Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Psalm 91: Does Prayer Work?

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"If you say, 'The Lord is my refuge,'
    and you make the Most High your dwelling,

no harm will overtake you,
    no disaster will come near your tent."
Psalm 91:9-10


If we take this literally, it's obviously not true. Bad things happen to good people sometimes. But I know it's poetry and it's not meant literally- it's meant as something that's true in general. But is it really true in general?

Are people who follow God really less likely to be victims of random accidents and diseases and violence?

Does prayer work?

Well, that's a question.

I used to think yes, definitely. Pray for something, and it's more likely that it will happen- as long as it's something clearly GOOD, like sick people getting healed or me doing well on my physics exam. Praying for your football team to win doesn't count.

And the more people that pray, the more likely it will happen. So if someone is sick, get EVERYONE you possibly can to pray for them. Umm but wait. Nowadays, social media allows us to write stuff that gets seen by hundreds of strangers... so... there's more answered prayer now than in the past because our advanced technology means we can contact WAY WAY MORE people and get them to pray?

Technology affects the work of God? Umm, no that doesn't seem right. So perhaps getting strangers on the internet to say a prayer doesn't count? But... they... hmm.

Does prayer work? Psalm 91 says it does. And all my life, I've heard Christians say it does. But maybe they're biased.

How about some scientific studies? Wikipedia has a bunch of information here and here. Sounds like different studies came to different conclusions- sometimes prayer kind of maybe helped a little, and sometimes there was no difference.

But of course, you could argue that God's not gonna take someone seriously if they're just praying because they're participating in a study- so those results don't have any relation to the REAL effectiveness of praying. Maybe it's the kind of thing that science just can't measure.

Okay, here's another question: Do we want to live in a world where prayer works, or not? Wouldn't that be unfair to the people who don't believe in God? I don't deserve anything special just because my beliefs are (I'm assuming) slightly more accurate than someone else's.

I definitely believe that prayer can make a person feel more calm, more confident, and maybe that's good for one's health. But what about things that are observable in the real world, which happen because you knew Who to talk to to make it happen? What about saying to this mountain, "Move from here to there"?

Does prayer work? I used to say yes, because, you know, that's The Right Answer. But now I don't know.


This post is part of a link-up on the topic of Psalm 91. To read other people's posts, click here: Psalm 91.

1 comment:

  1. I wish I can answer to this question.