The Futility of Prayer

Prayer. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if there was a higher power up there who you could express all your pain and worries to? Wouldn’t it be neat if you could cry out to some kind of God and have him reply and say everything is going to be fine and he has everything under control?

Who wouldn’t want to have such a refuge? What a comfort it would be. Imagine lonely Greg who has met the woman of his dreams. He would so dearly love to have Kate as his beloved, the woman he can heap all his love and attention on for the rest of his life. But he doesn’t know whether Kate feels the same way about him. In fact he thinks that probably she doesn’t.


‘Oh God… She is the most amazing woman I’ve ever met, but it’s so hard, because I feel such strong feelings for her and I think I may even love her, but does she feel the same way? Please tell me she does. Please put my mind at ease. Oh God, please tell me that it’s your will that she one day be my wife. Please?’


Greg remains there, his heart aching, struggling to remain positive. He so much wants Kate as his sweetheart. His motives are pure and he wants to make her the happiest woman alive. He yearns so much for it to be God’s plan. And then he hears a small voice in his mind, something that sounds so clear and soothing.


‘Greg, my son, this is the woman I have for you. The others before her were only intended to be temporary unions, but this one is indeed my perfect match for you. It’s my will that you belong together, but you must be patient. Continue to trust in me and have faith in me. Continue on as you are and don’t give up hope my son, for she will be yours in good time.’


It sounds so good, it sounds so clear, so yes, it must be God. Hallelujah! She is going to be his!

But the weeks pass and his faith wavers because he comes no closer to gaining Kate’s heart. In fact, it seems things are becoming more and more hopeless. It seems that Kate just doesn’t feel the same way about him. Perhaps the so-called word from God wasn’t God at all? Or perhaps Greg just screwed things up somehow?


Perhaps I shouldn’t have done that or said that? Perhaps I should have done that instead? Oh God, please heal the pain, heal the pain.’


Several weeks later Greg can finally go a day without pining for Kate. And then the pain begins to ease.


‘Praise God. He’s healed my broken heart.’


It’s very comforting to believe there is a magical sky daddy there who will listen to your cries, feel sorry for you when you’re heart aches, relieves you of your burdens and gives you peace. How marvellous it would be if it were the case, but sooner or later, you have to face reality. It’s pure fantasy. You see something you want and you look for reasons to believe that God wants you to have it. Every Christian goes through this. Very rarely does God ever tell them no. They only ever take something as a no when ultimately they don’t get what they want and know there is absolutely no chance of getting it.


This happens all the time to every Christian. Of course there will be justifications.

  • You didn’t have enough faith.
  • You asked with the wrong motives.
  • There is sin you have not dealt with.
  • The timing is not right.
  • It was not God’s will.
  • God had better things in store


That last justification is the one that usually comes into play, because hindsight is a marvellous thing. Further down the track you can always come up with an excuse why you didn’t get what you wanted and you can give God glory for it.

Greg, a few years later, meets Laura and things click. She is perfect for him and ticks all the boxes. They both believe that God wants them to be together and that they should marry.

As for Kate, she is a distant bittersweet memory in Greg's mind and he no longer remembers the pain… all the yearning and the heartfelt appeals he made to God about her. He now gives thanks to God, glad that he did not get Kate, because if he’d married Kate he’d never have ended up with Laura, the woman that God truly wanted him to have.


They marry with the blessing of their family and church.


Five years later, they divorce.


A common scenario in any Christian marriage that God supposedly ordained. Of course you can’t blame God for your marriage falling apart, can you?

There will always be excuses, but there is clearly only one real logical conclusion you can possibly come to when it comes to prayer. Any supposed answer to it, particularly in the affirmative, is wishful thinking.  

It was once said that prayer is a way to make you feel as though you are doing something constructive without having to get off your butt and take some kind of physical action. Christians put so much importance in prayer and will insist it has an effect, even though the only way to prove it, would be to jump into Doc Brown’s De Lorian, travel back in time, take the place of your original self and do the same thing again, this time without actually praying. My bet is you’ll get exactly the same result.

It’s also amusing when you think that even Jesus had an unanswered prayer and that’s really saying something, considering he was God in human form!


John 17:20-23, "My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be as one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me."


Considering it is now 2000 years on and there is still no unity amongst Christians and that his message has not resulted in the world believing in him, I’d have to say this counts as an unanswered prayer. Even if God’s reply to the prayer was “wait”, you’d still have to say it was futile as there’s no sign of it even coming close to happening yet, despite the claims of many Christians including Paul that we are in the ends times. And especially considering there is so many thousands of Christian denominations and no two Christians can agree on anything. If the church could agree on what makes a “true Christian” maybe they’d be on track, but I’m not holding my breath for that one!

Nevertheless, if the answer is “wait”, 2000 years is one hell of a long time to wait and really, if it hasn’t happened by now, what makes you think it ever will happen?

Just to demonstrate what I’m saying, let’s try a little quiz here:


Child (in back seat of car): How much further?

Mother: Not far now.

How long should you wait before considering this mother’s assurance a lie?


  1. In ten minutes from now
  2. In 2 hours from now
  3. In a day from now


"I’ll pick you up tonight at 6:30pm.”

How long should you wait before determining you’ve been stood up?

  1. An hour or two
  2. 6:30pm
  3. A year later
  4. 2000 years


“I promise I’ll pay you that $500 dollars I owe you as soon as I’ve got some spare cash.”


How long before this becomes a broken promise?

  1. A year from now
  2. After the debtor has died
  3. A year or two after his death


A missing part of the Koran is uncovered where the prophet Mohammed says that after he dies, he will return to life a short while later, to save mankind from the evil Christians


How long before you consider this a false prophecy?

  1. A year after his death
  2. 100 years after his death
  3. 1000 years after his death
  4. >2000 years after his death



Jesus says that after he dies, he will return to bring judgement on mankind and bring glory to his people.


How long before you consider this a false prophecy?

  1. A year after his death
  2. 100 years after his death
  3. 1000 years after his death
  4. >2000 years after his death


If you chose anything other than 1 or maybe 2, then clearly there is something seriously wrong with your critical thinking. If you chose 1 or 2 for everything except for the last 2 questions, then you are clearly a person of extreme double standards. You may be willing to employ logic for most things, but when it comes to the bible or the Koran, critical thinking goes hurtling down the gurgler. If you have not given the same answers for the last two, then most likely you are deluded and living in a fantasy world, unless you answered 4 for both, in which case you are most likely confused and need to stop listening to religious whack-jobs.


If you are like me, you have prayed for many things in your life and some of those things you got. You will have seen some of them as bona-fide miracles especially if your prayers were very specific as mine sometimes were. However, I came to realise that the reason I got what I asked, wasn’t because God did anything, but because they were inevitable results of actions I took to obtain those things.

It’s much the same with the majority of prayers. Ultimately, it comes down to you taking action. Other times it comes down to chance. If you pray for your cold to get better, there’s a 100% chance it will, even if it takes a few days. If you pray for someone to be healed of cancer, there’s a chance that will happen too, because cancer sometimes goes into remission. It’s natural.

Another thing about prayer, which seems very convenient when it comes to believers, is that there is always an excuse for everything. When you prayer you ALWAYS get an answer. It will be either yes, no, or not right now. A cynic may say that’s just another way of saying, “whatever will be will be”.

People who don’t pray will get the same results. they will get what they want, not get what they want or get it at some later time down the track. There is no evidence to show praying affects anything and studies have shown this to be the case..

The other thing you have to contend with is God’s will. Most Christians believe that you won’t get what you want if it’s not God’s will that you get it. Which begs the question, why pray at all? You’re not going to get anything that God hasn’t intended you have anyway. And God surely knows what we need anyway and promises to supply all our needs, not to mention heap us with blessings. So why would we think we can achieve anything through prayer, especially if the prayers we pray require the violations of the freewill of someone else? God will do what God wants to do. You cannot manipulate God no matter how much you plead or how many tears you shed. He is not your cosmic errand boy.

The excuses continue too, no matter what happens in your life, even if your prayers aren’t answered:


If you are good and good things happen to you it's "God's blessing"

If you are good and bad things happen you are "being tested".

If you are bad and good things happen "God's grace is upon you"

If you are bad and bad things happen it's because you are being punished.


Even if God is not real, you can still make these excuses to justify his existence. 


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Comments: 1
  • #1

    Paul the apostate (Saturday, 26 October 2019 06:37)

    Very true. A very well written article.