Prayer - Even Without God
© 1988 by J R Compton
You don't have to have a god to pray. You don't even need a Higher Power.
Those beliefs may help, but all that's really necessary for humans to pray is directed thought.
Regular practice, a little quiet and/or solitude, and maybe a special place and time set aside for it, all seem to help us direct those thoughts toward goals. But even if you don't believe in God, you can still get a lot out of prayer.
Prayer is affirmation. Not necessarily pure or simple, but positive.
The dark shadow negative of prayer is worry. "Worry," a wise friend once told me, "is praying for the wrong thing to happen."
Like prayer, worry is repeated and outwardly directed thought patterns. Also like prayer, worry can be a self-fulfilling prophesy. Even without a God, the element of an Other is present and operative in prayer. It is that to which prayers are directed.
To many people, that Other is perceived of as God. However, you may not believe in that kind of god. Perhaps you call it "Nature, " "Science," or my favorite, "The Universe." It doesn't really matter what you believe in or pray to -- or what you choose to name it. Whatever it may be, it is outside of and beyond your individual Self.
More important than whatever might be "out there," is what is going on inside the mind of the person who prays. While those thoughts are running through their mind, they're accomplishing many good things.
If all it did was allow the pray-er to collect their thoughts, to tune into what's going on around them, or to think through a series of contingencies, it would be a complete and worthwhile activity.
But prayer also focuses people's energies -- physical, psychological and (if you believe in such) psychic -- onto desired objects or contemplated actions. Indeed, there are many benefits to prayer, which have nothing to do with religion.
The advice to be careful what you pray for because you just might get it, is right on target. When you concentrate on something, you tend to be more open to it when it happens -- even if you haven't been actively working for it. It is like some supercharged serendipity, predisposing you to the objective of those prayers (or worries).
At the very least, prayer helps you recognize your goals when you either encounter them or get within reach.
Perhaps praying for something actually attracts that which is sought. Maybe it just conditions us to avail ourself to it. Either way, opening yourself up to the possibility of a force outside you helps you get beyond you, and out into the "real" world where your goals exist.
Another old saw says that, "Even if you don't like something, the more you see it, the more you will like it." Every time you are exposed to something you don't like or don't believe in, you are a little more likely to accept it. Or as 12-steppers like to say, "fake it till you make it."
In any case -- usually only a little at a time and generally only in smaller increments than you had hoped (although miracles do happen) -- goals are achieved. Believing that prayer works seems to make it work even better.
Refusing to admit that it even might work, however, nixes it entirely. And, of course, there's always "God (The Universe, your Higher Power, Guardian Angel, or Who- or Whatever) helps those who help themselves."
Positive or negative, prayer or worry, this channeling of thoughts does work. The choice is yours.
Other pages that might interest you:
JR Comptons Cosmic Coping Kit of Methaphysical Knowledge
Meditation of the Five Elements