There are many misconceptions about the nature of religion and faith, born partially from the media's presentation of extremism as though it is normative, from individual experiences with abusive or extremist sects, and from the belief that religion is antithetical to science and reason. The recent blogs that I've written for the HuffPo Religion section have attempted to address these misconceptions by responding to some typical comments and questions, in which I rely on historical facts, theological positions, and personal experience with a wide range of beliefs and believers.
A topic that comes up often as a concern about religion and faith is prayer. In response to Rabbi Geoff Mitelman's recent blog, "Are Rational Religious People All That Rare?" one person wrote:
"Have you ever stopped and thought for a moment about how contradictory it is that you live in a representative democracy created by people who started a revolution to throw off the old system of autocratic rule by inherited nobility, and yet every Sunday, you continue to proclaim your allegiance and subservience to a "Lord"? I've never been able to wrap my head around that; maybe one of you can explain it to me."
Indeed, for many, prayer raises several serious concerns:
1. Why would a supposed all-powerful, all-knowing, all-benevolent God want our constant praise and submission, and why would we, as free people, do this? No God worth worshipping would demand such thoughtless action, and no person who values free will and the dignity of humanity would accept such conditions.
2. There is much uncertainty whether prayer is a measurable phenomenon. For example, there is no documented incident of prayer growing a limb back on a religious amputee. If there is no convincing evidence that prayer works -- of sick people actually getting better after being prayed for -- isn't this just magical thinking?
3. Isn't it better to actually do something rather than passively pray about it, especially given no evidence of prayer's efficacy? It seems that prayer alleviates one from feeling the responsibility to take action.
All this being said, why would any rational person pray?
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And to see what The Urantia Book has to say about Prayer please go HERE, to access our Topical Study about this most important subject.