How can we pray like Jesus?

The Sunday lectionary readings for the Sixth Sunday after Trinity in Year C continue with its progress through Luke’s gospel, and we reach Luke 11.1–13 and Jesus’ teaching on prayer. In reading this, we need to be alert to the fact that both the lectionary divisions and the chapter divisions in our Bibles (which are not part of the NT text but were added by Archbishop Stephen Langton in the 13th century) can mislead us into thinking that each of these sections are isolated units, when in fact they include numerous connections with what has gone before.

The section begins ‘And it happened that‘, in the AV ‘And it came to pass that…’ and in modern versions ‘One day…’, all translating the Greek phrase Καὶ ἐγένετο. This is, as we have previously seen, a general statement by Luke locating this at some unspecified point in the model journey that Jesus has embarked on as he heads to the climax of his ministry in Jerusalem. He is in a ‘certain place’ just as previously he had approached a ‘certain village’ (Luke 10.38). And as, in the previous episode, Mary had modelled discipleship by her attention to one thing, which is attending to her one Lord, Jesus now exemplifies this in also being focussed on the One in prayer.

But Jesus’ attention to his Father is not something that he hid from his disciples; instead he showed them and shared with them. It is striking here that the term ‘disciple’ is not one of mere status or association; Luke is clear that these people are those who are genuinely concerned to learn from Jesus, as the term indicates (mathetes related to the cognate manthano ‘to learn’). Following Jesus on the way also involves being ready to learn from him and change as a result.

It appears as though John’s distinctive ministry gathered around him a distinctive community, whose particular practices (including fasting ‘often’, Luke 5.33) set them apart from other groups in first-century Judaism, and Jesus’ disciples wanted similarly to be distinctive. It is striking that, for Luke, a key distinctive marker was that they should pray, and this becomes a notable theme in his second book. As I have previously noted:

Prayer is a dominant and recurrent theme, particularly in the first half of Acts. Prayer or praying is mentioned 33 times in Acts; the majority, 23 occurrences, come in the first half and only ten feature in the second half, of which only six of these actually describe people praying. (It is as if, having made his point in the first half, Luke stops worrying about reporting prayer in the second half!) Quite often, we are simply told that someone prayed, but we are not necessarily told what they prayed—the words they used—whereas in the gospels we are usually told what the words are.

Addressing God as ‘father’ was not unknown in Judaism, and it has its roots in the Old Testament in verses like

Is he not your Father, your Creator, who made you and formed you?’ (Deut 32.6) and

But you are our Father, though Abraham does not know us or Israel acknowledge us; you, LORD, are our Father, our Redeemer from of old is your name’ (Is 63.16).

But it was not a central feature, and it is absent from the Jewish Kaddish and the Eighteen Benedictions, which do have other themes in common with the Lord’s prayer, such as the longing for God to establish his kingdom. This distinctive approach of Jesus was so notable that Paul continues to refer to it, even including Jesus’ own Aramaic words of address to God, in Romans 8.15:

The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”

The close association here between the address of God as Father and the work of the Holy Spirit has already been expressed in the previous chapter. Jesus, ‘full of joy through the Holy Spirit’ (Luke 10.21) addresses God as Father, and rejoices in God’s revelation of himself. Specifically, we can only know him as father through divine revelation; it is not something we can simply work out for ourselves.

Luke also explicitly connects the work of the Spirit with the coming of the kingdom of God. This has already been anticipated in the words of Simeon in Luke 2.25–32, where the Spirit has revealed to him the hope of the restoration of Israel in the person of Jesus. And it is picked up at the beginning of Acts, where the disciples question about the kingdom (Acts 1.6) is answered with the promise of the sending of the Spirit (Acts 1.8). Thus the themes of the fatherhood of God, the coming of the kingdom, and the work of the Spirit are inextricably linked. The Spirit brings the presence of the kingdom in which we are adopted as children of our heavenly Father.

If the fatherhood of God was a minor theme in Judaism, the question of the nature of fatherhood loomed large in the Roman imperial context of Luke’s audience. The father of the household’s primary quality was that of having absolute authority over the members of the household, including in some circumstances the power over life and death. It was the father who decided whether a new-born should be kept or abandoned to exposure. By contrast, Luke portrays God as a father who is full of compassion and mercy.

The poetic form of the prayer still has the key structural elements of the longer version in Matt 6; the two petitions have the same pattern of four words as the three petitions in the longer version, and thus tie the honouring of God’s name with the coming of God’s kingdom. When we treat ‘Hallowed by your name’ as an extension of our address to God, we miss the point; ‘May your name be honoured’ functions as a parallel to ‘May your kingdom come, [may your will be done].’

The sense of anticipation of the coming kingdom is something that has marked the early chapters of Luke, with numerous characters full of expectation of the new thing God is about to do amongst his people. They are not, however, portrayed as passive observers, but active participants getting themselves ready for this new thing. We should therefore see Luke as understanding that these first petitions require our action as well as our expectation; we honour God ourselves, and we participate in the work of the Spirit which marks the presence of the kingdom in our midst (Luke 11.20), just as we actively participate in the kingdom dynamic of the giving and receiving of forgiveness.

In Luke, ‘testing’ (πειρασμός) is associated consistently with opposition and the pressure that results from faithful discipleship; this prayer becomes especially pertinent in the opposition that is experienced throughout Acts.

Whereas in Matthew, Jesus’ teaching about the Lord’s Prayer finds its place in Jesus’ teaching about other aspects of personal discipline, Luke here links it with further teaching on asking God for things. The two stories that follow (asking a neighbour for bread, and a son’s request to his father) are clearly linked to the teaching on the Lord’s prayer—the first through the repetition of the term ‘bread’, the second through the link with the language of fatherhood, and both through the repetition of ‘asking’ as a virtual synonym for ‘prayer’.

Both episodes make use of the principle of ‘how much more’, the first implicitly, and the second explicitly. The motif of friendship (indicated by the fourfold repetition of the term ‘friend’ in the first story) is an idea not discussed in Judaism, but prominent in debate amongst pagan philosophers. Friends can be superior, inferior, or equal, but they are bound together by concepts of honour and obligation. Friends will, because of honour, reluctantly be obliged to assist a neighbour—how much more will our generous Father in heaven respond to our request. Luke’s depiction of the story is quite ordinary and practical, and assumes the realities of everyday life: three loaves is what is needed for a modest meal and has no symbolic significance; the friend mentions that he ‘and my children’ are asleep, reflecting the usual first-century situation of a family living together in a single room (compare Luke 8.16 ‘a light on a stand is seen by all who enter a house’); and the neighbour is close by in a context where these small, one-room houses are built cheek by jowl next to one another. Again, there is no particular symbolic significance to the egg and the scorpion, despite both speculation and postulations about textual revision; eggs are a common part of the diet, and scorpions common in that part of the world, as I once found when camping on a beach in the open air and discovered a small scorpion in my sleeping bag.

If the concern in first response to the disciples’ question is the ‘technology of prayer’ (‘what should we say?’), the concern in the second half shifts decisively the the character of God (‘to whom do we pray?’). What matters above all is understanding the nature of the one to whom we pray—a loving and concerned father, not a sleeping and indifferent god, one who is concerned with our needs, and is more than willing to pour out his Spirit upon us.

We are urged to pray, since Jesus is the model pray-er, our Father is a loving responder to our prayer, the Spirit is poured out to assist and empower us; because to be a disciple is to be one who follows and learns from Jesus’ example ‘on the way’, and because we long, like all other disciples, to see God’s kingdom come, both realised now in our world and in the future when Jesus returns.

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52 thoughts on “How can we pray like Jesus?”

  1. It strikes me when meditating on this subject, that a reflective question to ask is “Why did Jesus need to pray?” If he is the divine begotten Son intimate with his Father ; if as he said “I speak those things which I hear from (the Father)”; if he has supernatural instincts such as knowing the name of the short man up a tree; why does he even need to pray? Does this need to pray tell us something about what it means to be completely human? Without prayer we are as lacking in human realisation as we would be without love, purpose or even food. And the great thing about this, unlike other human aims such as identity, is that it all happens in ‘the secret place’.

    • I think the Son,Jesus operated as a human being, filled by the Holy Spirit, when on earth. That doesnt detract from His divinity, but He did ’empty’ Himself. Hence His need for prayer to His Father.

    • I think a big part of prayer is relationship.

      If I was away in New Zealand on a trip, and my wife was still in the UK, I am sure I’d phone or Skype, because we love each other, and it’s natural to maintain relationship.

      Now I’m not pretending to understand how Jesus shared consciousness with the other two persons of the Trinity, but they’d been doing it for all eternity, so it does seem natural that Jesus would instinctively seek to maintain relationship and love, just person to person, and I’m not surprised that he sometimes took himself off from the crowds to do just that.

      And I guess when we set aside time and a place for prayer, we’re doing a similar thing.

      How can we not want to talk and spend time with those we love?

      And to share our concerns and our burdens.

  2. Scripture teaches me that when I die, I will find myself in the presence of God. Science teaches me that God must be outside time and space. It then is no great stretch to posit that God’s greater space and time is ‘all around’ our more limited space and time, and so in my resurrection body, I am already present with God, and that while Sin separates me from my heavenly being, Sin did not separate God from His earthly body. And yet, the human Jesus worshipped the One God….

  3. What is the purpose of prayer? According to the Gospel authors, Jesus said that if we ask anything in his name he will do it. Yet, thousands and thousands of Christians have prayed in the name of Jesus for the healing of a terminally ill loved one only to watch that loved one die. (I am one of those people.) So this passage can’t mean “anything”. Many pastors and apologists will say that what Jesus really meant was “ask anything in my name and I will do it…if it is my will”.

    If Jesus is all-powerful and all-knowing as the Bible claims, whatever happens will be his will. The outcome is already decided. So why are we told to ask God for things, like the healing of a loved one, if our prayers will only be answered if it is his will? Why not simply pray once daily this simple prayer: “Thy will be done in all things” and be done with it. Why spend so much time groveling for an outcome that has already been decided? It is as if God enjoys being begged.

    • I view prayer more as talking with God rather as simply a means to ask for things. If the Lord’s Prayer is the primary example to follow, then asking ‘your will be done on earth as it is in heaven’ clearly implies that God’s will is not always done on the earth, so that negates your idea that ‘If Jesus is all-powerful and all-knowing as the Bible claims, whatever happens will be his will.’ Human selfishness is not God’s will, yet it happens every day. Because of you and me.

      The reality is that God allows a lot of evil and suffering to continue. Death, with all its causes, comes to us all, young and old. Grief is inevitable for most of us. I watched my mum die three years ago and the experience of her last few hours still brings tears to my eyes. But I have hope that one day God will deal with all of that. That hope is based on Jesus’ life, death and resurrection.

      • “God’s will is not always done…”

        In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works ALL THINGS according to the counsel of his will,

        —Ephesians 1:11

        So I ask again, can petitionary prayer change God’s will?

        • ‘In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works ALL THINGS according to the counsel of his will,’

          – you seem to understand Paul’s words here to mean “every single thing that happens in history is God’s will and desire”. This fits with the example you give below regarding Joe Smith. But I dont think that is what Paul is saying, due to the context.

          In this letter he is specifically referring to the calling of the Jewish people to salvation in the Messiah, and then the inclusion of Gentiles in that salvation – that is the ‘mystery’ to which he refers. As a devout Jew this was a shock for him to understand that Yahweh’s salvation was not limited to the Jews but ultimately was offered to all. That was the mystery that has now been made known, particularly to Paul as he was chosen as the main ambassador to the Gentiles.

          Paul uses the same word πάντα (panta) meaning ‘all things’ in 1 Corinthians 12:6 when discussing spiritual gifts. In the same way it has a limited meaning there, it has a limited meaning here. It means those things pertaining to the election and calling of Israel and the subsequent election and calling of Gentiles to salvation, which is God’s will and desire.

          So again I would say not everything that happens in this life is God’s will – perhaps it is better to use ‘desire’.

          • So you believe that the events that occur in our lives happen by random chance. That due to the Fall, God allows chance to determine what happens in our lives. Only occasionally or even rarely does he intervene to perform a miracle?

    • The purpose of prayer, primarily, is to align ourselves with the will of the Father (‘Thy will be done’). It is only in John’s gospel that we see Jesus saying, at various points in his final address to his disciples, “Whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you,” though there are indeed similar passages in the other gospels, as Ian discusses. This was a promise to the twelve, and we see it acted upon e.g. in Acts 3:6. In context, it was given to those who had learned from the Son to desire only what the Father desired, in order that he might be glorified (John 14:13). Whether the promise extended to disciples of Jesus all through the ages is a matter of interpretation, informed by experience. The OT is full of warnings against prophets who prophesy in Yahweh’s name but falsely. Jesus warns against the opposite situation of doing mighty works in his name and still not being one of his (Matt 7:23).

      Jesus is not portrayed in the gospels as all-powerful and all-knowing. The key thing is that he is not only the Lord but our Lord, and we therefore his servants. That is our calling and privilege. The Father and the Son are one, and it is our business to seek to know what the will of the Father is. In most instances it will not be his will that this or that person is healed, for we must all die sooner or later, and we glorify God in the way we respond, as Christians, to suffering and death. Ultimately your question is one concerning the mystery that, on the one hand, we have free will and, on the other, God works all things according to the counsel of his will (Eph 1:11) – too big a topic to enter into here.

      The habit of most Christians of ending their prayers “in Jesus’ name” is, in my opinion, an abuse of his name. The name is not a kind of magic ‘open sesame’.

      Jesus needed to pray in order to ensure that he remained in perfect intimacy and harmony with his Father. We should aspire to the same intimacy!

      • So you are saying that Christians should stop praying to Jesus for healing as the purpose of prayer is solely as a means to express thanksgiving and praise. Petitioning God for what we desire is an abuse of prayer?

        Is this preached from your pulpits? It would spare a lot of grieving families valuable time and emotional energy begging God,through prayer, to heal their loved one.

        • Gary,
          You ask some deep questions which extend the scope of the original article and the comments section but I’m wary that you truly seek answers in your atheism.
          But the questions, engage the topics of Sovereignty, omnipotence, omniscience, open theism, providence, the Trinity, transcendence, His Presence., His Goodness You are also probably aware of John Piper’s essay, “Are there two wills in God.”
          Christians down the centuries have testified, have evidence of God who supernaturally provides, heals, answers prayer and who have “communion with God” fellowship with God, in His promised Presence.
          Grieving families grieve less when they have a sure and certain hope of the resurrected life of their love ones who move into a better life than this, when they can say along with St Paul, “to live is Christ and to die is gain.” And death is a healing. O death where is your sting?
          I know of fellow Christians who have died though believing in healing in this life, but considered it a “win-win” situation in healing or death.

          • It is a very simple question, Geof: Can petitionary prayer change God’s will? For instance, if it is God’s will that someone die due to a terminal illness can prayer change God’s mind? Yes or no?

          • Gary,
            Your question is question begging. What do you think? What do you think “the will” of God is? Is it the same as God changing His mind? Either way, how would you know? Is it knowable?
            Can God’s will ever be traduced?
            Simple questions Gary. Yes or no to each of them?

          • Let me re-phrase:

            If God has predetermined that it is his will that Joe Smith will die of lung cancer on September 5, 2019, can petitionary prayers change God’s mind? If Joe’s Christian family and friends pray to God to heal Joe of his lung cancer, can their prayers cause God to change his mind, to cure Joe of his lung cancer, preventing his death from lung cancer that was to occur on Sept. 5, 2019?

  4. I am pleased that a comment from me did not this time close down discussion, as it usually does when I venture onto this learned space… I was attempting to follow on from the original comment by Peter, not to introduce a new thread.

    The question: ‘Can prayer change God’s mind?’ only makes sense if God is inside / limited to our space and time. If God is outside time, and (agnostic?) scientists such as Paul Davies are sure that if there is a creator God, He must be outside time as well as space, then of course prayer can change God’s mind, in the same way that an artist painting a 2-dimensional picture, has all the time in his 3-dimensional world to make whatever changes he likes?

    • Although I have used similar language as ‘God is outside of time’ im now not sure whether that is the best way to look at it. Perhaps rather it should be that God is not limited by time. Time, as we understand it (though we dont really understand it at all), is part of the physical creation, that is the space-time continuum. God is separate from His creation, this universe, and as such is not affected by it, therefore He is not subject to the limitations of space-time. Unless He chooses to be limited by it. The Incarnation shows that.

  5. “He [God] must be outside time as well as space, then of course prayer can change God’s mind…”

    Thank you for the straight answer, Ray.

    I believe that this is what most Christians believe. Petitionary prayer CAN change God’s mind (will) if you pray long and hard enough. But what is the evidence that this claim is true? What is the evidence that if you ask for anything in Jesus’ name, as he stated in the Gospels, AND it is within his will, that Jesus will reverse the course of events and perform a “miracle”? If you pray for Jesus to heal your common cold…and you recover…is that evidence of answered prayer? If you pray that God will keep your family safe today…and at day’s end… they are safe, is that evidence of answered prayer? Can Christians prove that petitionary prayer is effective if they only ask Jesus for things which statistically are going to occur anyway?? The overwhelming majority of people recover from the common cold, the flu, and even pneumonia. The overwhelming majority of people come home safe at the end of the day. The fact that you pray to Jesus to keep you safe and healthy today, and you do stay safe and healthy, is not proof that prayer to Jesus is effective.

    I suggest that you try asking Jesus for the hard stuff.

    –Ask Jesus to reduce the number of children who die each and every day from starvation by 50%, starting tomorrow. THAT would be a miracle. That would be evidence of answered prayer.
    –Ask Jesus to cure your grandmother’s end-stage pancreatic cancer.
    –Ask Jesus to reattach a soldier’s severed leg.
    –Ask Jesus to put back together the body of a victim of a suicide bombing.

    Nope, Jesus never answers these hard prayer requests, does he? Jesus only answers the easy prayers for which the outcome was statistically going to be positive anyway, or, Jesus answers prayers for outcomes and events which could simply be rare, random events. Jesus never answers prayers for which no other answer is possible other than a supernatural intervention into our material world.

    So if you can get them to be honest, what is the real evidence that prayers to Jesus are effective for most Christians: personal feelings, perceptions, and experiences related to prayer.

    Christians will tell you that prayer to Jesus is effective because their prayers give them tremendous comfort, peace, and a sense of security. But none of this is evidence that prayer is EFFECTIVE, only that prayer is BENEFICIAL. But just because you derive benefit from a belief does not in any way prove that the belief is true. Some young children derive extensive emotional and psychological benefit from inventing an imaginary friend who they believe possesses magical powers that protect them and do things for them.

    How do Christians know that their communications with their invisible friend are any more effective than the child communicating with his imaginary friend?

      • I don’t believe that any claim should be dismissed outright. But the more extra-ordinary the claim, the more evidence I would require to believe it. Christians do this too, just not when it comes to their religious beliefs.

        Example: If someone told me that they saw a red Corvette on the highway yesterday, I would believe them without asking for any other evidence (unless I knew that this person is a habitual liar). But if the same person told me that they saw a red Corvette flying over the city yesterday, I would demand A LOT of evidence to believe this very extra-ordinary claim.

        I suggest that we look at extra-ordinary claims in ancient texts with at least the same measure of skepticism.

  6. Predictable, callow, knock-about guff. Poor stuff really.
    It is the usual end point, from your usual start point of your questions, always asked in bad faith seeking to draw others in. Circular, as always, from a closed materialist system and world view.
    To me, it is bone searing boring in your mocking snear.

    • I am simply trying to get you to see the glaring deficiencies in your belief system, my dear Christian friends. How can you believe that prayer is effective if there is no good evidence for it? Show me statistics that demonstrate that prayer to Jesus lowers the morbidity (sickness) rates of Christians compared to any other belief (or non-belief) group on the planet. Show me statistics that Christians are less frequently involved in car accidents. You can’t.

      Prayer may be beneficial to your peace of mind and that peace of mind may help you recover more quickly from an illness. But there is no good evidence that the creator of the universe is listening to your conversations (with yourself) and fulfilling your wish lists.

      • I doubt if such statistics actually exist so it’s unreasonable to demand them. Neither the medical profession nor the police would keep data on the religious beliefs of those ill or those involved in traffic accidents. Or if they do I doubt they would ever release such data.

        • Insurance companies would have this information, in particular, life insurance companies. If Christians survive auto accidents at a statistically higher rate than others and they recover from illnesses and cancers at a statistically higher rate than others, these statistics should show up in the rate analyses of insurance companies. Do they?? Any life insurance agents in the reading audience?

  7. Thank you Gary.

    When Abram stood under a night sky unpolluted by any human light, and believed ‘his imaginary friend’ promised descendants more than the stars he could see, was he as foolish as those he left behind, worshipping their household idols? Did he make up his own new name of Abraham?

    When Moses came down from Mt Sinai (twice) with the 10 commandments – some paralleling the laws of neighbouring civilisations but with an unprecedented focus on worship of One God – had he been meeting only with ‘his imaginary friend’?’

    When David sang his songs of trust in the Rock that is that One God, did his descendant Jesus follow his example and trust only in ‘an imaginary friend?’

    When I sit here this Sunday morning preparing to lead worship for a few others, am I following 2,000 years of billions of delusionary Christians, as I look to that One God to work through me today, revealing more of Himself to those I meet with?

    Last week, on Lindisfarne with Muslim friends, we offered our prayers to the One God. Tomorrow I hope to meet with a mathematical friend, for whom trust in ‘an imaginary friend’ is a far bigger leap of faith than trust in the One creator God, who has revealed Himself fully in the person of Jesus, crucified, risen from the dead and now guiding those who choose to allow Him, to be with Him for ever.

    Unanswered prayers? Yes, many, so far. But I look forward to seeing them answered by God in Christ, beyond this time and space. And I must stop cluttering up Psephizo’s comment box.

    • Dear Ray,

      Most historians doubt that Abraham and Moses were real historical persons, but rather fictitious national folk legends. Many historians believe that David, the giant-slayer, belongs to the same category of myth. So using these characters as evidence for the effectiveness of prayer to your God would be like me insisting that there is good evidence for the effectiveness of wish requests to Cinderella’s fairy godmother—because we have centuries old stories that say she turned a pumpkin into a carriage.

      “When I sit here this Sunday morning preparing to lead worship for a few others, am I following 2,000 years of billions of delusionary Christians…”

      Millions of Hindus worship a plethora of gods whom they believe answer petitionary prayers. I will bet that you believe that these believers are delusionary. But the fact is, just because a lot of people sincerely believe something to be true, does not make it true. There is no good evidence that petitionary prayer to ANY invisible being is effective. It may be beneficial, physically and mentally, but that doesn’t mean it is effective (that an invisible being is redireting the forces of the universe in your favor).

      • Abraham and David were real enough for Jesus, they are real enough for me. The bottom line of course is the death of Jesus on the cross and whether or not he rose from the dead. History tells me he did. Maths tells me there is a creator. Faith does the rest, and yes of course it does not answer all the questions, just the most basic one.

        • “The bottom line of course is the death of Jesus on the cross and whether or not he rose from the dead.”

          I agree, Ray. The veracity of Christianity rises or falls on the historicity of the resurrection of Jesus, an alleged historical event. It does not depend on subjective feelings, perceptions, and experiences regarding the existence of an invisible friend who answers our wish requests, as some Christians assert.

          “History tells me he did.”

          I would encourage you to examine the historical evidence for the resurrection of Jesus claim in the same way that you would examine the evidence for the supernatural claims of other religions, Ray. Even if we could be certain that the Gospels were written by eyewitnesses or close associates of eyewitnesses (most Bible scholars say there were not), should we believe fantastical claims that so completely contradict science and medicine? If someone today reported that they and 500 other people saw a dead person appear to them, would you believe it? I don’t think you would. So why do you believe similar stories from 2,000 years ago?? I suggest it is for one reason: You so desperately want this fantastical story to be true.

  8. While this is way off the topic of Ian’s article, and I’m not at home but at Keswick Convention, and can not provide a link on phone, there is a link to an excellent documentary on William Lain Craig’s UK tour, The case for Christian Theism, on David Roberston’s WeeFea blog, 17 July.
    Topics included: Kaalam, Contingency, Moral, Arguments, who designed the designer?, Islam, evidence for the resurrection and more.
    Christianity is intellectually robust, satisfying, and experientially Holy Spirit indwelling. It deconstructs atheism and scientism on which much of it is based. Though press hard, and much of that is philosophical fundamentalism.

  9. Confused, you are Gary, about prayer, and who to. Not surprising in your question, begging, and your simplistic. Atheist skepticism.
    You have no real interest
    at all, but to mock and deride.
    Neither do you know much about evidence that courts throughout the world rely on. It’s called testimony. Christians down the centuries can and have given testimony to answered prayer, which you will never accept, some of which is encounter, conversion.
    But it seems that you cannot grasp any Spiritual reality, beyond your comprehension, is Christian Theism.
    You’ve sought to belittle Christ. And Christians at every oppprtunity, in effect away with the fairies, which is evidentially untrue, particularly in the light of your objective, reason for posting comments is to show a la Dawkin that Christianity is delusional.
    You are being far more than patronising to intellectuals, scientists and philosophers who are also Christians, Ian Paul, whose blog it is, among them.
    As you rely on your fundamentalist, unproven, and in provable philosophical scientism where to you place your hope in your life.
    For one, all your comments here, strengthen and reinforce my Christianity, after 47 years of atheism.
    If you (anybody) doesn’t want God there can be no complaints that He doesn’t give you what you want, including revelation of evidence to a hard heart.
    Anyway enough for this week. There’s God to enjoy, at the final week of the Keswick Convention.

    • “Neither do you know much about evidence that courts throughout the world rely on. It’s called testimony. Christians down the centuries can and have given testimony to answered prayer, which you will never accept, some of which is encounter, conversion.”

      I’m talking about the same evidence which you would demand to believe that the Hindu god Ganesh (the Hindu god with the head of an elephant) answers prayer. Just because millions of Hindus can testify to the effectiveness of prayer to Ganesh would not be sufficient to convince you or most other Christians that prayer to him is effective.

      Why? Answer: Personal feelings, perceptions, and experiences are not sufficient evidence for universal truth claims. Please provide better evidence.

    • The Hindu God Ganesha is revered by Hindus round the world by old and young alike! He is believed to grant wishes, bestow favor, and help improve your wealth or job prospects. However, before you ask Ganesha for his favor, you need to prepare yourself to worship him and to offer him your respect and reverence. Luckily, it is not hard to gather what you need to worship Ganesha. If you do so properly, Ganesha will bestow his favor upon you

  10. Think about this, my dear Christian friends:

    Why do Christians reject the personal testimony of millions of Hindus living TODAY (who can be interviewed) regarding the alleged miracles and answered prayers performed by the Hindu god, Lord Ganesh, yet they accept as historical fact the alleged personal testimony of approximately 500 Jews living 2,000 years ago who claimed that the resurrected body of their dead religious leader had appeared to them??

    Can’t you see, dear Christian friends. You are operating under a massive bias! If personal testimony is sufficient evidence for extra-ordinary claims, then why aren’t you worshipping Lord Ganesh?

    • I don’t think personal testimony *alone* determines truth, and I don’t think I know any Christian who believes that.

      It is good to have a contribution to discussion, but if your *only* approach is haranguing and trolling Christians, could you find somewhere else to do that please?

      • My comments are on topic. Why do Christians consider it “trolling” to present evidence against the topic of their post??

        • I don’t know about ‘Christians’, but I consider it trolling when, instead of contributing to a discussion on an issue where faith is taken as a shared commitment of one form or another, you constantly are coming in with comments claiming to disprove the very premises of faith.

          I don’t have a particular problem with this kind of debate—but that is not what these posts are designed for.

          • If your blog comment section is limited to Christians why don’t you say that somewhere on your blog, Ian? If you are not interested in having your beliefs challenged, explicitly exclude non-believers from commenting.

            I know very few atheists who block Christians and other theists from commenting on our blogs. In fact, most of us welcome their comments and criticisms. Their comments and criticism sharpen our positions and debate skills. As long as skeptics are commenting on topic why not let them comment and just ignore them if you don’t wish to engage? If your positions have sufficient evidence to support them, they should stand up to our criticism.

            If a skeptic is constantly leaving off topic comments or is engaging in personal attacks, that is a different matter.

          • I am a physician. Why haven’t I heard of this “miracle” leg lengthening? We medical experts are fully prepared to acknowledge amazing cures and recoveries, but there has to be good evidence to support it. Has any national (non-religious) medical society in your country investigated this claim and acknowledged that sufficient evidence exists to substantiate the claim that a leg has extended its length? If so, please give a link.

            I read both volumes of pentecostal Christian theologian Craig Keener’s “Miracles”. His book seems to be the “Bible” for many Christians regarding miracles. In it are thousands of similar “miracle” claims. Yet Keener admits he spent not one penny on researching the claims. What may seem like a miracle to you and other non-medical people, may well have an underlying, natural, medical explanation. Please provide the link to your video.

          • Think about this, Ian:

            Each and every day 16,000 children die of starvation. The God who allegedly rained-down bread (manna) from heaven, does not lift a finger to throw these children even a few crumbs of bread to keep them alive. Yet…he hears and answers the prayer of your friend to lengthen his leg a few millimeters.

            Think about that, Ian. Either your God works in mysterious, capricious, brutally cold-hearted ways, or, your friend’s alleged leg lengthening has a natural explanation. Which is more likely??

          • I have thought about it a lot. And it’s an important question. But it is not the subject of this article.

            Do take your comments over to Premier Christianity’s Unbelievable site. Thanks.

          • As you wish, Ian. Please never close your eyes to evidence that might prove your most cherished beliefs false. Truth matters.

            Take care.

          • The person in question in question is a friend of mine and is a member of our church. Her leg was injured in a skiing accident some years ago as a result of which she needed to wear a built up shoe on that leg. She no longer does.

            When your scepticism means that you refuse to consider actual evidence, then it is clear that your ‘engagement’ here is not with a view to learning anything.

          • I am a registered nurse. I confront quite a lot of suffering, and sometimes death. There are many times when a feeling of anger and complaint rises up in my heart towards God. Sort of ‘Why, God? Why?’

            I am also known on this forum to be liberal/progressive in my views, when it comes to reading the Bible.

            Nevertheless, I believe in the supernatural.

            It’s logical, that if you believe in God, and have a relationship with God, you will believe in the supernatural. Because God is supernatural.

            Although I have often seen people dying, and sometimes dying tragically young, I do have one occasion that I can’t make sense of.

            I was working on a Critical Care unit, and in one of the side-rooms we had a patient (a woman in her twenties) who had had a double lung transplant. And over a period of 10 weeks after the surgery her condition deteriorated and she grew weaker and weaker, falling into unconsciousness.

            It got to the point where the medical team concluded she would probably only last one more day. Her partner, who was away, was contacted to get to the hospital for the expected end. It was very sad. Now I’m sure other people were praying for her situation and it wasn’t particularly my prayers, and may be not the prayers at all. Maybe just God.

            But I came on to the unit the next morning expecting she may be dead, to find a crowd of doctors and senior nurses outside her room, seeming deep in discussion and showing signs of some consternation.

            Entering the little side room where we had been nursing her for weeks, I found her sitting up on the side of her bed, watching television. It just didn’t compute.

            Yes, there may have been some extraordinary medical explanation that confounded what the doctors had understood, but what I saw that morning seemed beyond explanation.

            Three weeks later she was sufficiently well to be signed off and sent home.

            I’m making no strident claim that that was a miracle but it certainly was astonishing that morning.

            I do believe in the possibility of the miraculous, although then again I pleaded for my father to have miraculous healing when he was dying of pancreatic cancer in his early fifties, and he died. What we ask may not always be the will of God. Even in that deep sadness, there was grace, because I had the privilege of being present, sitting on the bed beside my dad with my arms around him, when he just stopped breathing and died. It was like a gift.

            I loved him dearly.

            To me, prayer is an ongoing relationship. At the heart of it is trust and love, and by far the most of that love is the love God has for us. God really really wants us to have a relationship of trust and love. And prayer is sometimes silent, and sometimes conversational, but if we can make it habitual it can become such a felicity of tender friendship.

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