On Tue, 17 Oct 2000, Adrian Morgan wrote:

<jumping in>

> jesse stephen bangs wrote, quoting myself:
> Mmmm, I don't bother much with good and evil spiritual entities. As for
> magic, well, everyone has their own view of what magic is, so naturally
> I won't pretend to pass judgement on all of these views. But one of the
> most common views sees magic as something that actually manipulates
> spiritual forces and directs events toward a desired outcome. From a
> Christian perspective, this goes *very* much against the grain of what
> prayer is all about because it places the practitioner in control
> instead of God. The purpose of prayer is not to so much for *us* to
> change the world, as to give *God* a chance to change us. Furthermore,
> there is no such thing as a "skilled" prayer more likely to be answered
> than an "unskilled" one. The Bible says, "Tremendous power is available
> through a good man's earnest prayer", so the virtues that make fore
> effective prayer are earnestness and purity of heart, not skill. There's
> a philosophy of priorities built into prayer that differs from the
> philosophy built into the traditional view of magic (I repeat: I am well
> aware of alternate views on magic to which my comments do not apply), and
> I think that this, rather than 'good and evil spiritual forces', is why
> the Bible condemns the practise of magic. After all, if you could just
> make things happen by casting spells, would you bother to bring your
> concerns before God?

<thinking>  I wish I knew more about Korean shamanic folk beliefs, which
are the only magical tradition I have any personal connection with.  If I
weren't a Christian I honestly think I'd be an animist.

> The use of ritual in prayer can be a very valuable thing, and the Bible
> does not condemn it. What it *does* condemn is the use of ritual to
> manipulate spiritual forces without submitting to the authority of God
> as one must in prayer. However, even if they don't think of them as
> rituals, almost everyone uses rituals in prayer. Even if you just bow
> your head and close your eyes, that, technically, is a ritual. It's
> got nothing to do with manipulating spiritual forces, and everything to
> do with creating an environment in which the experience of prayer is more
> easily entered into. More sophisticated rituals exist (and the best ones
> are those that you discover yourself because then they are tailored to
> your individual persona) which help to make prayer into an experience
> that truly engages one's whole mind. I use some of them myself, and I
> find them very helpful.

I've always wondered if there were--a format, for lack of a better word.
I just talk to God, not knowing any better.  :-(  ("Dear God...")

My favourite times for prayer are, ironically, while in the shower and
just before going to bed (assuming I don't just conk out).  Funny,
though--I guess praying in the shower *is* a ritual of sorts, I just
never think of it that way.  (In case you're wondering, I often thank God
for hot running water.  I lived a year in a house without.  The things
God gives us don't have to be earthshattering to be appreciated!)

ObConLang: Prayer forms, if any, if your conlangs?  None in Chevraqis
that I know of yet, but despite the fact that I perform it, prayer is
very mysterious to me in many ways.

(What fun would life be without some mystery?)