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To Religious DLers

I have a very real question. My nephew goes to college at Cal State Fullerton, where tonight armed robbers shut down the college for a few hours. Everything turned out fine, but many of my sister's friends posted all over Facebook that they were "praying" for the school/students/etc. Why? How is prayer going to do anything? Does God only protect his "flock" if others pray for him to do so? Is prayer an indication that he's not a good enough God to see that bad things down on earth are happening? He needs to be made aware of it by intervening humans? And if he didn't see fit to stop the problem in the first place (let's assume he knew it was all going to go down), why the hell would he care once the wheels have been set in motion? If we really do have free will, then what's the point of praying anyway? If prayer is just a way to make someone feel like they're doing something to contribute when really they can't, fine. But can't we just say that's what it is? I really want to understand religious people, but constructs like the efficacy of "prayer" absolutely baffle me.

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