Its great to be on a message board. Here we can take arguments that have been going on for thousands of years, where everything that can be said has been said and treat it as a brand new topic. Lets take the the problem of a loving God in an evil world. In the old days this was not a problem, gods were more or less extensions of the human condition. There were thousands of them, god of this, god of that. They could be helpful but were just as likely, if not more so, to be indifferent or downright hostile. Folks made their offerings, burned their incense or sacrificed their virgins knowing full well that their god might not listen or would listen to this group but not that. Fishermen went to sea. Some got good catches, some not, and some just may have gotten drowned. This was simply taken that the gods favored some and not others. The fishermen mulled it over perhaps adjusting their offering or prayers in the hope that they would become the favored ones. Gods were expected to be, shall we say, less than nice, and never fair but you kept on plugging and maybe you would get lucky. With the advent of the loving, all-powerful, all knowing single god this became a problem. There was evil in the world. God was love and powerful enough to do anything. Something was amiss. There was some explaining to do. First there had to be a fall guy. Lucifer, Satan, or just the plain Devil filled this role. He would become the personification of evil. The fact that God created him and could simply destroy him also needed to be explained away. To my knowledge it never has been. All kinds of excuses came to hand. Man was created perfect they say but the devil made them eat of the tree of knowledge, leaving out how such a situation could exist in a perfectly created world. Man could not know good without knowing evil they say, leaving out why it is so necessary to know evil and pain. Man has a sinful nature they say and the devil is here to exploit that nature, again leaving out why such a nature was created in man. Anyway the devil gets the blame for all the bad things and god the credit for all the good. Sounds like the managerial setup in a modern corporation. I never have discovered why God could not do the dirty work himself, why he could not do the testing and sorting of of the sinners. He is, after all having no problem casting us into the burning fires of Hell. I see that it might just be a huge PR problem but I see no difference in the final result. The old saying has it that the rain falls on both the just and the unjust. Surely this would be a problem as there seems to be a matter of fairness here. Something had to be done. This was fairly simple. Just divorce God for the consequences of storms natural disasters, disease, droughts and so forth. We used to call these acts of God but god is no longer held responsible. That was a bit of a problem, kind of illogical, so the preferred phrase is now natural disaster. God is merciful, God is good and if that is so then God should be available to help those in need. Presto! We get prayer. Pray and you will receive. Ask and it will be given. Except it is not. The success ratio of answered prayer is dismal. It has become a truism that nothing fails like prayer. First this failure rate was ascribed to a lack of faith, true faith that is because God would surely respond to the truly faithful. Unfortunately it became glaringly obvious, as those of untarnished belief were no more successful than the obviously unfaithful. Then too there were the disasters to those who could be nothing but innocent, like small children. That will bring us to the final cop out. Man was given free will they say because it was necessary for us to appreciate the nature of good and evil. Each of us has the ability and responsibility to plot our own course, for good or bad and that is the end of that. God will not force us to be good, nor restrain us from being bad. The sad fact is that this is the final and complete nullification of prayer. If someone chooses to do me evil it is because he has free will to do so. If he chooses to run the red light and T bone me it was his free choice and prayer becomes innefective, banned actually. It is illogical to ask for deliverance from actions that the lord had deemed sancrosact. So where does that leave us? We cant pray for relief from natural disasters. Had god wanted us to be saved he would not have made the disaster and he has been relieved of even that responsibility by modern doctrine. We are now stuck with the problems of disease, famine, drought, storms volcanic eruptions etc. Not Gods fault, Not Gods problem. It is yours. Since almost anything else bad that happens to us will be the result of our, or someone elses free will, we can not now be saved from anything be it a traffic accident to being murdered. Thats the way the game has been set up. So what can you pray for? For the life of me I can see only one thing. You may pray for the strength to endure all the disasters that God either sets upon you or fails to prevent. It is almost a given that you will endure to some extent. If you endure well God will be given the credit, if you do not you will be judged a weakling, or worse, unworthy. Makes you wonder if it is worth all the effort.