If your standard response to tragedy is to request people pray, this is intended for you.
My intention here is not antagonistic or any attempt to insult, belittle, or mock. These are genuine questions I have regarding a concept I have never understood.
Prayer has always perplexed me. George Carlin's famous bit about prayer & "God's plan" described my thoughts on prayer best until I found Tim Minchin's "Thank You God" (the inspiration for this blog's title).
I don't understand why people think praying for someone experiencing a tragedy is actually accomplishing anything tangible. I'm trying to understand what goes through your mind when you request prayer instead of actual action.
When you make prayer requests, what are you expecting?
Do you think the outcome is dependent on how many people pray?
If God has a plan, how could prayer alter that plan?
How often do you also request direct action other than prayer? Given the less than stellar success rate of prayer, do you ever wonder if direct action would be more effective?
Do you ever think people who experience tragedy just didn't have enough people praying for them?
What about when people do pray & bad things still happen? Did God say no? Were not enough people praying?
Do you think direct action that occurs after a prayer is because of the prayer? What about when disaster is averted without anyone praying? Did God help that person anyway? If so, is prayer even required or useful? If not, is prayer even required or useful?
As far as I as I can tell, prayer is only useful for making the person praying feel better emotionally & is entirely useless in terms of otherwise helping people.
I'm not trying to tell you to stop praying. It's not my place to make such a request if praying does make you feel better. But please never let it be your only effort.
When you see someone in need that you want to help, please think for a minute about what tangible actions you could take to directly help. That way, the person in trouble receives help and you get to feel better. Instead of just you feeling better.