Taking God out of prayer feels right. Not for everyone, of course. If you’re a believer, and evoking God or Jesus Christ works for you, then I bless you and thank you for visiting my blog.
If you’re like me, however, and yearn for the comfort of prayer while also being unable to fold, spindle or mutilate yourself enough into believing in God, then secular prayer is a joy. When I mention secular prayer, some people grin. Others look at me as if I’ve grown a second head, or as a friend of mine once said: “What zip code do you send that prayer to?”
But secular prayer makes sense when you realize that we don’t have to send our prayers anywhere. Prayer isn’t about getting down on our knees to petition our lord for favors as feudal serfs once had to do with their earthly lords.
We have the power to help ourselves. Doing that can be as simple as changing the way we think. Psychologists teach that we become what we expect to become. If we expect to fail, we will. If we expect to succeed, we will. The power of self-fulfilling prophecy can be overwhelming. Prayer helps us reboot our brain and reset our thinking.
Prayer can also enable us to step off our daily gerbil wheel of doing, so that instead of working, driving, cooking, cleaning, or staring at a screen, we’re sitting in peace and being in the moment. Or prayer can help us celebrate, connect, set our intentions, and commemorate. None of that requires the presence of God. Seminiary professor and pastor Hal Taussig writes:
(P)rayer does not require conscious allegiance to God. That some want prayer to be a kind of loyalty oath to God robs prayer of much of its power to orient and energize people. The urge to pray comes not so much from some divine policing of our behavior as from needs to cry out in pain, roar with joy upon landing a job, or stand still to remember a friend.
How do you think about prayer?
A NOTE ON THE PHOTO: This marvelous image was harvested from http://publicdomainarchive.com/. A thousand thanks to them for their fine taste and their generosity.