***WARNING***WARNING*** This material is not suitable for those who are deficient in humor or thought challenged!!! Do not read any further - you have been warned. Preconceived ideas and biases could be endangered. A unique blend of the jocular with provocative rumination is just ahead for your divertissement!?!
Does Prayer Work? Research and 'Unanswered' Prayer
The headlines seemed almost triumphal in tone.
"Prayer Doesn't Aid Recovery, Study Finds." That was the Washington Post. "Long-Awaited Medical Study Questions the Power of Prayer." That was the New York Times.
Both papers were describing a study designed to determine the power of prayer. Not only did it show that prayer apparently makes no difference, but some prayed-for patients in the study actually fared worse than the unprayed-for ones.
The research, led by Jeffery Dusek of the Harvard Medical School, involved 1,802 heart-bypass patients. One-third were told they would be prayed for (but they weren't), one-third were told they might receive prayer, and one-third were told they would definitely be prayed for. Catholics and Protestants who agreed to pray for certain patients were told to ask for "a successful surgery with a quick, healthy recovery and no complications."
Patients in the two groups that did not know if anyone was praying for them had about the same rate of complications—52 percent—regardless of whether they were being prayed for. But 59 percent of the patients who knew they were being prayed for suffered complications.
The researchers were quick to downplay the unexpected results. Knowing they were being prayed for may have led to stress among patients, they noted. And as one doctor put it, "Did the patients think, 'I am so sick they had to call in the prayer team?'"
Naturally, some observers were delighted at the results. They think the study proves conclusively that prayer doesn't work, and it's time for men of science to "stop dabbling in the supernatural," as one academic put it.
But wait a minute. The researchers acknowledged that they could not control for the fact that many "unauthorized" people may have interceded for loved ones in the so-called "unprayed-for" group. And plenty of other studies indicate that intercessory prayer does have an impact.
But perhaps the study's biggest flaw involves how the results were interpreted. Christians know that there are three possible answers to prayer: "Yes," "no," and "wait." The Harvard study measured only the "yes" answers. But just because we don't get the answer we're looking for does not mean God is not listening or answering.
We are given a glorious example of this truth by Jesus Himself. On the night before His arrest, praying in the Garden of Gethsemane, an agonized Jesus asked God to remove the cup that was before Him. He prayed that He would not have to go to the Cross. And yet, not long afterward, Jesus did die on the Cross.
To a modern researcher, this is the perfect example of a prayer that went unanswered. But we know that God did answer this prayer. He answered it in a way that led, over the next twenty centuries, to salvation for millions. And on Easter Sunday, millions of Christians around the world will thank God for answering it the way He did.
Yes, Jesus died on the Cross. But He rose again on the third day. And thanks to that so-called "unanswered prayer," you and I can say this Easter, "Hallelujah! Christ is risen!"
And no matter what the researchers tell us, we know we can trust God to hear, and answer, every prayer.
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Can We Be Good without God?: Why Godless Morality Always Fails
"Why can't we be good without God?" J. Budziszewski, professor of government and philosophy at the University of Texas, says that his students ask this question frequently. They're okay with rules like "Thou shalt not steal," but they're uncomfortable with rules like "Thou shalt have no other gods before me." They want to be good by their own power and according to their own definitions of goodness -- not by God's grace or according to His definition of goodness.
Needless to say, students aren't the only people who think this way. The attitude is deeply ingrained in almost all of our society's opinion-forming institutions -- universities, the media, courts, and the professions. In his fascinating new book, WHAT WE CAN'T NOT KNOW, J. Budziszewski explains why we cannot be good without God -- why godless morality always fails.
One reason is that the first thing a person sees in the moral law is how far short he falls. We can't escape the awareness of a debt we owe that exceeds anything we can pay. Now Christians know that on the cross, the debt has been paid. But in a secular worldview, there is no divine payment of the debt. What's the result? People try not to think about their debt. And to avoid thinking about it, they refuse to look at the moral law; instead they make up their own, less demanding standards. It is called self-rationalization, something I know all about from my life before my conversion.
Godless morality is futile for another reason: Have you ever heard the saying, "Do the right thing, and let God take care of the consequences"? Christians can say this because we know that God is sovereign. But without faith in God, the saying makes no sense. Without God, we try to make up for adverse consequences ourselves, and we will end up, more often than not, "doing evil, so that good will result." This is the root from which the utilitarianism of Peter Singer and others springs.
Yet another reason morality needs God is that apart from Him, morality itself loses meaning. In yesterday's BreakPoint I explained that we can learn about how to live from the way that God designed us. But without God, we can't think of ourselves as designed at all. In fact, the evolutionist says that "man is the result of a purposeless and natural process that did not have us in mind." If this process had gone a bit differently, we would have had a different nature. With that nature perhaps instead of caring for our children, we might be disposed to eat them the way guppies do. Why not? If morality is an accident of evolution, who can say that this would be wrong? Without God, we have no reason to take any morality seriously.
So the answer is, no. We can't be good without God. Oh, sure, you can do good things, but not consistently. The fact is that we cannot even define what goodness is without God. J. Budziszewski's new book, WHAT WE CAN'T NOT KNOW, is an excellent resource for understanding the situation we are in and the Christian arguments for a morality rooted in faith. It's a study that will strengthen your Christian worldview and help you to explain the basis of morality and the need for God to your neighbors. (Chuck Colson)
Dear Howdy, ! Whats up? So are you a guy or girl? And how old are you? And where do ya live? Well aren't I just full of questions!! Anyway yeah I like your emails, they're cute! LOL Well i gotta go now So' email me !
Dear Howdy, My computer crashed--a lightning strike did the modem in, I believe. Anyway, a new modem has been installed. I am catching up on all the Howdy newsletters that have come in while my system was down. Bill R.