One of the critiques I see in response to the Christian faith is the element of prayer, and how it doesn't measure up to what Jesus says in certain New Testament quotes. Prayer is meant to bring one closer to God, or provide a sense of peace.
Essentially, God is not a gumball machine, and your prayers aren't quarters.
I came across this blog recently that was for a woman who's husband had a bad accident, and ending up dying from the injuries a month later. A lot of the posts were from people who knew the woman and her husband, and these people were reporting on the husband's status, as well as asking for prayers.
And here's where I come across as incredibly callous.
While I had did have a lot of sympathy for what the woman was going through, I kept stumbling over the prayer reports. Many of these prayers were asking for specific things -- that the doctors would know what to do, that the injuries would subside, that the husband would be okay.
And any amount of improvement, any positive sign, was treating as an answer to the prayers. When the husband was looking better? The bloggers said that the prayers were working and to keep them up. They encouraged others to prayer as well. When the improvement continued? It meant that God was really responding, and then the bloggers listed out more prayers. They also praised God for His goodness, when the doctors reports were encouraging.
Isn't this situation pretty much treating God as a gumball machine? The thing is, based on what I read, I wouldn't say these people were shallow about their faith. They were certainly sincere, they obviously had read quite a bit of the Bible. They might even be people who would say that non-Christians are just reading those certain Jesus verses wrong, and prayer isn't meant as a laundry list.
Yet, do they really believe that? Because all of their behavior points to treating God as though prayer influences Him. All of this behavior points towards taking those Jesus verses as a literal statement. So then how can non-Christians be accused of misinterpreting the verse, or taking the verse out of context, when Christians treat the verses in the same manner?