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Friday, September 2, 2016

Mother Theresa on Prayer

Bob Prokop posted this during yet another interminable thread on Victor Reppert's blog

Dan Rather once interviewed Mother Theresa. It was always a delight to watch cynical journalists interview Mother Theresa, because she would invariably make them look like fools. He asked Mother Theresa about prayer:

"What do you say to God when you pray," he inquired.
"Nothing," replied Mother Theresa. "I just listen."
"What does God say to you?" he responded, rather derisively.
"Nothing," replied Mother Theresa. "He just listens."
That's what prayer ... can become. We are still, silent, and we listen to God listening to us. And the more time we spend ... in silence, the more we will begin to hear God listen, the more aware we will become of His presence in our lives.
That is so true -- "Be still, my soul, and know that he is God." Prayer, like worship, is loving God, and participating in his Love.


B. Prokop said...

Thanks for re-posting this, Ilion. But lest anyone credit me for the wording, I was quoting from this article. I strategically elided certain phrases (and thus the triple dots) to make the passage less "Catholic" and more universally applicable.

Gyan said...

But the discussion got side-tracked. The issue was miracles and prayer, esp silent prayer had little to do with it.
Miracles are solidly attested, by highest scientific authorities. There is no way an atheist could wriggle out here. But the focus on prayer allowed subjective experiences to dominate the discussion in place of objective phenomena.

I can only surmise that miracles as objective phenomena are unpopular among Christians as well. They would rather talk of subjective experiences of God.

B. Prokop said...

I don't think the conversation was sidetracked at all. The atheist obsession with miracles is telling. If I were a believer in conspiracy theories (which I'm not) I'd say that it smells of an attempt at entrapment - with trying to get believers to commit to a "gap" argument for the faith - which could then be crushed.

But I would wager that at least 99.99 percent of prayer is not aimed at hope for a miracle. As far as I myself am concerned, I can recall only one time ever that I've explicitly prayed for a miracle. And since it was for a person I not only do not know, but have never even met, I have no idea whether or not my prayer was "effective".

So even if one could (horrid thought) devise some sort of test to see whether praying for miracles "works", you're only dealing with the loose change in the sofa cushions and not with the bank account balance.

Gyan said...

Miracles should be a strong point for believers since there is objective evidence for them. This is the weakest point for atheists. But when you bring in subjective experiences, that is not relevant to convincing an unbeliever.

One should also keep in mind the sharp difference between miraculous and providential acts of God. Prayer can be answered providentially (as when one is saved in an accident or earthquake). Prayer is not concerned with miracles. One does not demand that God performs for us. But prayer is concerned with Divine Providence.

Ilíon said...

"One does not demand that God performs for us"

^ Yes: That was Christ's point in his rebuke of Satan: "It is written again (also), Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God."

The point is not that we may not ask God for miracles, but that we may not demand them, and we may not do worse by trying to *force* God to perform a miracle.

Nate Winchester said...

To be fair, it's apparently 2 things. 1) know how you might ask fellow church members to pray for you? Invoking the saints is like that since they're supposed to be still a part of the church and not dead. Praying to Mary is based upon that incident at the wedding feast (she then goes and asks her son to do it).

Once I understood it, I'll admit now it's not idolatrous, but it's pretty tacky and dickish.