To a skeptic like me, I see the purpose of prayer is to make people feel better. Do they actually know what’s going to happen? No. They just feel as if everything is going to be all right.
Prayer helps ease their minds. The conditions on which they pray about are usually out of their control. It gives them the illusion of having some degree of control. They can invoke their deity to help them in this helpless situation. Does it actually do anything? Hm. Let’s say someone is going to die. If they live, they attribute it to the grace and power of their deity. If they don’t, they say “it was their time,” and that their deity meant for it to happen, and they just don’t understand it. Anything conclusive there?
Let’s say someone’s going in for an operation, and there’s a possibility of death. Someone uses prayer to invoke their deity. The person lives. The person who said the prayer attributes it to the deity. But wait? Where did the deity come into play? Who actually did the work? The doctors! The nurses! Perhaps credit should be given to modern medicine. Religion has been around for millenia. Modern medicine has on been around for a few centuries. Which has measurably saved the most lives?
If someone were ever to do a scientific study to see if prayer actually did anything, well, I doubt there would be any conclusive evidence for the power of prayer.
People pray for larger things, like world peace. Anyone know the exact words of that one quote which says something about one pair of hands doing work do more than a thousand hands clasped in prayer? These goals are really in the hands of the persons involved, which would actually mean everyone, if it’s world peace. Just as prophecies can be self-fulfulling, prayers can be self-fulfilling.
Tomorrow: Contradictions and the nature of prayer.