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Can prayer be harmful? Since it can give a person false hope - when there is none?

One of the families I worked with posed this question. The husband was the only survivor of his unit. Once stateside and out of the Army due to disability the whole family wound up at our shelter. He felt that prayer does nothing except give false hope.

For me, prayer has always or almost always given me peace and hope.


Asked by booklover545 at 6:51 PM on Mar. 7, 2013 in Religious Debate

Level 38 (104,764 Credits)
This question is closed.
Answers (30)
  • I think it gives false hope when people mistake prayer for action on their part. That they don't have to actively take a part in making their lives what they want them to be.

    Answer by sahmamax2 at 6:57 PM on Mar. 7, 2013

  • Possibly. A while back, they did a study that showed that people after surgery who were told they were being prayed for had a slower, more complicated recovery than those who were either not prayed for, or told nothing.

    Answer by JulieJacobKyle at 7:01 PM on Mar. 7, 2013

  • I'm thankful for you answer: that prayer always gives you hope and peace.

    God is a sovereign God. Sometimes His answers to our prayers are not always what we asked for. It is hard to understand, but for us to know all the answers would take the glory away from the Almighty God. I pray every day. I pray for little and big things. I know that sometimes God's answers will be either yes, no, or maybe and sometimes I have to wait a while for Him to work. I accept this. It makes Him God and me part of His creation.


    Answer by Ruthmom802 at 7:31 PM on Mar. 7, 2013

  • Sure.  Just ask the kids who died because their parents chose to pray instead of seek medical help.  Oh, wait.  You can't ask them.  They're dead.


    Answer by jsbenkert at 10:20 PM on Mar. 7, 2013

  • That's why it's important to know that prayer isn't rubbing a lamp and getting a genie that will grant you any wish you want. Like any loving parent wanting what's best for His children, sometimes the answer to our prayer has to be "no" or "not now". No parent we deem responsible would just give everything his children ask for, so why do we expect G-d to do that?

    Answer by momto2boys973 at 10:20 PM on Mar. 7, 2013

  • Religion in general gives people false hope.

    Answer by IhartU at 7:28 AM on Mar. 8, 2013

  • Only when they pray instead of getting medical help

    Answer by butterflyblue19 at 7:20 PM on Mar. 7, 2013

  • I think prayer is harmless, at worst. I would be interested in seeing the study JJK mentioned, which I think has also been brought up before. The question I would have about that study is if every person had exactly the same surgery for the same conditions, with the same treatment afterward, and the same religious faith besides. It would be very difficult to control all of those variables.

    Prayer sometimes provides real hope. And if someone doesn't believe in the prayer, then it would provide no hope at all. And I'm not sure how false hope would be more harmful than not having hope at all, since at least the person might be opeful and have nothing happpene, as opposed to being despairing and having nothing happen.

    Also, it's true. Prayer, either for oneself or someone else, cannot be substituted for action.

    Answer by Ballad at 7:24 PM on Mar. 7, 2013

  • Sure……if that is the only thing you believe in. But, I serve a God who loves me and cares about my life. When things don't go the way we want them to we shouldn't give up, we should keep hoping, keep praying and searching, keep living.

    I do know how it feels to go through struggle and, for me, I was numb and I knew God was there but I didn't speak to him and in a way, hid from him. I think that's normal. I had a good foundation from which I draw my strength. It makes it easier to get up again after falling on hard times.

    Answer by HHx5 at 8:14 PM on Mar. 7, 2013

  • I can see why that poor man would say that. How heartbreaking for him. I don't agree with him, but I would never argue with him. It sounds like he has reason to be pissed, and maybe pissed at God. The great thing is God understands that and is ok with it. Hopefully, as things improve for him and his family, he will gain a different perspective... But yeah, I've felt like God has really let me down before. When I prayed for my nephew to be saved, but he drowned... Those times are rough.

    Answer by Nimue930 at 9:06 PM on Mar. 7, 2013