Saturday, May 28, 2011

Can Atheists Pray?

It can be socially awkward sometimes if you do not believe in God. You know when everyone is "praying for Japan" or "praying for Missouri" and your just "blanking" for them. What am I supposed to say? What am I actually supposed to do?

I just consider it dishonest to say I am going to pray for something when I am not going to. I am not going to pray. I do not pray. But this does not mean that I do not think about these places. In reality, I think about these places and certain people in dire situations often. It often keeps me up at night: the chaos of this world. I worry about climate change, the hungry, the poor ,the unhappy, the sick, and everyone and anyone in between. Sometimes it consumes me. Rather than pray I try and envision some way I can help or do something truly meaningful in these situations. Of course, this is difficult in many ways. I mean I can always donate or volunteer or just give someone my time. But this often does not feel like enough in a world where countless are suffering.

I think prayer comes in when we feel like we cannot do anything else. Those who rely on prayer pray in hopes that the situation will get better when things feel very much out of our control.

For instance, my good friend Beni is currently living in Yemen. I think and worry about her safety all of the time. But I can literally do nothing about her safety on a day to day basis. It is so far out of my control aside from going to Yemen, adultnapping her, and bringing her here. What am I supposed to do? I usually tell her I am praying for her in "my atheist way." But what does that even mean?! I am still unsure. Maybe I will just start saying I am sending you "warm fuzzies." Of course, I am sure no one would take that seriously, especially the really religious folk. But that is their loss. I mean who does not want a warm fuzzy or even better- multiple warm fuzzies?

Sometimes it is tough being an atheist. But that is me. I am sure I will figure this out one day.

For now, sending you plenty of warm fuzzies!


  1. I usually say I'll keep --- in my thoughts. That way I'm not lying, because I will, plus I'm not leaving it up to the bearded dude in the sky, I'm keeping it right here. Maybe by keeping it in my thoughts I'll remember to volunteer or donate.

  2. Claire- thank you. Now why didn't I think of something like that?! haha

  3. I have used Claire's approach lots but I feel like it somehow lacks the depth and intensity of my thoughts for the person. On the other hand, perhaps to a person who DOES pray, any of my thoughts would lack depth and intensity relative to prayer.

    Wish there were something that more accurately reflected just how deeply my thoughts go ("I'm sending positive vibes", "I'm thinking of you", "You're in my thoughts", etc etc seem to fall short). In the end, perhaps reaching out to let the person know you are there for them through words or through actions is the most important thing.

  4. thank you everyone for giving your thoughts. I have the exact same feelings and it is nice to hear other people express those thoughts. Right now I am in a very dark hole, quite depressed, and can't find my way out. As an atheist, I don't know what to do...but I appreciate reading your feelings. Thanks again.