Does prayer really do anything?

I have a confession to make: I still pray occasionally. Yes, my regular readers may be surprised, given that I’m largely atheist/agnostic, that I do pray. However, for me, it’s something different. It’s more akin to meditation. It’s similar to the process of de-fragging a computer hard-drive. I appreciate the time when I can be alone and quiet with my own thoughts and just sort things through. I don’t pray for anything, I just endeavour to reach a state of calmness and balance where I can sort through the stuff in my head. For me, it’s not an easy state to reach. I attend weekly sweat-lodge ceremonies, and I do meditate a lot there. I also meditate on the yoga mat. Sometimes, it’s when I’m driving–I do some of my best thinking when I’m in the car. Other times, it’s when doing outdoor activities. On an individual basis, within my own thought, yes, this process of meditation (you can call it prayer if you want) does do something, in my opinion, for me.

I don’t pray for “things” or wealth–if praying for wealth actually created wealth, I’d have retired as a millionaire years ago when I was still in the Christian Science Krazy Sauce. Sometimes, I’ll express a hope for something better either in my own experience or that of someone else, and I’ll keep good thoughts for people, but does that actually effect a change? No, I don’t think so, not in and of itself. What it can do is lead me to actions that may effect change, but in and of itself, I’ve seen no evidence that prayer has any effect outside of one’s own mind.

So yes, prayer and meditation I think are wonderful things. The sweat-lodge, yoga, and my other moments of peaceful meditation have done wonders for my sanity and emotional health, and I have no doubt it can do the same for others. It has led me to decisions and actions that have definitely improved my life, and maybe through actions I’ve taken, I’ve helped others as well. But, when I see some disaster somewhere in the world, do my prayers alone do anything for the people who are suffering? No. My actions, and/or the actions of others will.


2 thoughts on “Does prayer really do anything?

  1. I personally think there is some truth in, thoughts and thought petitions affecting reality. It’s just that things like Christian Science very grossly exaggerate the positive affects, changing them from a slight loading of the dice into certainty. It’s like in life there are things that you can do which may help any particular thing into a desired result, but there’s no certainty to that, you know? Like, if you have stomach cramps, and you take a painkiller, that painkiller has a good chance of blocking out your pain, but on the other hand, it might not – it would be false to say, that ordinary painkillers always get rid of every pain and all pain every time … not a very good analogy, but I can’t think of one off the top of my head at the moment. Just my view.

  2. Some years ago, a Jet-Blue airliner circulated around LA International airport because the front nose landing wheels malfunctioned by not retracting out into position to land the plane safely. The airport ground crew all moved into their positions along the runway where the Jet-Blue was instructed to land. Meanwhile, in the air the plane was continuing to circulate over the airport. One thing I left out. (Oops!). They were draining fuel in mid air to try to lighten the weight of the aircraft, I suppose, to “soften” the landing. Anyway, this is to the best of my recollection. To make a long story short, I couldn’t take the suspense anymore, so I just turned the sound down and walked away. Then, I prayed for a safe landing. About an hour later, found out the plane did make a safe landing, almost without incident. Everybody on board cheered for both the pilot and co-pilot skills to navigate the plane to safety.
    Maybe I’m being a little superstitious here, but I would hate to think of a possible tragedy, had I not prayed. In praying, I assumed many other people we’re also praying. Seemed to work here.

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