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Old 11-07-2007, 08:23 AM   #31
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I'm pretty black and white when it comes to religion and theology. Either God does not respond to petitionary prayer (at least not in the way we are asking) or he does, and if he does, there MUST be an explanation for who/how/when/why he intervenes for some and not others. A lack of any sort of explanation leads me to believe that God does not intervene on our behalf and asking him to do so is not the true purpose of prayer or talking to God. If the divine Son of God himself prays to God and his request is not fulfilled, what does that say about our chances?

For me, a prayer is not a request, it's a conversation. When you have a conversation with someone, each side always learns something about the other and takes something away from the conversation. Like right now I'm responding to Sean but am I asking him to do something? No. We just like posting back and forth on here because it's interesting and fulfilling to learn more about other people and why they are the way they are. I believe the same is true with regard to one's relationship with God. A true relationship is not just begging and pleading back and forth. You can ask someone why they do something and learn about them and yourself without asking them NOT to do that something or to do something else instead.

When my friend died I learned bitterness and regret, spiritually speaking, but I was going about it the wrong way and figured out my mistakes the hard way.


PS. I believe accepting God's grace through Jesus Christ is the only path to salvation.
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Old 11-07-2007, 07:50 PM   #32
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This was the verse of the day on my myspace:
1 Timothy 2:1-2
"[Instructions on Worship] I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness."

I think in the case of Christ asking God to "take this cup from me," it shows the human side of Christ. To me, it's a beautiful moment, but you have to consider the rest of that line:
"My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will."

Considering who Christ is, he knew the response he'd get. And, of course, it obviously wasn't God's will for anything else to happen. I think that's when it's not answered - when it goes against God's will. I think intercessory prayer is important, regardless of whether it works or not, because it's you revealing your heart to God. Like you said, it's a conversation and part of the relationship. I think in that conversation, we learn God's will and if he sees we're aligned with his will in our prayers, they can change things. "The prayers of the righteous are powerful and effective." He's not a puppet by any means, but like Bono said "All God wants is a willing heart and for us to call out to him. Remember, he's passionate about his will being realized, but he's also passionate about free will for us. If we align ourselves with him, that's when he's willing to act . . . if it's his will. Does that make any sense? That's kind of what came to mind after reading your posts. I'll admit I may be off on that though.

Prayers a more complex thing than one would think. (Just like most relationships, let alone one with God.) I'm hoping to pick up a copy of Philip Yancey's book on prayer: "Prayer - Does it make any difference?" He's such an incredible writer and spiritual journalist, really. It might be worth checking out - I'm sure he addresses some of the issues you've brought up.
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Old 11-07-2007, 08:40 PM   #33
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coemgen, I don't typically read contemporary books on religion and spirituality b/c typically I get about 5 pages in and want to gag myself with the book, but perhaps I'll give it a try. I'm not a touchy-feely person; I tend to approach theology like a math equation. I'm just not a very spiritual person. Never have been and really don't think I ever will be.

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I think in that conversation, we learn God's will and if he sees we're aligned with his will in our prayers, they can change things
See, and I believe that in that conversation, we align our will with God's so that he doesn't have to change anything, b/c his will was right/correct/just to begin with. The conversation changes us, not the future, as we would desire when we don't understand God's will.
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Old 11-07-2007, 08:53 PM   #34
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I understand where you're coming from, and agree even, but I think our prayers can change things. We don't control God, but he's willing to act on our behalf when we're with him. If we're doing our own thing, he's going to just let that happen, too. That's just how I see it.
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Old 11-07-2007, 09:23 PM   #35
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Originally posted by coemgen
I understand where you're coming from, and agree even, but I think our prayers can change things. We don't control God, but he's willing to act on our behalf when we're with him. If we're doing our own thing, he's going to just let that happen, too. That's just how I see it.
Be careful with this type of thinking. You can't possibly think that everyone who's praying for help and not receiving it isn't "with him".
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Old 11-07-2007, 09:52 PM   #36
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No, that wouldn't be consistent with other posts I've made either. Look at my post before my last one. It has to be his will, too. Christ asked "take this cup from me" but he also said "Your will, not mine." It was God's will that things unfolded as they did. And obviously, you can't make the argument that Christ wasn't "with" God.
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Old 11-07-2007, 10:50 PM   #37
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Quote:
Originally posted by coemgen
No, that wouldn't be consistent with other posts I've made either. Look at my post before my last one. It has to be his will, too. Christ asked "take this cup from me" but he also said "Your will, not mine." It was God's will that things unfolded as they did. And obviously, you can't make the argument that Christ wasn't "with" God.
But the difficulty here is when it's hard to argue that a certain result wouldn't be God's will.

Take the situation with Liesje's friend where she's suffering for months with cancer and God doesn't heal her. To tell her grieving friends and loved ones "Well, I guess it wasn't God's will" would be harsh in the extreme. (Not that I'm suggesting you would do such thing. Sometimes, the "It's God's will" argument can be terribly cruel.)

My answer in regards to why doesn't always answer those kinds of prayers in the affirmative is that "I don't know." I know it's inadequate, but it's no worse (and perhaps a little better) than the response that God doesn't care at all.
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Old 11-07-2007, 11:02 PM   #38
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Originally posted by maycocksean

Take the situation with Liesje's friend where she's suffering for months with cancer and God doesn't heal her. To tell her grieving friends and loved ones "Well, I guess it wasn't God's will" would be harsh in the extreme.
That's EXACTLY what someone said to our faces at her funeral and I'm STILL steaming over it. See, it's so easy for others to say that when they are totally removed from the situation. I don't believe that I can change the will of God to intervene on my behalf (or someone else's behalf) b/c personally, it's never worked. If I'm only praying for that reason, then it's a total waste of time.
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Old 11-07-2007, 11:10 PM   #39
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Originally posted by Liesje
coemgen, I don't typically read contemporary books on religion and spirituality b/c typically I get about 5 pages in and want to gag myself with the book, but perhaps I'll give it a try.
If you're going to try, Phil Yancey would be the guy.

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Originally posted by Liesje
I'm just not a very spiritual person. Never have been and really don't think I ever will be.
Funny, I feel like I"m not a very religious person. Never have been and really don't think I ever will be.
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Old 11-07-2007, 11:15 PM   #40
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Liesje, how do you square the stories of people asking Jesus to heal them and Him doing so with the belief that God doesn't intervene?

Certainly Jesus made it clear that miracles and "answers to prayer" weren't to be the bedrock of what made a person loyal to Him, but yet, He did respond to people's requst for healing. . .

Still thinking abou this. . .will write more later.
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Old 11-08-2007, 12:12 AM   #41
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Originally posted by maycocksean


But the difficulty here is when it's hard to argue that a certain result wouldn't be God's will.

Take the situation with Liesje's friend where she's suffering for months with cancer and God doesn't heal her. To tell her grieving friends and loved ones "Well, I guess it wasn't God's will" would be harsh in the extreme. (Not that I'm suggesting you would do such thing. Sometimes, the "It's God's will" argument can be terribly cruel.)

My answer in regards to why doesn't always answer those kinds of prayers in the affirmative is that "I don't know." I know it's inadequate, but it's no worse (and perhaps a little better) than the response that God doesn't care at all.
Yeah, I'm talking in general terms here for the sake of discussion, not in terms of a specific situation. You're right, we can't always know God's plan for things. "I don't know" is a perfectly good answer. We can't know what he's up too all the time, he's God. We're not.
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Old 11-08-2007, 04:06 AM   #42
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Quote:
Originally posted by maycocksean
Liesje, how do you square the stories of people asking Jesus to heal them and Him doing so with the belief that God doesn't intervene?
The same kinds of questions come up with the Tanakh...e.g., how come God answered Moses by enabling him to strike a rock and draw water, but people dying of thirst today don't seem to be able to manage that trick, no matter how 'deserving'? (Admittedly, I don't myself take those passages literally, and would certainly find any answers to the effect of "Their welfare mattered more to God" or "God had a PR opportunity too good to pass up there; that doesn't apply to some random thirsty African today" offensive, though I'm somewhat more sympathetic to "Those were clearly extraordinary times, but I couldn't tell you why those particular times and people"-type responses.)

But just for the sake of it...and I know you're asking Lies here, and I certainly don't have an 'Answer'...but wouldn't a situation of God assuming human form, directly interacting with humans in a uniquely, intentionally and purposefully discrete historical time and place (plus the associated unique potentials presented by that situation--literally-hands-on 'signs,' 'works,' etc.) render the two situations non-comparable? Because even if you don't generally see it as the nature of God to intervene, even if you presume it's generally God's will and nature to permit not only human behavior, but all of material reality as well, to proceed on its own due course--still, an incarnation would surely represent a unique and extraordinary case, no? And the understood ultimate result of that incarnation (which, as pointed out, itself entailed accepting God's not intervening to prevent suffering) would surely be something unambiguously more precious than someone who's still destined to die anyway, as we all are, being cured of leprosy or whatever, right? (Which needn't necessarily suggest some divine favoritism towards those people as individuals.)

(p.s. Sorry if I'm rambling here...I'm pulling an all-nighter and tend to get even more needlessly long-winded than usual when that happens. )
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Quote:
Originally posted by Liesje
I'm just not a very spiritual person. Never have been and really don't think I ever will be.
Originally posted by maycocksean
Funny, I feel like I"m not a very religious person. Never have been and really don't think I ever will be.
Feeling passionate about and devoted to the study and practice of one particular theology is obviously a big part of my life...but as strange as it probably sounds, to a very great extent that's separate to me from being a believer. The former 'feels like home'...the latter simply just is, when it comes down to it. I'm certainly fascinated by comparative theology too, and that kind of discussion certainly has informed and enriched my own theology, both in here and through other routes, which is wonderful. But ultimately it's not about an intellectual 'quest for truth' to me...that's where the 'just is' part enters in, and to me no 'truly accurate' intellectual articulation of that part is possible anyway.

At any rate (and to borrow something BonosSaint said awhile back), I always enjoy and am challenged by how both of you think. Not sure whether that adds up more to warm fuzzies or self-indulgent pretenses at flexibility...lol. It's just a feeling I have.
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Old 11-08-2007, 08:25 AM   #43
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Quote:
Originally posted by maycocksean
Liesje, how do you square the stories of people asking Jesus to heal them and Him doing so with the belief that God doesn't intervene?

Certainly Jesus made it clear that miracles and "answers to prayer" weren't to be the bedrock of what made a person loyal to Him, but yet, He did respond to people's requst for healing. . .

Still thinking abou this. . .will write more later.
I would have to think about it more too, but my initial response would be that he was healing them to prove that they are worthy of being heeled and touched by Christ. I'd have to re-read some of the stories, but weren't most of the people Christ heeled and touched the type of people that no one else wanted to associate with? I think the point was something other than if you beg to God long enough, you will get what you want, as long as you are "with" him.
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Old 11-08-2007, 08:32 AM   #44
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Originally posted by TranceEnding


this statement has always bothered me a little bit


"Karma is not about retribution, vengeance, punishment or reward; karma simply deals with what is. "

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karma
I completely agree.
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Old 11-08-2007, 10:41 AM   #45
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^ Deception in advertising... (except that's a little harsh, because Bono probably simply doesn't know enough about Indian thought to know any better)
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