Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Atheist Prayer

Surfer Jesus mentioned earlier that he and Faithinate both admit to praying. I do, too, and I am questioning myself about it. How can I pray if I don't believe in God?

Let's go back to when I started praying. The earliest I remember, I found that if I prayed to not have nightmares then I usually wouldn't. Later I was able--in-dream--to recognize that I was dreaming and pray to wake up, and I did actually wake up to escape a dream that was scary or had become tiresome.

I don't recall praying to a prophet or messiah like Jesus, but neither did I address God directly in my prayers. And I didn't envision a tangible being; it was more a prayer to whatever I don't understand. I didn't feel a relationship or a two-way conversation was happening, nor did I feel the touch of divinity.

But praying was actually useful in directing my dreams and sometimes settling my mind. Later after a couple of auto accidents I would pray to not get into a wreck, and sometimes if I'm anxious about something I pray that it will turn out "all right" without specific suggestion as to what is "all right".

So, what the hell am I doing? After pondering this a bit, I realize that prayer has been useful. I don't believe it is evidence for the existence of a deity. I think it has been a useful way to focus my thoughts in a direction I wanted to, in the same vein as meditating, saying affirmations, visualizing a desired outcome, etc.. As with many thoughts it is useful to have a way to structure them, and my emerging personal hypothesis is that these are all tools to focus the mind.

I have read that affirmations should be for a specific goal but not specify a specific route to the goal. I think avoiding nightmares and avoiding wrecks are two goals that I prayed for without specifying to avoid thinking about monsters or to remember to check my mirrors. But the goal was there, and I know my mind can work on a topic unconsciously while I think consciously on other topics, so perhaps this is how it works.

Anyway, whatever the deal is, I'm going to continue my prayers to nobody, but perhaps I'll check into other mind disciplines and see what I'm missing.

Parting thought: Even prayer doesn't need God! Go figure.


Faithinate said...

Wow, that's the best article you've submitted yet. I agree, I agree, and I agree. I used to pray to no on in particular, then I started "praying" (talking) to the constellation Orion, then to God once I hit Christianity, then to myself...

So now, I find I'm back to where I was before, praying to some higher power I don't really believe in when it's something important. I find myself saying, oh please lord, don't let these kids get sick/kidnapped/hurt (whatever the fear du jour is). Please god, don't let X happen to my kid. And so on.

For me I guess it's old habits catching up with me, mixed with the helplessness that life can put you through. There's a lot I can do for my family, but I can't guarantee their health or safety. So I voice those fears as a plea because, well, you gotta say something.

By the way, do you mind if I show this article to daughter dear? Out of context of the blog, of course.

praiseNull said...

"By the way, do you mind if I show this article to daughter dear? Out of context of the blog, of course."

I had to reread it and was surprised to find that the only swear was "hell", and that was tongue-in-cheek given the topic.

Yeah, sure, go for it. Up to you if you want to leave in references to surfer Jesus and Faithinate.

Faithinate said...

No, I'll let her know you wrote it and change the names. I'm not sure I want her telling her mother that we're writing a satanic blog....

praiseNull said...

"a satanic blog"

Who? ;)