What to do if prayer constantly doesn't work?

Christians often claim that you can pray to God to guide you. Well, I did that on several occasions, while being 100% sincere. And guess what? Nothing happened. Absolutely nothing. Is that my fault? I'd very much like to follow the truth, be forgiven for all my wrongdoings (I've done some pretty nasty shit) and I certainly don't wanna go to Hell. WTF should I do?

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  • You could go to church and talk to someone there about it if you believe in the bible. Its hard to get answers about god online because it triggers so many people.

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    • I agree with this.

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    • They would be limited by congregation, though, and as soon as they look to another congregation for answers, they would get even more confused. The internet just speeds up the process of getting confusing, half-baked answers that would normally take multiple Sundays worth of pointless apologetics-filled blathering.

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  • I'll give you the biblical answers for that (without citing the references).

    God answers on their time, not on your time. You may not yet be ready for the answer that God would give; and it may be years before you are fully ready to understand the answer.

    The other thing is that so many things (love, prayer, etc) are actually action words. They don't work unless you are taking other actions to accomplish it.

    What else are you doing in your life to accomplish or answer what you prayed about?

    Many "Christians" will tell you that all your best efforts by yourself will never get you to heaven without your accepting God and reaching out to God. What they often do not tell you is that the corollary is also true. God does not help those who make no real effort. It takes a joint effort. How much effort are you applying and for how long?

    I've been working on certain things for decades. Now I did receive a direct answer from God on 1 occasion, and I believe I have received indirect answers many other times (I believe the answers was planted ahead of me to only be found when I did something).

    I hope this helps...

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    • That's how I look at spirituality and meditation, but without the presupposition that the answers come externally to me

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  • I am quite sure you didn't ask this question to have your beliefs about the nature of God changed, but I can share how I think, if you like.


    As we can surmise from Boojum, there is no hard-and-fast 'method'. I don't appreciate it being said about me and/or my friends, though, that I am given to 'blither' or that my beliefs are 'bs'. That's just uncivil.


    I think the assumption that there should be a 'way' to get prayers answered, can only be made if we presuppose that God is subject to our whims, like a machine or a puppy. I think a good way to pray is to acknowledge what kind of being you are talking to, to understand what God's priorities are because God is not a vending machine or a genie in a bottle. God has an awful lot of things to take into account when he acts. Everything that happens has an impact on everything else.

    Would doing what you want him to do, be in the interests and character of God? And if God had other plans or priorities, or different things that had to happen that would affect something else, he would be within his 'rights' not to tell us. He does not owe us anything.

    For me, the key is remembering that that God is independent from us and can do what he wants, and he has the right to. He doesn't *have* to answer our prayers on pain of not existing.

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    • I call it blithering when people resort to circular arguments and the ultimate answer always boils down to the non-answer of, 'because God'.

      And, yeah, I admit that I have no respect for those who are convinced of the existence of an invisible, omnipotent, omniscient being. I also have no respect for flat-earthers, those who believe in homeopathy, those who claim Covid is a myth, those who believe the moon is a hologram, those who believe yoga is satanic worship, those who believe Stonehenge was built by aliens, those who believe that dinosaurs helped build the pyramids, those who believe the earth is hollow, those who believe the world is controlled by shape-shifting aliens lizard-creatures and those who believe jet contrails are some form of chemical warfare.

      People have the right to believe whatever counter-factual idiocy they choose, but I refuse to respect those who demonstrate that they have very little understanding of the world they live in and are completely lacking in critical thinking skills.

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      • Boojum, you disappoint me.
        I had thought you knew better than to resort to straw men at the same time as decrying theists as lacking in critical thinking skills.

        Belief in God cannot be painted wholesale as similar to belief that the earth is flat or that the earth is a hologram, or any of the things you have written.

        I am content to accept that there are many ways in which people are atheists. Not all of them have reasoned out their point of view, as I presume you must have done - some of them just don't like the idea of God. Can you accept that there are also many ways in which people believe in God or gods, and that not all of these people are idiots?

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    • Ummm, how about asking him to channel his grace through us for the benefit of someone in a way that we will be completely unaware of? Someone who we do not know. Someone who secretly needs his touch.

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      • I sometimes do! We often pray for people we don't know - especially at prayer meetings.

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  • You dont pray and expect it to magically work. You work and pray.

    Cant imagine god looks kindly on those who just pray and not do the work to get it done. Done it countless times and it somehow works for me. I'm agnostic so that just means I must be doing something right.

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    • So basically just do it yourself and then give God credit for it.

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      • I give him the credit when I have low odds and succeed.

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        • That's even worse. You pull off something amazing and then sell yourself short instead of giving yourself due credit when it turns out you're not as incapable as you felt. That's kind of self-esteem-shattering.

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  • You touch yourself at night.

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  • Are you sure you weren't praying to prove to yourself it isn't working? To say what you just said "Can I be blamed?"?

    You get what you actually want. If you want something, actually want it, work towards it and be ready for/expect it.

    The dreams we see when sleeping are created by our minds. They are desires achieved in dreams (even the unhappy dreams, which says that some of our desires can be like this). And I have a weird idea that the reality is created by our brains same way dreams are created.

    Another thing I'll say directly that I believe Islam to be the true religion.

    I guess you are same OP who started the other recent religious discussions.

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  • ... you stop... obviously because prayer is baloney. I’m gonna be straight with you: you can remain hopeful in tough situations, but you can’t just wish for things to happen and seriously expect it to work. There’s nothing wrong with you, it’s the practice of prayer that’s wrong.

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  • Just remember and I believe there is even a country song about it. Unanswered doesn't equate to unheard. It doesnt mean God isn't listening.

    Unanswered can be the answer in itself. Rather than say no or not now. it is just not answered. We have a tendency as humans to think answered prayers are those we get what we want. All answers are not positive.

    Work towards your goal, keep asking for pease of mind but ask for help getting there and to show you what you need to do.

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  • I suggest you stop praying and start focussing on how you can get what you want in your life by your own efforts, rather than relying on a non existent deity to do it for you.

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  • Obviously, you're praying to the wrong god. You should pray to Yaldobothgatorogh, and send me lots of money so that I might grow my congregation and private jet collection.

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  • A Christian would probably blither on about how you didn't get an answer to your prayer because you weren't really listening, or you didn't believe enough, or you're not saved, or you need to belong to their brand of religion before God will hear you, or you prayed the wrong way, or some other utterly unhelpful BS. Religious people are very good at making excuses for God, because they've spent their whole life figuring out ways to explain away his silence and indifference.

    Accept the fact that there is no God. Accept the fact that the life you have right now is all there is. Accept the fact that if you have a desperate need for forgiveness, you'll need to get that from the people you've wronged.

    Then figure out where you've screwed up in the past, and how you can make sure you don't make those particular mistakes again. Accept that you own your life, and the decisions you make and their consequences are all on you. The only hell you're ever going to experience is the one you might create for yourself if you choose not to behave in ways that are positive and life-enhancing for yourself and those you choose to spend your time with.

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    • My favorite excuse is that you have to work toward the goal of your prayers yourself for God to answer them. Basically put in the work, make it happen, and then thank God for your accomplishments.

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      • I keep getting the "God works in mysterious ways, we are like goldfish trying to contemplate our owners/dogs not comprehending how our masters open doors with keys," bullshit interspersed between people saying that they have proof of god's existence whenever shit vaguely goes their or somebody else's way. It amazes me how the religious can fail to see how narcissistic they look, acting as though they understand the mind of an infinite being who apparently works in ways that the human mind is incapable of understanding.

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  • Praying does nothing

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  • How do you expect anything to happen? Any action needs a cause in our universe, things don't just happen on their own. At what point could a god possibly intervene to influence the world? All your thoughts are a constant process of electron movements through your nerves, if we looked closer we would see that even these follow predictable laws of nature, like everything in the world.
    We understand the universe so thoroughly that these human beliefs that originated from centuries ago in an attempt to explain things have turned into absolute abstraction

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  • You're not going to Hell. Don't worry.

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  • What are you praying for, OP?

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  • It depends. What were you praying for? Sometimes the answer to a prayer, much like a good parent would say, is NO.

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    • Reminds me of a skit I once saw.

      Person: God! Please! I constantly pray to you to stop all these horrible diseases that are painfully killing the children!

      God: And the answer to that prayer was obviously, "No."

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  • Like many have said, you have to act upon your prayers. What formalin said is actually quite relevant. How do you expect praying from a state of impenitent mortal sin to give you an answer? Just as an insincere baptism does not save one from Hell, an insincere prayer does not gain an answer.

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    • I think Formalin was just joking. After all, what's wrong with masturbation? It doesn't harm anyone. As for being impenitent or insincere, that's just not true. I explicitlysaid I was 100% sincere.

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      • You can't be penitent if you're claiming to masturbate and asking, "what's wrong with masturbation?"

        Masturbation, a form of "unnatural vice" or "sin against nature" is indeed evil, as explained by the Summa Theologiae:

        http://summa-theologiae.org/question/38711.htm

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        • Well, what IS wrong with masturbation? Just because some book says so? Why should I believe it?

          As for it being unnatural, you're dead wrong about that.

          https://www.webmd.com/sex-relationships/guide/masturbation-guide

          Are you saying you've never masturbated BTW? If that's actually true (I doubt it), you've missed out on a lot of fun.

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          • It is against what God has intended. Just like homosexuality is a thing in animals, and is therefore "natural" by the definition you are using, it is unnatural according to God's plan.

            Saint Thomas Aquinas and Saint Augustine are both very trustworthy sources of God's truth.

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    • Well said. You have to accomplish the goal yourself first and thank God for your accomplishment second, and if you touch yourself at night God probably isn't even going to consider your prayer. What formalin said was incredibly relevant and cut to the heart of the issue.

      Of course I don't believe any of this, but from the outside looking in it's indeed consistent with that purported truth.

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      • That actually depends upon the nature of the prayer. God can do things that you cannot, so you do not have to do it yourself, necessarily. However, if the thing has to do with self-improvement, God allows you to make your own choices on the matter, so you do have to actually do something. God just helps to see the truth.

        In this matter, if someone is in an impenitent state of mortal sin, why would they expect God to answer? The Bible itself says,

        "Now we know that God doth not hear sinners: but if a man be a server of God, and doth his will, him he heareth." - John 9:31

        "He that turneth away his ears from hearing the law, his prayer shall be as abomination." - Proverbs 28:9

        According to Saint Thomas Aquinas,

        "In the sinner, two things are to be considered: his nature which God loves, and the sin which He hates. Accordingly when a sinner prays for something as sinner, i. e. in accordance with a sinful desire, God hears him not through mercy but sometimes through vengeance when He allows the sinner to fall yet deeper into sin. For "God refuses in mercy what He grants in anger," as Augustine declares (Tract. lxxiii in Joan.). On the other hand God hears the sinner's prayer if it proceed from a good natural desire, not out of justice, because the sinner does not merit to be heard, but out of pure mercy [* Cf. A [15], ad 1], provided however he fulfil the four conditions given above, namely, that he beseech for himself things necessary for salvation, piously and perseveringly."
        - Summa Theologiae SS Q [83] A [16] e

        In this case, a person is asking for "peace of mind." It is quite possible that "peace of mind" is not what God wants for this person at this moment. How can someone just ask God for peace of mind, without actually believing in God? You can't ask piously or perseveringly if you don't believe in God, and aren't asking to believe in God. Peace of mind is also not required for salvation. There are more important things to ask for first.

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      • Yep, I thought Clunk said it well as well. Of course, touching yourself is a deal breaker. My Catholic background, which I renounced with all my heart and soul at age 14, taught me that self-flaggelation and magical thinking bestowed virtue upon myself. Clunk may be happy with that mindset, and the gifts of the Holy Spirit sound plausible, but for most of us this borderline cult eventually becomes soul crushing.

        C'est la vie.

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        • The Church does not condone flogging of oneself, and excessive criticism of oneself leads to heresy. We can see that in Martin Luther. The Church does not teach self-flaggelation; it teaches self-control.

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          • "The church does not condone flogging ofoneself,"

            unless you jerk off; Aquinas considered onanism worse than rape.

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            • His logic makes sense to claim such a thing. On the matter, he says:

              "Just as the ordering of right reason proceeds from man, so the order of nature is from God Himself: wherefore in sins contrary to nature, whereby the very order of nature is violated, an injury is done to God, the Author of nature. Hence Augustine says (Confess. iii, 8): "Those foul offenses that are against nature should be everywhere and at all times detested and punished, such as were those of the people of Sodom, which should all nations commit, they should all stand guilty of the same crime, by the law of God which hath not so made men that they should so abuse one another. For even that very intercourse which should be between God and us is violated, when that same nature, of which He is the Author, is polluted by the perversity of lust.""
              - Summa Theologiae SS Q [154] A [12] h

              "Gravity of a sin depends more on the abuse of a thing than on the omission of the right use. Wherefore among sins against nature, the lowest place belongs to the sin of uncleanness, which consists in the mere omission of copulation with another. While the most grievous is the sin of bestiality, because use of the due species is not observed. Hence a gloss on Gn. 37:2, "He accused his brethren of a most wicked crime," says that "they copulated with cattle." After this comes the sin of sodomy, because use of the right sex is not observed. Lastly comes the sin of not observing the right manner of copulation, which is more grievous if the abuse regards the "vas" than if it affects the manner of copulation in respect of other circumstances."
              - Summa Theologiae SS Q [154] A [12] k

              Rape does more harm to a person, but unnatural vice does more harm to God. Ultimately, God is more important than a person. Both are considered abhorrent, and, if impenitent, both will lead to Hell.

              Also, you still wouldn't flog yourself for either of them.

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          • Whatever Clunk. "C'est la vie" means such is life. Your life works nicely within the Catholic structure. You also seem less robotic recently. My life is different than yours. Let's just both agree that we don't have very much in common.

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