Understand, I’m an agnostic. I’ve never been blessed with the gift of faith. I have spent a great deal of time researching the topic of early Christianity, as well as some time looking into Judaism, Mormonism, Islam and, most recently, Scientology. I don’t deny anyone’s faith. How could I, I have none.
I have spent a lot of time considering what would and would not be appropriate based on the precepts of these faiths. I’d like to tell you my conclusions on the topic of prayer.
Assuming there is a God, Supreme Being, deity, whatever. Also, assuming that he’s a benevolent creator, he’s looking out for us, intervening from time to time, i.e.…sending a son to Earth. Being a God, he’d be omniscient. He’d know everything. From the beginning until the end. This doesn’t speak to predestination. Everyone has free will, he just knows what we’ll choose. Time to him is like height to us. He sees it all at one time.
Based on all of the above, I first determined that there is only one appropriate prayer. That would be, “Thy will be done.” Being benevolent, he has our best interests in mind, by our, I mean the human race. His vision is not on the outcome any individual person’s crisis. He knows that we’ll have difficulties. How many times have you heard, “It’s God’s will”? His vision is on the long term. He knows what the consequences of decisions made today will be in 500 years. If he decides that Grandma needs to die on August 14th, we have to trust that decision. He knows what he’s doing. Our only position must be,”Thy will be done.”
After reflection on this point, I realized that there’s actually a second appropriate prayer. “Help me to accept your will.” Sometimes we have trouble accepting that which we don’t understand and I believe that it’s appropriate to ask for help with that.
I’ve spoken to people on this topic and they’ve shared their family’s prayers from home with me. I hear things asked for such as health and happiness for the family, for focus and determination to accomplish certain goals, and such prayers. There are many others, but I believe they all basically fall into one of those two categories. The health and happiness prayer is motivated by self interest. If it’s in his plan, it will happen without being asked for. The second prayer is goal setting which is admirable and, I believe, should be encouraged, it’s not something to ask a deity for. “God helps those…” Goal setting is a skill to be used in our daily lives to achieve certain things which matter to us. These are earthly matters, not spiritual ones.
Religion is a lesson in humility. Humble yourself before the one who created you. Thy will be done. Whatever you think is all right with me because I trust in you. I’m a pawn and I’m here to serve. Any greatness I have is a credit to your greatness, not of my own doing. Any wisdom I have, any intellect I have, any physical abilities I have, and so on.
That’s it. Two prayers. Word them any way you like. Wrap them around any situation you’re in. Two prayers.