I cannot pray

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I cannot say "our" if my life has no room for others.

I cannot say "Father" if I do not demonstrate this relationship in my daily life.

I cannot say "who art in heaven" if all my interests and pursuits are in earthly things.

I cannot say "hollowed by Thy name" if I'm unwiling to give up my own sovereignty to accept the righteousness reign of God.

I cannot say "Thy will be done" if I'm unwilling or resentful of having it done in my life.

I cannot say "on earth as it is in heaven" unless I'm truly ready to give myself to His service here and now.

I cannot say "give us this day our daily bread" without expending on us an effort for it or by ignoring the genuine needs of my fellow men.

I cannot say "forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us" if I continue to harbor a grudge against anyone.

I cannot say "lead us not into temptation" if I deliberatly choose to remain in situations where I'm likely to be tempted.

I cannot say "deliver us from evil" if I'm not prepared to fight in the spiritual realm with the weapon of prayer.

I cannot say "Thine is the kingdom" if I do not give the King the obedience of a loyal subject.

I cannot say "Thine is the power" if I fear what my neighbors and my friends may say or do.

I cannot say "Thine is the glory" if I'm seeking my own glory first.

I cannot say "forever" if I'm too anxious about each days afairs.

I cannot say "amen" unless I honestly say - cost what it may

This is my prayer.


the disciples prayer - Mt 6:9-13

-- (bygrace@thru.faith), August 23, 2000


"hollowed be thy name"?

LOL grace, they'll getcha on this one.

-- (nemesis@awol.com), August 23, 2000.

oops - hallowed

nemesis - thanks for your great sense of humor around here!

-- (bygrace@thru.faith), August 23, 2000.

"Hands that help are better than lips that pray,"

Robert Ingersol

-- Tarzan the Ape Man (tarzan@swingingthroughthejunglewithouta.net), August 23, 2000.

This prayer calls for both, Tarzan. And each are effective when infused with effort, sincerity and endurance.


-- Bingo1 (howe9@shentel.net), August 23, 2000.

Actually, it doesn't Bingo. This prayer is about attitudes, not accomplishments.

-- Tarzan the Ape Man (tarzan@swingingthroughthejunglewithouta.net), August 23, 2000.

Thanks again bygrace, I printed this one out and hung it in my office.

Nice job.


-- consumer (shh@aol.com), August 23, 2000.

Perhaps you and I define prayer differently, Tarzan. Normally I would substitute experience for define in the previous sentence, but in your case it would not be accurate to do so.

Agree to disagree. That was easy.


-- Bingo1 (howe9@shentel.net), August 23, 2000.

As to this particular prayer, the accomplishment is surrender. No small feat for some of us, Tarzan.


-- Bingo1 (howe9@shentel.net), August 23, 2000.

On balance, Bingo, it's not much.

I can't help but think about a couple of groups in my community. One is a church who claims to be very concerned about the homeless. Twice a year they have a prayer vigil for them, and some of the youth sleep outside to show sympathy for the homeless. They don't gather canned goods or serve at a homeless kitchen, they don't deliver blankets or even minister to the homeless. In fact, they have no interaction with the homeless at all, they simply pray for them. They consider this enough.

The other group is a local interfaith group that gets together every three or four months and takes on a Habitat for Humanity project and get a homeless family off the streets.

This is the difference that Ingersol was talking about. Pray all you want. Submit to whatever god you believe in. But don't confuse considering a problem with doing something to remedy that problem.

-- Tarzan the Ape Man (tarzan@swingingthroughthejunglewithouta.net), August 23, 2000.

I see your point, Tarzan. The gulf between our opinions is created precisely because you do not experience prayer as I do, nor witness the possiblities which may be made manifest through such a powerful avenue of action. Prayer is active participation in creation and distribution of product, IMO.

You see inactivity in the group which merely prays. Nothing tangible results from their prayers, so you think. You may be correct. I would not be so quick to judge. And yes, providing sustenance is more immediate action which produces visible results quickly. I applaude all who are able to volunteer for charitable causes.

-- Bingo1 (howe9@shentel.net), August 23, 2000.

Deeming prayer a "powerful action" does not make it so. I could tell you my stinky socks have the delicate scent of violets, but that doesn't make my feet smell pleasant.

"Prayer is active participation in creation and distribution of product, IMO."

I disagree. When the churchgroup down the street prays for the homeless to be sheltered, and does nothing to actually shelter them, they do not see their accounts debited for the cost of wood. They don't get blisters in their hands. They don't get sunburned from working in the afternoons. They don't lose sick or vacation time at work to finish the house on time. They have expended little or no effort.

My father was in a car accident a few years ago which left his spine damaged. The doctors told him that he might never walk again. My father worked for years to prove them wrong, enduring painstaking physical therapy. Our whole family pitched in, my sister even moved back in with my parents to help them out. Over a very long period of time, and incremental successes, my father is now able to stand and walk without assistance, although he does have a pronounced limp.

This summer at our family reunion, an aunt that we rarely see came up to my father and gushed that he was a true example of the power of prayer. She told everyonee who would listen that she had stood right by him the entire time, remembering him in her prayers every night, and now here he was, almost completely healed. Bear in mind that my folks have seen this woman maybe once in the intervening years since the accident.

In as polite a manner as possible, my father said, "Prayer had nothing to do with it. I am standing and walking today because for the last five years I spent every ounce of my energy on getting well. My wife and kids were right there with me the entire time, and they are as responsible in this as I am. I would not be standing today if I had sat down and waited on your prayers,"

-- Tarzan the Ape Man (tarzan@swingingthroughthejunglewithouta.net), August 23, 2000.

Mt 9:37,38 - "...the harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into His harvest field."

The next verse, Jesus sends them. If we pray, we should be willing to be a part of the answer. He doesn't say to pray and just kick back and do nothing.

The church story above sounds like what James was saying in Ja 2:14- 26. Faith without works is dead! This passage is not about working to get to heaven, but a believer who refuses to do anything to help those in need.

Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. if one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well ded," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. Ja 2:15-17.

-- (bygrace@thru.faith), August 23, 2000.

should be "fed" not "ded"

-- (bygrace@thru.faith), August 23, 2000.

I don't have an issue with those who pray. I don't even have an issue with those who choose to do nothing BUT pray. What makes me angry are those who choose to do nothing but pray and pretend that they are actually doing something.

-- Tarzan the Ape Man (tarzan@swingingthroughthejunglewithouta.net), August 23, 2000.


You should also have an issue with those who do nothing BUT contribute their time and energy to helping the homeless. Face it, most homeless aren't going to contribute anything to society in the long run. As an athiest, I'd think you'd want to do the greatest good for society as a whole, which would probably mean using those resources to help those who may *be of benefit* to the rest of society in some way.

Why would you support dumping resources down a rat hole?


-- Someone (ChimingIn@twocents.cam), August 23, 2000.

wow frank the athiesy, you better pray' you never fall into circumstances beyond your-control-& find yourself-homeless!!

-- al-d. (dogs@zianet.com), August 23, 2000.

Wow, Frank. I really, really want to attack you personally. Really badly.

But I won't lower myself. You have to live with yourself and that post. Consider yourself a non-entity on the board as far as I'm concerned. Crushing blow, I'm sure.

-- Bingo1 (howe9@shentel.net), August 23, 2000.

Harsh words Frank.

I'm a humanist as well and as such I'm not inclined to write off an individual simply because they are down on their luck. If you know anything about Habitat for Humanity, you know that they help families who are committed to bettering themselves, as opposed to crack addicts who have not yet reached rock bottom.

Regardless, I brought the homeless issue up as an example. It really could be any problem that people propose to solve with inaction.

-- Tarzan the Ape Man (tarzan@swingingthroughthejunglewithouta.net), August 23, 2000.

Nemesis, she typed "hollowed BY thy name" (you missed the "by") two typos that I thought made for hillarious slip of the pun...er..pen ;)

-- (mygrace@true.faith), August 23, 2000.

Maybe that was not the REAL Frank.


-- cin (cin@=0).cin), August 23, 2000.

dear mr. grace, i beg to differ--in the model-prayer we ask GOD TOO FORGIVE us -[as] we forgive others! who gets it right-consistently?? do you think the apostles we're=perfect??paul had to rebuke peter=1st pope-[tee-hee]peter was being a =hypocrite! JESUS was giving a lesson on the =spirit of the law-but he also said=without him-we can't do it!!soooooooo-who does it?? PAUL gave the clue=CHRIST IN US--THE HOPE OF GLORY!! so i.ll ask him to help me do it!!---in & of myself--no way-can i do it! not full- time!---and even=good-works-if not of GODS-SPIRIT--are=filthy-rags!

this is the danger of self-righteousness! puttin on a show!! but for who's=glory!!??????? gotta be careful-of-going if -not-sent!!

but hey!--if CHRIST be in you--you'll do his-will--naturally--a no sweat thing!!

if JESUS ain't in it--i don't want no-part of it!!

-- al-d. (dogs@zianet.com), August 24, 2000.


Regarding your reaction to Frank and his comments on throwing prayers or spiritual efforts down an alleged rathole...

I think Frank -- whatever his motivation -- is addressing the concept of spiritual triage. An interesting concept, no matter how unattractive it might appear to be on the surface. If hospitals can find merit in triage (no matter how distasteful I find it), then how does the concept fail when you are facing the same overwhelming choices spiritually?

A philosophy to be examined very carefully by the truly earnest.

-- Oxy (Oxsys@aol.com), August 24, 2000.

I dont see a direct connection between Franks sweet suggestion that most homeless aren't going to contribute anything to society in the long run and spiritual triage. He refers to physical resources being dumped down a rat hole, if Im not mistaken. My interpretation is that he paints feeding people, for example, unlikely to contribute to a better society as incredibly wasteful from a standpoint of physical stuff . Remember, he addressed Tarzan on this issue of action vs. prayer.

Perhaps I am lost in righteous rage. Lars, care to make a ruling?

-- Bingo1 (howe9@shentel.net), August 24, 2000.

I don't know if this will help the situation or inflame it further, but I think it's a story that needs to be told. It goes to the discussion between Tarzan and Bingo re "praying".

I gave you a link to the full story and have only printed the relevant portion here. The article tells the story of a preacher who has spent his entire life working towards racial justice. I came upon this one paragraph that made me think of the conversation you two were having about prayer versus "doing something".

Crus ading Preacher for Racial Justice Subject of PBS Profile

"As I read the Scripture, Jesus didn't have much truck with institutional religion really. He was out there in the world, in the streets, healing people," said Campbell, who refused a ministerial deferment and left Louisiana Baptist College to enlist in World War II. "Unless worship takes people out of the church and into the street to where the people of God are hurting and suffering, it has no meaning. Church isn't about gathering and mouthing off every Sunday morning. Just to repeat God's words Sunday after Sunday and go on about our business and not take some action to improve the lot of God's people is absurd."

This is the point (I think) Tarzan was trying to make, Bingo. It's not that prayer doesn't have a place, or isn't effective to those who believe, but there really is no comparison to getting out there and physically doing something about a problem, and Habitat for Humanity is just one of many shining examples of how well this type of "ministering" works.

Just my less-than-two-cents.

-- Patricia (PatriciaS@lasvegas.com), August 24, 2000.

Exactly, we are to be doers of the Word, not merely hearers only, deceiving ourselves. Ja 1:22,25

Patricia - thanks for sharing Campbell's words.

-- (bygrace@thru.faith), August 24, 2000.


I'm kind of disappointed by your answer, although I *suppose* it's not your fault ;-) . I was hoping you were going to give me some indication of WHY you would be a humanitarian or have any particular regard for the outcasts of society. After all, if you believe in your heart that we are nothing but complex chemical reactions, then why bother if a few of the molecules don't get incorporated into the ice cube, but evaporate off?

What do these people matter *to you*, and why SHOULD they matter to you (without resorting to some "good feelings" sentiment used by society to control the way you behave)?

That's what I was getting at, but don't suppose I was clear enough (as is usually true).


Hey, take it easy tiger.


-- Someone (ChimingIn@twocents.cam), August 24, 2000.

Of course, Patricia! Is my writing so cloudy that you could possibly believe I disagree with your post? Perhaps it is. I'm sorry, but at least it prodded you to give us that fine example of spirit brought into community! So there is value even in miscommunication.

My point is prayer is an activity which can produce tangible results, the very least of which are wisdom and understanding on how best to act in the world. Tarzan cannot truly know this precisely because he does not engage in prayer. This is not a knock, merely an observation. My posts are meant to serve as counterpoints, not shots across the bow.


-- Bingo1 (howe9@shentel.net), August 24, 2000.

A line that never made sense to me in the Lord's Prayer: "Lead us not into temptation". The implication is that we must pray to God NOT to lead us astray. Come on, God would not deliberately LEAD us into temptation. Anyhoo, I have changed that line to say "Lead us away from temptation".

Two more things I have oberved about this prayer in the 2 years that I have said it regularly. First, it is endlessly instructive. No matter how often I say it, it never becomes rote as when I was a child. Second, it's in the plural. Meant to be said as part of a group. A church? al-d?

-- Lars (lars@indy.net), August 24, 2000.

The concept of spiritual triage:

We know what triage is in the medical sense, do we not? It makes sense in the big picture, but I find it horrendous at the individual level. When there are mass casualties, mass injuries, one sorts through the bloody reality and chooses to treat the people who are the most likely to be saved. There will be some of those most terribly wounded who will be left to die, so that others less damaged who need critical care in order to survive can live. I believe we are not just talking about leaving the mortally wounded to die, but any of those whom it would be most difficult to save, when there are others less injured who would die without our care.

I imagine there are many spiritually minded people who have trouble with this medical response on a case by case basis. Especially those who feel they must serve "the least among us." Rescuing, responding to those who are the worst wounded ... or the deepest sinners, the most wanting, the most lacking. One finds in one's heart the spiritual cause that tugs the greatest, and usually that is the most heart-rending or neediest case. To abandon the worst off seems merciless.

But when you look at the world as a closed system of spiritual need, with casualties dropping off right and left emotionally, spiritually, physically, how and whom does one decide to serve? How does one make the choice of service, if one is just not going blindly by heart and feeling, by special talent, from a first-come first-served standpoint, or because of a definite personal message from God?

Without those four options, how do you select those whom you help? Do you pick the person with most suffering, even if he does not appear to be redeemable in anyone's eyes but God? Or do you look at the mass of humanity and say, where will my time, my prayers and my sweat best be used to save the most people? To help the most effectively? To ease the most suffering quantitatively? Should that be the question asked? Should we ignore that question?

How do we choose? By default? At the end of the day, at the end of the world, do you attempt to save one or two of the most hopeless? Over and over again? Or do you find the way to save many many more who are capable of redemption and then saving others in turn?

What does your heart say? What do the strictures of your own faith demand or nudge you to do?

I believe this answer is individual, whether it is based on triage, Don Quixote passion, or some other internal choice. Some go to serve the least redeemable, others for the middle ground of most possibility.

The point is to not ignore the bigger picture of whom and what to save. Blind service may be praised, but clear vision and awareness during service should be honored too.

Every day, there is someone out there who dies waiting -- spiritually, emotionally or physically -- for a fellow angel who never reaches their side. There are more who need us than we can ever respond to. Each choice is golden.

-- Oxy (Oxsys@aol.com), August 24, 2000.

Oh, Bingo, no...that's not what I meant at all. I just happened upon this story and when I got to that paragraph, it brought to mind the discussion that was going on here.

I'm not saying that prayer offers no tangible results.....but if one does not believe in prayer, then there ARE no tangible results. One must believe for it to be effective.

And this is where "action" differs; there IS a tangible result that doesn't require a belief system such as prayer to see to see the results (e.g., in the case of Habitat for Humanity, there's a brand new home and a family that is beginning a new life on a positive note, etc.).

Stupid written word; it's a wonder there aren't more miscommunications than we see :-)

-- Patricia (PatriciaS@lasvegas.com), August 24, 2000.

There still may be tangible results, from prayer, even if belief is not a part of prayer.

-- Oxy (Oxsys@aol.com), August 24, 2000.

I don't think I understand your meaning, but I'll try. I guess I tend to look at it as a "faith" issue. If one has faith (e.g., believes) in something, it's true for that person. If one believes in prayer, it's true for that person.

But how can there be a tangible result for a person who does not have the faith and belief in prayer? To me, that would be YOUR (the one doing the praying) tangible result; not the one who does not believe.

I doubt I explained that properly. Here's hoping.....

-- Patricia (PatriciaS@lasvegas.com), August 24, 2000.

Patricia, you said,

but if one does not believe in prayer, then there ARE no tangible results. One must believe for it to be effective.

This doesn't *necessarily* apply, but then again it might depending on how you read it :-)

Luke 18

1 Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. 2 He said: "In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared about men. 3 And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, `Grant me justice against my adversary.' 4 "For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, `Even though I don't fear God or care about men, 5 yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won't eventually wear me out with her coming!'" 6 And the Lord said, "Listen to what the unjust judge says. 7 And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? 8 I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly.


-- Someone (ChimingIn@twocents.cam), August 24, 2000.


Shoot, cut & pasted the wrong phrase, it should have read,

But how can there be a tangible result for a person who does not have the faith and belief in prayer?

with the rest as before.


-- Someone (ChimingIn@twocents.cam), August 24, 2000.

When, in a research project, volunteers were asked to pray over petri dishes of bacterial cultures (or some such), there was discernable benefit or improvement to the cultures that received prayer, as opposed to the control group of cultures that did not receive prayer. Now, I know the bacteria had no belief in the prayer. I do not know if those who prayed had a belief in the bacteria "doing something".... like, what would be the manifestation?

I also know that it is possible to pray without hope or belief for a solution, to a God that one does not believe even exists, and receive unquestionable evidence of response.

-- Oxy (Oxsys@aol.com), August 24, 2000.

Frank, it would apply to anyone who believed the bible to be a history book. (And note that I'm not saying whether I believe it is or it isn't. [g]) But I do see the point you're trying to make. Thanks.

Oxy, do you have a link to or a reference for that study? It's incredibly fascinating. BTW, I believe in the power of the mind a great deal. We only use a tiny fraction of our brain functions; we have no idea what we have left "untapped" (another incredibly fascinating area of study).

-- Patricia (PatriciaS@lasvegas.com), August 24, 2000.


We are social animals and from our earliest days we were dependant on one another for survival as a species. As such, it is in our best interest, as a group and as individuals, to forge ties with one another and to provide a helping hand. Although we no longer need to band together in groups to bring down a herd of buffalo, we are still very much interdependant and because of this we should enccourage and reward those who feel compelled to come to the aid of their brothers and sisters. Plus, those of us who are inclined in this area find it enormously satisfying.


I had heard of the study you mention. I had read that it was discredited because of control issues (I believe there was no control for lighting and temperature).

My brother and I recently did a small experiment of our own. He is a nominal Christian, and both of us are known for having green thumbs. My fiancee, however, is known for her ability to kill plants just by being in the same room as them. We took over some plants in her office that she had nearly killed off and partialed them out into four groups. He prayed over one group, didn't pray over the other. I talked to one group, didn't talk to the other. All were normal house plants which we knew how to care for- two wandering jews, three spider plants, a couple of jade trees and an African violet. All plants received appropriate care (more water for the wandering jews, more light for the jade trees).

At the end of our experiment, we found that the plants that hadn't been talked to or prayed over were not nearly as robust as the ones we had spoken to and/or prayed over. The ones who'd heard our voices, whether in prayer or in just everyday conversation were thriving, lots of new growth, healthy root systems, greener leaves. We found little to no difference in the plants that had been prayed over as opposed to talked to. We moved all the less healthy plants to my house and he began to pray over them at his house, well out of "earshot" of the plants. I didn't talk to them. While they continued to improve, they didn't improve at the same rate as the others.

Personally, I think there's something about our voices which the plants respond to. Maybe they get increased CO2 when we speak. I've heard of similar experiments done under much more rigors controls.

Or, maybe we pay extra attention to something we talk to, on a subconscious level. Our main mode of communication is speech, after all.

-- Tarzan the Ape Man (tarzan@swingingthroughthejunglewithouta.net), August 25, 2000.


I can't agree with you from a "biological good" standpoint. From that view, we should be doing things that would help society improve. Those who (for example have predispositions towards alcoholism) end up at the bottom of society should be weeded out, not helped to survive -- thus reproducing and weakening the herd in the long run.

If what you're saying is that we should help people because it has been shown *throughout recorded experience* that helping other people benefits society I'd give you two things to think about. The first is that this is a statement that needs proof before you should believe it! The second is that *religion* has also been a part of mankind throughout recorded history, and if you believe that following *behaviors* that have been proven successful in the past (without necessarily having proof of *why* they work), then perhaps you should re-evaluate your stance on athiesm as well as helping the homeless.

Finally getting closer to my point,


-- Someone (ChimingIn@twocents.cam), August 26, 2000.

I can't agree with you from a "biological good" standpoint. From that view, we should be doing things that would help society improve. Those who (for example have predispositions towards alcoholism) end up at the bottom of society should be weeded out, not helped to survive -- thus reproducing and weakening the herd in the long run.

Actually, society has done that for some time. A majority of cultures practiced shunning for behavior that was grossly outside of accepted norms and bounds. In our own nation's history, individuals whose lifestyles were thought to be a threat to society as a whole were banished, a punishment which could literally be fatal.

-- Tarzan the Ape Man (tarazn@swingingthroughthejunglewithouta.net), August 27, 2000.


I agree with your point that prayer alone is not enough. But my impression is that you see Christians as more inclined to do just prayer whereas Humanists dig right in and get their hands dirty.

I almost see it the other way around. Habitat for Humanity is a good example. I don't know if that group was started by the Christian Jimmy Carter but he certainly put them on the map. I know a number of people who have worked for HH both locally and in Mexico and they have all come from church groups.

Conversely, I see people who I am sure are not very religious who have "Pray for Peace" bumper stickers and who hold candlelight vigils for whatever is the squishy issue of the day.

I am not saying that your observations are wrong; only incomplete.

-- Lars (lars@indy.net), August 27, 2000.

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