Prayer-in-Action Beats Prayer-in-Talk

Asked in the Faith and Spirituality section of the forum…

@European_Bob:  As I’ve been progressing through the MAP one of the key points that I’ve found for men is to not let your wife’s mood have an influence on your’s. i.e. if she is complaining then stay aloof and happy. Another aspect is OI – if she doesn’t want to have sex then I’m still fine, I can go off and do <manly thing> instead. Follow this train of thought through, it appears that one of the goals of the MAP is to become self-sufficient, not reliant on your wife or anything else for what you need and/or want in life.

That however seems to be in contradiction to the whole Christian perspective of being reliant or dependent on God. Personally I’m not sure I even understand 100% what it means to rely on God.

How do these seemingly 180 degree opposite positions work together?

Athol:  I admit I do start to get frustrated with the constant attempts to make MMSL a perfectly Christian thing. There’s a lot of overlap that I think Christians can identify with,  but I’m just as close to Christianity as say Buddhism. You could make a case that running your MAP is a close cousin to the Noble Eightfold Path. There’s a Kiwi twist on a Taoist symbol on the front cover of The Mindful Attraction Plan.  Outcome Independence is classic mindfulness… be here now… oh hang on, let me cue up Yoda…

Yoda:  Ready are you? What know you of ready? For eight hundred years have I trained Jedi. My own counsel will I keep on who is to be trained. A Jedi must have the deepest commitment, the most serious mind. This one a long time have I watched. All his life has he looked away… to the future, to the horizon. Never his mind on where he was. Hmm? What he was doing. Hmph. Adventure. Heh. Excitement. Heh. A Jedi craves not these things. You are reckless.

So as you can see I’m not exactly dipping my pen in one ink well. MMSL is a multi-layered synthesis and there is still more to come from me.

All that being said… let me try and answer the original question and really, I’m not trying to piss Christians off here. I’m trying to motivate you to get into action and do something about what ails you. That’s all. The world is going to hell in a hand basket. We are so far beyond needing to just save the marriages of our own little sects and corners of the world.  We save every relationship we can. We’re running out of time to turn the tide.

/rant on

The MAP isn’t about self-sufficiency in the sense of not needing people, it’s about creating personal value that other people want to be associated with. If anything it’s acutely aware of people needing other people and works to ensure you’re in a state of attractiveness to be loved and wanted.

It is self-sufficient in the sense that it is aware that no one is going to just gift you with a happy life and relationship, so you have to create those conditions for yourself.

Because MMSL focuses on what you can actually do for yourself under your own steam, it is in one sense in direct opposition to a faith-based approach to personal development.

Also when you consider that God isn’t required to answer your prayers the way you want him to, you should also consider the need to be outcome independent on getting God’s help if you’re a Christian. I mean if he thinks you need to learn something through suffering, it might be several years or even decades before your situation is resolved the way you hope it will be.

Prayer is more often than not a verbalized negative statement to the effect that you cannot do something. It’s a negative energy statement that you are powerless to create the change you want. That without some outside force, you will fall, fail and falter.

Well I say bullshit.

You damn well can do this stuff. It just works. It works for the same reason powered flight does not require angels to lift a 747 off the ground. It works because God’s assistance is not required.

When you stop waiting on God to provide and support you, and you just get into action and start making changes in your life…that’s when changes start happening.

There is unquestionably a spiritual component to what I teach, unstated in the Married Man Sex Life Primer but stated clearly in The Mindful Attraction Plan . Namely that your actions are your true statement of faith and that they influence the universe around you in positive or negative ways. I believe spirituality is seamlessly interwoven with the mundane tasks of everyday life. Trying to separate activities into “spiritual” and “non-spiritual” categories is misunderstanding the nature of the universe. I believe you create a greater sense of positive spirituality by building a deck, helping a friend, cleaning a room or working your job, than you ever will in prayer. Prayer-in-action will always be better than prayer-in-talk.

In fact more often than not, your prayers worsen your situation because they are negative in tone. Faithless prayers are a negative energy effect. You don’t actually have faith things can be better when you complain to God about your life.

If you had faith God can help your life, you’d just walk out your front door and start living your life like you had God’s help. You don’t have to keep praying like you’re feeding God’s parking meter or your spirituality will expire.

God is not sending a limo to drive you to the gym. Some shit you have to handle yourself.

/rant off


And tomorrow we’re talking about Jennifer’s amazing thighs.

Jennifer: ???


  1. Heh.

    I think part of the probem is that many modern Christians do not share Christ’s worldview. For example, what is a “blessing”? The most common answer is a nice thing, especially if given when undeserved.

    (As examples, “I was poor and someone gave me some money. It was such a blessing!” Or, “I was exhausted and worn out after a terrible morning and afternoon so my spouse brought home take-out for dinner so we would not need to clean the dining room table, cook, or do dishes. It was such a blessing!”)

    Scripture says otherwise. Consider when Jacob blessed his children at the end of Genesis? Did he give them nice things? No!

    A blessing is a short promise of God’s benevolent will for someone. When we examine the blessings described in scripture we can see that although God does arrange circumstances there is still usually a part played by the actions of the person receiving the blessing — we need to keep working out…what God is working within us.

    Similarly with humility, which according to scripture is keeping our eyes on God instead of ourselves. If the MAP helps us develop confidence this helps us with humility.

    Why? Confidence is not knowing what will happen but embracing the uncertainty by realizing that life is more complex than success-or-faliure and pro-actively expecting whatever happens to be worthwhile and good for growth and/or relationship. (Notice how confidence is different from certainty. It is also different from optimism, which is simply expecting success.) People who truly have confidence are freed from over-analyzing what they say and do because they expect the situation will end up worthwhile — they are more free to focus on that moment and on God.

  2. AlmostAnonymous says:

    What’s that line?

    “God helps those who help themselves”

  3. I prefer the Neopagan saying, “The gods don’t answer prayers, they grant opportunities.” It’s up to you to take them.

  4. F5C0DC67 says:

    Agree with Euro_Bob with the concept that one’s mood and happiness should not be dependent upon their LTR partner. However, what does a person do when their partner tries to prevent this, ie Jane throws even worse fits/engages in verbal or physical abuse when her partners goes about her day not allowing his mood to be affected while claiming that she didn’t want to be ignored?

  5. Great post. GREAT.

  6. Athol’s title gets it right, and I’ll grant that far too many churchians pray as Athol appropriately derides.

    That said, I’ll refrain from expounding here about what a believer *should* be praying/doing as that is not Athol’s thing. I’ll put a nugget up later today.

    Let me provide a simple metaphor that most guys will immediately get – when you are given a mission that takes you downrange, you don’t keep calling command asking questions and making sure you’re *really* supposed to accomplish the mission. You concentrate on the mission, use everything at your disposal, and get the job done.

    When the sh*t hits the fan, you’re going to call for air-support, and you may or may-not get it. Either way, you don’t sit on the radio talking about how you feel, you make the most of what you have. Sometimes supernatural things happen, sometimes you just have a hellacous fire-fight.

    At the end of the day, you know you are dependent on your command element for air-support, extraction, resupply, etc. Your job is your mission – get busy!

  7. The vast majority of your advice is fantastic and appreciated. And even as a psychotic right-wing Christian™ I agree with about 98 percent of the material here and largely with the above post.

    I would modify the above only slightly to say that if someone’s prayer life consists largely or entirely of complaint, negativity or confession of inability, it’s a very, very impoverished prayer life and nothing like the prayers we see modeled in scripture. It’s a very simplistic view of prayer to imagine it’s solely or even largely about saying “I need, I want, give me….”. And it’s a very simplistic view of prayer to imagine that it’s practitioners were largely passive and waiting for God to move for them.

  8. Yes! “Trying to separate activities into “spiritual” and “non-spiritual” categories is misunderstanding the nature of the universe. I believe you create a greater sense of positive spirituality by building a deck, helping a friend, cleaning a room or working your job, than you ever will in prayer. Prayer-in-action will always be better than prayer-in-talk.”

    I’ve been saying this for years and am constantly annoyed at the constant sacred/secular categorization and partitioning that is common in Christianity. It tends to a foster a passivity that’s crippling rather than empowering.

  9. TheatreMommy says:

    I consider myself Christian, and I say word up Athol. Prayer, like meditation, helps a person center, and if that person uses it only as a negative expression… then it is less helpful, let’s say. I try to force something positive… a thank you, or an I learned… when I pray. Imagine if your child only ever said negative things when they talked to you, only called when they needed something. You’d still love them, but that child would be hurting you. Well, I do not want to hurt my heavenly father any more than I would have hurt my earthly father.
    Monks traditionally filled their day with labour as prayer-in-action. I have never felt closer to God than when I do service in his name. I tend to be a care-for-the-earth kind of a gal. And I have been both heard and rewarded for my prayer-through-action many times more than I have ever felt noticed for my prayer-through-words.
    Without putting too much dramma into it, a person doesn’t need to be a Christian to be used by God to help others. And I put Athol smack into that role. Good work is good work.

  10. Also, consider James 2:20 — “But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?” It’s good to have faith, good to believe; but far better still to demonstrate that faith by action.

  11. “God always answers prayers. Usually the answer is ‘No’.”

  12. Michael says:

    As an extremely Serious Christian(tm), I give this post 10/10 “hell yeahs.”

    Read the Old Testament. Almost everyone is a badass relative to today’s standards. Back then, that was just the price of admission to adulthood. Participating faithfully in a marriage doesn’t mean acting like a child; it means being enough of a whole person that what you give to your wife counts without you having to completely sublimate yourself.

  13. Another reason I like you, Athol –

    Even when you think you are railing against Christianity, you’re dishing Christian principles.

  14. Oh Lord, won’t you buy me a night on the town?
    I’m counting on you, Lord, please don’t let me down
    Prove that you love me, and buy the next round
    Oh Lord, won’t you buy me a night on the town

  15. Tell me you’ve read Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.
    That is all.

  16. Boombacca says:

    @ Saluki
    Amen to that!

  17. Joe_Commenter says:

    RE: Praying. The proper prayer is a personal message to god thanking him for all the blessings in your life. Too many people only pray when bad stuff happens.

    RE European_Bob: The best way to deal with negativity from anyone: wife, relatives, acquaintances, is distance. The only people I grace with my presence are those that are glad to be with me and their attitude backs it up. Life is way too short to tolerate people who wanna bring you down into their cesspool. You will be shocked at how differently people treat you once you begin living this concept. Try it.

  18. Word.

  19. go read the book of Ruth.
    Ruth is a foreigner in a strange land, going about her business, doing the next thing that needs done, and see what that got her.
    As a Christian, that’s what is supposed to be done,
    “The Next Right Thing”

    Paul S.

  20. Wait a minute here.

    >… it appears that one of the goals of the MAP is to become self-sufficient, not
    > reliant on your wife or anything else for what you need and/or want in life.

    This sounds like letting the wife off the hook for her obligations.

    We’ve been fed such a steady diet of “it’s the man’s responsibility to be a servant” and “if the wife isn’t happy it’s the man’s fault” that we forget sometimes it’s perfectly appropriate for the man to be enjoying a cup of coffee on the porch and to tell his wife to go do the dishes.

    Yes, in one sense a man should be his own man and not rely on his wife for his emotional happiness, but the wife has obligations and you can’t let her off the hook.

  21. Shadow_Nirvana says:

    I like how Jennifer basically says wtf in the end.

    @Crowhill: I think it’s being “dependant” that Athol speaks of: emotionally, financially whatever. Your life shouldn’t be coming to a halt when your wife stops doing whatever’s in her responsibility. If not, you are reliant and your wife has the power over you in the relationship. And we all know how that relationships work out in the end: The woman seeing the man as a child, losing respect and attraction, the marriage detoriorates etc.

  22. The video is actually very funny.

  23. Amen! This has been my problem with ‘prayer’ here in the Deep South….prayers are not going to help you. You are going to help yourself!

  24. Andrew St Pierre says:

    “pray to god but paddle away from the rocks”

  25. This is probably oversimplifying (also maybe not your direct intent), but it sounds like you are preaching ‘works’ (or works + faith?) instead of ‘faith alone.’ I can get behind that.

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