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Can "prayer" be secular?

Old 10-07-2011, 05:03 PM
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Can "prayer" be secular?

I suppose that this may be an ultimately semantic question. I guess that the question could be phrased in a less thread-title-friendly way is: Is there room in your personal understanding of secularism for a conception of an activity that might be called prayer?

My provisional, working understanding of "prayer" is an activity which removes one from one's current state of being and/or way of perceiving the world. It's not perfect, but it leaves room for discussion.
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Old 10-07-2011, 05:17 PM
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Unless your activity involves some perceived communication with a deity, I don't think it fits the definition of prayer.

Sounds more to me like you are meditating.
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Old 10-07-2011, 05:47 PM
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Meditation and prayer are very similar in many ways, but prayer by definition is to a deity of some type. It won't necessarily be a specific denomination, but it is not secular.
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Old 10-07-2011, 06:22 PM
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I practice metta...some say it is similar to prayer, but again, no diety involved. I go through these phrases starting with myself and going from loved ones, to strangers I have heard having struggles, even to those people I dislike or feel have hurt me, when I can , and finally to all beings.

May I be safe from inner and outer harm
may my body be healthy and strong
may my heart be full of joy
may my mind be filled with ease

Sometimes I change it up with phrases like "may I take care of myself joyfully" or "may my mind be free" or "may my life be filled with ease" something to that effect, whatever strikes me as meaningful that day. The most important part for me is the first line.

I repeat this over and over, replacing the "I" and "my" with the above mentioned people...
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Old 10-09-2011, 04:54 PM
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Welcome to the secular zone of SoberRecovery TheOnlyDryPaddy.

My understanding of prayer is that its a religious practice. I will use a mantra for creating personal transformation instead of petitioning a God/HP to do the job for me.
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Old 10-09-2011, 05:52 PM
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When I think of Prayer, I always think of Yosemite Sam, from Bugs Bunny,

'Say yer prayers, rabbit! I'm a gonna blast ya!'



~

I'm not sure why, but I've never been able to pray, since I was a little kid I thought/felt/sensed/knew there was no God, just the neutral laws of physics and nature, nothing that would listen or care about people, or any particular person.

I suppose prayer might be secular, in that is not associated with any 'sect', but to me, I never feel comfortable saying them, or participating in them, regardless of how generic the 'god' is.
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Old 10-09-2011, 09:54 PM
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I was reading an interesting blog post today by an atheist. He said one of his favorite songs is "My Sweet Lord" by George Harrison. My jaw dropped into one of those WTF positions as he's about as secular as it comes. He had a good point though, and it was this. That song uses every inch of musical space so even though he doesn't pray himself the song uses every space, making him in a way jealous of George Harrison to place himself there. I asked the blogger if it was okay to share, and he gave me permission..

"This next song [My Sweet Lord] is, strangely enough, quite popular with atheists like me. I couldn't tell you why outside of the fact it is just so moving from the tambourine to the vocals. Nothing goes to waste here. If there was ever a song that made me want to believe, its George when he sings "I really want to see you but it takes so long...".


There has always been a fine undercurrent for me, and that is for many death is not to be feared but truly a passage. I remember when I heard George had passed I was glad, for him. The world would miss him but he was now where he had longed to be and with who he longed to be with. We all should be so lucky."
So yes, prayer doesn't have to be to a deity. It can simply be a celebration of the way the universe functions atom by atom as a whole.
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Old 10-09-2011, 10:04 PM
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What is odd, is that I am a huge fan of black gospel music, especially from the 30s to the 70s, on record, and even on the radio here in Baltimore. I like the sense of struggle and social consciousness, and just the sheer beauty of it, the raw emotion, the rhythmic, building quality it has. Sometimes, I have sat outside of a church on a warm day, under a tree, just listening.
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Old 10-17-2011, 04:22 PM
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Originally Posted by failedtaper View Post
Unless your activity involves some perceived communication with a deity, I don't think it fits the definition of prayer.

Sounds more to me like you are meditating.
I agree. Either meditating or repeating an affirmation or thinking out loud. I think prayer is, by definition, communication with a deity.

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Old 10-17-2011, 08:37 PM
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Husky Pup...your post struck me...I grew up in an agnostic/atheist household and always knew, from a very young age that there was a God and that he loved me and watched over me

But since this is the secular section...I would concur that prayer without belief in divinity is closer to meditation, and a wonderful practice. I will sometimes stand on the beach and just say thank you to the wind and sea
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Old 10-17-2011, 09:01 PM
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Thumbs up

Originally Posted by soberlicious View Post
I practice metta...some say it is similar to prayer, but again, no diety involved. I go through these phrases starting with myself and going from loved ones, to strangers I have heard having struggles, even to those people I dislike or feel have hurt me, when I can , and finally to all beings.

May I be safe from inner and outer harm
may my body be healthy and strong
may my heart be full of joy
may my mind be filled with ease

Sometimes I change it up with phrases like "may I take care of myself joyfully" or "may my mind be free" or "may my life be filled with ease" something to that effect, whatever strikes me as meaningful that day. The most important part for me is the first line.

I repeat this over and over, replacing the "I" and "my" with the above mentioned people...
Thanks for this ^

I've been doing this very thing lately, as an athiest.
.....will learn more about "metta"

Some things I've read about the pschological effectiveness of the act of praying (or, in my case, metta ) must have led me to give it a try sometimes.
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Old 11-10-2011, 08:07 PM
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Prayer?

DryPaddy no religious organization has a monopoly on the word "prayer".
You are free to make up your own "secular prayers" anytime you want to.
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Old 11-11-2011, 06:26 AM
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I like soberlicious's view. Bare with me on my source but I read Jillian Michaels' book Unlimited and she stated studies that actually prove prayer is effective. Not like "pray to win the lottery" prayer, but prayer for those sick and they ended up having an easier recovery than those who weren't prayed for. I'm not the religious sorts so that irritated me at the time but I'm hovering more towards Eastern ideas lately and the idea that we're all one and connected make sense when considering prayer, just putting out positive energy for other people and yourself makes sense, if anything it at least makes you feel better that you seem like a compassionate type. Out of habit and as part of being human, I spend a lot of time judging other people and making assumptions about them and some sort of prayer helps me to feel like I'm taking some of that negativity back.
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Old 11-12-2011, 07:35 AM
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Hello, first post here.

I find myself repeating The Serenity Prayer we all learned in rehab/AA even though I can't find it in me to believe in god.

It does unleash peace and some sort of a connection with a part of myself that was largely untapped. Academically, I suppose it's some form of meditation.

Bill
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Old 11-23-2011, 12:00 PM
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If there is a benefit to prayer (which I believe there is), and there is no God (which I also believe), then isn't the reality that all prayer is secular?

Perhaps the humility of admitting I don't know all the answers, and the willingness to ask for help is enough to put my mind in a place where recovery is more probable. A place where I can change what I want. I am often surprised to sense my reaction to my own thoughts after I express them in words. This is true whether I post here, write them in a journal, talk with a friend, or even when sincerely expressing myself to no one at all. So yes there is a small part of my recovery that includes prayer.
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Old 12-17-2011, 06:07 PM
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In the early days of sobriety I tried to pray....really, I did. I reasoned that if I were to get this sobriety stuff I had better "get right" with God, just like they told me. The value of unloading my crap was not missed on me, but this business of asking for things just did not ring true. Then there were the stories people told about how God made them sober (then why not your friends and family, I wondered, and why did it take so long?), or how God saved them from tragic deaths (again, why not those people who died on the highway, or from alcohol poisoning?). Something wasn't right. I once had a religious fanatic co-worker once, and she told me she was praying for the return of my lost cat. When the cat returned home she beamed at the impact her prayers had. I, on the other hand, repeated affirmations during meditation, letting go of my personal agenda and coming to terms that the universe would work things out, as it tends to do.
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Old 12-19-2011, 06:59 PM
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I have enjoyed this thread very much. My prayer is: “I want to know the truth. I want to be free.”
I figure there is probably no god, at least not like the one depicted by organized religion, but I am not so sure that this planet is just rushing aimlessly through space without the intervention of a higher consciousness or higher vibrational whatever. I mean the behavior of particles at the subatomic level does get very spooky.

Natalie
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Old 12-31-2011, 08:36 AM
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Originally Posted by NatalieN View Post
I mean the behavior of particles at the subatomic level does get very spooky.

Natalie
The observer changes the reality.
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Old 02-02-2012, 12:01 PM
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Well atheist churches exist, so why not?
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Old 02-02-2012, 12:11 PM
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May not fit the strict definition of "Prayer", but I think there is something to the Metta Mantra thing. So yes, I think ultimately it is a semantic question. I do focus on sending out good Karma as I'm more into the we are all children of the Universe kinda thing than Institutionalized Religion run by mortal men. So some may consider it prayer Maybe the important thing is what you get out of it and how it helps you relate to your larger environment.
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