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When Will They See That Prayer And Blessings Just Don't Work?


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So I'm following a relative's page re her serious illness. The other evening she posted that she was feeling better and thanked people for prayers. Etc. Other family members commented the way Christians do. I never commented because I didn't know what to say amidst all the prayers and blessings but finally decided to make my presence known in case that comforts her. I told her I've been reading all the posts and wanted her to know. I wished her well. My comment was only one of 19 others so I don't know if anyone saw it. 

 

What I'm getting at is, now the family posts that things are worse. In my estimation, the symptoms (as described) are grave. That's immediately after all the rejoicing of miracles. As have many others on here, I find myself asking: When will they see that the prayers and blessings aren't working? 

 

Possibly medical science will yet save her but the fact that one can hardly get a "good wish" in edge-wise without seeming like a cold-hearted alien is getting to me. If the prayers-and-blessings formula worked, I'd join them but so obviously they're NOT working. 

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Sorry to hear about your relative. That's rough. :(

 

The truth is that Christians make excuses when God does not work in their favor. It's his will. God works in mysterious ways. etc etc etc... They will never see it for what it is because they're always looking to add religious spin to it. Very few finally catch on.

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You have my sympathies above all.

 

It is likely that they won't see it, as unfortunate as that might seem.  They have a fool-proof formula for these types of things: if your relative pulls through, god answers prayer; if not, god works in mysterious ways and/or god called your relative home.  Either way, their minds have preconceived that the will of god will be done.

 

You are the fortunate one to have seen prayer for what it is.

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So sorry for your sick relative first of all. Second, I sure understand what you mean. But like an earlier poster commented...they have a foolproof formula. They get better, PRAISE GAAWWWDDD. They don't get better GGAAAWWWWDDD works in mysterious ways....His purposes and plans are better...blah blah blah. As to the GGGAAAWWWWDDDD that I often use around here, I can't help it. I spent a better part of my Christian life down in the deep south and that is the way I can hear it said inside my head a lot of the time and it epitomizes to me the high drama and "show" that it can all be. I apologize in advance if it irritates anyone....but oh well!

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I'm also very sorry to hear about your relative. But to be honest, there's still a lot that we don't know about the human body and mind. There are medical cases that seem to get better for no discernible reason other than the power of prayer. Does that mean that there's really a God? -- no, that's extremely unlikely. But a little bit of faith and well-wishing can go a long way. 

 

I found this USNews article just from a quick Google search on the matter. It's from a news source, not a medicine source, so take it with a grain of salt. But here's one relevant quote from it:

 

"In recent years, a growing number of rigorous studies have shown that spirituality—including prayer, meditation, and attendance at religious services—benefits health in ways that science hasn't fully explained. Among other effects, regular worship and other spiritual acts appear to lengthen life expectancy, strengthen immunity, improve the body's response to stress, and boost other measures of physical health."

 

Now, if your family is turning to prayers and blessings instead of medicine, disregard my points entirely, because that's dangerous and f'ed up. Otherwise... those prayers and blessings may be working in your relative's favor after all.

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My wife and I have lost a number of friends to cancer. My daughter-in-law’s cancer was in remission for four and a half years and then it returned. She has been diagnosed as terminal. Her doctor has told her he can extend her life but he can’t cure her.

 

Cancer often goes into remission only to return at a later date. We have learned this is a predictable cycle. I don’t know how many of our friends have gone into remission and then came before the church to thank god for their healing. Sadly, all of them died from their disease. ALL OF THEM.

God doesn’t heal. Miraculous healings are a myth. Sometimes the medication works and sometimes it doesn’t, but god has nothing to do with either outcome.

 

Desperate people do desperate things and will seek out anything that offers even a glimmer of hope. If prayer and hope that a loving god will save them gives some semblance of peace and encouragement then so be it. If a placebo gives an element of peace and hope to a troubled soul then it has accomplished something of value.

 

If prayer gives someone hope, calms their fear, and grants them a restful night sleep then, in that context, prayer has value. In that situation I will happily hold their hand and pray for them too.

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I'm also very sorry to hear about your relative. But to be honest, there's still a lot that we don't know about the human body and mind. There are medical cases that seem to get better for no discernible reason other than the power of prayer. Does that mean that there's really a God? -- no, that's extremely unlikely. But a little bit of faith and well-wishing can go a long way. 

 

I found this USNews article just from a quick Google search on the matter. It's from a news source, not a medicine source, so take it with a grain of salt. But here's one relevant quote from it:

 

"In recent years, a growing number of rigorous studies have shown that spirituality—including prayer, meditation, and attendance at religious services—benefits health in ways that science hasn't fully explained. Among other effects, regular worship and other spiritual acts appear to lengthen life expectancy, strengthen immunity, improve the body's response to stress, and boost other measures of physical health."

 

Now, if your family is turning to prayers and blessings instead of medicine, disregard my points entirely, because that's dangerous and f'ed up. Otherwise... those prayers and blessings may be working in your relative's favor after all.

 

I guess you didn't read the OP very carefully. It is based on the fact that immediately after all the good things she got really bad. 

 

Also I acknowledged in the OP the value of showing care and concern, love and support for the ill person. That is what prayer is. Religion tends to come with community support so it makes sense that some studies suggest that religion helps. 

 

The opposite could also be true. Being an open atheist at the mercy of religious caregivers is not a pleasant place to be in. Condemnation for one's core beliefs (however subtly expressed) instead of support for one's entire being wears down a healthy person, not to mention someone gravely ill. So yes, I can see that studies may show that religion is beneficial. It really is beneficial on the social and popularity scale.

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My wife and I have lost a number of friends to cancer. My daughter-in-law’s cancer was in remission for four and a half years and then it returned. She has been diagnosed as terminal. Her doctor has told her he can extend her life but he can’t cure her.

 

Cancer often goes into remission only to return at a later date. We have learned this is a predictable cycle. I don’t know how many of our friends have gone into remission and then came before the church to thank god for their healing. Sadly, all of them died from their disease. ALL OF THEM.

God doesn’t heal. Miraculous healings are a myth. Sometimes the medication works and sometimes it doesn’t, but god has nothing to do with either outcome.

 

Desperate people do desperate things and will seek out anything that offers even a glimmer of hope. If prayer and hope that a loving god will save them gives some semblance of peace and encouragement then so be it. If a placebo gives an element of peace and hope to a troubled soul then it has accomplished something of value.

 

If prayer gives someone hope, calms their fear, and grants them a restful night sleep then, in that context, prayer has value. In that situation I will happily hold their hand and pray for them too.

 

YES! to pretty much everything you said. In no way do I want to interfere with my relative's religion at this point. It is all she and her family have to hold onto. But it felt like a kick in the face to read that last post. After trying so hard to ignore all the prayers-and-blessings talk, and figuring out how to insert an acceptable comment myself on the first day in a long time that things seemed to be going "right," overnight she gets so much worse. I realize I'm contradicting myself, but it just seems insane that the prayers and blessing talk continues after it so obviously failed to work. Kind of makes me want to give up trying to "fit in," maybe. 

 

They do believe in taking advantage of the most medical science has to offer. In that sense, the posts feel a bit like mixed messages--full of medical terms I've never heard followed by talk about prayers.

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The opposite could also be true. Being an open atheist at the mercy of religious caregivers is not a pleasant place to be in. Condemnation for one's core beliefs (however subtly expressed) instead of support for one's entire being wears down a healthy person, not to mention someone gravely ill. So yes, I can see that studies may show that religion is beneficial. It really is beneficial on the social and popularity scale.

 

 

That is so true!   Whenever a christian (or a news article) advocates the benefits of prayer, the following article always comes to my mind.  

 

  

 

Study Concludes Intercessory Prayer Doesn’t Work; Christians Twist the Results
May 15, 2009 By Guest Contributor 108 Comments

I was reading an article in Christianity Today and one of the paragraphs made me do a double-take. I couldn’t believe anyone was actually writing it… it was incredible how much fact-twisting was going on.

First, a bit of background.

It’s no surprise that prayer can have a positive effect on those who believe in it. If you pray, it can relax you and make you feel better. If you know others are praying for you — that others care about you — you feel better and your body might actually respond to that positivity. None of this has anything to do with a god answering (or even listening to) the prayers. It functions more like meditation. Prayer can have a calming, healing effect for those who buy into it.

But what happens when others pray for you and you are unaware of it? To no atheist’s surprise, this has never been shown to work.

This idea has been tested repeatedly — usually, the studies have flaws. And even when the results show that the intercessory prayer has no effect on anyone, those who believe in it will look at the hits and ignore (or rationalize) the misses.

 

<snipped>  

more info at:

 

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2009/05/15/study-concludes-intercessory-prayer-doesnt-work-christians-twist-the-results/

 

 

 

I am sorry about your relative's illness, Ruby, but I am also sorry that you are put in the position of  "Kind of makes me want to give up trying to "fit in," maybe."   If it's any comfort, I'm pretty sure most of us here know how you feel.   Take care.

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Thank you, Buffetphan. I wasn't sure about posting the part about giving up to fit in, so I went on to write the next part and before I knew it I'd hit "submit." It's good to know others feel the same way. There's no question about it--I'm not going to preach atheism on that blog, nor challenge religion. It would be WRONG. I'm just talking about the way it wears you down. That, and other recent experiences, prove what the confrontations and inconsistencies can do to a strong person. So it only stands to reason that an atheist at the hands of religious caregivers is going to suffer for lack of support.

 

Thanks for the reference to studies on intercessory prayer. I knew there was an angle I was missing. 

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