I’m an atheist – of course I believe that “prayer is pointless”. But even if you believe what the bible says is true about prayer, it’s still true. Together, let’s examine the reasons for praying, and see if we can find a good reason to do it (reasons found from a search on google – there’s no go-to site for such a question).
1 – Prayer maintains a relationship with God. Needless to say, this is pointless if God doesn’t exist. But what if God does exist? Well, a relationship still doesn’t exist if God doesn’t answer… more on this in just a bit.
2 – Prayer discerns God’s will. Same response – if God doesn’t exist, he doesn’t have a will. If he exists, it’s pointless without a clear answer from God.
3 – God commands his believers to pray. In fact, he commands prayer without ceasing. This is obviously impossible. A believer can’t pray while sleeping! Even if you don’t this so literally, a believer still can’t manage the natural world while trying to maintain a conversation at the same time. This believer would also quickly run out of things to discuss with God short of repeating himself like a mantra – similar to the practice of new-agers, and not prescribed by scripture.
4 – Prayer is used to offer thanks, honor, and adoration to God. Why is it necessary to voice what’s already felt in one’s heart to an omniscient being? Doesn’t he already know how you feel?
5- Prayer is coming to God with requests. If God already knows what you want (remember, he’s omniscient) then why would you have to ask for it? Isn’t he also benevolent? Doesn’t he already want you to be happy?
Christians say that God answers prayers in 3 ways: with a “yes”, “no”, or “wait”. That pretty much covers whatever result would naturally happen from a prayer, whether or not there was a God to answer. But why would there be a variance in answers? If God is fair, why would he grant to some what he denies to others? That is injustice. This is further exemplified by the necessity of a Christian praying for God to “do his will”… why would he will good things for some and bad things for others? Does he usually act outside of his will? Does a request that God act according to his own will change a thing?
And the hardest question, why are the faithful asked to look to following events for the answer, rather than receiving a verbal answer on the spot?
Prayer can be scientifically tested, and it was in the Templeton Prayer Study. I won’t elaborate on this further, as I’ve created a link to it and everyone should already be well-acquainted with this study. If you don’t care to do the research, allow me to say that it was a double-blind experiment paid for and run by Christians that ended with the unexpected result that prayer didn’t work. While Christians have tried to rationalize this result, it’s clear to say that this experiment could have had a positive result, but didn’t. God was tested and failed the test, whether on purpose or because of his nonexistence.
So let’s offer the opportunity to you, the reader – prove that prayer isn’t pointless. Prove that prayer undeniably changes results to an event (for example, you could roll a die 100 times and get the same number all 100 times because you asked God for that, observed by onlookers) or prove that prayer is undeniably a 2-sided conversation by providing information that can’t be gained except through prayer (for example, go through an entire deck of cards and ask God what each card is before it’s turned face up, write the answer and then reveal it to onlookers).
The bible tells Christians not to test God (Exodus 17:7, Deuteronomy 6:16) but doesn’t say that God will purposely fail a test when presented with it (Gideon and the fleece – Judges 6:36-40, Elijah and the Prophets of Baal – 1 Kings 18) so please spare me the excuses. I’ve already provided the logic for a holy book to tell its believers that its god shouldn’t be tested. It’s obvious why any Christian, given the opportunity to win over nonbelievers with proof of God, would choose not to do so.
One final consideration: Your child has sustained a life-threatening injury. He/she is rushed to the emergency room. The surgeon, a doctor will years of training and experience, chooses to pray for your child instead of putting that training to use. Do you really believe that your child would survive it? If he/she didn’t survive, would you blame the surgeon for choosing faith over medical science?