Sunday, August 17, 2008

What Did/Do You Pray For?

If you no longer believe, what did you used to pray for?

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,
Courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference.
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).

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?

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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

8 comments:

Wanderin' Weeta said...

As a believer, I prayed for everything; "Pray without ceasing;" that sort of thing.

Kids' health issues, making it to work on time, getting to sleep, salvation of the world, salvation of my friends, the right words to say, the rain holding off until tomorrow, thanks for that flower, the smell of green grass ... whatever it was, I prayed about it.

And I saw some good answers, some "miraculous" answers (according to my family, who knew the situations).

While I was in the throes of leaving Christianity, I purposely did not pray for anything, for about 6 months.

And I saw some good "answers", some "miraculous" answers, according to my family (who didn't know my internal situation).

In other words, there was no difference whatsoever. Things happened; when they were what I wanted to happen, I used to ascribe them to God answering prayers. Now I know they were the way the cookie crumbles. Or that they were of my doing (as in, the right words to say.)

Mike aka MonolithTMA said...

I kept a daily prayer list, but I also did my best to pray without ceasing. Results, of course, were 50/50. Prayer was a major part of keeping me connected to what I thought of as God.

Doubting Foo said...

While praying for cardiac surgery patients doesn't work, apparently praying for lower gas prices does!

'Pray at the Pump' activist: 'We shall overcome' high gas prices

My mom prays for EVERYTHING. It freaks me out when she starts praying "the blood of Jesus" over something. Seems cultish.

I don't think being raised as a Christian and being taught to pray for help when things get rough actually prepared me for the real world. I'll be sure to try to teach my son to understand that things don't always go the way we want and how to deal with unexpected events. Christianity only taught me that I was forgiven and that a better life awaited me.

Dan +†+ said...

I still pray for all of you to be saved. Let's hope for better then a 50/50 average.

Bless your Mom, Foo. Hopefully her prayers are answered when she prays about you.

longsmith said...

Just found your blog. Nice one. I will be back

Doubting Foo said...

Welcome, longsmith, nice to have you!

Dan +†+ said...

Aw, no welcome for me? *sigh* It's OK I am used to it

pursuitofmeaning said...

So I answered your question best I could. It is at http://pursuitofmeaning.wordpress.com/2008/08/27/does-god-answer-prayer/