The Power of Prayer and Boobs

One of the common not so philosophical but sometimes pseudo-scientific arguments Christians use when asked why they believe in god is “the power of prayer”; I prayed for something and I feel it was granted therefore god exists because he was listening. People who use this argument are often focusing on one vague prayer they felt was granted while ignoring all the times their prayers weren’t answered. Or they had prayed for something that was going to happen anyway. For some “the power of prayer” doesn’t necessarily mean prayers are granted, they take it a step further with an appeal to emotion by saying they feel it in their hearts that god is listening to them when they pray. When feelings are brought into the argument it’s sort of pointless to go on because the ones making the argument are not attempting to use reason in the first place and it’s very hard to dispute how someone feels.

I’ve been thinking about this recently because I often get funny comments on my selfies with a bit of cleavage on Twitter along the lines of “my prayers were answered, I might start believing” and “if I believed in a god I would think he blessed you”. These sorts of jokes from fellow atheists got me thinking about how there are actually many believers out there that are reassured in their belief in god because of very flawed but seemingly reasonable arguments.

selfie2

I remember times of wanting to fall for these arguments myself because people around me had fallen for them. Believing in god was always a struggle for me, but I did have moments of really trying to because I didn’t want to feel left out and in a way turning to a supreme being who we are told loves us to ask for help doesn’t sound too bad if you don’t think too much into it. When it comes to believing through the power of prayer, it seems you get pretty used to making the prayers continuously more and more vague as to not be disappointed and to possibly mark it down later as a win for prayer working. Although there are times people can’t help but ask for what they really want, humans are just naturally selfish. I remember this from praying for years as a teenager, most of the time I tried to keep things vague in an attempt to feel whatever it was the people around me seemed to have felt or occasionally out of desperation asked god for specific things. The really funny thing about those jokes people make on Twitter is that I used to pray for big boobs when I was a teenager. I was a late bloomer and for a good chunk of my high school life the girls in my class were more developed than me. I also had always thought women with large chests were really pretty but was always a really skinny kid, so I was pretty sure I wouldn’t have much of  a chest like my tall and skinny grandmother. I was proved wrong in my late teens when my bra size far surpassed what I ever expected to be. I’d also been wrong for years about not taking after my mom much.

I now wear a bra size that is mostly sold in specialty stores and occasionally in higher end department stores; so I could be saying now after years of prayer while wearing padded push-up bras and asking for big boobs, he answered them and therefore exists. But of course that’s ridiculous, I’d been talking to myself the whole time and it would be vain to think a supreme being would want to make a girl’s chest big while lots of people are suffering and asking for help. I now find the notion of being “blessed” in certain ways to be a very self-centered and vain way of thinking.  So I admit it was pretty dumb, being a teenager makes you partially dumb at times.  I’m critical with how I look most of the time but I am grateful to my genetics for my chest, although I would not wish the back pain on my worst enemy. It’s just funny to think that if I wanted to keep blinders on and believe in a flawed argument I could have fallen back on the “power of prayer” as proof of god, I can see how that can happen to some but my love of logic and being concerned with intellectual honestly along with desire to not be too vain got in the way.

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47 thoughts on “The Power of Prayer and Boobs

  1. Years ago, during a quiet moment, I was considering the mysteries of the universe.
    My last thought during this thought session was actually a prayer:
    “To any god that may be listening … give me Cindy!”
    Months later I got (or was given) Cindy.
    Although I remembered that I had kind of prayed for it, confirmation bias, as pooroldkilgore mentions, was at work here. I didn’t remember the other times, maybe many other times, that I had wished and pleaded and dreamed and maybe even prayed for someone or something but didn’t get it. Especially when the success, the achievement, seemed so great, other prayers that went unanswered seem to vanish in thin air, we are so excited about this one ‘prayer’ that seemed to have been answered, rather than give ourselves credit for our success.
    Such biases are rampant in the many popular forms of woo, including the biggest superstition of all, religion.

    All the best,
    Woody

  2. Yes. I call this a cognitive paradigm of imagined attribution. Development starts very early with all manner of imagined creatures from trolls, munchkins, Santa, witches, you name it. When the human brain starts to develop a process of acquiring knowledge without correction, these beliefs remain. Educators and psychologists understand it in terms of learning theory. In addition, it creates a paradigm for how we process information. I.E., imagined attribution is an accepted way of explanation because no one has ever told us it is not (learning theory). Have a nice day, Alyssa.

  3. I think that prayer affects a person on the inside much like meditation does. The changes you pray for may or may not happen, but you are definitely changing something inside yourself with consistent prayer. If you aren’t open to a miracle then you may not even recognize one if it does happen, but what’s a miracle? For me, all of life is a miracle and if I’m lucky and not distracted, I will realize that at some point during my day. Driving into the sunrise on my way to work, sitting in my house and listening to crickets on a summer evening, my cat waking me up every morning – there is something to these experiences that makes me feel a feeling I can only compare to the feeling of love x10. If you are praying for a new Xbox or a nice rack or the recovery of a loved one from illness, I am skeptical those things will be affected by praying. That would be magic and we would all be witches and I’d be hitting my knees every day praying for a duffle bag full of cash. I think there is something to life that we cannot see but we can feel if we are in tune to it. Or maybe I just took too many mushrooms at that all-day festival I went to. I remember feeling everything around me, the leaves, the wind, the birds, and I could see it with my eyes closed, much like Batman when he used sonar at the end of The Dark Knight. I don’t believe that is God but it is something, the same feeling I get with the crickets or the sunrise or my cat. Prayer isn’t an ATM or a wishlist. I think the God of intelligent design and the Bible and the good/bad checklist that knows when I masturbate is a figment of an ancient (and now modern) society learning how to ponder its own existence. As to the author of this blog, your boobs are great but so are your eyes and skin, hair, curves cheekbones, curiosity, and sense of fun and humor. Any dye-job blonde can get double Ds but they’ll never be able to implant those things that make you uniquely special and you, except for your boobs and those will be fake.

    • think meditation can be a lot healthier because it doesn’t have to involve a delusion… And yea we can have feelings of magic and awe when looking at the world and not need to believe in supernatural things.. And thank you for the compliment

  4. I must admit as a religious person even I am very slow to do anything other than pat someone on the head when they say a prayer was “answered” or they had some religious experience.

    Prayer as petition and especially to find a “missing God” is not particularly effective. Prayer as part of a Christian life is, but the difference is enough to make trying to explain it impossible. One just gets to the point the “belief questions” are done away with, even as you dialogue more with a world that doesn’t believe and don’t have good answers. Prayer is far more a life, than something you do during your normal life.

  5. Many good things found their way into religion. Prayer is effective. But of course not because it increases the probability of external circumstances (or god for that matter) helping your cause. It is effective because when you put your thoughts and wishes into words you gain knowledge about yourself. Telling a friend what you like and hope for or writing a blog is quite similar. And if you remember your prayer or read old blog posts etc., you are able to see your past self from a critical distance.

  6. I recently had a heated exchange on Facebook about people ‘praying’ for Nepal. The amount of people who defended prayer as if it actually helped the victims of this disaster was shocking. When I pointed out that I had done just as much to help them but wasn’t pretending that I had made a difference the responses were mostly “well my prayers have always been answered” and “prayer definitely works, you need faith/to believe”. It always troubles me that there is a lack of critical thought in this area and it’s treated as a sacred cow. Not everyone was deluded though and although I conceded that prayer can help the individual focus their thoughts it does nothing for the target of the prayer. It’s funny how people whose prayers ‘work’ never seem to pray for world peace or for cancer to cease to exist, funny that, which, surely being infinitely powerful magic, they should be doing?

  7. It’s definitely “self-centered and vain”. And the thing that always gets me is people who thank God for saving them from some natural disaster, plane crash, illness etc, because isn’t he (sorry, He) also responsible for those things? “Dear God, thank you for saving me from the lung cancer you inflicted upon me!”

    God gets all the credit and none of the blame. Wouldn’t we all like a deal like that?

  8. The few studies I’ve read regarding the efficacy of prayer indicated that those people who knew they were being prayed for had better outcomes. Those people who didn’t know they were being prayed for had outcomes that were basically 50/50, i.e. What you would expect from chance. Obviously there’s a strong placebo effect. That being the case I would encourage believing loved ones to continue to pray during their illnesses.

    • Actually the studies I’ve read have said that people that knew they were being prayed for did worse because they were under stress and anxiety with the knowledge people were praying for them and they should show good results

      • Prayer hardly distracts from doing other things, and most Christians (for example) simultaneously seek modern medical aid along with their prayers.

      • Yes I think these cases are quite tragic, but no doubt form only a small fraction of cases. The fact is people who pray have better health outcomes (and no doubt people who use other forms of placebo). So if you love one of these people, why not encourage them? It’s a way of offering them an effective tool for their recovery. It seems to me atheists invest far too much in the prayer debate, except in those cases you’ve mentioned, where prayer or faith is a substitute for medical care, rather something used alongside modern medicine. In these cases I think it’s absolutely necessary to intervene or at least try to persuade them to consider their options.

  9. This is a great piece! Some of the topics in here have been discussed very well! Also left you a message on instagram 🙂

  10. I find it interesting that a God who created the entire universe would take the time out of his busy schedule to answer the prayer of some evolved hairless monkey on a tiny blue planet concerned about their bra size or penis size. I mean… black holes, supernovas, comets, planets, moons, boobs, penises… meh. It’s all the same. 😛

  11. It’s funny, even when I was hardcore religious in my adolescence (or, a church kid), I would barely if ever pray, because I realized it didn’t do a thing. I was five years old when I stopped praying before going to bed, instead when my dad tucked me in, I’d just tell him what was on my mind, because even when I was that young, I realized telling him was a far better option because it was an actual conversation.

  12. Thanks for the article in prayer and boobs. Is there a reason you put in a pic of yourself half naked ? Just curious.
    It was well written , pic wasn’t needed
    JD

  13. I bet you you could work on your posterior chain to relieve the strain.

    If you still have pain then your back is not strong enough to take the strain.

    I’m sure you’ve thought of this already, but hey, whatever helps.

  14. Do your boobs grant wishes, if I´d pray to them? Or are they like a genie bottle and you´d have to rub them? :p

    No seriously, this was a great read, thanks! \0

  15. do you believe that when you pass on you will have a wake with family and friends and taken to the cemetary get lowered into the ground, covered up and in time you will be forgotten about except for maybe family and close friends, we all can think the way we want and how we were brought up plays a major factor, i myself believe in God but i’m not a Church goer but what i cannot figure out if he is what the church and bible says about how great he is i question myself why does he let all this uglynest happen i mean look at the entire world and how fucked up it is we have school shootings, among other things, and look at other parts of the world. but on the other side a few years ago non believers picketed in front of a church while a mass was going and from what i seen about non believers seem to be always mean and mad all the time so i wonder if they did believe in God at one time but something bad happened to them and blamed God so instead of focusing on the person or people who hurt them they will choose to just blame God for it so if they dont believe in God why are they acting that it was God who caused these tragidies. by the way i love you pic and me being a straight man i sure would love a peek at your beautiful boobs sincerely Chris.

  16. Hmm… Please excuse this comment’s zombie status. Importing the equally-zombied quote from twitter: “Not all prayers can be heard, it’s a question about strong belief and readiness of making sacrifices. Only few can be taken as real examples.”

    This is good problem-solving advice, captured in a religious idiom. These topics always motivate me to go Gandhi, to build bridges, ignore the incompatibilities, and focus on the commonalities. It seems relevant to the general topic of the post. So that quote basically says “get your ass in gear and don’t get all full of yourself, or don’t come crying to anybody for help”. A more direct paraphrasing might be “for best results, pray well”.

    Here’s the thought process… What is praying well? Praying is concentrating mental energy on a problem. How is it done well? It’s said: “strong belief and readiness of making sacrifices”. Now, “strong belief” just means having learned something well enough, that it has reached the subconscious level. “Readiness of making sacrifices” is a combined humility and reality check.

    Breaking the first bit down even more… Solving a problem quickly gives an emotional payoff. It feels good. It’s the brain’s way of say “yes, that was good, do that sort of thing again”. It affects a positive light on the experience of taking a problem to solution. The subconscious may then feel safe to accept the experience as part of the self.

    But some solutions might take a while to find and execute. The emotional message might get lost, and the learning cut short. The advice basically describes a way to avoid that. It’s a way to set yourself up for closure, when there’s a long challenging task ahead. Do daily self-checkups on the recent status and eventual goal. It’ll help develop and maintain a long-term emotional thread. If somebody were to get used to that for a variety of problems, their problem-solving may well improve.

    If it was “pray” and not “pray to”, then that’d be the end of the story. “Praying” on its own is useful, as noted above. “Praying to” is directly useful, if somebody is “listening” and takes action to solve the problem. If nobody’s listening, then “praying to” is just less efficient “praying”. Whether or not somebody is “listening” is a separate topic. But even without knowing the answer, one could from forming one’s mental experiences, as if they are always observed and judged objectively. It’d be like supporting a “debug mode” for the brain. So, “pray to” as an optimistic interpretation, too.

    There’s also “pray for” that was brought up. It’s is an internal thing that gets externalized by “saying to pray for”. Praying for somebody means you devote mental energy to their problem. It makes you ready to help them. Saying to pray for somebody is letting them know who will be ready to help. Sure, it can backfire, this is human behavior – but the intention can be constructive.

    One other thing. Prayers can be flawed. A problem can be stated in the wrong way. It’s rarely clear at first, what’s being prayed for, or what the problem is. So, praying to fly might actually just be praying to have some fun, or to escape from something bad. Praying for to be well-endowed might well be objecting to being automatically treated as an inferior. Part of solving the problem, or having the prayer answered, is realizing what is actually going on.

    All in all, it seems that one could decide whether or not to “pray”, “pray to”, or “pray for” on a purely practical basis. Did I miss anything? Are there any claims how prayer can help, that can’t be translated from religious idiom to practical language?

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