The one true prayer

If you know me, you know I’m not religious. But if you know me well, you know that I was raised with a lot of comparative religion, so I know my way around the different sects and arguments. Given that I don’t have a dog in this fight, I don’t really have a right to comment, but what the hell. This is my blog, and this is something that bothers me.

There is only one true prayer. If you believe in a single, infallible, omnipotent, omniscient God, then there is only one true prayer, and all else is vanity.

We laugh when a child prays for a pony, we shrug when one team prays to beat the other, and we take it seriously when we pray for soldiers to be safe, but all of those prayers are wrong. The serve a purpose completely outside of your religion.

Prayer can be a way to sort out your intentions and your goals. I want my children to be safe, I want my car not to break down, I want to pass the Sociology final. All of these serve as a good way to remind yourself of what is important, and hopefully, to inspire you to do something about it. In this way, prayer can serve to focus a mind toward a goal, and possibly give you the confidence to take action in making it happen (after all, I asked God to watch over me during this run down the ski slopes). But these are not truly about God.

To assume that God answers prayers is to assume that either 1) God’s original plan was flawed, and you have what it takes to make him change his mind, or 2) You have no free will, and God knew you would ask for that all along, thus fulfilling his ineffable plan. Either way, the prayer itself alters nothing. Asking God to change the way the world works just shows a lack of faith.

Some people use prayer as a diary, going through the days events as though chatting with a good friend. This may seem silly to some people, but it’s actually a lot closer to the true prayer than anyone who prays for a boon from the Lord. At least the diary prayer gives a person the feeling that they are not alone, and helps them organize their day. But it’s worth noting that, because no response is expected or asked for, God is not necessary for this process. A diary would be just as useful.

So what is the one true prayer? What is the only truly valid reason to drop to your knees and bow your head to the almighty?

Thank the Lord. Thank God for healthy children, a roof over your head. Thank God for a job if you have one, or any prospects if you don’t. Thank God for whatever life you have, no matter how mean or base it is. No matter how painful or cruel or horrible your life is, if you believe in God, you should thank him for the hope that each day brings.

Thank him for the day itself, and all the people in it. Thank him for the creatures, the flowers, the trees. Thank him for the oceans and the stars. Thank him for comets and satellites, vaccines and computers. Thank him for every day in your past, and for this latest one. Because no matter how awful the day was, he gave it to you, and the only true way to pray is to give thanks.

If you’re religious, that is. If not, you write a blog post.

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