Does Prayer Work?


Persistent, heartfelt prayer has a long history of bringing good things into the world... but perhaps not in the direct way we'd hoped for.

Dave Schmelzer looks at how many of his friends can no longer pray as they once did, because it doesn't "work." He talks about a provocative take on this from an unexpected contemplative point of view and about how many have found it unlocks a whole new world of good things from a praying life.

Mentioned on this podcast:

A quote from Thich Nhat Hanh:

If you are a poet, you will see clearly that there is a cloud floating in this sheet of paper. Without a cloud there will be no water; without water the trees cannot grow; and without trees, you cannot make paper. So the cloud is in here. The experience of this page is dependent on the existence of a cloud. Paper and cloud are so close. Let us think of other things, like sunshine. Sunshine is very important because the forest cannot grow without sunshine, and we as humans cannot grow without sunshine. So the logger needs sunshine in order to cut the tree, and the tree needs sunshine in order to be a tree. Therefore, you can see sunshine in this sheet of paper. And if you look more deeply, with the eyes of those who are awake, you see not only the cloud and the sunshine in it, but that everything is here, the wheat that became the bread for the logger to eat, the logger’s father--everything is in this sheet of paper. The presence of this tiny sheet of paper proves the presence of the whole cosmos. The smallest particle contains the whole universe. (Quoted in Kornfield, A Path with Heart, p 202, 212)

Ephesians 6:18; John 17: 20-21; Matthew 17:21; Philippians 4:4

A, perhaps whimsical, scale of emotions:

  1. Joy/ Knowledge/ Empowerment/ Freedom/ Love/ Appreciation
  2. Passion
  3. Enthusiasm/ Eagerness/ Happiness
  4. Positive Expectations/ Belief
  5. Optimism
  6. Hopefulness
  7. Contentment
  8. Boredom
  9. Pessimism
  10. Frustration/ Irritation/Impatience
  11. “Overwhelment”
  12. Disappointment
  13. Doubt
  14. Worry
  15. Blame
  16. Discouragement
  17. Anger
  18. Revenge
  19. Hatred/ Rage
  20. Jealousy
  21. Insecurity/ Guilt/ Unworthiness
  22. Fear/ Grief/ Depression/ Despair/ Powerlessness