A Religious Liberal Blog

This site hopefully can provide some vehicle by which I can comment, complain, and once in a while praise the state of religion in this country and around the world from a liberal protestant perspective.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Elizabeth Edwards on prayer

Salon has a nice piece on Elizabeth Edwards and her reflections on religious faith, God, and cancer. This will likely spur a post in the future but I figure it's just best to leave the article and words as is.
I have, I think, somewhat of an odd version of God. I do not have an intervening God. I don't think I can pray to him -- or her -- to cure me of cancer.

I appreciate other people's prayers for [a cure for her cancer], but I believe that we are given a set of guidelines, and that we are obligated to live our lives with a view to those guidelines.

And I don't that believe we should live our lives that way for some promise of eternal life, but because that's what's right. We should do those things because that's what's right.


At 6:36 AM , Blogger Nathan Belomy said...

I'm not sure prayer should exist. With people so childish with human emotion of hatred and destruction, here on earth, it seems prayer is only for a fictional dreamworld that does not exist within this current world. Try it sometime, try living in this world and not living in a fantasy world. This world is much worse.

At 7:58 PM , Blogger Sempringham said...

I have trouble with prayer, too, but persevere. My theology, in two paragraphs, as spoken by Robert DuVal in the movie, Paper Lions:

"Sometimes the things that may or may not be true are the things we need to believe in the most. That people are basically good. That honor, courage, and virtue mean everything. And that power and money, money and power mean nothing. That good always triumphs over evil.

"I want you to remember this: True love never dies. Remember that, boy. Doesn’t matter if it’s true or not. A man should believe in those things because those are the things worth believing in."

At 9:26 PM , Blogger Elder Powell said...

If we do not believe in healing we can not believe in the healer.So why would anyone waste time praying if it seves no purpose.This is the fundamental problem with religion.It is not the fault of true believers but that of those who say they are true believers but are not.Who say God does not answer prayers because he has not answered mine.And to say that prayer should not exist is so far of that I do not have a word to describe it.But let me say this ask and it shall be given seek and ye shall find knock and the door shall be open to you.

At 4:52 PM , Blogger Dwight said...

I think another way of looking at the question is whether prayer changes the external world or whether it changes the way that we engage and perceive such a world. Elizabeth Edwards seems to be goin with the latter, so does Stoicism and there's much to commend it since it's encapsulates the idea of "not my will but your will be done".

On the other hand, if how we perceive and engage the world changes doesn't that produce changes to the external world? And if so, can such a distinction hold? Not sure, just some thoughts.

At 8:37 PM , Blogger Sempringham said...

I'm reminded here of C.S. Lewis' famous, "I do not pray because it changes God. I pray because it changes ME."

And Annie Lamott's observation that she has only two prayers:
1) "Please, please, please" and
2) "Thank you, thank you, thank you."

The trouble with "ask and it shall be given" is that it sometimes only works in a metaphorical sense. The children even of true believers sometimes die, for instance, regardless of the true believers' prayers. We try to explain this, but if we are honest, we recognize that the seek=find equation has some other rules we don't know.

It doesn't mean we don't love Jesus. It doesn't mean we are not true believers.

At 4:03 AM , Blogger John said...

Ask and it shall be given.
Seek and you shall find.
Knock and it shall be opened.

Notice how the objects and antecedents are absent in these sentences?

That's why I say the invitation to pray is a tease. If God truly is the teaser, then our part is to ask what it is the teaser promises to give, what it is that he has in store, and what is "it" that is so desirable to be opened.

The other side of active "petitioning" is meditating, which western "think"ers are wont to neglect, hence the skepticism.

As a matter of fact, merely putting oneself at blanket disposal of the Supreme Being is prayer enough. It is the better part.


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