I am not a prayer. Not religious in any way, shape or form.
I am massively respectful of those who are. If they use their powers for good, that is. If in the name of God, or Jesus, or whoever you believe is running the show, you are kind, generous, community-oriented, more at peace, more connected to the universe – I am totally on board with that. It doesn’t work for me, but I’m glad it works for so many other people.
Meanness in the name of religion is the most cowardly of injustices in my opinion. If you are awful because you have great faith that some higher power is telling you to be, you are just being awful and making up a reason. At least own your evil, I say.
I do go to church on the big holidays, I sing the songs, I say the prayers, but it isn’t real to me. I participate because it’s important to my family. I’m sorry if that offends anyone, I’m just telling the truth here.
I went to Israel years ago, and visited various sites of Christian (and Jewish, and Muslim) significance. I walked the streets of Jerusalem, touched the Temple wall (and even tucked a little wish in there), gathered water from the Jordan River for the eventual baptisms of my children. I saw the church where the “loaves and the fishes” miracle apparently went down. But honestly, if you had told me that that spot right there was where Sleeping Beauty slept, it would hold just about the same level of reality for me.
To me, it’s all mythology and fairy tales. Strong mythology and morality-driven fairy tales that help a lot of people feel better and do the right thing. I’m not opposed, don’t get me wrong. But I just don’t believe it.
I do think there’s something bigger than us. I do hope that the end of this life isn’t just like turning off the TV. End of run. Black hole.
I try super hard to be a good person and do right by the people that matter to me (and even the ones that don’t matter all that much.) I contribute to charities and volunteer when I can. I worry a lot about the amount of space I take up in the world and try hard to justify it.
But I don’t have any faith that if I say the right things and go to the right places and sing the right songs I will have any better chance of ending up in a good place. I just don’t.
In general I am completely cool with where my head is at in regard to the whole issue.
Then something bad happens to someone I care about. A sickness, a challenge, a dying pet.
And the request – “Pray for us.”
And I can’t. I can’t even pretend that I did. Because honestly, lying about praying seems profoundly worse than not praying in the first place.
And I offer lame alternatives…
I am thinking of you.
Best wishes for a speedy recovery.
I hope everything is OK.
But in the face of a request for divine intervention, it feels like nowhere near enough.
Other responses chime in…
You are in our thoughts and prayers.
Sending up prayers to heaven.
May God give you strength.
There’s a gravitas to those promises that Thinking Hoping Wishing don’t have going for them. Mine are all ephemeral – just me with a hope, a wish, a thought. Little old ineffectual me.
No deity on call. No supernatural helpline.
Of course, I don’t think that if I tried to fake out a prayer it would make any difference. Even if I am missing the boat on the whole thing, I’m pretty sure I can’t give it a whirl and start calling in favors for people. And I’m fairly sure that even if there is a big man sitting on a cloud up there he isn’t waiting for requests like the Casey Kasem of the universe (Delilah? Who takes requests these days?)
Here’s some heroic strength going out to the kidnapped girls in Nigeria.
Sending out some divine comfort to the family missing their grandmother so much it hurts all day long.
Somehow not having the backup of prayer for myself feels completely fine. But not offering it up to other folks feels stingy. I guess because I haven’t really gone to great lengths to out myself as a non-prayer. So maybe it will seem like I am holding back from offering a prayer because I am stockpiling them for my own rainy day.
I worry a little too much about what other people think, probably.
So here’s me outing myself. I don’t pray. For anyone or anything. So when I offer up the thought/wish/hope, those are my big guns.
And I really am thinking of you, and I hope everything is OK. And as ineffectual and weak as that is, it’s all I’ve got.
Maybe the guy on the cloud will listen to one of the folks who believe. I wish that for you.