In her book Prayers for Life’s Ordinary & Extraordinary Moments, Mary Lou Redding offers a prayer for parents to pray when their child doesn’t believe in God. It could be easily adapted for any loved one.
I was drawn to the simplicity and honesty of this prayer and my own need for it with so many that I love. It seems especially helpful in situations when you and the loved one no longer live near each other or the relationship is strained.
Be encouraged that God never gives up and continues to reach out to all people, including your loved one, including you. – Lisa <><
Father God, thank you for your unconditional love
for each of your children.
I pray today especially for my child
who says he doesn’t believe in you.
Lord, help my child struggling with cynicism and despair.
I believe that doubt is part of the faith journey.
Please send a sensitive soul to encourage my child–
someone who will say words to gently point
this one I love so much toward you.
Loving God, I lift up __________ to you.
Though it is difficult, I release my child to you,
trusting you to continue to work in his life.
Help me to let go and trust
that the seeds of faith I helped to plant will take root
and that my child will grow in the sunlight of your love.
Thank you, dear God, for hearing and acting.
I am grateful that you love this child
much more than I ever could,
and that though I must let go, you never will. Amen.
It is up to each person to decide which if any religious belief has merit. It is not for you to pray for an outcome you see as desirable. When you pray for someone to believe something they do not want for themselves you are actually being disrespectful. You are really just praying for yourself. And if prayer did succeed in causing someone to believe would that not invalidate the “free will” that Christians like to think we all have? If my beliefs were completely a result of free will then the prayers of others could not possibly have any effect. If a divine force could change my heart to belief then my will is not free. If belief is dependent solely on one’s autonomous choices then prayer has no power to change it. You can’t have it both ways.
Thanks for your comments. We are in agreement that persons have free will to decide what to believe and/or who to believe in. To me, the prayer reminds me of those Psalms where persons open up their heart to God. Being honest with God about our hopes for those we love does not negate their free will nor force our will upon them. In this prayer, the person is respectfully “letting their loved one go” while at the same time recognizing God’s continued, loving pursuit of the person. – Lisa <
I’m afraid we are not in agreement that we have “free will to decide what to believe and/or who to believe in”. We have a will but just how free it is depends on what we are talking about. Belief is not like a light switch we flick on or off at will. What we believe (we we hold as true) is contingent on what is convincing, that is, what resonates with our perceptions, feelings and reasoning. If I don’t see valid evidence for Christian claims, I can no more choose to believe Christianity than you can choose to belief in Zeus or any of the thousands of other gods that have been postulated. What we ultimately end up believing is not by force of will. I mentioned “free will” because Christians frequently advance it even though nowhere does the bible speak of it. My own opinion of free will depends on what we are talking about. Complete unbridled free will would mean our minds are free of bias and operate independent and unaffected by our environment. Having a nature (which we all do) means we are very a products of our attributes, something our will cannot change. Where we may have free will pertains to our capacity to think, which in turn limited by our ability to think. The topic of free will is extremely complex and has been the subject of mountains of theories and study. Regardless of my will’s state of freedom, it has only allowed me to view Christianity as irrational and untenable.
I agree that the topic of free will is complex. Our will is not “unbridled” from the influence of our environment, including our birth family. Yet, influence is not force, predestination, or fate. We are not puppets on a string under the force of God or our environment. I believe our will is free with respect to our ability to choose our response to our environment. In God I have found strength and grace to choose peace and wholeness over the destructive biases of my environment.
Joe, by praying for someone to finally acknowledge what we all know to be true is not selfish. We only want god to in some way inspire the person or help them realize the truth. At the end of the day, people have free will, of course, to decide what they believe, but if we can pray for them to have a change of heart, we should.
To claim to be “praying for someone to finally acknowledge what we all know to be true” is an extraordinary presumptuous and arrogant statement. You no more “know” Christianity to be true or a God to exist than a devout Muslim “knows” Allah is the one true god and Mohamed is his prophet, or that a Fiji knows the great Juju. It’s been my experience that Christians are especially poor at discerning fact from fiction. With regard to the question of the existence of god, you have no special ability to know what is true, but to only think you know. If you start with an assumed conclusion and use it to view the world, your perceptions of reality become acts of bias confirmation.
Has it ever occurred to you that it is YOU who is delusional with respect to religious belief? How can you not question your faith? How do you not recognize the absurdity of the doctrines espoused by the Christian belief system? Claims that make a mockery of science, of reason and of believability? Whatever form or reasoning you use to scrutinize and reject all other beliefs systems; try to apply this skepticism it to your own beliefs and you will see they falls like a house of cards just like all the rest.
A gentle reminder Joe that your line of reasoning cuts both ways. If we can no more “know” Christianity or some other faith to be true, we can no more “know” it not to be true. Belief, for me, is based on scripture, tradition, reason and experience. “Knowing” comes in the form of relationship rather than a science style proven fact. (ps- I do not believe science and Christianity are at odds with one another) Knowing God and following the words and ways of Jesus have brought purpose, healing, and a sense of belonging to my life. Are there times I question or doubt, sure. That’s part of the journey of faith.
Joe, thanks for the engaging conversation. I’d like to hear more about you and from you. – Lisa <
It seems you are shifting the burden of proof. Since it is Christians who make the claim for their god’s existence, the burden of proof lies with them. An atheistic position is simply a skeptical response to the theist claim as not having met it’s burden of proof.
You’ll notice I never claimed with certainty “god does not exist”. One cannot prove a negative but one can say that without compelling evidence there is no reason to assume or believe one does. We require reason to believe something exists, we do not need a reason not to believe it. That is the way logic works and it’s the way we discern reality from fantasy. It’s something all theists including you do with respect to the claims for all of the other gods you don’t believe exist. I am the same except I apply that same skepticism to the Abrahamic biblical god.
Despite being raised in a strong Christian community/family I was encouraged to be skeptical from a young age. Rejecting faith in favour of skeptical thinking is my pathway to reliable knowledge. Now I respect your right to hold any belief you see fit but It is simply not possible for me to believe impossible nonsense for no good reason. And this has served me much better than any fear based control system could ever hope to.
Joe, like many other persons who follow Christ, I have had times of deep doubt. As time passed, I found God to be steadfast yet so much more than I originally understood. The doubting brought growth. This is one of the reasons searching and questioning are valued within my current faith tradition. It’s also a tradition rooted in the love, compassion and grace of God. I agree there are many Christian communities which are not. Like you, I have no interest in an organization or faith tradition based on fear and control.
Wow! Of course God is real, I CAN prove it but not in a simple post!!!
God has changed and influenced lives throughout history, there are documented history books with plenty of proof of that. Also science and God are not at odds science comes from God, scientists were created by God. I will agree with Joe on the fact that Christianity and Science are sometimes at odds but that is because science often wants to TRY and prove Christianity to be false and it always ends in an argument or disagreement because science canNOT prove Christianity to be false, and Christianity has no desire to prove science wrong because scripture compliments science! Without God there would be NO science. Scripture does NOT indicate how old the earth is, science claims to know yet science evens disagrees as to the exact age, but science says it HAS to be more than the biblical 10,000 or so years!! Does it?!? NO! Could it be?!? YES! That’s NOT important, it proves nothing and solves nothing and gains us absolutely nothing, but it is a way for the god of this world to keep our focus off from Jesus and on to things that do not matter! So we argue, discuss, dispute, disagree, get angry and fight wars because that is just exactly what the god of this world wants us to do! But the one true God, the creator, and redeemer, well He wants you to focus on Him and what is important (eternal life)! We can debate this and though you and I won’t people will debate this until Christ returns and no one will be the better for it! If you do NOT believe and refuse to ever believe I cannot change you only the Holy Spirit can but only if you practice your God given free will!!! I will have no further useless comments or suggestions, God is the judge I am not, and by an atheist stating that God does not exist DOES NOT make God not exist. All I need to do is look at creation which I am surrounded by every day! Earth, plants, animals, humans, stars, planets, even science and I know without a doubt GOD exists! So let me finish by saying God bless you Joe and Lisa and May He open the eyes of your heart Joe and allow you into His presence one day before it is to late! God bless you. Sincerely with a deep live for your soul – Bill D.