Prayer is communication with God. It is union with God and believers say it is two way. God unites with you when you pray and you unite with him. Catholic teaching states that grace is necessary for salvation and prayer is the means of obtaining grace so prayer is necessary for salvation.
The Catholic Church following the Bible which says that all who call on the name of the Lord for eternal salvation will be saved teaches that prayer is absolutely necessary for salvation. This doctrine is in the Bible which claims that the prayer of accepting Christ is necessary for salvation (page 1, The Great Means of Salvation and of Perfection).
Anybody that is damned is damned or thrown in Hell forever simply because they did not pray enough or when they needed to (page 30, 31, The Great Means of Salvation and Perfection). Without prayer to get God’s hand over you, you would commit every sin you could (page 56, The Great Means of Salvation and Perfection).
The Church opposed the Pelagians for denying that prayer was needed for salvation (page 5, The Great Means of Salvation and of Perfection). It observes that Jesus said that without his grace one can do nothing and not that one cannot complete anything (page 6, The Great Means of Salvation and of Perfection). Logically then the reason Adam sinned in the Garden of Eden was because he did not turn to God in prayer for help in the face of temptation (page 10, The Great Means of Salvation and of Perfection). If that is true then Adam sinned by not praying so he was a sinner before he ate the forbidden fruit yet the whole point of the forbidden fruit was so that Adam would sin if he ate it. So God overlooked the sin of not praying for help in order to pick on Adam for eating a fruit. This is a totally absurd doctrine. Not turning to God is worse than eating of a fruit.
The doctrine that prayer is needed for salvation means that praying is more important than doing all possible good works. It is better to give five seconds of your entire life praying than to do all humanitarian works consistently and heroically all your life without praying. This is misanthropic fanaticism carried to the extreme. How people can claim to be humble while claiming that by praying they have done the main good work is amazing. If you have the right to believe something so horrible then how can you object if somebody else believes in acting this horrible? I mean if somebody wants to offer human sacrifices? If faith comes first as you say then you could not blame them for thinking they should do it and are right to actually do it.
Forcing a person to pray makes the prayer worthless. But if prayer is necessary for salvation then you are forced to do it for you will rot in Hell forever if you don’t. You might not feel forced but you would if you really believed. You can be forced while not feeling forced. You are asked to live every moment like it was your last. And prayer is necessary to prepare for the last moment. It is the one thing that you cannot omit. That means that if you are going to live as if you are ready to die you are forced to pray as much as you physically and mentally can. Compulsion makes your prayer impotent. The doctrine of eternal punishment prevents you praying. The doctrine then could only come from the Devil if it is true that prayer is the only way to salvation. If you don’t sense you are being forced then you do not really believe in what you think is the word of God and you cannot be saved anyway.
Even if we reject eternal punishment there is still the problem that God hates sin infinitely so it is the worst evil. God’s love is immeasurable so his hatred of sin is immeasurable so we should hate sin at all costs and pray to avoid it. Again compulsion steps in.
Nobody has the right to accuse you of being capable of being bad enough to turn yourself into a demon who hates all people for all eternity. You need proof to say such things. The prayers then of those who believe that prayer protects people from eternal punishment are bad in the sense for they come from a faith that accuses you. The believer wants to feel he helps you as opposed to really helping you.
The Church says salvation means that we will all be in an eternally good and wonderful relationship with each other and God for all eternity. God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow and is seen as the source of all being. He is not like a person and does not have a body. He cannot change for he is absolutely perfect. Prayer is about a relationship with God. If praying for another person changes me and nothing else what does that mean? That I am using the person's trouble and problems to feel I am improving. Virtue that manipulates others like that is not virtue at all. Perhaps the prayer makes me feel better about helping others better? Maybe that can happen whether there is a God or not. Prayer is not a relationship with God even if he exists for a relationship is about two people changing each other and becoming closer through that changing. There is no such thing as really doing anything for anybody else by praying. Asking for dying John to have a happy death in a few minutes will do nothing for him at all. I am fooling myself.
People will deep down be happy to think that they have caused some beneficial or desired things to happen and thinking it will be what matters most to them
Prayer is only really possible for those who believe in gods who are very human and have human frailties. This gets around the problem of a god who loves immeasurably and infinitely. Everybody else just only thinks they are praying.
Books Consulted
A HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY, VOL 6, PART II, KANT, Frederick Copleston SJ, Doubleday/Image, New York 1964
AQUINAS, FC Copleston, Penguin Books, London, 1991
BEYOND GOOD AND EVIL, Friedrich Nietzsche, Penguin, London, 1990
BOOK OF COMMON PRAYER, Association for the Promotion of Christian Knowledge, Dublin, 1960
CHARITY, MEDITATIONS FOR A MONTH, Richard F Clarke SJ, Catholic Truth Society, London, 1973
CHRISTIANITY FOR THE TOUGH-MINDED, Edited by John Warwick Montgomery, Bethany Fellowship, Minnesota, 1973
CRISIS OF MORAL AUTHORITY, Don Cupitt, SCM Press, London, 1995
EVIDENCE THAT DEMANDS A VERDICT, VOL 1, Josh McDowell, Alpha, Scripture Press Foundation, Bucks, 1995
ECUMENICAL JIHAD, Peter Kreeft, Ignatius Press, San Francisco, 1996
THE GREAT MEANS OF SALVATION AND OF PERFECTION, St Alphonsus De Ligouri, Redemptorist Fathers, Brooklyn, 1988
HANDBOOK OF CHRISTIAN APOLOGETICS, Peter Kreeft and Ronald Tacelli, Monarch, East Sussex, 1995
HONEST TO GOD, John AT Robinson, SCM, London, 1963
HOW DOES GOD LOVE ME? Radio Bible Class, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1986
IN DEFENCE OF THE FAITH, Dave Hunt, Harvest House, Eugene, Oregon, 1996
MADAME GUYON, MARTYR OF THE HOLY SPIRIT, Phyllis Thompson, Hodder & Stoughton, London, 1986
RADIO REPLIES, 1, Frs Rumble & Carty, Radio Replies Press, St Paul, Minnesota, 1938
RADIO REPLIES, 2, Frs Rumble & Carty, Radio Replies Press, St Paul, Minnesota, 1940
RADIO REPLIES, 3, Frs Rumble & Carty, Radio Replies Press, St Paul, Minnesota, 1942
REASON AND BELIEF, Brand Blanschard, George Allen and Unwin Ltd, 1974
REASONS FOR HOPE, Ed Jeffrey A Mirus, Christendom College Press, Virginia, 1982
THE BIBLE TELLS US SO, R B Kuiper, The Banner of Truth Trust, Edinburgh, 1978
The Dark Side, How Evangelical Teachings Corrupt Love and Truth, Valerie Tarico, Ph.D, Dea Press, Seattle, 2006
THE GREAT MEANS OF SALVATION AND OF PERFECTION, St Alphonsus De Ligouri, Redemptorist Fathers, Brooklyn, 1988
THE IMITATION OF CHRIST, Thomas A Kempis, Translated by Ronald Knox and Michael Oakley, Universe, Burns & Oates, London, 1963
THE LIFE OF ALL LIVING, Fulton J Sheen, Image Books, New York, 1979
THE PRACTICE OF THE PRESENCE OF GOD, Brother Lawrence, Hodder & Stoughton, London, 1981
THE PUZZLE OF GOD, Peter Vardy, Collins, London, 1990
THE SATANIC BIBLE, Anton Szandor LaVey, Avon Books, New York, 1969
THE SPIRITUAL GUIDE, Michael Molinos, Christian Books, Gardiner Maine, 1982
THE STUDENT’S CATHOLIC DOCTRINE, Rev Charles Hart BA, Burns & Oates, London, 1961
UNBLIND FAITH, Michael J Langford, SCM, London, 1982

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