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Prayer doesn't work?

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It’s common to hear some atheists saying that prayer doesn’t work when they’re having an argument or discussion with a theist. For the atheist, this is proof that God doesn’t exist, because if God did exist, then your prayers would be answered, but the fact that prayers are not answered, is proof that there’s no divine being out there.

The argument is quite a subjective one, because at the end of the day, prayer is a personal thing. Many theists would dispute the atheist claim that prayers are not answered; by claiming that they’re prayers have in fact been proven. Many theists would give examples of how their prayers were answered, but the atheist would obviously not accept it, arguing that it was either a coincidence, or the theist read too much into it.

Off course the fact that the atheist would reject the theist claim of prayers being answered shows the inconsistency on the part of the atheist, on one hand they claim that prayers are not answered, so God doesn’t exist. But when a theist tells them that they’re prayer was in fact answered, they simply reject it, showing they lack consistency in their argument.

Had the atheist argued that prayer is not a proof of God, then they would have a ground to stand upon, but their argument is absolute, their argument is that prayers are not ever answered, and thus God does not exist. As we mentioned, prayer is a personal thing, if a prayer is answered etc, it can’t really be put forward as the strongest argument of God, because it’s subjective and for that person only. Similar to dreams as well, when people claim to have seen religious figures, that person can’t just stand on stage and use that as an argument, because it’s subjective.

By the same virtue as well, atheists cannot absolutely disprove prayers either, because they’ve not done any actual official study documenting and examining the issue to see if all prayers were or were not answered, and the theist again, would argue that their prayers were answered hence that alone would disprove the atheist argument. Sure, the atheist might argue as we said that it was just a ‘coincidence’ or the theist seeing what they want, which may in many cases be the truth, but there’s no absolute basis that this is always the case.

An atheist may argue back now and say well there is an easy way to settle the issue, get 100 theists together, and have them make a simple prayer request to see if their prayers are answered or not. If prayers do in fact work, then we should see the results, and if prayers don’t work, then obviously their prayers would not materialize and then we can conclusively prove that prayers don’t work.

This again will not prove the atheist case, because atheists seem to have misunderstood what prayer is, or at least what it’s meant for. Prayer as we mentioned, is a personal thing between the believer and God, so if a person has a request to God in their prayer, that’s between them and God. Prayer was never put forward, at least in Islam, as being the litmus test or evidence of God, basically Islam never said, “go make a prayer in front of the non-believers, and then when they see the prayer materialize, this will prove God”. Prayer was really never intended for that purpose, so when atheists want to put prayer forward as a test for proving God, they’ve basically invented their own criteria on what they think prayer is there for. Again, prayer is something personal between that person and God, it’s not a show for the whole world to watch and see what happens.

Secondly, in Islam, and as far as we are, in all other faiths, there isn’t a teaching that says all prayers will be accepted. In Islam there are Quranic verses, and multiple hadiths, as well as scholarly writings that talk about prayers not being answered. We as Muslims certainly don’t believe that all prayers will be answered, and we don’t believe this because no such teaching is taught in the Quran or the hadiths, as Muslims we believe that some prayers will be answered, while many others will not.

So let’s say you got 100 Muslims together, and made them make a prayer, and the prayer of the 100 Muslims did not materialize, it would not prove that prayer does not work and God does not exist. Rather, it would only mean that God chose not to respond to those prayers. For the atheist argument to hold any water, they would have to show definitively where in Islam, that it teaches that all prayers, and every request you make to God shall be answered.

Thirdly, the atheist demand to witness a prayer materialize, can be viewed, and in fact it is the case, that the atheist is trying to test God. And so God may very well decide to not materialize the prayer for that reason, because the atheist is testing God, trying to play games, and as many faiths teach, God shall not be tested or toyed with. God doesn’t have to materialize a prayer of a theist, just because the atheist demands to see it. This is a criterion the atheist invented; criteria that God, let alone theists, is not subjected to, nor required to go along with to simply satisfy the atheist.

In conclusion, the argument that prayers don’t work, really has no solid conclusive evidence behind it, it all simply comes down to the atheist rejecting the notion in the first place, rather than having anything to do with witnessing or not witnessing it. 

 

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