Chris Redford, former Assembly of God youth group member turned atheist (Evid3nc3 on Youtube) began a direct assault on God with a series of 13 videos on YouTube he calls Deconversion.   As in the original video recounting his own falling away, which I critiqued earlier, Redford begins with the assumption that he was once a Christian.   In this second video, Redford directly attacks Jesus when he challenges the Lord and His call to prayer, and describes his evolving definition of prayer.

One noticeable problem from the very beginning is when he confuses the term “intercessory prayer” with the term “prayer”.  The former has been understood as prayer on behalf of others.  Perhaps even this small redefinition sets the stage for his many errors of understanding and the misleading conclusions he draws. Almost all of the examples he gives of prayer involve asking God for things.  Praise and Thanksgiving as part of prayer are virtually ignored, though most Scriptures refering to prayer include these elements.  By the time he began to pray for less childish things, he was already praying without faith. (Soon he would abandon prayer altogether.)

But the Bible commends believing prayer:

Matthew 21:22: And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.

It requires unselfish prayer:

James 4:3  Ye ask, and receive not,because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume [it] upon your lusts.

Many passages demonstrate the importance of gratitude in prayer:

I Thessalonians 1:2  We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers.

And certainly intercessory prayer is commanded in Scripture:

Matthew 9:38:  Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth laborers into his harvest.

And prayer should be persistent:

Luke 18:1   And he spake a parable unto them [to this end], that men ought always to pray, and not to faint.

Finally, prayer must be in Christ’s name (not as a formula, but in and through faith in Him):

John 14:13-14     And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.  If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.

However, at some point, a great “revelation” came to Redford.  He discovered the doctrine of God’s omniscience, therefore he needn’t pray for his daily bread.    In other words, since God knows everything, why pray?  (But this is because he thought prayer was primarily about informing God).

He finishes the video with this self-righteous claim:

“I want to reemphasize that is was my own respect for God’s sovereignty over my life that caused me to personally to abandon the practice of intercessory prayer”

It is uncertain why he thinks this was respectful of God, because the same Bible that proclaims that God knows all and rules over all, commands men to pray always.  How does disobeying a sovereign God show respect to Him and His commandments?

(More commentary below the video).

Earlier Mr. Redford listed a number of things he had prayed for (mostly selfish or silly, such as becoming a robot) but then adds “sooner or later though, every Christian learns that intercessory prayer doesn’t always work.  For example, often you will pray for something to happen and it won’t happen.  Sometimes it happens later.  Sometimes it happens way later. Sometimes it doesn’t happen at all.”

He came to the conclusion that the likelihood of his prayer being answered was directly proportional to the likelihood that the event would occur without prayer. “To adjust for this, as I got older, I started to ask for things I was more likely to get…help on homework, etc “.

The most offensive part of the video, yet also the most foolish, was to compare praying to God with praying to milk. When Christians discuss answers to prayer, they do often suggest God always answers prayer, and that answers can be “Yes”, “No” or “Wait.” Redford says the answers would be identical, if one were to pray to milk.  He really thinks he’s got us now.

Suppose you pray to milk for a $1000.  And somehow, you get a check in the mail the next day for about a $1000. Obviously, it was just a coincidence because milk doesn’t answer prayer.  Voila! says Redford, it is just a coincidence when the Christian claims that God has heard his prayer.

This is nonsense.  But suppose I, as a young college student, email my mother, and ask her to wash my socks.   Perhaps my mother will wash my socks today.  Maybe she will wait a couple of weeks.  Maybe she will not wash them at all.   I get home two days later and my socks are washed.  Coincidence?  Hardly.   Now suppose I ask milk to wash my socks.  And my socks turned up washed.  Since it is obvious to all that milk can’t wash socks, I am forced to the obvious conclusion.   If I am an atheist, I will suggest that my mother doesn’t exist.

Redford has made the blunder of mistaking an illustration with evidence.  The jug of milk analogy demonstrates the viewpoint of its creator but is no evidence about whether God answers prayer.  It is a red herring.  Just as my illustration about the mother does not prove that God answers prayer, it only illustrates it.

It matters that you pray to a God that exists.  Praying to a milk jug is to pray to an idol.  Redford was not praying in faith to the true and living God, but a God of his own making: The vending machine god.

There is a reason Christians present the notion of answers to prayer in such a simplistic way.  It is precisely because God is sovereign, good, and omniscient. Let’s go back to the mother and socks.  There are a host of other possibilities when mothers are involved.  First, the mother could miss the email.  Second, she could get the email and forget to do, what she was actually willing to do.  Third, the washer could be broken down and she could be incapable of washing the socks.  Fourth, someone else could read the email and wash the socks.

Another problem with the analogy of praying to milk for $1000 is that it treats God as some cosmic vending machine whose primary purpose is to “answer” such selfish prayers.  Or worse yet, it treats God as some servant of man’s who must answer on the whim of man.   Redford’s view of prayer is a caricature of the Biblical view.  There are many reasons God does not “answer” man’s prayers, some of which have been alluded to already.  Redford at one point in the video shows an article purporting to debunk linking prayer with healing[1].  The research is flawed[2].     

Suppose an atheist shakes a fist at God and in defiance cries out for God to strike him dead, if He exists.  God will hear that prayer.  Only a fool would pray such a prayer.   God may say “yes” at that moment, but he will answer the prayer.   Just wait.  Death reaches every man.

It reminds me of graffiti I saw on a restroom wall once:

“God is dead,

signed John.”

“John is dead.

signed, God.”

[1] The New York Times article includes two humorous, yet unexplained paragraphs:

“The patients were broken into three groups. Two were prayed for; the third was not. Half the patients who received the prayers were told that they were being prayed for; half were told that they might or might not receive prayers…

The study also found that more patients in the uninformed prayer group — 18 percent — suffered major complications, like heart attack or stroke, compared with 13 percent in the group that did not receive prayers. In their report, the researchers suggested that this finding might also be a result of chance.”  (Italics added).

This paragraph should gut the reliability of the whole study.  If not chance, how could you possibly explain people doing worse who got prayed for?  If the results are due to chance, what good is the study? And what does it mean that the one group was told that they might or might not receive prayers?  Why would you tell somebody that?

[2] Flaws include that the prayer was done by groups who didn’t know the patients.  The Bible suggests it is fervent prayer that avails much. Obviously, prayers by family members would be more fervent. Second, one of the groups chosen to pray was the Unity School of Christianity, a cult.  Third, there is no scientific evidence that prayers ever took place or in what manner. The Bible never admits that formal prayers would be answered as such.   They grow out of a relationship with the living God, through Jesus Christ alone.   Fourth, the researchers admit that personal prayer is not taken into consideration.

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