Secular Right | Reality & Reason

Sep/11

8

Prayer doesn’t bring rain

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If any believers want to hazard a guess as to why God decided to ignore Texans’ official three-day prayer session for rain, it would be illuminating.  Perhaps prayers are sent without any serious expectation that they will be answered (and why is that?), so that when they are not answered, the believer feels no great disappointment and no need to explain the lack of response.  Nevertheless, we are told all the time that God does answer prayers.  Indeed, Governor Rick Perry and his followers would not have appealed to God if they weren’t confident that God, in his concern for human suffering, listens to and responds to such petitions.  So why not these?  

One would have thought that the Texans presented a worthy petition for relief, since the failure to end the drought has resulted in the loss of life and massive loss of livelihood and property.   Perhaps the number of prayers sent God’s way didn’t reach a quorum.   Or were not heartfelt enough.   Or maybe Texans don’t in fact deserve to be relieved of draught. 

Catholic theologians up to the Pope himself stress that God is Reason and compatible with reason.  Presumably, therefore, the causes and meaning of his behavior are accessible to human understanding and not shrouded in capriciousness and mystery.   Still, it’s hard to come up with a reason why he couldn’t have sent some rain in response to the Texans’ request, since he does so many good things for us everyday in response to prayer, theologians like Michael Novak assure us. 

The possible suggestion that God has in fact answered the Texans’ prayers, but we can’t hope to understand how, would be a bit hard to accept here as elsewhere. 

Governor Perry seems to have given up on the divine angle for now, however, and is asking for aid from a more reliable source: the federal government.

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10 comments

  • Bob McHenry · September 8, 2011 at 8:38 pm

    Glib pastors like to say that God answers all prayers but sometimes the answer is “No.”

    Slightly more seriously, asking God to end a drought is not like asking the water company to open your new account. The drought isn’t something that just happened; it’s something that God has arranged for (we know this on the “no sparrow falls” principle). So praying for rain is asking God to change his mind. On what possible ground would an all-knowing God change his mind? Asking for that is clearly blasphemous.

  • a leap at the wheel · September 8, 2011 at 9:12 pm

    I usually enjoy this site, but the straw-man quotient in this post is pretty high. Self proclaimed skeptics should hold themselves to a higher, not lower, standard.

  • Kevin Lawrence · September 8, 2011 at 9:23 pm

    I heard that he did answer their prayers. The answer was “no”.

  • JC Penny · September 9, 2011 at 1:57 am

    Sad that I agree with their politics and am embarassed by their linkage to religion.

    If only there was a conservative leader that could call Obama an idiot without saying God told him so.

  • Polichinello · September 9, 2011 at 2:06 pm

    You’re beginning to sound like Buster Friendly and his Friendly Friends.

  • Lou Perez · September 9, 2011 at 7:33 pm

    Who are the jerks that prayed for the Texas wildfires?

  • Don Kenner · September 9, 2011 at 8:54 pm

    If one were liberal and Christian this would all make sense. Paul Krugman tells us that destruction is just beginning of new opportunity, as cities destroyed provide new employment (cleaning, building, burying the dead), therefore improving the economy. This makes sense, assuming you’re Paul Krugman or you’ve had a serious head injury.

    So — perhaps God DID answer the prayers, providing new economic opportunity amidst the ashes.

    And thus one form of mysticism (Christian) meets another form of mysticism (left-wing economics). It’s a perfect match, I tells ya.

  • secularsquare · September 9, 2011 at 11:29 pm

    Although a text from the Old Testament, one of the bible promises most widely quoted among evangelicals is 2 Chron. 7:14–“If My people, who are called by My name, shall humble themselves and pray, and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin, and heal their land.”

    It sounds like God’s problem is with the Christians. If they would get their act together, then we infidels will no longer have to suffer along with them in the afflictions brought by their god for their unfaithfulness.

    Thanks alot, Christians.

  • Snippet · September 10, 2011 at 1:27 pm

    Sometimes, God says, “No.”

    Sometimes, He says, “Sure, what the heck.”

    Sometimes, He says, “I’ll think about it.”

    Usually, though, He says,

    It is part of His great plan to respond to our prayers in a manner indistinguishable from the result you would get if He didn’t exist.

    This is how He keeps those annoying empericists out of Heaven.

  • ritebrother · September 18, 2011 at 1:10 am

    “So praying for rain is asking God to change his mind. On what possible ground would an all-knowing God change his mind? Asking for that is clearly blasphemous.”

    That’s that part I don’t understand. Asking for God to make a something different than the way it is. or a way that it might be (assuming God is omnipotent and omniscient as defined), is implying that God made a mistake.

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