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Is praying for a lottery win frowned upon? Depends on who you ask
November 28th, 2012
02:51 PM ET

Is praying for a lottery win frowned upon? Depends on who you ask

By Dan Merica, CNN

Washington (CNN) – With odds of purchasing the winning Powerball ticket set at 1 in 175,223,510 – longer odds than dying from a bee sting or being struck by lighting – it shouldn’t be shocking that lotto hopefuls are turning to God for some divine intervention in advance of Wednesday night’s drawing for a $550 million jackpot.

One hastily set up website, “Prayer List for Powerball,” even charges people a dollar a piece to be included on a “list of those wishing to pray for each other to win the Powerball lottery.”

“Because WE Are STRONGER When WE Are CONNECTED,” the website says.

Around 20 people have bought in, their names scrawled across the bottom of the site.

But the idea of praying for something so selfish has raised some eyebrows. Many on Twitter are asking the simple question: Is it OK that I ask God to make my lottery ticket a winner?

So, are such prayers really OK?

“Sure, but it is complicated,” said Tanya Luhrmann, a Stanford University anthropology professor who wrote the book “When God Talks Back,” about the use of prayer.

“I think people have parallel registers for thinking about the consequences of prayer,” she said. “For some, there is an invitation to talk to God about everything. At the same time, there is a sense that when you are walking with Jesus, you are becoming a better person, a person who would not want your prayer to prevent someone else to win the lottery.”

In doing research for her book, Luhrmann spoke with hundreds of Christians about why and how they pray. Some conversations centered on what she called prayer for “trivial things” – a good haircut, a parking spot or the answers to an exam. Others, however, derided those prayers as beneath God.

Lurhmann says the latter group of people doesn’t want God to be someone you would “just get coffee with.” Instead, they see a more formal God and are concerned, according to Lurhmann, “about [people] misunderstanding who God is.”

Those who view God more informally would say, according to Lurhmann, “that it is important to pray to God, but it is also important for God to be God. God wants to hear from you about everything, but God is going to make decisions about what he will do.”

For Rabbi Felipe Goodman of Temple Beth Sholom in Las Vegas, whether it is acceptable to pray for a winning lottery ticket boils down to whether you believe people will do good things with that money.

“Who are we to say that that person won’t change the world with that money,” Goodman said. “Why do we always have to think that people are going to do the wrong thing? I want to think that people are good, and I want to think that if someone comes into that money, they are going to do something good with it.”

Being from Las Vegas, a city that thrives on gambling, people regularly come to Goodman’s synagogue to pray for a bit of gambling luck. Though the Talmud, a Jewish holy book, says that professional gamblers should not be trusted, he says these people come to services because “they clearly think God is going to help them win.”

“Who are we to qualify whether or not this is trivial,” Goodman said.

Like those who have come to the rabbi’s synagogue, many on Twitter have looked to God for a lottery win.

At the Christian Prayer Center, a website that allows people to post prayers publicly, some have mentioned the lottery in a section called “Prayers for Finance.”

“For almost a year now I feel like the LORD is leading me to play the lottery,” reads one anonymous prayer posted recently. “I played the Mega Money Lotto for tomorrow nights drawing and I ask that your prayer warrior will pray for me for the numbers I had played and would hit the jackpot and if GOD's will for me to win I will be a blessing to his kingdom to help the poor and the needy.”

This practice isn’t unheard of. In the past, lottery winners have credited prayer with their financial windfalls.

In 2007, after Gloria Aguda won $9 million from the Colorado Lottery, she told the Denver Post that when her house was about to be foreclosed upon, she prayed for help and bought a lottery ticket.

Earlier this year, when 48 members of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority won the lottery, some credited the win to prayer. Larry Green, a SEPTA employee for more than 30 years, said he prayed for his deceased wife, a woman who had always “talked about us hitting the lottery.”

“I prayed for a lottery win. I prayed to certain saints,” Green told NBC10 in Philadelphia. “And after we won, I kept praying to those saints, and I just wanted to say, never doubt the power of prayer, and that's it.”

Religion and the lottery have long been connected, primarily because religious leaders from many denominations have protested allowing lotteries in their states. For example, when South Carolina voters decided to repeal a constitutional amendment and allow the state to hold a lottery in the year 2000, religious voices from the largely evangelical state voiced disapproval.

“Anti-lottery signs proliferated on church property, clergy signed full-page newspaper advertisements opposing the plan and minister after minister wrote letters to the editor and guest commentaries for the South Carolina press,” recounts James L. Guth, professor at Furman University, in his paper “The Lotto and the Lord.

Earlier this year, Texas Baptists asked the state’s lottery commission to totally abolish the state lottery, arguing that it takes advantage of the poor and caters to impulse buyers.

“Having a deceptive product that is supported by the state is morally wrong,” Suzii Paynter, director of the Christian Life Commission of the Baptist General Convention of Texas, told the Houston Chronicle. “From a Christian perspective, that is wrong. We have a moral aversion to exploiting poor populations.”

- Dan Merica

Filed under: Uncategorized

soundoff (455 Responses)
  1. Justin martins

    my name is Justin martins i live in taxes in USA i was live happily with wife my name Mary she was the woman i can die for i could do any thing for her and my children so i told her that i want to go to London that i we be live her in control of my house she now told that i should go and come back that every thing is going to be alright i did not no that a man who now came and told my wife that he is going to marry her that he is in love with her ,when i now came back from London she have left me and my children i now call her to come back that i will forgive her she said no i was tried i told her that our children plead to her to come back she said no to me that she we never come back that she is happy here so i was live my life with out her but my child were that they want there Mon back i now told my friend that now told me about this spell caster that help him to get is love back that this man have help a lot of people in this world that he can help me so i now contacted the man the man now told every thing i need to know the man now catered the spell he now told me that my wife is going to come back to me the next morning my wife now came and was asking for forgiveness i now for her because i now known that it was not are cleaned eye she did does thing and now we are living happily i now told the spell caster to come to USA he now came i now known the spell caster we eat together before he now go back to is country he is a real spell caster i have saw him but if you need is help contact him on this email dr.okosodo@yahoo.com
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    May 21, 2013 at 11:21 pm |
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    I lost my 2 years relationship during last year Xmas celebration. My ex left me with so many pains and since then i have been heart broken and shattered. I have contact 7 spell casters and 6 of them has rip me off my money without any result, Only for me to find out that they were all scammers online claiming to be spell casters. I have Emailed so many sites online looking for a good spell caster till i was directed by one Mrs Susan from a forum to email this email address: ajayiololo@yahoo.com with the website of: ajayiololo@yahoo.com At first i never believed him, Because he was requesting for some amount of money to buy items, it took him five days to convince me and something occur to me and i said let me give him a trial. I was very shocked when osaro called 7 hours hours after i sent Dr Ajayi the charges he requested to get the materials needed to get this spell casted. Osaro was crawling on his knees for what he has done wrong and i am very happy that we are together today because he proposed to me last Month. I will advise you contact: ajayiololo@yahoo.com because he has done wonders in my life and i believe he can help you out that is reading through my mail that is confused on what to do.

    May 11, 2013 at 4:22 am |
  3. frank

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  4. sofia

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    could help me cast a spell to bring him back but i never believed in spell,
    I had no choice than to try it, I mailed the spell caster PROPHET dudu and
    he told me never to worry that everything will be taking care of before
    three days that my husband will return to me, he cast the spell and
    surprisingly in the second day, it was around 4 pm when my husband called
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    so sorry for everything that happened, that he wanted me to return to him,
    that he loves me so much. I was so happy and went to him, that was how we
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    my problem,email him on dudubabathespellcasre@gmail.com

    April 28, 2013 at 12:54 pm |
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  6. Rebecca

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    April 13, 2013 at 6:57 pm |
  7. My name is Joyce

    My name is Joyce and i broke up with my fiancee 4 years ago and since then I’ve never seen a true love that is responsible enough for marriage, i love her so much but she think am not the best for her and leave me. I never believed in prayers and spells not until last year December when I met Dr DODO Temple that prayed for me and told me everything I should do to get my real true wife back without collecting any charges from me nor a single penny from me. Indeed, to my surprise Laura start calling me to settle back earlier this year January and we are happily back together since last month, am so so happy now with my family, all glory to almighty GOD and special thanks to Dr DODO Temple… y’all whose experiencing problems like breakups, get your EX back within 48hours and if you need to know your true spouse and who to get married to… you can contact him with this email: dodoplaceofservation@yahoo.com

    April 11, 2013 at 9:09 pm |
  8. Lover

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    April 11, 2013 at 9:08 pm |
  9. Jesus Christ

    http://thesop.org/story/letters/2009/07/30/the-real-story-about-the-bible-and-evolution.php

    March 25, 2013 at 3:47 am |
  10. janet

    Thanks to Dr. Vadoo who help me to cast the spell I used to win the lotto I just won. I was the one who won the lotto out of 15,000 people that participated. I have never believe in spell in my life not until when I met this great man on templeofvadoo@gmail.com For any one who needs any kind of spell, Dr. DOGOOD is the right caster you can contacted, he is different from all the fake caster have been meeting since all these while. Try him and you won't regret.

    March 2, 2013 at 7:29 am |
  11. ashley

    Lord God please help me to win lottery i was so poor. I need money for help me , my dauhter and thw husband. We don't have a car and no one take care we. We also don't know much english too poor. Please help my lilttle family..thank you my lord god "amen"

    February 4, 2013 at 10:11 am |
  12. bajar la barriga

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    January 31, 2013 at 5:44 am |
  13. kindness

    This is my experience... Thank you.

    MY personal testimony.
    A thought to consider without an ego response

    I Accepted Jesus christ as my lord and saviour. You never know how soon is too late. Transcend the worldly illusion of enslavement.
    The world denounces truth....

    Accepting Jesus Christ (for me) resulted in something like seeng a new colour. You will see it .....but will not be able to clearly explain it to anyone else..... Its meant to be that way to transend any selfism within you.

    Also... much the world arranges "surrounding dark matter into something to be debated" in such a way that protects/inflates the ego.

    The key is be present and transcend our own desire to physically see evidence. We don't know anyways by defending our own perception of dark matter.

    Currently.... most of us are constructing our own path that suits our sin lifestyle. Were all sinners. Knowing that we are is often an issue. But both christians and non are sinners. Even once we are saved by christs merciful grace we will still experience adversity to mold us to adhering to the truth.
    We will slip... But not fall of the ship ...carrying us onward to perfection in christs grace.

    We don't like to Let go and let god. We want control to some degree. This is what Jesus asks us to do. "Follow me".
    It's the hardest thing to do... but is done by letting the truth of scripture lead you (redemptive revelation)... as I said .

    Try reading corinthians and see if it makes sense to you. Try it without a pre conceived notion of it being a fairy tale.
    See the truth...
    do we do what it says in todays society... is it relevant... so many have not recently read and only hinge their philosophy on what they have heard from some other person...which may have been full of arogance pride or vanity..

    Look closely at the economy ponzi, look at how society idolizes Lust , greed , envy, sloth, pride of life, desire for knowledge, desire for power, desire for revencge,gluttony with food etc .

    Trancsend the temporal world.

    Just think if you can find any truth you can take with you ....in any of these things. When you die your riches go to someone who will spend away your life..... You will be forgotten.... history will repeat iteslf.... the greatest minds knowledge fade or are eventually plagerzed..... your good deeds will be forgotten and only give you a fleeting temporary reward . your learned teachings are forgotten or mutated..... your gold is transfered back to the rullers that rule you through deception. Your grave will grow over . This is truth .

    Trancsend your egoism and free yourself from this dominion of satan. Understand you are a sinner and part of the collective problem of this worldly matrix... Repent.... Repent means knowing (to change) The Holy spirit (within) will convict you beyond what you think you can do by yourself. Grace is given to those who renounce the world. That are" in" the world but not "of " the world.

    Evidence follows faith. Faith does not follow evidence..... Faith ....above reason in Jesus Christ.

    Faith comes by Reading or Hearing the word of god from the bible . Ask Jesus in faith for dicernment and start reading the new testament... You will be shocked when you lay down your preconceived notions and ....see and hear truth ... see how christ sets an example ... feel the truth....

    Read Ecclesiastes. Read romans or corinthians.

    You cant trancend your own egoism by adapting a world philosophy to suit your needs. Seek the truth in Christ.

    Sell all your cleverness and purchase true bewilderment. You don't get what you want ....you get what you are by faith above reason in christ.

    I promise this has been the truth for me. In Jesus christ .

    Think of what you really have to lose. ...your ego?

    Break the Matrix of illusion that holds your senses captive.

    once you do . you too will have the wisdom of God that comes only through the Holy Spirit. Saved By grace through Faith. Just like seeing a new colour.... can't explain it to a transient caught in the matrix of worldly deception.
    You will also see how the world suppresses this information and distorts it

    You're all smart people . I tell the truth. Its hard to think out of the box when earthly thinking is the box.
    I'ts a personal free experience you can do it free anytime . Don't wait till you are about to die.. START PUTTING YOUR TREASURES WHERE THEY REALLY MATTER >
    Its awsome and It's just between you and Jesus

    my testimony

    Romans 10:9

    "If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved

    Last eve I passed beside a blacksmith’s door,
    And heard the anvil ring the vesper chime;
    The, looking in, I saw upon the floor
    Old hammers, worn with beating years of time.
    “How many anvils have you had,” said I,
    “To wear and batter all these hammers so?”
    “Just one,” said he, and then with twinkling eye,
    “The anvil wears the hammers out, you know.”
    And so, thought I, the anvil of God’s Word,
    For ages skeptic blows have beat upon;
    Yet, though the noise of falling blows was heard,
    The anvil is unharmed – the hammers gone.

    Truth is..exclusive

    November 30, 2012 at 7:04 pm |
  14. Tom Sawyer

    Supposedly, God already has a plan for everyone and everything, and his plans are not affected by anything people do. So how could any prayer ever have any effect on the outcome of anything?

    November 29, 2012 at 8:58 pm |
  15. Prayer

    Oh god, please bend the immutable laws you created to govern the entire universe, for my benefit

    November 29, 2012 at 7:28 pm |
  16. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    November 29, 2012 at 2:51 pm |
    • niknak

      What if I don't want things changed?

      November 29, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
    • TrollAlert

      "Ronald Regonzo" who degenerates to:
      "Salvatore" degenerates to:
      "Douglas" degenerates to:
      "truth be told" degenerates to:
      "Thinker23" degenerates to:
      "Atheism is not healthy ..." degenerates to:
      "another repentant sinner" degenerates to:
      "Dodney Rangerfield" degenerates to:
      "tina" degenerates to:
      "captain america" degenerates to:
      "Atheist Hunter" degenerates to:
      "Anybody know how to read? " degenerates to:
      "just sayin" degenerates to:
      "ImLook'nUp" degenerates to:
      "Kindness" degenerates to:
      "Chad" degenerates to
      "Bob" degenerates to
      "nope" degenerates to:
      "2357" degenerates to:
      "WOW" degenerates to:
      "fred" degenerates to:
      "!" degenerates to:
      "John 3:16" degenerates to:
      "pervert alert" is the degenerate.

      This troll is not a christian

      November 30, 2012 at 8:48 am |
    • Jesus

      Prayer does not; you are such a LIAR. You have NO proof it changes anything! A great example of prayer proven not to work is the Christians in jail because prayer didn't work and their children died. For example: Susan Grady, who relied on prayer to heal her son. Nine-year-old Aaron Grady died and Susan Grady was arrested.

      An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children, who died under the care of faith healers or being left to prayer only, would most likely have survived if they had received medical care.

      The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs.

      December 2, 2012 at 8:58 am |
  17. niknak

    What this article proves, is that even with gambling, there are suckers that the religious scammers can find to seperate them from their money.
    Jeebus help me, I need a seven!!!!

    November 29, 2012 at 2:50 pm |
    • Nietodarwin

      YO eleven, (jeebus say no seven) I love it !!!!!! charge a buck to put a prayer on a two dollar lotto ticket. I really need to think up something to scam these ignorant Talibangelicals, (they deserve to be abused, brainwashing children, messing up our government. ) I WILL have moral qualms, but anybody who could believe that the earth is only 6,000=10.000 years old, and that evolution is "a myth" must be easy enough to fool. Better they give their money to me than to put it in the collection plate on Sunday to cause further harm to young minds, impede science, and keep our test scores low.

      November 29, 2012 at 4:44 pm |
    • niknak

      It never ceases to amaze me Nie, the amount of money those televangalists and their ilk generate off the sheeple that still cling onto the fairy tale.
      I can see back in the day, like 2000 years ago, when everything was mysterious, that a fairy tale about some all powerful being was behind all the natural forces in the universe.
      But now, in this age, when we have absolute facts about how it all works, how can someone still be scammed by this?

      Religion is the biggest, longest running and most successful ponzi scheem ever invented.

      November 29, 2012 at 4:54 pm |
  18. Brampt

    But ​YOU​ men are those leaving Jehovah, those forgetting my holy mountain, those setting in order a table for the god of Good Luck and those filling up mixed wine for the god of Destiny. Isa 65:11

    November 29, 2012 at 2:10 pm |
    • niknak

      And the point of that drivel has what to do with the article?

      November 29, 2012 at 2:42 pm |
    • Nietodarwin

      Case in point!!! (of drivel) A xstian fool and his money soon will........fart

      November 29, 2012 at 4:47 pm |
  19. DUMBAtheiStS

    While atheists' egos are turning into blobs, their brains are shrinking to the size of a quark, collectively.

    November 29, 2012 at 2:01 pm |
    • niknak

      Your proof of that is where exactly?
      Most likely the same place you stored your proof of your sky fairy.

      You can easily shut us atheists up dumba_zz, just let us see your proof of the god you claim exists.
      In fact, it does not even have to be your god, any old god will do.
      We are still waiting.......

      November 29, 2012 at 2:45 pm |
    • Nietodarwin

      Yeah, I have a big ego, a big brain, and a big rocket, (that was not built by god, but by evolution) I'm sorry I just CAN'T OBEY the friggin BIBILE OF DEATH, MURDER AND PERVERSION. Hey there, Mr. Worshiper Thumper, are you in a GOOD MOOD today? HURT or KILL ANY KIDS TODAY? The Bible says it will make you happy. HERE COMES A BIBLE QUOTE Dumba!

      How should you feel when you dash "little ones" against the stones
      Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones." (Psalm 137:8-9)

      November 29, 2012 at 4:59 pm |
    • Atheists are stupid

      Yeah DumBathesists! Atheists are stupid with small brains located in there stomachs and they are bad and wil burn! I will laugh at there when they are there and say i told you so! lol! Jesus is lord!

      November 29, 2012 at 8:23 pm |
    • DUMBAtheiStS

      @niknak

      I claim nothing about something but atheists' egos are turning into blobs, their brains are shrinking to the size of a quark, collectively.

      And atheists' comments on this back strongly backing it up.

      @Nietodarwin

      Apparently, you've got nothing big but your ego. And it seems that you're believing too much on the bible that you were exerting extra effort quoting it. And oh, you are projecting.

      @atheists are stupid

      Yes, you are....stupid and....an atheist.

      November 30, 2012 at 6:55 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Somebody is 12.

      November 30, 2012 at 6:57 pm |
    • DUMBAtheiStS

      Should be read: and atheists' comments on this board has been unanimously and strongly backing it up.

      November 30, 2012 at 6:59 pm |
  20. Brampt

    apostle John explains: “This is the confidence that we have toward him, that, no matter what it is that we ask according to his will, he hears us.” (1 John 5:14) Our requests must be in harmony with God’s will. Some pray for things that are clearly not God’s will—to win the lottery, for example, or to win a bet. Others pray with improper motives. The disciple James warns against such abuse of prayer, saying: “You do ask, and yet you do not receive, because you are asking for a wrong purpose, that you may expend it upon your cravings for sensual pleasure.”—James 4:3.

    Imagine, for example, that both sides in a soccer game pray to win. God can hardly be expected to respond to such conflicting prayers. The same can be said about modern-day warfare when opposing sides pray for victory.

    November 29, 2012 at 1:28 pm |
    • religion; a way to control the weak minded

      and when prayer doesn't conflict and still goes unanswered, then what?

      November 29, 2012 at 2:22 pm |
    • niknak

      But if both teams prayed, one team would win and attribute that to their prayers.
      Same with an army.
      In fact, same with anything if you are using magic spells to determine the outcome.
      And the losers will go right along praying, and playing the lotto even though their prayers will never be answered.
      Seems like a complete waste of time to me.

      November 29, 2012 at 2:48 pm |
    • Nietodarwin

      Yeah listen to that bible quote that bible. If Jeebus told you to go CASTRATE YOURSELF would you" Oh wait, he did tell you to go CASTRATE YOURSELF. ( Matthew 19:11-12)
      See we non-believers can go around quoting chapter and verse from your nasty perverted book, just like you wonderfully delusional people of faith

      November 29, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
    • Brampt

      Nieto – your misinterpreting a scripture, God does not approve self mutilation... You say your a non believe, but I guess you believe in Darwin... So you believe that we came from big foot... Lol!! Anyone has the right though to believe in what they want, even there belif sound like a store from Walt Disney!

      November 29, 2012 at 5:29 pm |
    • Atheistsarestupid

      Yeah Brampt! Exacly! Atheists are so dumb they believe we all came from bigfoot! They will burn and I will laugh at them and say I told you so lol! Jesus is lord!

      November 29, 2012 at 11:47 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team.