A good question came up, “what’s the difference between positive thinking and prayer? “Can’t atheists or other kinds of fundamentalists just access the power of their minds?
Much has been written about such things, so I will just offer my own take for your entertainment.
Had an amusing encounter in line for the bathrooms which were being cleaned and somebody had decided to actually post a security guard. There were three of us and after a few moments of waiting I whispered, “you know, I think we can take this guy down.” Keep in mind I was wearing my wrist brace and couldn’t get the car door opened that day, so I was definitely a one arm bandit. The woman I was speaking to was leaning on a cane, so as far as I was concerned, that just meant she was well armed. Never mind the the physical challenges, there were 3 of us and only one of him and I’m pretty sure we could have pulled it off. The third woman was now interested in helping, but she had to go and ruin it all by saying, “so once we take him down, where are we going to put him?”
Gah, people and their never-ending demand for details.
Positive thinking is a good thing, I don’t wish to detract from that at all. The bible even tells us to focus on “whatever is lovely” and to speak life over ourselves and others. But that simply amounts to our own efforts and our own will. Our own abilities and our own strength will only take us so far. We simply cannot will things into existence. In fact, often what we’re trying to will into existence, we’re actually going to make a real mess of. Often what we’re trying to do is just shove a square peg in a round hole.
I know this from having tried to shove many square pegs into round holes.
So positive thinking without the Lord is a bit like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz just closing her eyes and clicking her ruby slippers together. It isn’t Spirit led, and it doesn’t answer all the “why” questions, like why are we trying to move this mountain in the first place and what impact will it have on us and on other people?
Under our own authority and our own willpower, there’s a very fine line between positive thinking and magical thinking. I’m actually a big fan of magical thinking, so that’s not a complaint at all. We should dream, we should speak the impossible over ourselves and others, and the bible even says, “with God all things are possible.”
“With God,” being the key phrase there. Without Him, our efforts are really nothing more than wishful thinking and positive affirmations, which can be good things, but you won’t move any actual mountains. We just can’t out dream God, so another problem is that our biggest dreams are often not big enough for Him.
I once knew a woman who was loosing much of her vision to macular degeneration, and she would say “if God was real, He would have healed my vision.” Doggone if that woman didn’t inherit a million dollars and then to add insult to injury, she had this handsome man chasing after her, too. He’d show up in this fancy convertible sports car to take her for drives all over the countryside. She just couldn’t see how blessed she was, how small all her other dreams really were.
That woman needed to move a mountain and the mountain was actually herself. In spite of having everything, she just kind of had nothing. She fancied herself a Buddhist and had all sorts of prayers, meditation, and positive affirmations going on, but her heart was all wrong and she was bitter.
The truth is we need our Creator, our Higher Power, Jesus Christ, to intercede for us, to help us to take our eyes off of ourselves. He gives us wisdom, He fixes our hearts, He hands us beauty for ashes, and He teaches us the value in the things we often just perceive as suffering, as injustice, as completely unnecessary.
So in answer to the question, “Can’t atheists or other kinds of fundamentalists just access the power of their minds?” Yes, but your mind is really just a tiny bit of biological goo between your ears, prone to frequent malfunctions, and wholly inadequate for the journey.