Reddit Questions #1 – Prayer, beginner Bible reading, and imaginary friends
I have recently joined the throngs at Reddit (look for greggpj333), and one of the subreddits I am a member of is a place where non-believers can ask honest questions of believers. I have been active in this subreddit and wanted to publish some of the questions and answers from that forum.
How can we have faith god is not an imaginary friend?
That is a great question! I struggle with this as well, from time to time. For me, when I stop my daily reading of Scripture, I start losing my intimacy with God. Staying in His word and spending time in prayer (both speaking and listening) are ways to develop that relationship. The key is relationship and building on that.
On the same thread, another person posted this: The key to brainwashing is repeating a message over and over for a very long period of time, as well as positively reinforcing that message. This is a well-known way to convince someone that something is true, whether it is so or not.
This statement is faulty reasoning as it pertains to my answer. I go to the gym, and I work out over and over and get positive reinforcement from my trainer. I spend time with my wife and listen to her over and over for 32 years, and she positively reinforces me with returned love and kindness. Are those two examples of cultish behavior? Absolutely not. However, cults have a dynamic of extreme social pressure (yes, some “Christian” churches are like that, but the vast majority are not), a narcissistic human charismatic leader who dictates truth and demands absolute unquestioning allegiance (that is the antithesis of Jesus who asks people to follow Him and does not coerce them to belief and demonstrates love and self-sacrifice and begs his followers to do likewise), and does not reveal the totality of their beliefs to the initiate person (Christianity puts it all out there and is open for all to see – there are no hidden beliefs).
West (sic) bible is best for a beginner? And what order should I read it?
For a beginner, start with a New Living Translation and then move to either CSB or ESV when you are ready for a different translation. And for what to read, I advise most new believers to start with the gospels and Acts. Read them through three times. Incorporate a Psalm or two in your reading. When you are ready to take on an Old Testament book, start with Genesis and then either Ruth or Esther.
Another person commented in reply: Really curious as to why you suggest for new believers to start in the New Testament.
If they are new believers in Jesus, it’s important to know who Jesus is and what He taught. Plus, the gospels aren’t as difficult to read as some or most of the OT.
They responded: Jesus is the fulfillment of the Old Testament…how do you understand the gospels without first knowing why this is good news to begin with?
I think some people are just told to not read the OT and pass it along. There isn’t anything difficult about king David or anyone else. What’s difficult is trying to understand and have faith with just the second half of the story. Maybe this is why some people get so disillusioned into having spirit filled lives that fall apart the moment their faith is tested. Most turn away like it was another quick fix that just didn’t work for them.
It just seems that more harm is done with telling someone to “just believe and accept “from the New Testament without first understanding why.
Good point, and I don’t disagree with you. However, the question was where to start reading the Bible. Going through Genesis > Malachi is a daunting task even for someone who has been a Christian for some time. By starting with the gospels, the new believer who is new to the Bible can get used to navigating around the Bible and gaining critical insights into how Jesus fulfilled the Old Covenant. I would never dissuade someone from reading the Old Testament. But if they ask my recommendation (as a new believer and reader of Scripture), I tell them to start with the Gospels. Once someone is comfortable with the Bible and is ready to take on more, then I suggest putting together a plan that lets you read through the Bible in one year. But start with smaller steps first.
A thread on prayer and the presence of God:
How do I know if it’s an answered prayer or coincidence?
We start with what prayer is, communicating with our Father by way of Jesus through the Holy Spirit. We speak to Him, and He speaks to us. Jesus gave us the blueprint for prayer in Mat 6:5-15. Read and meditate on that passage. Our prayers are not a Santa Clause wish list but a move of our will and our spirits to align with God. We are to bring to God our petitions, but we need to be mindful of His response. Yes, No, wait, move – His answer is usually not our answer, but it is always better than we can imagine.
How do you now (sic) he responded at all?
You have to be looking for His response, not just your desire. It’s all about the relationship with Him. Spending daily time in Scripture and prayer will help you to see how God is moving in your life. If we treat prayer as some sort of magical spell where we get what we want, then we are not really praying but trying to manipulate the Almighty.
How do we now he said yes ,no or wait?
How do we now (sic) hes (sic) responding whatsoever ?
If it was proven that he responded 9 times out of 10 with no the question would not be why he does not respond.
I know that God answers my prayers because of who He is- omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, omnibenevolent, omnijust. He is also a relational God who will respond to us in a relationship. If we have a relationship with God, we can see Him answering prayers all over the place. When we treat Him transactionally or disdain a relationship with Him, we will never see our prayers answered.
That’s just claims about the nature of god; you still have not proven anything.
I think that’s because you’re not getting the answer you are hoping for. The answer to your question is in who God is and His character. I have answered your question in detail, but the main question is your faith in Jesus. If you put your faith, hope, and trust in Jesus, the answers will make sense. If you don’t, then all you are left with are questions. I will pray for you that God will reveal Himself in your faith journey. It’s up to you to decide where to go.
If you had evidence you would not be asking me to have faith.
Faith is the excuse people give when they don’t have evidence.
“I have answered your question in detail”
No you have not; my question is about evidence .
You simply are asserting characteristics about a God.
If you refer to scientific evidence, then that is precisely the wrong standard to judge metaphysical questions. Evidence for the metaphysical subject of prayer involves verifiable testimony, and I’m not sure you are willing to accept that.
You are also wrongly defining faith. You wrongly assume that faith is what people have when there is a lack of evidence. On the contrary, faith is putting trust in something or someone because of evidence. My company has been paying me twice a month for the past 15 years. I do not have absolute certitude that they will pay me later this week, but I have faith in them that they will pay me because of the past 15 years’ evidence.
If you really want evidence on the effectiveness of prayer, talk to praying people. Listen to their testimonies, which in any court, is evidence.