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6/12/2017 3:45 pm  #1


Role of prayer in Christian thought

As far as I know in Christianity, Jesus Christ plays the role of a mediator between Christians and God. Christians are able to make request to God in Jesus's name and be certain that they will receive whatever they ask. On other hand, I have seen that Christians put emphasis on other people prayers or priests' prayers and that is exactly where I am puzzled. If Christ based on his words is the mediator on our behalf to God so that our prayers are answered, what is the need of others's prayers, be it ordinary people or priests?

 

6/13/2017 11:23 am  #2


Re: Role of prayer in Christian thought

nojoum wrote:

As far as I know in Christianity, Jesus Christ plays the role of a mediator between Christians and God. Christians are able to make request to God in Jesus's name and be certain that they will receive whatever they ask. On other hand, I have seen that Christians put emphasis on other people prayers or priests' prayers and that is exactly where I am puzzled. If Christ based on his words is the mediator on our behalf to God so that our prayers are answered, what is the need of others's prayers, be it ordinary people or priests?

Firstly, one of the main reasons is that Christ himself said that where two or three are gathered in my name there will I be also see https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+18:19-20&version=RSVCE. The point is not that God cannot answer our prayers throw Christ if we were to ask him alone but the point is that we need to be at peace with our brother in our hearts to do that i.e. if you have malice in your heart for anyone be it friend or enemy God will not answer that prayer. 

Secondly, as Christians we are in a relationship with God through Christ and there has been times where I am not in line with God's Will mostly due to things that I did or am thinking and my judgement maybe clouded and having someone pray for or with you tends to be a way through which you can reconcile with God.

Thirdly, praying together with other people with a common purpose tends to build a community where each can help the other in times of need and be as guides on your spiritual journey.

Last edited by Jason (6/13/2017 11:33 am)

 

6/13/2017 12:20 pm  #3


Re: Role of prayer in Christian thought

Jason wrote:

Firstly, one of the main reasons is that Christ himself said that where two or three are gathered in my name there will I be also see https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+18:19-20&version=RSVCE. The point is not that God cannot answer our prayers throw Christ if we were to ask him alone but the point is that we need to be at peace with our brother in our hearts to do that i.e. if you have malice in your heart for anyone be it friend or enemy God will not answer that prayer. 

Yes but at least hypothetically, I can assume a scenario where I am in peace with my brothers so that I would not need to pray with them.

Jason wrote:

Secondly, as Christians we are in a relationship with God through Christ and there has been times where I am not in line with God's Will mostly due to things that I did or am thinking and my judgement maybe clouded and having someone pray for or with you tends to be a way through which you can reconcile with God.

Are you suggesting that actually Jesus's sacrifice is not enough for having relationship with God?

Jason wrote:

Thirdly, praying together with other people with a common purpose tends to build a community where each can help the other in times of need and be as guides on your spiritual journey.

Yeah but then I am not asking others to pray to that my prayer become true, it is just one way of forming a community. It is an interesting look to prayer.

Last edited by nojoum (6/13/2017 12:23 pm)

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6/13/2017 3:24 pm  #4


Re: Role of prayer in Christian thought

nojoum wrote:

As far as I know in Christianity, Jesus Christ plays the role of a mediator between Christians and God. Christians are able to make request to God in Jesus's name and be certain that they will receive whatever they ask. On other hand, I have seen that Christians put emphasis on other people prayers or priests' prayers and that is exactly where I am puzzled. If Christ based on his words is the mediator on our behalf to God so that our prayers are answered, what is the need of others's prayers, be it ordinary people or priests?

Short answer: because Mystical Body of Christ.

Longer answer: The prayers of other Christians are not in competition with the mediation of Christ - rather they are an extension of it, as they pray with the Holy Spirit dwelling in them. God wills our salvation as people in community, fellowship - we act as a family in Christ, and we ought to pray for one another. On another level, there's also the fact that Christians typically don't believe they will get whatever they ask for in prayer - that belief can be dismissed with 5 minutes of experiment, if it is ever held at all. Mostly Jesus just seems to be saying that we shouldn't be afraid that God will give us something bad if we ask for something good - basically, that God loves us like a father. That doesn't mean we will always get what we ask - when we do get what we ask for, we take it as a gift, but not for granted.

Wrt priests, that's going into more particular sacramental theology. Priests, by receiving Holy Orders, are in fact given special gifts necessary to perform their specific role in the Body of Christ. Though I won't deny there's an element of superstition in the way some Catholics approach priests, as if they are by default significantly holier and the prayer of a layperson is meaningless by comparison.

 

6/13/2017 3:36 pm  #5


Re: Role of prayer in Christian thought

Alexander wrote:

Longer answer: The prayers of other Christians are not in competition with the mediation of Christ - rather they are an extension of it, as they pray with the Holy Spirit dwelling in them. God wills our salvation as people in community, fellowship - we act as a family in Christ, and we ought to pray for one another. On another level, there's also the fact that Christians typically don't believe they will get whatever they ask for in prayer - that belief can be dismissed with 5 minutes of experiment, if it is ever held at all. Mostly Jesus just seems to be saying that we shouldn't be afraid that God will give us something bad if we ask for something good - basically, that God loves us like a father. That doesn't mean we will always get what we ask - when we do get what we ask for, we take it as a gift, but not for granted.

Of course being as a family requires the members of the family to love each other and one way to do that is through prayers. However, it does not mean that for my prayers to be answered, I need others' prayers.

Moreover, I'm not sure whether I should accept your assertion regarding Jesus and prayers. For example consider the verse below:

"If you remain in Me and My words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to My Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, proving yourselves to be My disciples."

I dont really know how one would interpret this verse but to me it says that you can ask him and will answer.

Last edited by nojoum (6/13/2017 3:37 pm)

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6/13/2017 6:41 pm  #6


Re: Role of prayer in Christian thought

nojoum wrote:

Jason wrote:

Firstly, one of the main reasons is that Christ himself said that where two or three are gathered in my name there will I be also see https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+18:19-20&version=RSVCE. The point is not that God cannot answer our prayers throw Christ if we were to ask him alone but the point is that we need to be at peace with our brother in our hearts to do that i.e. if you have malice in your heart for anyone be it friend or enemy God will not answer that prayer. 

Yes but at least hypothetically, I can assume a scenario where I am in peace with my brothers so that I would not need to pray with them.

The point is that you can do both, pray with people and pray without people there is no problem with either.

nojoum wrote:

Jason wrote:

Secondly, as Christians we are in a relationship with God through Christ and there has been times where I am not in line with God's Will mostly due to things that I did or am thinking and my judgement maybe clouded and having someone pray for or with you tends to be a way through which you can reconcile with God.

Are you suggesting that actually Jesus's sacrifice is not enough for having relationship with God?

Jesus's sacrifice opens the door to heaven for christians and is the first step is to accept it in your heart. This is just the start of your relationship journey with God not the end. My point is that just like any human relationship you need to work at your relationship with God and that involves both alone time and prayer with a community (such as a church).

nojoum wrote:

For example consider the verse below:

"If you remain in Me and My words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to My Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, proving yourselves to be My disciples."

I dont really know how one would interpret this verse but to me it says that you can ask him and will answer.

Yes but the condition is that IF you remain in Me AND my words remain in you which is what I am talking about in the point above. We humans are fallible and just because you accept Christ in your heart does not make you infallible. Your relationship with God is an on going journey minute by minute in your life where you need to remain in His Word. God is like the ever present solid foundation of your relationship but it is my part in that relationship that tends to change from time to time and that relationship gets "clouded". Also this does not mean that if you remain in His Word you can get anything. If you read the whole passage https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=John+15:1-11&version=RSVCE it is about bearing good fruit which we can only do through Christ since He is the vine and we are the branches.
 

 

6/14/2017 4:55 am  #7


Re: Role of prayer in Christian thought

nojoum wrote:

Of course being as a family requires the members of the family to love each other and one way to do that is through prayers. However, it does not mean that for my prayers to be answered, I need others' prayers.

You don't need others' prayers for your own to be answered. This doesn't mean the prayers of others have no value, or that a given person at a given time couldn't be in need of prayer.

nojoum wrote:

Moreover, I'm not sure whether I should accept your assertion regarding Jesus and prayers. For example consider the verse below:

"If you remain in Me and My words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to My Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, proving yourselves to be My disciples."

I dont really know how one would interpret this verse but to me it says that you can ask him and will answer.

Jason handles this pretty well, and his interpretation has a lot to be said for it. Certainly I wasn't claiming a deep exegesis of every relevant passage. However, I would like to add that the interpretation of this verse isn't uncontroversial - C.S. Lewis has a whole essay discussing why he's not convinced of any existing interpretation of it. But for Christians, we know that it doesn't mean simply "if you obey me, you'll get anything you ask for, whatever it is", because that would not fit at all with the vast majority of Jesus' teaching and is just blatantly not true besides.

 

6/14/2017 12:32 pm  #8


Re: Role of prayer in Christian thought

Thanks for the replies Jason and Alexander.

I'm really sorry and sad to say that I don't find your answers convincing. To me, it seems that they are not dealing with issue. I hope that others can make contribution to clarify the issue.

I also can understand why you need not be troubled with such question. After all, there is no harm in praying in group and since this is a Christian tradition, it is fine to follow it. Especially, when considering that there are tons of other problems that needs attention.
 

Last edited by nojoum (6/14/2017 12:57 pm)

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6/14/2017 2:54 pm  #9


Re: Role of prayer in Christian thought

nojoum wrote:

I'm really sorry and sad to say that I don't find your answers convincing. To me, it seems that they are not dealing with issue. I hope that others can make contribution to clarify the issue.
 

Maybe clarify exactly what the issue is. It seems a mix of questions, but I assumed the basic question was "why do we want others to pray for us?" where the rational for asking lies in (A) assuming that, if Christ is the only mediator between God and humanity, we shouldn't need anyone else to petition God on our behalf; and (B) interpreting various passages of scripture to mean that God will give a Christian whatever he or she asks for. While (B) is obviously more difficult to refute (as it requires detailed exegesis, while refuting (A) only requires a decent understanding of the Church), I don't see how the responses fail to address the question. So presumably you are actually asking a different question, or you'll have to point to why the responses fail.

 

6/14/2017 3:09 pm  #10


Re: Role of prayer in Christian thought

Alexander wrote:

Maybe clarify exactly what the issue is. It seems a mix of questions, but I assumed the basic question was "why do we want others to pray for us?" where the rational for asking lies in (A) assuming that, if Christ is the only mediator between God and humanity, we shouldn't need anyone else to petition God on our behalf; and (B) interpreting various passages of scripture to mean that God will give a Christian whatever he or she asks for. While (B) is obviously more difficult to refute (as it requires detailed exegesis, while refuting (A) only requires a decent understanding of the Church), I don't see how the responses fail to address the question. So presumably you are actually asking a different question, or you'll have to point to why the responses fail.

I dont think that A and B are independent.

From what I have heard on Christianity, I find A to be true. B also can used as evidence to for A. Of course Jesus does not mean you can wish for everything; e.g. you cannot make sinful and immoral requests. However, I don't see why if your desires are aligned with God (or in another words meaning that you abide in Jesus and his words abide in you), your wish would not come true. One might object that you cannot abide in his words which would raise another point. Is it not that through the grace of God that we can walk in the path of righteousness. Is not grace of God freely given everyone, independent of work, through faith in Jesus? Or is that grace of God is not enough to walk in righteousness?
 

Last edited by nojoum (6/14/2017 3:21 pm)

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