I'm an atheist. I 'pray'.

(19 Posts)
GarlicJuneBlooms Sun 08-Jun-14 13:39:19

Yes, this is a spin-off from all the arguments at the moment, and also from a fred I started in Mental Health. I've no idea whether this board would like to discuss it but, if I'm going to un-hide it for a now, the least I can do is offer a contribution!

First of all, let me say I categorically don't believe any third-party agency is interested in what I want. Not gods, angels, or universal energies. I do, however, get that some other people need/want to believe someone or something hears their prayers - indeed, I often use imaginary objects or people as a focus for my thoughts. In the 12-Step programme, everyone was told to think up their own, if 'God' has no meaning for them. Some alcoholics chose an empty bottle! Fine; it's just a way to steady our thoughts & feelings.

What some call prayer, I call meditation. When some converse with god, mine's an internal dialogue. Is this making sense to anybody? How do you 'pray' and what does it do for you?

<Optimistically hits Create Conversation>

OK big subject.

As a Christian I pray and I suspect that some of what I do looks like meditation. I find contemplative prayer very helpful. This is sitting in silence and trying not to be distracted by the chattering thoughts of the mind - oh look shiny!! I use the mantra 'Jesus Christ, son of God: have mercy on me a sinner' as a way to get still. The in breath is with the word Jesus and the out breath is the word have.

Other prayer is to give thanks. Or to pray (intercede) for others - situations and people and places.

Sometimes I just chat to God.

Sometimes it feels like I'm talking to myself but at other times it feels as if I am surrounded by the divine.

I pray as soon as I wake up and again before I start work. If I have one of those days that start with a bang and get worse and prayer is missed or shortened I really feel the absence.

Hope that makes sense!

BikeRunSki Sun 08-Jun-14 14:40:36

Meditation, contemplation, prayer

Surely different words for very similar activities?

RhondaJean Sun 08-Jun-14 14:49:09

Yes I am with you.

I was raised as a very fundamentalist christian but I have no personal belief in god, although I still think if we took the basic principles Jesus taught (treat others the way you would like to be, don't look down on people, be loving) the world would be a better place.

I "pray" when im stressed. I don't know why, it's almost like mantras or trying to articulate my thoughts and what I want and what I need. It's more about working out what I need to do than expecting anyone else to do it for me though.

I did wonder if it was because I was brought up to pray about every little thing that I return to they behaviour when I am stressed.

sunshinemmum Sun 08-Jun-14 14:49:22

It makes perfect sense to me Garlic and yes I do think that they are very similar practices. I use stillness and prayer (meditation if you like) to still my thoughts, ease anxiety and yes spend time either emptying my mind or to spend time with God. I completely appreciate what you mean by finding an internal dialogue too.

At the moment I am using a mindfulness CD, which has been suggested by someone who teaches yoga and meditation, it isn't directly linked to a particular deity or higher power.

GarlicJuneBlooms Sun 08-Jun-14 14:51:05

I think so, Bike. I'm interested, I think, in what it does for us - and even for others. I'd argue that focusing compassionate thoughts on a friend (or even a mumsnetter) does help me, may lead me to helping them in some tangible way, and probably makes them feel good to know they're being thought about. Not sure a religious pray-er would put it the same way?

sunshinemmum Sun 08-Jun-14 14:51:31

Oh and I have tried using a Christian mantra, but sometimes it is the complete stillness I crave/need.

GarlicJuneBlooms Sun 08-Jun-14 15:02:46

Sorry, meant to say I thought your post was lovely, green.

Thanks, Rhonda and sunshine. Yes, I have one of those racing-everywhere-like-a-toddler minds hmm and it's amazing how restful a few minutes' worth of deliberately not-thinking can be!

I use my Pinterest as a vision board, too - visual representations of my hopes & aspirations. I'm not doing cosmic ordering, obvs, as I don't believe in a universal supermarket, but do believe it will subconsciously guide me in the choices I make. To dredge up a heavy example, I chose abusive partners because I unconsciously thought all men were abusers. Since expectations are that powerful, it makes sense to focus my thoughts on good, healthy, enjoyable things!

I "pray" when im stressed. - Yeah, that's when I get out my imaginary compassion genies grin As you said, it's really about working out what I need to do. It just helps when I think I don't know.

BikeRunSki Sun 08-Jun-14 15:05:01

I think meditation/contemplation and prayer mean different things to different people though.

I'd say that prayer is more formal, with "set pieces" for different occasions; but i know people who pray "freestyle". To me, this is more contemplation. I suppose this is what I do - reflect, consider, contemplate. I am very much an aetheist, via Catholic upbringing and confirmation in Cathedral. I'd say that prayer might normally be addressed to a higher being too.

beatingwings Sun 08-Jun-14 15:15:45

I am a witch. I perform magical rites. I am an atheist.

GarlicJuneBlooms Sun 08-Jun-14 15:23:13

Does it count as atheism, wings? I have experience with a "voodoo" belief system based on a pantheon of spirits - they call it a religion.

Are your rites like my meditations and green's prayers, do you think? Not in execution, I mean in purpose.

beatingwings Sun 08-Jun-14 15:27:05

atheism
ˈ
noun: atheism

disbelief or lack of belief in the existence of God or gods.

Yes of course it "counts". I don't believe in god or gods.

The purpose of my magical acts are wide and varied.

sunshinemmum Sun 08-Jun-14 15:28:32

Garlic, I love the idea of the pin interest board to inspire you with positivity. I have done CBT in the past, so I am pretty sure that both meditation and having positive things around you, to keep your mind from the darker stuff, can be useful.

I pray in different ways, sometimes formally with groups of people and I also try and have a stream of consciousness to speak to God through the day. God at the centre, even when my thoughts are elsewhere, if that makes sense.

I am not always praying when I meditate, as I also use those times as time to slow down and be mindful. This helps me get in the right place to pray.

GarlicJuneBlooms Sun 08-Jun-14 15:31:03

Oh. OK.

To go back to the original question, then, how do you 'pray' and what does it do for you?

GarlicJuneBlooms Sun 08-Jun-14 15:38:20

Sorry, my last question was for wings. Thanks for the Pinterest encouragement, sunshine smile Oddly, I found your phrase "God at the centre" very helpful because I can translate it directly to 'compassion at the centre' and that will be a good reminder for me.

I feel a bit weird doing meditative stuff in groups; I join in if it's a party required, but then find myself having to do some kind of double-think where I'm aware I'm just going along with it, while at the same time trying to keep the constructive intentions in mind. I try to avoid it these days: too confusing! I did once walk out of a wedding, though, where the minister was fulminating fire & brimstone. I wasn't the only one; felt sorry for the couple! What a way to start a marriage shock

sunshinemmum Sun 08-Jun-14 15:49:20

'Compassion at the centre' is a pretty good mantra. It saddens me to hear about those kind of Christian experiences. We have encountered similar teachings within a faction at a Church we attended and left as a result.

I actually love quiet days where there is complete silence, but I need time for solitary contemplation.

FiveExclamations Sun 08-Jun-14 15:51:46

I'm an atheist but I've always gravitated towards churches for the silence and I went to family services for a couple of years with my DD who felt she was Christian for a while.

I enjoyed the praying, I was talking to myself (not always about the subject of the prayer, there were often other things going on in my mind) and soaking up the peace.

I also light candles whenever I'm in church, I don't expect it to achieve anything but I generally have my late father in mind when I do. Light in the darkness is a pretty fundamental need I think.

Idontseeanyicegiants Sun 08-Jun-14 15:58:36

I meditate regularly and 'pray' I suppose but it tends to be at times of real stress and it's like I'm throwing a question or a request 'out there' in the hope that someone is listening. Sometimes as part of a ritual, but usually when I've found some time just to sit still and be quiet for a while.

Seabright Sat 28-Jun-14 01:07:49

I pray, but I don't know what I believe.

I try not to just pray when I need help or support, because I worry that just asking for help and never saying thank you is wrong. I also worry that I'm praying "wrong" and will offend any God ther is and make life worse.

But. I think praying/talking through an issue does help me to think about things, and hopefully come to the right answer.

Sometimes I wish I had a proper belief, as some people seem to gain great strength from that and I could do with some strength just now.

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