Is causing oneself pain more effective than prayer?
(Non-theism not an option)
In order for this debate to get started we must assume a few things.
1.) One religion is correct
2.) God(s)/ Deities will respond to those who give them joy with reward.
3.) Prayer directed at them as demanded in holy scripture gives that religion's god(s) joy.
4.) God(s) are all powerful.
5.) If in joy, (a) god(s) will help you.
The idea is that only one religion is correct, you don't know which one it is, and you have to please this/these god(s) in order to get something you need.
It seems that god(s) has/have punished sinners for little reason at all, as god(s) has/have the power to get whatever they want (such as all humanity follows their demands). However that is not as fun as watching humanity struggle to learn on their own. With the occasional punishment on sinners, for joy (see Schadenfreude).
Now we get to where, let's say that you NEED (a) god pleased to get help for some immense task. You don't know which religion to follow, so it is highly likely you are a sinner. So why not punish yourself with pain, rather than pray to whatever religion's doctrine you think is correct. As you would by chance be more likely to appease whatever god(s) that is/are in power.
So is pain or prayer to your chosen religion a better tactic to get what you NEED?
Sure, why not...
Side Score: 2
No, there is a different way!
Side Score: 1
assuming "correct" means no killings/molesting all of that, then yeah hurting yourself is more effect. it can take days, years in order to see results for you g-d(s) you hurting yourself you see instant relief. you see what you did and you feel better whether that is emotionally or physically. you feel better. otherwise ppl wouldn't do it. i do believe that hurting yourself is a mental relief but i also think that prayer is a mental relief too.
for the main part i think it is more effective because it noticeable its faster and ppl are in control and doing it themselves. there is no question about it. you know what you did and therefore "think" you are better
Side: Sure, why not...