Clearly prayer has an effect on the person doing it, even if there is no effect beyond that person’s body. Prayer calms people, adjusts attitudes, focuses thoughts, and so on. It seems similar to the known effects of meditation or controlled breathing. There is no evidence of any of these actually curing or helping cure any adverse medical conditions, but it is nonetheless obvious that mindful meditation and similar practices have calming, peaceful effects on those who practice them.
I was thinking about this while observing a Catholic repeat memorized lines. The weird thought entered my head that an atheist could be well served by a sort of “prayer” too. Many atheists use some form of meditation, but I wondered about using actual words — especially for those of us whose brains were bent by religion as children.
My first instinct was to take an existing prayer like “The Lord’s Prayer” (the “Our Father”) and replace lines with secular meanings. But as I went through it line by line, I realized it was all superstitious gobbledygook and couldn’t be converted. At least not easily.
So I decided to write my own.
I didn’t want to use the word “prayer”, because even though it originally meant “ask” or “beseech”, today it connotes God. And I didn’t want to use the word meditation or litany or any number of other words — because they all imply things that I don’t believe. I eventually settled on “contemplation”, because that’s all this is.
What did I want it to say? Just like prayer, this contemplation would consist of me talking to myself (or thinking to myself), so I wanted it to remind me of things I want to be reminded of, and focus my mind on things I want to stay focused on. I worked it over several times, trimming out the fat, and came up with this:
I’m curious as to what others think of this (not that I will change my mind; this was meant for my own private encouragement).