Religion/Ethics Do you pray? Eric Ringham April 21, 2011, 5:00 AM Apr 21, 2011 62 comments For Christians, this is Holy Week. For Jews, it’s Passover. It is a time when people of faith, of lapsed faith or of no faith might contemplate their religious and spiritual practices. Today’s Question: Do you pray? ‹ Older What do you think of linking school attendance and driving privileges? Newer › What Minnesotans would you rank among the world’s most influential people? Browse by category Education Health Economy Politics/Government Culture Religion/Ethics Science/Technology Transportation Race/Gender Environment/Energy Security International affairs Immigration Media Military About the blogger Eric Ringham firstname.lastname@example.org Tim Frequently all day long. Wade Nope. Alexis Meskill Yes, I do. This usually confuses people because I’m not Christian or Jewish; my faith is Earth-based and most people consider praying is confined to monotheistic religions. ClickingSticks No…to whom would I pray…Mother Goose? Erich I’m confused. Why is it a time when people of no faith would contemplate their spiritual and religious practices? They don’t have any spiritual and religious practices…that’s kind of the point. Linda Yes I pray everyday throughout the day. Zeke I pray atheists don’t join Christians, Jews and Muslims as self-identified victims of public disregard. Rich I pray that politicians stop believing that they’re supernatural beings. Chris I frequently pray. Though through a recent conversation with my 9 year old I found I pray the most in the car. I pray for the police when I see them on the street helping others or just driving around. I pray for the person stalled on the side of the road when I can’t stop & help. I always cross myself & say a prayer for ambulance drivers weather they are engaged or not. I pray for the lunatic in front of me not to kill anyone today. I say a prayer for the poor animal that didn’t make it. I pray for the sad person I see in the other car. I pray in thanks for the good things & kind deeds I see. Sometimes I pray just to make it home. When I am stuck in rush hour & going nowhere fast I find random prayers going through my head. I am Catholic but don’t spend a lot of time in church. When my daughter asked me why I pray in the car so much I really had to think about it. I guess I started when I was little because my grandfather said I should always say a prayer when saw an ambulance & I guess through the years I just expanded on that. vjacobsen As long as I can remember, even when my family went to mass weekly, I have always, always had a hard time with prayer. I kind of wonder if it’s not what help lead me to lack faith in Christianity as an adult. However, there is one exception: I’ll still say a Hail Mary or two in especially stressful situations. I’ve always done that, and I find it’s almost a reflex. J Good God no. Steve the Cynic Given the state of the world, and humanity’s glaring incompetence to deal with its own problems so far, what else is there to do? JB Yes. Whitney Instead of praying, I do my best to do real things to help the people around me. Saying a prayer for someone in need is a nice thought, but ultimately no one knows if it actually does anything. I respectly disagree that prayer works, and I think the world would be a better place if people got off their butts and did something for one another instead of relying on a God that might not even exist. Alison It’s something I struggle with. I finally came to the realization that so much of what I have been taught were lies perpetrated to keep hypocritical Catholic church officials in power. Once you realize you’ve been lied to so many times and about such central issues, it’s hard to figure out what to believe. Who would I pray to? Why? How? I feel like I’m on my own trying to figure it out. I was burned too badly before to believe any of what they taught me. Nick Not to any silly deity or god, I do however marvel at our natural world around us and that makes me feel connected and satisfied. steve It’s an interesting question – pray for what? I had a friend die a few years back and everyone told her – “we are praying for you”. She was a person of deep faith but she always wondered, “what are they praying for”? Healing, a quick end? The content mattered!! I think prayer is a way to ask yourself or God or a god for guidance. It shouldn’t be about asking for things, per se. I always view it as you are looking for a way to help in a situation and if you are open to prayer, you might find that you are the solution. For example, if someone is alone and suffering and you pray to ease their suffering you might see that you could fix them dinner, visit them, call them – in other words, be the answer to your own prayer. So, yes, I do pray on occassion but more as a way to find out how I could help someone. We often feel we have done enough by praying but find we could do as much or more by acting. Prayer is a way to highlight areas you could help someone. Michelle No. When I am concerned about an event or person, I act… I do whatever is appropriate to impact the situation in a positive manner. Praying is a waste of time, especially when you could be doing something yourself. This isn’t to say that I don’t tremendously hope and wish for any given “bad” situation to get better. But praying won’t do it. I do cross my fingers sometimes, though. Larry M. Prayer is a form of meditation, nothing more, nothing less. I probably meditate once a week. And enjoy repetitive meditative activities. I also find being in nature meditative. Since religious beliefs are continually evolving and conflicting I just can’t believe there is any specific truth to them, some religions propose some good generalities, but the idea that belief would trump actions just is unjust. Jim Shapiro I give thanks for all the good stuff – and the infinite opportunity for growth – as often as I can remember. Not into the supplication thing though. My God is a universal power that I don’t fully understand, but which is closely related to love. Drae It’s interesting to see the comments of atheists and agnostics. Consider, if you will, that matter is energy in another form and that energy cannot die. So yes, I pray – though some people might consider it discussions with the Universe. James I pray to God for the health and safety of my loved ones. I also pray that God gives the leaders of this great country the fortitude and wisdom to make good honest decisions. Words to live by: Boy Scout Oath On my honor, I will do my best To do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law; To help other people at all times; To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight. A Scout Is…(Scout law TRUSTWORTHY A Scout tells the truth. He keeps his promises. Honesty is part of his code of conduct. People can depend on him. LOYAL A Scout is true to his family, Scout leaders, friends, school, and nation. HELPFUL A Scout is concerned about other people. He does things willingly for others without pay or reward. FRIENDLY A Scout is a friend to all. He is a brother to other Scouts. He seeks to understand others. He respects those with ideas and customs other than his own. COURTEOUS A Scout is polite to everyone regardless of age or position. He knows good manners make it easier for people to get along together. KIND A Scout understands there is strength in being gentle. He treats others as he wants to be treated. He does not hurt or kill harmless things without reason. OBEDIENT A Scout follows the rules of his family, school, and troop. He obeys the laws of his community and country. If he thinks these rules and laws are unfair, he tries to have them changed in an orderly manner rather than disobey them. CHEERFUL A Scout looks for the bright side of things. He cheerfully does tasks that come his way. He tries to make others happy. THRIFTY A Scout works to pay his way and to help others. He saves for unforeseen needs. He protects and conserves natural resources. He carefully uses time and property. BRAVE A Scout can face danger even if he is afraid. He has the courage to stand for what he thinks is right even if others laugh at or threaten him. CLEAN A Scout keeps his body and mind fit and clean. He goes around with those who believe in living by these same ideals. He helps keep his home and community clean. REVERENT A Scout is reverent toward God. He is faithful in his religious duties. He respects the beliefs of others. ∑ DTOM Eric I’m too busy learning about and appreciating the scientific discoveries in our world and universe to pray to imaginary mythological characters from an era when people didn’t even understand that the earth was round. Brian Ropers-Huilman As an atheist, none. But, I certainly appreciate the potential of thoughtful introspection that often arises from prayer. Centering one’s self and understanding your needs (wants?) is important to all of us and if prayer may do that for some. Matt I am an atheist and I do not pray. Anybody who does believe in God does not have a very good understanding of science and nature. Mike I NEVER pray to ask God.I ONLY pary to thank God for what I have. It doesn’t make sense to pary to ask as if God will hold back on something you need and say ‘oh, you prayed so here’. Just doesn’t make sense. I finish that by saying I’m not sure if there is some one listening to my prayer but if I’m wrong, I rather be worng by praying to no one than not praying while God was waiting for a prayer. Philip Every day, throughout the day. Joe As a spiritual but non-religious person, I pray to an entity that I still choose to call GOD. I have worked very hard to break the Christian habit of asking for material things and instead ask for strength, safety, and guidance. I try to always express gratitude. I’m not convinced that the entity to which I pray evens hears me, let alone chooses or is able to grant my requests, but it does make me feel better, especially when it reminds me of the things for which I am thankful. Sue de Nim Of course, I do. (And, Joe, where did you get the idea that praying for material things was a “Christian habit”? True Christianity is defined by what Jesus taught, not by how his followers misunderstand him.) David No, but as my dad used to say (a WW2 combat veteran), “There are no atheists in foxholes.” Benjamin No, I never pray for I do not believe in any god. David I used to until I realized a few years ago that I was talking to an “imaginary friend”. I can see how that is comforting to some people, but to think there is anyone listening to prayers now seems completely ridiculous to me. So, no. I never pray anymore because it’s a waste of time. Paul // “There are no atheists in foxholes.” David’s father obviously had no respect for the intelligence of thoughtful atheists with this trite adage that assumes that people who have reasoned their way to the conclusion that god almost certainly does not exist will somehow abandon this understanding in the event their life is in danger. What an insulting bit of rubbish. timothy I attended a Catholic high school, worked at a Jewish Community Center to pay for a Lutheran college education and I don’t think I’ve ever considered myself “religious”. The way I pray, if you can call it praying, is simply giving thanks to the people and things around me. I also had a teacher in high school who was a member of the Christian brotherhood, who always said, “If you stub your toe and say, ‘Ouch, God!’ Or get upset and say, ‘Jesus Christ…’ – That’s praying. And it’s better than nothing.” Kevin VC I pray probably between ever other breath, if HOPE is a prayer. I guess a better question is what is a prayer? Oddly enough I know a few athiests who pay, on the off chance their is a god. And several who consider themselves as religious who never seem to, or rather its done mechanically and devoid of meaning. I never rely on prayer, guess in a way I look at it as a non-written diary. Important? hard to know, but could not hurt. Philip Sue de Nim – Well said! Josh There was a time in my life when I didn’t do much praying. I was not sure God existed and didn’t think it was a useful practice, but after much consideration, I decided to try it more. Now I pray daily, and it brings me peace and joy. It forces me daily to dwell on things that are important like family and friends, and it keeps my mind focused on humility. Proof of God or no proof, I am content. I feel no need to ridicule other people’s beliefs or lack thereof. Eric The only thing I’ll be contemplating this weekend is whether I want the steak or chicken dinner at the American Atheists convention which is being held in Des Moines, IA this year. Carrie Yes, I do pray. Mostly for strength during especially difficult times. It may not change the outcome but I certainly think it changes the way I deal with it. Greg Yes. Several times daily. steve i pray in some way or another every day about alot of things but i dont have any specific prayer i just say basic things to the effect that i will have a good day be good do good work and be positive! steve i pray in some way or another every day about alot of things but i dont have any specific prayer i just say basic things to the effect that i will have a good day be good do good work and be positive! Elizabeth T On a daily basis, a bare minimum is saying grace before eating as a family every night at dinner. I am thankful that I have enough food on the table for my whole family. Did god put it there? No, Honeywell did when they paid my husband. The point is that I am thankful it is there. As a point some made about the scientific marvels of the universe disproving the existence of a non-quantifiable god, I am a scientist and a deist and have never seen the two as incompatible. … … Admittedly I am currently procrastinating from my thesis & lab notebook and saying “Oh, my god, I hope my data are good.” DNA Yes, I pray daily. I learned at a young age that every thought and breath is a prayer, thus it is important to be as aware as possible. I use various forms of prayer, Christian, Buddhist, Yogic, Pagan etc… depending on my state of consciousness at the moment, I think or say a prayer as I awaken and as I drift off to sleep. I say grace (in English or Sanskrit) with every meal. Many of my prayers do not involve words and are in essence the place where most prayers lead, communion and revelation eg. “I and the Father are One”, “Nirvana and Samsara are One”, “Sat-Chit-Ananda, Tat-Twam-Asi/Suchness-Consciousness-Bliss, That-Thou-Art (I AM THAT)”, Ahhh… 🙂 In my lesser states of consciousness I might exclaim “Cheeses!” or “Oh my Goodness!” etc… I remind myself and others quite often of an idea from A Course in Miracles, “A universal truth is impossible but a universal experience is not only possible but necessary” … may we all breathe easy and be at peace. Namaste, Gassho, Blessed Be, Shalom, Salam, & Peace Be With You 🙂 David No. This is actually my first year as a non-religious skeptic, but I haven’t prayed or meditated regularly for a number of years. It’s rather sad because I was brought up in the church and that used to be an important part of my life so it kind of feels like the death of a second childhood in many ways; but over the past couple of years I’ve stopped ignoring the doubts in my mind that had been slowly growing, that I’d been ignoring and putting off because they were too uncomfortable, and started asking some tough questions about my faith and really examining it with the same intensity and scholarship that every other area of my life received. I defer to facts, research, and science, and the evidence simply wasn’t standing up to scrutiny. So this will be the first year that I haven’t been religiously observant. The hardest part is that my family is still very religious so we can’t connect anymore over that, as well as the loneliness that comes from not having that faith community to go to, and the comfort and assurance I used to find in prayer; but this feels more honest. John C Dear god no. There’s just too much to do! Kevin Absolutely not. I dont need to talk to an imaginary friend to feel ‘complete’. Preying makes people feel safe and secure in a world that is crazy. That doesn’t mean its actually doing anything. Keep up the worthless work jesse b Each day when i wake up i put tobacco out my East door of my home and give thanks for all Living Beings on this Earth. Melissa I do. Almost daily. Mostly for my family friends. Am I praying to God? I don’t know. Mostly I’m just trying to be mindful and thankful for the good things in my life. Why do most of the non-prayers have to be so rude about it? Media coverage these days is so skewed to fringes – that doesn’t mean that everyone who prays doesn’t believe in the scientific process etc. Of all places, you would think that this site would be a place for thoughtful discourse as opposed to snarky and judgmental comments about “imaginary friends.” Zack Epicurus had it right all those years ago: “Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?” Frank Only when I’m in the car and my father-in-law is driving. Greg If prayer is a self-guided, open-ended dialog for guidance, advice, favors or agreement from a source not of one’s concious self and possibly involving specific personal commitments – but not necessarily so -depending on the actual terms and conditions and the manner of fulfillment … then yeah. Probably. I’m pretty sure. CJ I’ve been pagan of the celtic variety for some years now but was raised Catholic. I sometimes jokingly call myself a recovering Catholic but it certainly instilled in me an appreciation for the magic in ritual. I was rather surprised a few years back whilst driving the rather scary Ring of Kerry in Ireland that in a most tense moment, out of my mouth for the first time came the exclamation, “Jesus, Mary, Joseph!” I’d never done that before but it was far more satisfying that the curse words that most certainly would have issued forth in the same circumstances on I-94. Was that praying? Sure felt like it. But then, I find folks who see prayer as only a recitation of their wish list to be missing the point in seeking a direct connection with their version of “the force.” I much more agree with those here who see it as an intention to be mindful of our oneness, to appreciate it and seek a deeper understanding of it. I do like that. And I do call it prayer. I think it can transform in ways one has to experience to appreciate. Audrey F. I say Thank You. All the time. I say thank you for the blessings I’ve so undeservedly been given; I say thank you when disaster is narrowly averted; I say thank you when disaster is unavertable, but could have been so much more disastrous. (I once stepped the wrong way when turning off the hoses late one summer night, fell, shredded one leg on a lava rock –and lay on the ground realizing that the antique grindstone hadn’t fallen on me and said “thank you God: ” And burst out laughing…) I am no longer a Christian; I absolutely believe there is a god and that he loves me and takes care of me.And it has been my experience that the more I say thank you the more blessings I receive….I’ve shared this discovery with others, who say “I know. Isn’t it amazing..” evolving more than you Not sure if pray is a word unless your talking about those people that close their eye’s and pretend to talk to the sky. kevin I pray all the time. When I see beauty – when I’m outdoors, with friends, reading, listening to music – enjoying life! I give God praise for all that we have. Prayer is not closing your eyes and talking to a heaven in the sky. Prayer is a form of communication with your God. My God is before me, behind me, beside me, above me and within me – giving me peace. Prayer is about relationship. All people are equal – prayer is not about status, devotion or good deeds. Prayer to me is transparent. I talk with God the same as I talk with my wife, family or friends! Lisa Nope. Did for years, was raised Baptist by my mom, Lutheran by my dad and went to a Pentecostal school. It never changed anything, and became more & more unbelievable as I got older. I don’t even fake it anymore. Tom I do pray. Always have, but the way in which I pray has changed over the years. I no longer pray for things, but rather for guidance, insight, unconditional love and grace to live in harmony with the world God has created over billions of years. I pray that I might be a wise and compassionate steward over the beauty of this world and indeed the whole cosmos. I have surprised myself in that I pray even when I don’t feel like it – because the discipline of prayer, getting in touch with something larger than my parochial views opens me up to new realities. Jason I second Whitney’s response. I do not. If the act of praying provides some comfort for those who do it then fine. But when people say that they are praying for, say, the people of Japan, it seems like a way to avoid any real involvement or effort. If they also donated or volunteered, great. But I’d guess that more prayed than gave. Steve the Cynic A word to the wise among our atheist friends: sneering at Christians and deriding them for talking to their “invisible friend” only makes them more convinced that they’re right and you’re the ones who are being foolishly closed-minded. beryl k gullsgate I would say I ‘dialogue’ at times…but who’s at the other end of the line? Well, I’ll just have to wait-and-see, as my Great Aunt Berta often said… lisa b. I’m the crazy lady who has a constant dialogue (or monologue, depending upon your belief’s) with Jesus. I rarely bow my head in prayer formally, but rather think of Christ as my friend with whom I can process life with. I do not hear an audible voice back, but I definitely feel His hand helping to guide me.