I have a confession to make: I still pray occasionally. Yes, my regular readers may be surprised, given that I’m largely 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 health–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.