When Prayer Doesn’t Work

This amusing question was posed on Reddit:

Why is it that when christians come to me with a computer problem, and I tell them to try prayer to fix it, that they won’t even consider that as a plausible option.

Many of the responses are quite entertaining :)

  • http://szelidolajfa.blog.hu teri

    But YOU ARE the answer to their prayer!
    (A friendly christian)

  • Korinthian

    Teri: if that was true (which it is not) then why ask twice for something you only have to ask for once?

  • Mythprogrammer

    That… was pretty clever “teri”.

  • http://www.isthisstupid.com Stupid Blogger

    Nah, makes sense if you take a broader view of what prayer is supposed to do. You pray for patience, you get a situation that teaches you patience not a giftwrapped pack o’ patience under your pillow.

    These people prayed for patience, strength, and a better computer. Careful what you ask for…

  • TheDeadEye

    Actually I quite frequently bring up God’s/JC’s name when I encounter a computer problem.

  • http://www.fabulouslyinthecity.com Fabulously in the City

    Awesome! Thanks! :-)

  • Ron in Houston

    teri

    How did you know? I started praying to Hemant and good things started happening. (Well, at least 50% of the time, but I understand the Hemant in his profound wisdom doesn’t answer every prayer.)

  • http://szelidolajfa.blog.hu teri in Budapest

    Ron, at least this is what I would answer to this question.
    Honestly, I am profoundly grateful for good secular specialists.

  • Darryl

    Most Christians wouldn’t consider praying their way to a computer fix for the same reason they don’t pray their kids to health when they’re sick: they don’t believe God will take care of it. They’re realistic enough to know that God doesn’t work that way. Of course, if you ask them if God does miracles, they will answer in the affirmative. Only the most wild-eyed pentecostal (or JW) would risk it. How unfair that the fervent get fucked while the faint of faith get fixed. Ah, the injustice of life.

  • http://szelidolajfa.blog.hu teri

    Responsibility should be part of one’s christianity, so I diagree with Darryl.

  • Darryl

    So, teri, you’re a doctor? You’re also able to repair computers? I’m responsible, but when I need help I ask for it.

  • http://szelidolajfa.blog.hu teri

    I am resonsible, I know that I cannot fix my computer, I ask the specialist.
    There is no difference between us at this point.

  • http://szelidolajfa.blog.hu teri

    I come from a slightly different culture (Hungary), where we have slightly different stereotypes about believers and non-believers. I am reading this blog since yesterday (I found the link on a Hungarian christian website!), and I find it very interesting. I am also surprized by the cultural differences I discover while reading.
    It is nearly 1 a. m. here – good night to you all!

  • jcolv

    I’m thankful for the religious that aren’t crazy enough to think their omniscient, omnipotent God cares about their relatively insignificant problems.

  • http://ecstathy.blogspot.com efrique

    Yet I have seen Christians pray for a parking spot, or a green light (or any of a number of things where if you wait a bit, it will happen anyway), and thank God when they get one.

  • SarahH

    From my observations:

    When something good happens (especially if it’s unlikely or a coincidence – even a borderline coincidence), it’s retroactively attributed to a) answered prayer, b) God’s blessing and/or c) a sign from God. When something bad happens, the fact that it wasn’t even worse is attributed to God’s protection.

    Expecting results doesn’t seem to be a common attitude about prayer – opinions and attitudes apply retroactively in most cases.

  • Gabriel G.

    The problem with people who actually think prayer helps (and by that, I don’t include those who don’t actually believe it and just do it as a stress reliever) is that, as long as they actually believe it does, you can’t really prove them wrong. If prayer works, then they’ll say that God was listening, but if it doesn’t work, they’ll either say they’re being punished (for some reason) or that “God works in mysterious ways.” You can try, but they’ll just find a way to make it look like God was actually listening and did something (even if it doesn’t seem like it).

    Off topic: I pray to Google. Not only does she (yes, she) have a higher success rate (I’m rarely disappointed), but I do know, for a fact, that she exists.

  • Anne

    Modern Christians generally think that God works THROUGH the tech support guy or doctor or whoever the relevant specialist is.

    Why they think their god is so limited that he can’t fix things directly, I don’t know, especially since they will tell you that god does miracles (but only on selected occasions I guess).

    This is much like people who think that God somehow magically got all the animals onto the ark, kept them from killing one another, etc, etc, etc – and yet this God was so limited that he needed the ark to save the animals! DOH!!

    (not to mention the flood was apparently the BEST solution god could come up with to the problem of evil humanity.)

    What the believer must fall back on inevitably is “it’s a mystery!”

    In which case, how do believers know anything about their god?

  • Karen

    This goes right along with last week’s This American Life observation that religious people believe this stuff, as long as they don’t take it all that seriously – like praying exclusively for miracles as a cure for computer problems, diseases, etc.

  • http://www.bernerbits.com Derek

    Heh.

    Reminds me of when I was 12. As an enterprising young Systems-Analyst-in-training, I wrecked the configuration of Windows 3.11 on the family computer so that it wouldn’t boot and was stuck in a DOS prompt.

    I prayed fervently to God to fix it, but no such luck.

    Eventually I reinstalled Windows but my ego was seriously bruised as I never quite got the configuration exactly back to the way it was before.

    I ended up rationalizing that either God was trying to teach me humility and giving me an opportunity to be a better computer technician, or he was punishing me for masturbating.

  • http://www.ofsteel.net/blog/ Arnoc

    Well, since 80% of all computer problems begin between the chair and the keyboard – it’s almost ironic to pray to solve the problems.. ;) But anyway, I fix computer on a not very scientific base not far from praying. :D And it works better than trying this n that and HOPING it works.. ;)