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Is there a difference between prayer and hope?

 
 
Reply Wed 11 Jan, 2006 08:09 pm
On another thread I mentioned that while I am not religious I "pray" for things.

Tomkitten said that my "prayer" were really "hope" and that hope was valid in and of itself.

I looked up the definition of prayer:



Quote:
6 entries found for prayer.
prayer1 ( P ) Pronunciation Key (prâr)
n.

A reverent petition made to God, a god, or another object of worship.
The act of making a reverent petition to God, a god, or another object of worship.
An act of communion with God, a god, or another object of worship, such as in devotion, confession, praise, or thanksgiving: One evening a week, the family would join together in prayer.
A specially worded form used to address God, a god, or another object of worship.
prayers A religious observance in which praying predominates: morning prayers.

A fervent request: Her prayer for rain was granted at last.
The thing requested: His safe arrival was their only prayer.
The slightest chance or hope: In a storm the mountain climbers won't have a prayer.

Law.
The request of a complainant, as stated in a complaint or in equity, that the court grant the aid or relief solicited.
The section of the complaint or bill that contains this request.


Is there a difference between prayer and hope?

Has "prayer" through common understanding lost any meaning outside of religion?

If I hope for something - an uttered hope, even a silent one and even if only to my own head and heart - is it not a prayer?

What do you think?
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Eorl
 
  1  
Reply Wed 11 Jan, 2006 08:12 pm
good question boomer

maybe the difference between the two is subjective. Depends on how you see the two things and what you expect to achieve by praying or hoping.
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Arella Mae
 
  1  
Reply Wed 11 Jan, 2006 08:13 pm
boomerang,

This is a great topic! I am glad you posted it. Hmmmm. When I pray for something, I have every belief that God will answer that prayer. Now, my belief is not that the prayer will be answered to my satisfaction but to God's.

So, I believe He will answer my prayer and I hope He answers the way I would like Him to. But, I know God's wisdom surpasses anything I could comprehend. Hope that makes sense.
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boomerang
 
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Reply Wed 11 Jan, 2006 08:30 pm
Interesting! Thank you both for your replies.

I've really been thinking about this a lot today and I owe Tomkitten a debt for starting me on this path.

I think I hope for a lot of things, but they are things I can't have any real influence over.

I think I pray about things when I search myself to see what I can do about it. To discover what effect I can have on the outcome.

I guess in a way you could say that I pray to myself and I hope for something "outside" of me to do something about it.

I'm not sure, but I think that is the reverse of what most people think of as prayer.

I don't really have any doubt that there is a dfference between the two and I don't have any doubt that I pray. I think my definitions might be backwards to what is expected of the words.
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boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Wed 11 Jan, 2006 09:06 pm
I love cooking. It is my "think" time.

I was just cooking dinner and I boiled it down to this:

I pray ABOUT something and I hope FOR something.

(I think that might answer Earl's question!)

I can't speak for any other agnostics but I'm curious about how that sits with people who adhere to a particular faith.

Can anyone fill me in?
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Doktor S
 
  1  
Reply Wed 11 Jan, 2006 09:14 pm
Hope is simply the feeling of want/need that drives us to accomplish our goals, while prayer is a substitute for the latter.
I find prayer to be both psychologically unhealthy (as it involves self deception), and pragmatically counterproductive. Hope on the other hand is just a base human emotion. I supose then, the former stems from the latter.
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Joe Nation
 
  1  
Reply Wed 11 Jan, 2006 09:24 pm
If two farmers are struggling to keep their fields alive during a long drought and one of them prays for rain and the other hopes for it, which farmer has a better chance of getting his crop to market?

Thinking deeply about a problem, meditating on your limits in a situation, concentrating your mental energies on a solution, all these are methods of what might be called hoping or praying, except practitioners of prayer carry with them the expectation that some outside influence, a deity, will spread some power over the condition while the rest of the world finds the answer in their own being. In fact, without the influence of a deity, one is required to find one's own way, either by becoming aware of conditions and solutions one was blind to until thought brought them out or by visualizing how one would rather the conditions be. The question: How would you like it to be different?" is as close to a prayer as I get. It's actually easier because one doesn't have to get involved with any quid quo pro, no 'if I A will You grant me B."

I do know one thing: sitting quietly and listening to one's own thoughts brings new avenues of opportunity faster than they can be written down.
That's hopeful by definition.

Oh, and those farmers? Neither has a better chance of a thunderstorm and anyone believing one or the other does is fooling themselves..

Joe(no clouds on the horizon)Nation
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boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Wed 11 Jan, 2006 09:26 pm
I completely disagree Doktor S.

I hope it doesn't rain tomorrow. It has rained for the last 23 days. Having no rain is in no way a "goal".

How is prayer, if defined as an internal conversation with yourself, as I have done here, "psychologically unhealthy and pragmatically counterproductive"?

Three years ago (tomorrow!) I was faced with a huge decision. A huge decision that I didn't have time to fret over. I prayed on that decision.

I didn't ask God for help, I prayed on it because I needed to understand every ramification of the situation. I prayed because the wrong decision could have affected many people.

I think your concept of the word "prayer" must be very small. I'd love to hear you expand on how you define it.
0 Replies
 
littlek
 
  1  
Reply Wed 11 Jan, 2006 09:28 pm
bookmark
0 Replies
 
boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Wed 11 Jan, 2006 09:32 pm
Hi Joe Nation! Wonderful to read you again.

To me, "prayer" is a nice short hand word for that kind of thinking -- the meditating and concentrating. I certainly don't expect some outside thing to come in and solve things for me.

I think the word "prayer" has been co-opted in a way that we non-God-fearing folks think we can't use it to describe our thoughts.

And this concerns me, in a weird sort of way.
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ehBeth
 
  1  
Reply Wed 11 Jan, 2006 09:35 pm
I actually think you've got it backwards, boomer.

To my ear/eye, non-religious people are using the word prayer as shorthand to describe something which is really about hope and thoughtfulness.

Which is definitely healthier.

<nods>
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FreeDuck
 
  1  
Reply Wed 11 Jan, 2006 09:37 pm
I think of prayer as "seeking" or talking to God. A sort of searching muttering, I guess. I realize that isn't any great help, just wanted to throw my two cents in.
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Doktor S
 
  1  
Reply Wed 11 Jan, 2006 09:41 pm
Quote:


I hope it doesn't rain tomorrow. It has rained for the last 23 days. Having no rain is in no way a "goal".

Of course it is. It may be a goal you are powerless to accomplish, but because you 'want' it, it is a goal. Praying for the rain to stop in this instance is still a waste of time (you could be researching technology to control the weather!)
By the way, are you from B.C. by any chance?
Quote:

How is prayer, if defined as an internal conversation with yourself, as I have done here, "psychologically unhealthy and pragmatically counterproductive"?

WHat you define as prayer and what I define as prayer are obviously different. While I use the classical definition of 'speaking with/begging from something 'out there' (usually god), you seem to have taken the ball and run with it. Right out of the stadium.
Anyway, I define prayer thusly
Quote:

prayer1 ( P ) Pronunciation Key (prâr)
n.

1.
1. A reverent petition made to God, a god, or another object of worship.
2. The act of making a reverent petition to God, a god, or another object of worship.
2. An act of communion with God, a god, or another object of worship, such as in devotion, confession, praise, or thanksgiving: One evening a week, the family would join together in prayer.
3. A specially worded form used to address God, a god, or another object of worship.
4. prayers A religious observance in which praying predominates: morning prayers.
5.
1. A fervent request: Her prayer for rain was granted at last.

2. The thing requested: His safe arrival was their only prayer.
6. The slightest chance or hope: In a storm the mountain climbers won't have a prayer.
7. Law.
1. The request of a complainant, as stated in a complaint or in equity, that the court grant the aid or relief solicited.
2. The section of the complaint or bill that contains this request.

Contextual bits bolded.
Without the imaginary friend to talk to, it isn't prayer by my (and the dictionaries) definition. Perhaps you would like to share how you define prayer that is so broad, yet still correct as per the meaning of the word?
What you seem to be talking about is internal reflection. As long as you admit YOU solved that problem, and not some spiritual boogyman, then I think we are just talking semantics.
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Eorl
 
  1  
Reply Wed 11 Jan, 2006 09:53 pm
Boomer, is it possible the word "wishing" more aptly describes what you refer to as praying (in your case)?
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littlek
 
  1  
Reply Wed 11 Jan, 2006 09:56 pm
We need a definition for hope and/or wish.
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boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Wed 11 Jan, 2006 10:02 pm
Very interesting.

I posted the exact same definition of prayer that Doktor S did.

To me, roughly 50% of the definition has nothing to do with God, or, "the imaginary friend" as some prefer to say.

I think of "prayer" as seeking to understand.

You're wrong, Doktor S, no rain is in no way a "goal" of mine.

And no, I'm not in B.C.

I'm curious....

For those of you who see prayer as directed towards God....

Do religions that accept more than one God, Hindus, perhaps, not "pray"?

Do Catholics, who beseech Mary and any number of Saints not "pray"?

And me, who is unsure of any God, not "pray"?
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Arella Mae
 
  1  
Reply Wed 11 Jan, 2006 10:06 pm
I pray to God through His Son, Jesus Christ.
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fishin
 
  1  
Reply Wed 11 Jan, 2006 10:07 pm
Doktor S wrote:
Without the imaginary friend to talk to, it isn't prayer by my (and the dictionaries) definition. Perhaps you would like to share how you define prayer that is so broad, yet still correct as per the meaning of the word?


It is interesting that you can pick and chose which parts of the dictionary definitions you like, pretend the others don't exist and than claim that her comparison doesn't fit the dictionary's definition.

Did dictionary definition number 6 slip past you?

Quote:
6. The slightest chance or hope: In a storm the mountain climbers won't have a prayer.
0 Replies
 
Doktor S
 
  1  
Reply Wed 11 Jan, 2006 10:20 pm
fishin' wrote:
Doktor S wrote:
Without the imaginary friend to talk to, it isn't prayer by my (and the dictionaries) definition. Perhaps you would like to share how you define prayer that is so broad, yet still correct as per the meaning of the word?


It is interesting that you can pick and chose which parts of the dictionary definitions you like, pretend the others don't exist and than claim that her comparison doesn't fit the dictionary's definition.

Did dictionary definition number 6 slip past you?

Quote:
6. The slightest chance or hope: In a storm the mountain climbers won't have a prayer.

Hi fishin.
We speak this neat language called english, where words can be used in more than one context. That's why I specified contextual bits bolded
You're objection invokes the fallacy of equivocation. tsk tsk.
0 Replies
 
boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Wed 11 Jan, 2006 10:39 pm
I specified contextual bits bolded in my first post.

Including number 6.

Tsk, tsk.

No, Earl, wishing isn't it. Not at all.

I'm trying to avoid my very personal "prayer" but it really doesn't have to do with wishing or hoping. There is a lot more effort involved.

I'm not asking God to do something for me. I'm asking myself why and how and if - I'm thinking and thinking and thinking.

It IS a prayer.
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