Prayer: Communion with yourself

April 9, 2007 at 10:08 am 15 comments

Praying handsI have always had a problem with the Christian concept of prayer. I have never really understood how thinking in a certain way about God or even addressing such an entity could somehow put me in touch with a Deity that is supposed to be transcendent in relation to this world. According to Christianity, prayer is “communication with God.” Yet, I cannot seem to grasp the specific workings of it or even muster up the need for it, except in cases of emergency when my will is weakened. Oh, I’ve tried to pray as Christian writers, leaders, and pastors tell us to; praise, petition, thanksgiving, etc. You know the drill.

But in the back of my mind I can’t help thinking that this is all unnecessary if a truly omnipotent and omniscient Being is in charge of things. Such a Being should already know what everyone is thinking about or worrying about without our having to say so out loud or even think it in our thoughts. The more I thought logically about it, the more I could not understand how such an omnipotent and transcendent being could even be “moved” by an immanent and finite being such as myself in the first place. Transcendent by its very meaning, is “completely outside of and beyond the world.” If this is true, then communication with such a being is impossible for the finite and immanent.

These thorny problems bothered me throughout my excursion through and exodus from Christianity, but they no longer bother me. It’s a philosophical problem that is posed because of other assumptions about a God and the nature of the universe and becomes virtually meaningless in the real world in which we exist.

Despite these thorny philosophical problems, millions of people continue to pray. The Christian idea of”spending time with God” every morning during devotion time was something that was ingrained in our thoughts as we went to church week after week. However, as my life moved on and as I learned more about the philosophical problems posed by such a transcendent Deity and by the differing “Gods” offered us by scriptures and by theologians, I began to doubt not only the efficacy of prayer but even the very concept of “prayer.” My devotion time changed from simply receiving pre-chewed information from Christian sources into a rich time of personal thought, journaling, and a more careful selection of reading material, ones from a vast variety of sources, not just from Christian ones. Once I abandoned those preconceived notions about how we are supposed to pray, I began to trust myself again and realized that I had never really taken it too seriously from the beginning. In fact, I don’t claim to ever have communed with “God,” but I got to know myself pretty well! I think THAT alone is what scares Christian leaders the most.

-Mystery of Iniquity

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Christianity and the Role of Women – A Woman’s Place Prayer: A woman’s perspective

15 Comments

  • 1. Forgetful God  |  April 9, 2007 at 11:40 am

    Prayer was never meant to be a religious tool or a form of worship…it has merely been twisted into that over time by people who wish to be hailed as “teachers”. Prayer is just another word for “internal dialog”…we pray when we go to sleep, when we wake up, when we buy eggs, and even when we decide whether to go for a walk or a drive…every inner conversation is a conversation with “God” because it is an attempt to reach the deepest parts of our mind to find guidance/wisdom. We are talking to ourselves. The core self is the “I am” that most people choose to worship rather than be.

  • 2. mysteryofiniquity  |  April 9, 2007 at 11:54 am

    FG,
    I’m glad you see my point!

  • 3. Forgetful God  |  April 9, 2007 at 4:08 pm

    It makes perfect sense. I am glad you made it.

  • 4. amandalaine  |  April 9, 2007 at 5:21 pm

    You have extremely interesting blog.

    Regarding prayer, you talk about getting in touch with what is inside of you and, by implication, not pretending, and being very honest. This is prevalent in the Psalms, the largest book of the Bible. In much of it, the author appears to have no barriers up and pours out tears and frustrations. It may be that parts of Christianity have said you should pray in a certain way… but I don’t see much of that in the Bible. In fact, at least one book of the Bible backs up exactly what you say – the deep honesty that we should never abandon.

    Of course, none of this matters unless you believe you can communicate with a transcendent being. Christianity is fraught with conundrum and paradox. This does not make it untrue – it only makes it something that should be deeply considered before accepted or rejected. (Much of the reality I know is fraught with conundrum – to a large extent, I would say this is true because I am a finite being.)

  • 5. MOI  |  April 10, 2007 at 5:05 am

    amandalaine,
    The assumption with our posts is that we’ve never “deeply considered” the bible. Most of us here have spent 20+ years deeply considering the bible and find it wanting. But you’re right. The Psalms are the heartfelt prayers of David and others.

  • 6. agnosticatheist  |  April 10, 2007 at 8:04 am

    moi,

    Very good post.

    I remember when my teenage daughter when to Europe on a trip, I felt so helpless because I couldn’t be there to watch over her. It was very comforting for me to pray “God, please take care of my daughter” and sit back and know it’s taken care of. It was at that moment I realized that the prayer was for my benefit not my daughter.

    The reality is bad things happen all the time in spite of prayer. However, prayer does give us a sense of security (even though it is a false sense of security) that we’re trusting in a higher being to take care of things that we can’t do ourselves.

    In essence, it’s for our benefit not necessarily the benefit of the recipient of our prayers. Unless, of course, they know we’re praying for them and that makes them feel good.

    aA

  • 7. mysteryofiniquity  |  April 10, 2007 at 8:44 am

    aA,
    I caught myself “praying” this morning for a co-worker who underwent a quintuple heart bypass this morning. For the first time, I caught myself short and thought, “Whatever’s will or has happened has happened already and my prayer will not affect a thing!” I suddenly realized that prayer is like a pacifier; comforting when in infancy, but eventually must be outgrown to let your permanent teeth grow in straight. :-)

  • 8. Prayer: A woman's perspective « Agnostic Atheism  |  April 10, 2007 at 12:33 pm

    [...] claim to ever have communed with “God,” as stated in my previous blog “Prayer: Communion with yourself,” but I got to know myself pretty well, especially as a [...]

  • 9. amandalaine  |  April 10, 2007 at 8:05 pm

    MOI,

    Did you mean to say you HAD deeply considered (instead of “never” deeply considered)? I had already gotten the idea that you and your fellow writers are very carefully thought out. Either way, my comment was directed at everyone, not you in particular. But, again, thanks for your answer!

  • 10. MOI  |  April 11, 2007 at 5:02 am

    amandalaine,
    Thanks for clearing it up. :-)

  • 11. Silly Old Bear  |  August 1, 2007 at 1:48 pm

    I have stolen part of this – it is sooooo good – thanks for the inspiration!:-)

  • 13. mysteryofiniquity  |  August 2, 2007 at 7:21 pm

    Silly Old Bear,
    You’re welcome!! :-)

  • 14. Prayer: Why do it Anyway? « de-conversion  |  May 11, 2008 at 5:53 pm

    [...] occasions including Simen’s What’s the Point with Prayer?, MysteryOfIniquity’s Prayer: Communion with yourself, and LeoPardus’ Praying my way to losing [...]

  • 15. video games  |  September 17, 2014 at 3:51 am

    video games

    Prayer: Communion with yourself | de-conversion

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