Free Will Versus Intercessory Prayer

If you were building a machine, an efficient, powerful machine, you would build it out of iron and steel, you would grind it and thread it and stamp it's parts out on a press. If someone suggested to you that you carve some of it's parts out of wood you would look at them as if they had suddenly sprouted horns. Unless it is a crate or a pallet wood does not belong around modern machinery and is, in fact, the antithesis of the modern machine. For every wooden ship built since the dawn of time there has been twenty or more steel ships constructed in modern ship-yards; For every wagon built of wood, a hundred cars have rolled, smooth and shining, from the mouth of a factory, all steel, plastic, alloys and chrome; For every arrow carved and fletched by hand a million aluminum ones have been extruded from one machine, cut to length by another and fletched by a third. Wood has become archaic and homey, decorative and nearly obsolete... I dare say intercessory prayer, as it is commonly understood, is a metaphysical concept on par with wood; It does not belong in a machine as beautiful and as efficient as the Universe. It is as archaic and incongruous in it's relationship to reality as a wooden peg among machined bolts or straw among nails. Free will, on the other hand, is an easily recognizable component of reality, an integral, articulated part that fits with the overall design of the whole. You can see it at work every time you or someone else makes a choice, you see it in action and you experience the results, the consequences. In fact, from a completely human perspective, free-will occupies a place in the scheme of things that almost raises it to the level of an engine in its own right, a motivating force, a concept that drives the great bulk of reality forward... or, at the very least, drives us forward...and backward...and all over the place. Intercessory prayer is radically different however, intercessory prayer is a concept that, like extraterrestrial-life, synchronicity and Bigfoot, seems reasonably sound until you really examine it within the context of objective reality and then it dribbles off into absurdity. It opens the door to all sorts of inextricably complex, hair-pulling dilemmas like: What if you pray and the person you pray for prays differently? What happens? Or what if two people both pray different prayers for a third person and THAT person is praying something completely different, huh? What if you pray one thing and then, the next day, for whatever reason, you pray something different? Which one's going to hold water? What if you pray something stupid or wrong or something harmful over the long-run? What if it's better for Aunt Doris that Uncle Silas dies? Maybe Uncle Silas tortures her in private and she's miserable and as long as he's around she'll never start that accounting business she's always dreamed of and never meet the man she was meant to meet that's going to make her happy. Under those circumstances anyone that prays for Uncle Silas to recover from his latest heart-surgery is a sadist. Do two conflicting prayers cancel each other out? If they did would that mean that a large amount of praying is being done to little or no effect? Or, if you want to take a completely mathematical approach to the subject, maybe two prayers override one prayer and three override two and if a sufficient number of people prayed simultaneously for a neighbor to be eaten by dogs then, by golly, he'd better stay indoors. An entire forest of dilemmas and seeming paradoxes springs up around the notion of prayer in general and intercessory prayer in particular. Who could sit and untangle all the tight little knots that would occur under such an inane set of principles? God? Why should He? No, intercessory prayer, at bottom, is ego. It is man's delusion that he can somehow effect the outcome of an event by bending God to his will. And it is part of an even greater delusion that paints a picture of an "uncertain god", one full of doubts and regrets, one that created a world so full of holes that He depends upon us to point them out. But that is not the case. This is the world as God meant it to be, how could it be anything else? Uncle Silas and Aunt Doris can both be incorporated under one prayer and it is a simple one, one that does not intrude into God's relationship with His children and one that lines up perfectly with the absolute good, it is this one: "Thy will be done..."

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