The powerlessness of prayer
Recently I had to listen to two albums by Yolanda Adams. One of the songs (Already alright) really struck me.
It started with these lines:
I want to start things out by giving testimony
Cause one of my friends got ill seriously
Now the doctor told him aint no way you gone' live
But he prayed his prayer in faith
And a miracle appeared
I couldn’t get past my disgust at that to give a fair review of the albums, because that is the sort of thing that kills people.
And that is not hyperbole. People have actually killed their children through trying prayer instead of medicine, because people actually believe this.
That isn’t all Christians, let me be clear on that. Most Christians will go to the doctor and seek medical advice from trained professionals.
It is a very small, very fringe minority but you can see where they are coming from.
And we can’t even blame them, because there is so much in our culture saying it is true even as it is scientifically demonstrated not to be.
The Templeton Foundation is a group essentially set up with a pro-religion bent, it did a study on the power of prayer and found it ineffective. In fact they actually found recovery rates for people with heart disease got worse if they knew they were being prayed for.
In 2008 Madeline Neumann died after her parents prayed, rather than taking her to a doctor who would have diagnosed her with diabetes. Diabetes is not a nice way to die.
Dale Neumann, her father had this to say when he was sentenced for his daughter’s horrible death:
"I am guilty of trusting my Lord's wisdom completely ... Guilty of asking for heavenly intervention. Guilty of following Jesus Christ when the whole world does not understand. Guilty of obeying my God."
I cannot call him evil, because he simply believed the same sort of message that the likes of Yolanda Adams promotes. She has won Grammy awards and gone platinum, she isn’t a fringe element in gospel sales pitches, she is fairly representative of the messages in the pop-religion mainstream.
That is not to say nobody ever gets better after being prayed for, but it is no better than nothing at all when it comes to affecting a better outcome.
So scientifically we can say prayer doesn’t work and because of that, it is kind of morally iffy to say it does. The does not stop the pushers of religion from saying it works.
And yet, it still feels like my flaw that I couldn’t see past that and just listen to the music.