Letters from a Skeptic – Correspondence 11: Why would an all-powerful God need prayer?
Moving on let’s dissect some more of their constructive debate on Christianity featuring a christian son versus an atheist father… sounds clever adventure <wink><wink>
Correspondence 11: Why would an all-powerful God need prayer?
Date: December 15, 1989
As I said before, I don’t see that prayer ever works. Not only this but I don’t see how prayer ever could work. If God is all-good and all-powerful, and concerned about us, doesn’t He already want the best for us? And so wouldn’t he already be doing as much as He can ever do for us? So what are you asking for prayer? For Him to care more? He supposedly already cares as much as He could. Are you asking Him to do more? He’s supposedly already doing everything He can. Are you informing Him of some problem so He’ll do something about it? He supposedly already knows everything. So you can’t inform Him about anything, you can’t coax Him to do anything, and you can’t empower Him to do anything. So what the hell are you doing when you pray! The whole thing seems like a total waste of time to me.
Date: December 28, 1989
Now on to your question about prayer. The main purpose of talking to God (that’s all prayer really is) has little to do with asking for things, Dad. It’s to build a faith-filled, loving relationship with our Creator and Redeemer… The main purpose of prayer is simply to be with Someone you love: to talk, to listen, or to simply “commune” with your Creator.
Asking for things – what’s called “petitionary payer” – is simply one minor aspect of this total relationship…
A genuine relationship, I believe, can only occur where there is personal interaction between two persons, where there is “give and take” between two parties. In other words, any genuine relationship requires that both parties are to some extent empower over and against the other… God doesn’t want to be the only one calling the shots… So God ordains things so that we are to some degree empowered in our relationship with Him.
First, Dad, given the complexity of reality. I think it would be virtually impossible to “test” the effectiveness of prayers… If petitionary prayers could be conclusively “verified,” it would turn God into a sort of cosmic vending machine. Make your requests, pull the lever, and abracadabra, you have your wish granted… it takes faith to pray, and faith to see the answer to prayer.
Secondly, I’d again reiterate that, far more important than knowing the mechanics of unanswered prayer is knowing that God’s on your side even when the prayer is unanswered.
… And to communicate at all – anything! Is the beginning of a relationship with Him.
Hope to hear from you soon,