this world. It is a very odd feeling. I often wonder if it came from being raised up in prayer by so many people or if it was a side affect of the chemotherapy. ;)  I like to think it was because of the prayer. I believe in prayer and its positive affect on quality of life.  So, what do you all think?

 

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I can't decide what I think about prayer.  I think regardless, it's a way to talk to God, and that can't be a bad thing.  However, I can't decide if I think prayer affects God in any way.  I belong to a Presbyterian church and for them it's all about Calvinism and predestination.  Predestination is all about how God chooses you, no free will, blah blah blah.  So, my argument is, for a Presbyterian, prayer doesn't matter.  If God chooses everything that has happened, is happening, and will happen, then no amount of prayer is going to change his mind.  if you pray for an A and God wants you to have a B then you're gonna get it.  Also, if you want your dog to live, and God doesn't, it won't.  Prayer won't affect God.

 

My other question is this.  If we believe that God has the best plan for our lives, wouldn't praying be detrimental?  If God has course A for us, and it's the best plan, and we pray for something important to us and God grants it (because God is all loving) and this puts us onto course B, then we shouldn't have prayed.

 

I can't decide.  I guess it doesn't matter as much for those who don't believe in Predestination.  I believe prayer works and it's important and that miracles can happen.  Mostly I believe in prayer because Jesus told us that we should pray, and if God didn't listen to prayers, what point would Jesus gain by telling us that.

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Yes, God does hear your prayer. Examples in the Bible include Lot ( remember sodom and gomorrah ) and Job. Jesus prayed to his Father, so I strongly believe that prayer is heard by God and responded to. The real challenge is being able to hear Gods response.

 

 

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I can't decide what I think about prayer.  I think regardless, it's a way to talk to God, and that can't be a bad thing.  However, I can't decide if I think prayer affects God in any way.  I belong to a Presbyterian church and for them it's all about Calvinism and predestination.  Predestination is all about how God chooses you, no free will, blah blah blah.  So, my argument is, for a Presbyterian, prayer doesn't matter.  If God chooses everything that has happened, is happening, and will happen, then no amount of prayer is going to change his mind.  if you pray for an A and God wants you to have a B then you're gonna get it.  Also, if you want your dog to live, and God doesn't, it won't.  Prayer won't affect God.

 

 

I think if your prayer corresponds with God's plan for you then prayer will affect your life. This is kinda personal but sure anyway...

My sister is very sick at the moment and my mother used to pray constantly to Our Lord to take her illness away. It hasn't happened yet and has affected her faith badly. Either God cannot answer her prayer because it doesn't correspond with his plan for my sister or he's already answered her prayer and it's just not clear yet.

 

 

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Prayer is a very interesting subject, and one I am quite pleasantly surprised that we have moved to.  Since to this point the majority of opinions have centered around YWH and the Judeo-Christian beliefs, I will discuss those initially.  Warning, up to this point this discussion has been very friendly with no judgment, but I cannot venture into this subject without stepping on the toes of Calvinists.  I apologize, but there is no other way to really broach this subject.

 

One of my favorite examples of the potential power to change the position of God comes from the story of Moses and the children of Israel found in Exodus.  After leading them from Egypt, Moses went up unto a mountain to, well, converse with the Lord so to speak.  While up there, Aaron, man he gets away with murder, makes a golden calf at the behest of impatient Hebrews so that they can worship it.  God tells Moses at this point that He plans to strike them all down and fulfill the covenant with Moses alone.  Moses pleads to the Lord to spare the people.  It then says that the Lord nacham.  In English translations this has been translated to "repent", "relent", or "changed His mind" for examples.  Nacham points to an internal change of heart, I believe.  Kivam could probably speak on this a lot better than I could.  However, this would suggest that it is possible for God to change His will on account of intercession from humans.  If this is the case, then the will of God is in itself not immutable.  Could prayer itself change the will of God?

 

There is also the other purpose of prayer in these beliefs.  Maybe it's not God's will that needs to be changed but your own.  Prayer should not simply be you trying to get God to do what you want, but should also be an attempt to know God's will and change your will to match his own.  Personally, prayers that look like a wish list bother me.  That's not the point.  How else would the prophets know God's will if they did not ask?  How else would you?  Intercession and supplication are all well and good, but to me the primary purpose of prayer is change your mind, not God's.

 

This is considering prayer in the Judeo-Christian belief system however.  The greater discussion of prayer outside of theological divisions is also an interesting discussion, and one we should probably transition into relatively soon.

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Maybe it's not God's will that needs to be changed but your own.  Prayer should not simply be you trying to get God to do what you want, but should also be an attempt to know God's will and change your will to match his own.  Personally, prayers that look like a wish list bother me.  That's not the point.  How else would the prophets know God's will if they did not ask?  How else would you?  Intercession and supplication are all well and good, but to me the primary purpose of prayer is change your mind, not God's.

 

Yes, that's what I meant. In our church, we pray for strength to bear what must be, and for a changed heart, and for peace of mind (meaning an end to the questioning of His will). I think it is because of the prayers said for me that I was able to skip the 'why me' stuff. That's not to say it was easy, just easier. Prayer helps me cope with what life throws at me.

 

I'm so sorry Jump. *hugs*

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One of my favorite examples of the potential power to change the position of God comes from the story of Moses and the children of Israel found in Exodus.  After leading them from Egypt, Moses went up unto a mountain to, well, converse with the Lord so to speak.  While up there, Aaron, man he gets away with murder, makes a golden calf at the behest of impatient Hebrews so that they can worship it.  God tells Moses at this point that He plans to strike them all down and fulfill the covenant with Moses alone.  Moses pleads to the Lord to spare the people.  It then says that the Lord nacham.  In English translations this has been translated to "repent", "relent", or "changed His mind" for examples.  Nacham points to an internal change of heart, I believe.  Kivam could probably speak on this a lot better than I could.  However, this would suggest that it is possible for God to change His will on account of intercession from humans.  If this is the case, then the will of God is in itself not immutable.  Could prayer itself change the will of God?

 

"Nacham" generally means "comforted"; see Isaiah 40 for the most famous iteration of the word in scripture: "Nachamu nachamu ami, yo'mar elokaychem" - "Be comforted, be comforted, my people, says your god" (Nachamu is the plural reference of nacham - the "u" applies the verb to multiple people)

 

A good summation of the jewish approach to prayer can be found here

 

It's a discussion of the structure of the daily morning prayers; the key paragraph, for purposes of this discussion, is in the intro:

 

Prayer is called Tefillah in Hebrew, which means judgment. Our objective in Tefillah is to place our existence in its proper context. We are dependent upon Hashem [=god -kiv] for our resources and we are free of the delusion that our own agendas and visions for this world should dominate it. We recognize that our ultimate goal should be understanding the purpose for which we were created and working to fulfill that rather than superimposing our own artificial plan.

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My sister is very sick at the moment and my mother used to pray constantly to Our Lord to take her illness away. It hasn't happened yet and has affected her faith badly. Either God cannot answer her prayer because it doesn't correspond with his plan for my sister or he's already answered her prayer and it's just not clear yet.

 

Sorry to hear about your sister, CYSJ

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:) Awesome quote K; I got gooseflesh. I think, isn't that where Handel got the inspiration for that portion of his "Messiah" that begins "Comfort ye my people..." or something like that? I know the first part draws from Isaiah. Well, it is beautiful in the Hebrew.

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:) Awesome quote K; I got gooseflesh. I think, isn't that where Handel got the inspiration for that portion of his "Messiah" that begins "Comfort ye my people..." or something like that? I know the first part draws from Isaiah. Well, it is beautiful in the Hebrew.

 

Yep.

 

And you ain't kidding -

(go to 1.09 for the chorus; the rest is beautiful too, but unless you know hebrew you won't know what they're singing  ;D)

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BTW, Vaine, re God "changing his mind" - note that prayer's efficacy (to the extent that it has any), in jewish theosophy at least (or, at least, the one I'm most familiar with and believe) lies in changing that status of the person doing the praying, not in changing god.  True tefilah should work a change in the mitpallel (the one engaged in the tefilah), such that, to whatever small extent, you literally are no longer the same person you were before engaging in tefilah.

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See, I said that Kivam could speak better on it than I could.  ;D

 

I fully agree, in so much, that the point of prayer for me has always been to change myself.  I always take it to be a bit like this.  God is God, and we are not.  With the knowledge we have not the knowledge, wisdom, or capability to understand God or what He thinks, why should we question His will?

 

I do, however, have a question for Kivam.  In your studying the Torah, do you see any examples to point to the possibility of God changing His mind do to the intercession of His people?  Abraham and Sodom?  Anything?  You're knowledge and experience, along with the advantages of culture, would give your words much greater weight than mine.

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Well, Sodom would be a bad example to begin with, I think; even as described, all it is is Abraham arguing that it (and the other four cities on the plain) should be spared if there were decreasing numbers of righteous people, and God agreeing.  In the end, however, there simply wasn't the minimum, so it was destroyed.  In other words, you can say that God was simply answering Abraham, but nothing can be viewed as "changing" based on that prayer.

 

Probably the example par excellance of God appearing to "change his mind" due to people's actions is in Jonah, with the repentance of the city of Ninveh.  But in all of these cases, I think we need to keep in mind the principal (if you'll excuse my lapse into hebrew) "dibrah torah b'lashon b'nei adam" - the Torah speaks in the language of men.  That is, events are described from the human perspective, not from God's perspective, which means that even if God's mind did not change (and even speaking of "God's mind" raises questions, given the inherent dichotomy it presupposes between "God" and "God's mind"), as far as humans are concerned, it seems that it did.

 

For instance, Ninveh - they repented, and the decree that the city would be destroyed was "annulled."  Why?  Because having repented, the city of Ninveh no longer merited destruction; God's mind hasn't changed - the situation has.  This becomes an omniscience problem, at heart: didn't God know that the people of Ninveh would repent?  If so, was God lying when he said the city would be destroyed?  (After all, God knew the people would repent and the decree would not be carried out).  If not, then how can we say God is all-knowing?

 

Theosophically, I think the answer can be found in the story of Ishmael's rescue in the desert (after Ishmael and Hagar were sent out by Abraham, they trek into the desert, get lost, and run out of water.  Hagar puts Ishmael off to the side so she doesn't need to see him die, and an angel comes by, and opens her eyes to a well, and they are saved).  Rashi (one of the primary commentaries on the Torah, written by RAv SHimon Yitzchaki, hence the acronym "Rashi"), noting that the verse has the angel say to Hagar that God sent him to open her eyes because he saw the boy "Ba'asher hu sham" - "as he is there" - quotes a medrash (a sort of exegetical tale) explaining this seemingly superfluous line in the verse as follows:

 

When God chose to send an angel to rescue ishmael, the other angels complained.  "God," they said, "don't you know what Ishmael's descendants will do to the Jews?  Why save him?  Let him die."  God responded "whatever will be in the future, I am saving him now because I see him 'ba'asher hu sham' - as he is now."

 

In other words, expressions of God's judgment are inherently tied to the now, to the current state of events, even if God is aware that in the future the situation will change and the judgment will not, in the end, apply.

 

All of which, I suppose, is a long way of saying "no, God's mind doesn't change, but from our perspective, it seems that it does"

 

(of course, omniscience has its own issues for free will, but that's a different discussion  ;D)

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In other words, expressions of God's judgment are inherently tied to the now, to the current state of events, even if God is aware that in the future the situation will change and the judgment will not, in the end, apply.

 

All of which, I suppose, is a long way of saying "no, God's mind doesn't change, but from our perspective, it seems that it does"

 

(of course, omniscience has its own issues for free will, but that's a different discussion  ;D)

:) Of course I've read it, and even been pondering on it. I do not recall anyone ever telling me anything like that before, in church or Sunday school. I like it. It makes sense to me, and it makes other things sensible as well.

Perhaps God's judgment is inherently tied to the here and now precisely because He gave us free will. Free will could also render His omniscience, at least as far as human affairs are concerned, inherently tied to the here and now. I do not find that at all difficult to accept. Of course, in His awesomeness, why could He not 'know' every possible outcome of every possible choice we must make on a moment-to-moment basis?  Of course He could.

Unless you are thinking specifically of the doctrine of predestination and the problems free will pose for it?  My own beliefs do not include predestination. 

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I believe that Jesus died on the cross, was laid dead in the cave, and rose from the dead on the third day.

 

I believe that as soon as I accepted His salvation for myself, Jesus's death on the cross paid for all my sins: past, present, and future.

 

I believe that now I am a new creature, forgiven, walking in the Light. I am able to communicate directly with my Creator. I don't need a priest or the Pope or a pastor or anyone to communicate with God for me.

 

I believe that the Bible is the supernaturally inspired true word of God. I believe that all the answers I need on how to live a Christian life are in the Bible. These scriptures told me to be baptized, and so I was. They told me to meet in fellowship with other Christians, and so I go to church. They tell me that Jesus is the gatekeeper to the only gate into Heaven, and so I tell this to all who are willing to listen.

 

 

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I beleive the same, and am not ashamed. I am glad that there are others here that beleive. I can't quite say that I know everything, but that much I do know.  ;D

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I'll admit now that I haven't read this entire thread it would take me way to long and i'm sure I would see things that I would feel the need to reply to that others already have debated in depth *laughs* So safer to say that I haven't read it all.

 

I personally am a pagan, I have four different goddesses that I pray too and invoke in my everyday life. I have four different gods that I do the same with. I believe in an earth mother and free will to do as you will. Karma and reincarnation are also parts of my everyday life. This is not to say that I require others to believe the same way I do. Far be it from me to tell someone what to believe.

 

All I ask from other religions is to not shove there beliefs down my throat. I don't have issue with anyone and have friends from various religious backgrounds but when it comes to what we all believe that is up to the person and I don't want to be told i'm evil, wrong, or going to hell just because I believe differently. I'm a little tired so this may not make any sense but the above is my two cents *laughs*

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I agree with that!

 

Disclaimer: My opinions and experience from my area...I in no way think that this applies to everyone and every Church in the world! :D

 

I am a Christian by faith, but lately because of faults and kinks in the Church I have been chafing and not attending.  I do not agree with the way a large majority (I say majority because I know all churches are different) in my area are run.  They are overrun with gossip and hatefullness.  People trying to rule the church, not going to worship.  I just don't go anymore because I have yet to find a church home that is not overrun by hypocritical behavior. 

 

I believe in God, and all that, but I also draw my morals and code for living from other faiths and montras.  I believe that being a good person is more important than going to churchand singing from a pew in the back.  That's one problem I have with the Baptist and Methodist churches in my area, it seems if you aren't on Pew #1 every Sunday morning you are looked down upon.  I hate that! I hate that if you don't shove the faith down people's throat you aren't witnessing...gar!

 

I've been going to church since I was 7 years-old and was very very active before I started high school...I just can't handle the politics anymore. It may not be all churches, but in my area it seems to be! Pah...perhaps its just Southern Baptists in Bible Belt Northern Louisiana :|

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O! Drat! Just from looking at the website it looks amazing! Alas, its about 5 hours away XD

 

Thanks for the suggestion though, I am thinking about trying some of the churches around my school, or perhaps the university organizations.

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Let your life, conduct and attitude be a witness. You don't have to shove it down peoples throat. But if asked do not be ashamed to tell the the whole

truth either. And when challenged stand firm in your faith and belief.

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I agree with Bruce. I know some people in my church think I am lukewarm about my faith, because I don't wave my hands around and say loud amens, etc., and I have learned to live with that because I can't change what I am. :) I just do not have that kind of personality. I figure if God wanted me to do that, He'd have made me differently. But I live my life as best I can according to Jesus's teachings. I have raised my children to do likewise. Sometimes, if the opportunity comes and the person seems genuinely interested, I will give them my testimony. But I think it does more harm than good to try to testify to people you do not know and who have not shown any interest. I know I certainly dislike being approached by members of other churches and given what amounts to a 'sales talk' about their church.

Jesus said to go and spread the good news. He did not say anything about going forth to grow The _________ Church.  ;)

 

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In other words, expressions of God's judgment are inherently tied to the now, to the current state of events, even if God is aware that in the future the situation will change and the judgment will not, in the end, apply.

 

All of which, I suppose, is a long way of saying "no, God's mind doesn't change, but from our perspective, it seems that it does"

 

(of course, omniscience has its own issues for free will, but that's a different discussion  ;D)

:) Of course I've read it, and even been pondering on it. I do not recall anyone ever telling me anything like that before, in church or Sunday school. I like it. It makes sense to me, and it makes other things sensible as well.

Perhaps God's judgment is inherently tied to the here and now precisely because He gave us free will. Free will could also render His omniscience, at least as far as human affairs are concerned, inherently tied to the here and now. I do not find that at all difficult to accept. Of course, in His awesomeness, why could He not 'know' every possible outcome of every possible choice we must make on a moment-to-moment basis?  Of course He could.

Unless you are thinking specifically of the doctrine of predestination and the problems free will pose for it?  My own beliefs do not include predestination. 

 

;D

 

No, was talking about your point above: how can God know everything that will happen if we have free will?  Note that the above quoted medrash assumes that God did in fact know what Ishmael's descendants would do.

 

Personally, I think the answer has more to do with the non-linearity of time than anything else; God knows what we will do, but that does not limit our free will.  Rather, God knows what we will do because we will choose to do it in the exercise of free will.  That's not predestination, it's simply a result of being unbound by time. 

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