Oh my! Friend, brother. I preface this out of admiration, concern and surprise. Admiration that you are bold enough to ask a visceral question, concern out of desire that you come to know God’s truth with peace and surprise that what is one of the most powerful tools and resources that we have, though used ineffectively, will not produce a desired result.
There is so much to reply to you, and I do so thank the brothers and sisters that have responded, and I shall limit my responses to succinct categories. It might seem that I am more logical with my answers, but I am not, I do feel your heart’s angst and my heart grieves that you come to know God’s mercies and grace.
Here are some thoughts: you make many premises, which are not valid, I can list a few examples here:
- Some things happen anyway other things won’t happen because God thinks it’s not good for you.
This leaves a very cropped spectrum for the use of prayer because it only works when it’s not in one of those categories.
This is a very broad and more complicated statement than you know. “Some things happen anyway” - this is an epistemological statement that philosophers and saints have deliberated and pondered for millennia. Not necessarily theological.
“other things won’t happen because God thinks it’s not good for you.” The first idea here that stands out is the concept of good. Is tribulation and loss of many things physical good in order for you to enter heaven? Check out Phil 3:8
“This leaves a very cropped spectrum for the use of prayer because it only works when it’s not in one of those categories.”
This premise is invalid. It can only be validated when every single prayer in the whole spectrum of time is validated.
“When a prayer isn’t answered you can say it’s not God’s will and that’s it.” Also invalid, check out Joseph and Genesis 45:8. Just because God does not answer the prayer the way you already want it to go has nothing to do with what God’s will is. Also note that because prayer goes unanswered, we know that the enemy tries to discourage us. Checkout Daniel 10:11-13
“When a prayer is answered then that’s supposed to be proof that praying works.”
Also invalid. We believe in prayer by Faith, and that evidence is the peace in our heart and trust in Christ. Homework assignment - most people do not know or understand Faith, so
I will ask you to research this, the answer lies in the book by A.W.Tozer’s Pursuit of God. [ ]
Also remember that just asking is not a prerequisite to receiving, we must learn
to abide in Him first. Checkout John 15:7.
I will defer commenting on your last four statements for another post if you don’t mind and go on to answering your question:
“looking in a really objective and honest way at it, isn’t prayer a bit lame?”
My first thought was why would you want to look at prayer like that unless you are an Atheist or Agnostic, which is pragmatic, perhaps existential, certainly valid in a humanistic perspective.
Yes there is objective truth but that objective truth is validated and realized the moment God changes your heart and opens up your heart to believe in Him and that my friend is quite a subjective experience. Now why one would believe that prayer is lame is one that is of concern since to believe that, then we are not comprehending the depths, breath and height of prayer. Prayer is not just with supplication, that is like saying love is eros or storage and not agape.
If one begins to comprehend the extent of agape and apply this to prayer than one begins to understand that our position in life is one like Horatio in Hamlet when he says to him:" there are more things to Heaven and Earth than are dreampt of in your philosophy" (one can replace philosophy with religion/theology).
So, my answer is no, prayer is not a bit lame. But I trust and pray (see, prayer is not lame because I am believing that God shall enlighten you!), as you grow in mercy and grace and the knowledge of the Holy you will come to know God’s beautiful love for you and the power of prayer! Peace and grace my friend!