If you believe, what do you currently pray for?
When I was a believer I usually kept my prayer simple, and prayed the Serenity Prayer:
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,If I strayed outside of that it was to help my previous marriage (scratch that one from the win column!) or for a healthy baby (1 spontaneous abortion and 1 very healthy and wonderful child, so 50% effective).
Courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference.
I never prayed for world peace or to feed the hungry. I can't say my prayers were extremely selfish but I have to admit that I DID only pray for MYSELF or my immediate family. Oh, those Selfish Genes!!!
I could have easily replaced the Serenity prayer with the Bene Gesserit Litany Against Fear:
I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.Both serve to calm the mind, one for alcoholics (or their children as is my case), the other for Bene Gesserit witches in Dune (AMAZING BOOK!). Each seems a bit Buddhist to me. Actually, it was Buddhism that I turned to after my divorce to help me deal with the fear and the stress.
So, does prayer work for you? I assume that if you don't believe in God anymore that prayer was one of the things that didn't work for you. My son prays every night for nice dreams, peaceful sleep, and for all his family and loved ones to be watched over. Even he noticed that even though he prays for sweet dreams he still has nightmares. And he hasn't made the connection yet but all the while he has prayed for his family to be watched over tragedy has hit multiple times.
While perusing the blog My Long Apostasy I came across a link to this study on prayer. I've heard reference to that study before as evidence that prayer is a load of hog wash. Basically, the people who were prayed for actually did WORSE than the people who weren't. They think that the people who knew they were being prayed for felt more stress than those who didn't...performance anxiety perhaps?
This brings me back to the Serenity prayer. It basically assumes that shit happens. Sometimes we can act in a way to make the shit stink less and sometimes we can't. Knowing when to act and when to just say "fuck it" helps to reduce your stress. It's no use worrying over what to do about something you have no control over. When the pilot dies in mid-flight and the plane is crashing just stick your head between your legs and kiss your ass goodbye. But if you know how to fly the plane then get up there and fly it.
So, does prayer work for you? Or is prayer simply a form of meditation to help clear your head and deal with life's uncertainties?
Update 8/19 - some current events that seem appropriate to add:
Do God and Prayer Trump Scientific Medicine?
Fay hits Florida; prayers answered
Group Thanks Lord for Lower Gas Prices