Search Results for 'prayer'

The sexual embrace can only be compared with music and with prayer. 

~ Marcus Aurelius

Link: BrainyQuote

Category: Quotations

Tradition: Ancient paganism/polytheism

· sexuality · music · prayer

An atheist's prayer

I believe quite the opposite: that prayer is a type of moral philosophy, an active process in which the individual interacts, not with God, who does not exist, but with what Plato would have called the good or the just. At its most untroubled, that interaction is barely contentious: to walk in the world and feel connected to its people, to feel at peace, to feel that one has prudent detachment and good judgment, is a prayer so happy and uncontroversial that it barely registers with its unsuffering source. But a prayer it is, because it involves a moment of self-awareness and world-awareness, the both together.

We are more used to thinking of prayer in moments of quandary – and yet even here, surely the process can be a morally philosophical one, not just (as I grant it may be in certain life-and-death situations) a last-minute plea for succour. Everyone has experienced a time when they have been torn between right and wrong on the one hand and their own desires, yearnings, pleasures and joys on the other. Everyone has experienced the desire to go for a walk, to contemplate, to clear their head, to think things through and listen to their inner guide. What is that, really, but a kind of prayer? And what is that but a moral process? 

by Bidisha

Link: The Guardian: Comment is free

Category: Recommended articles

Tradition: Atheist spirituality

· atheist · spirituality · prayer · article · philosophy · morality · ethics

Atheist's Prayer

I consider the turning to prayer, the disposition toward prayer, a responsibility.

But it is a responsibility gladly and almost effortlessly borne.

Praying is, then, like having good manners, like being civil with the universe; like knowing how to receive a gift graciously.

In order to receive our birthright, our blessing and our gift, we must fulfill the gentle obligation of prayer.

On the other hand, you are quite free to take it or leave it. People have gone through life and will continue to go through life without the slightest notion of what I am talking about. It would be presumptuous to judge them.

by D Midbar

Link: Atheist's Prayer

Category: Recommended websites

Tradition: Atheist spirituality

· atheist · spirituality · article · philosophy · prayer

Tel Shemesh

 a web resource for those who are attempting to integrate Jewish faith and practice with earth-based beliefs and ways of living. Tel Shemesh provides writings, rituals, songs, prayers, and myths that integrate Jewish texts with earth-based images like the Divine feminine and the sacred earth, in order to promote an inclusive vision of a Judaism entwined with nature and with all life.

by Jill Hammer

Link: Tel Shemesh

Category: Recommended websites

Tradition: Judaism

· Jewish · spirituality · spiritual practices · rituals · songs · prayers · myths · mythology


 Beliefnet is a faith and spirituality resource with blogs, quizzes, articles, prayers and meditations, a community forum, and much more.

Link: Beliefnet

Category: Recommended websites

Tradition: Multiple traditions

· spirituality · writings · blogs · quiz · prayer · poetry

Making an altar

An altar is a focus for devotion, prayer or meditation. It can be simple or complex, small or large. It can have no images, a single image, or multiple images. It can be themed around a particular idea, deity, holy person or festival. You can have more than one altar or shrine around your home.

If your altar is for meditation or prayer, choose a spot in your home that is quiet and peaceful. Consider how you will use your altar. If you are going to place flowers on it, or use it in ritual, make sure there is space for everything you need, and that the altar is easy to keep clean. Some people like to light a candle or ring a bell before they start their ritual, meditation or prayer.

The typical altar might have a bell or singing bowl, some holy pictures or statues, some natural objects such as pebbles, shells, feathers or wood to make a connection with Nature, a candle, prayer beads, and perhaps a holy book. It may be a shrine to a particular deity, saint, Buddha or bodhisattva, or to multiple sacred foci.

In Orthodox Christianity, the shrine at which the family prays is known as the Beautiful Corner, and is decorated with icons of favourite saints. Icons are seen as windows into Heaven, and depict the transfigured face of the saint. Before praying, people will light a candle and cross themselves.

In some traditions, people build altars or shrines at particular times of year. In Mexico, people build shrines for El Dia de los Muertos (the Day of the Dead) to commemorate their loved ones who have died. There might be photos of the loved one, together with their favourite foods, and flowers. Many Pagans around the world have borrowed this idea. Clarissa Pinkola Estes, in her classic book Women who run with the wolves, describes how women built altars to commemorate losses in their lives, and how this helped them to grieve properly and to recover from the trauma. You could also build altars for particular rites of passage, such as the transition from childhood to adulthood, or for marriage or divorce. The altar might include symbols of the phase that is coming to an end, and symbols of the new phase to be embarked on. You could even build one altar for each phase, and then have a ritual progression from one phase to the next.

Another way of making an altar is to find a special tree or rock, and decorate around it with found (but biodegradable) objects arranged in a pattern, such as twigs, leaves, berries and feathers.

There is no right or wrong way to make an altar. Each altar is personal and special. If you are following a particular spiritual tradition, it may have particular ways of making altars, but even within that, there is plenty of scope for creativity.


by Yvonne Aburrow

Link: UK Spirituality blog

Category: Spiritual practices

Tradition: Multiple traditions

· altars · Clarissa Pinkola Estes · everyday spirituality · icons · meditation · prayer · spiritual practices

A Unitarian Universalist Prayer Bead Practice

What follows is not intended to dictate how to pray, but rather is a suggested structure onto which you can hang your own developing prayer practice. It draws upon the prayer practices of a number of religious traditions and seeks to put together a pattern of prayer that you can tailor to your own needs and understandings. This practice uses the image of a journey, one form of prayer moving into the next.

Preparation: The first, largest bead provides a way into this prayer journey. While touching it, you might gently breathe in and out a few times, sing a favorite hymn, or recite a passage of scripture that centers you and creates a space within for the prayer that is to follow.

Entering In: With the four small beads at the beginning of the prayer circle, you enter into this “journey” of prayer. With each bead you might recite the verses of a Buddhist gatha, such as:

Breathing in, I relax body and mind.
Breathing out, I smile.
Dwelling in the present moment,
I realize this is the only moment.

You might call on the spirits of Earth, Air, Fire, and Water. Or you can create your own entering prayer. I say:

Open my eyes, that I might see your face in everyone I encounter this day, myself included.
Open my ears, that I might hear your voice in whatever forms it takes.
Open my hands, that I might freely give whatever is mine to share.
Open my heart, that I might live and love more fully in you.

Take the time here to be fully intentional about this time.

Naming: The first medium-size bead is for naming the sacred and the holy as you encounter it. In traditional prayer terminology, this is praise and thanksgiving. You can think of it as naming the places in your life where miracles abound, a chance to “count your blessings,” or a way of beginning your prayer centered in the awareness of the ways in which the holy is happening in your life.

The Small Beads: The three sets of five small beads between the medium-size beads are for “breath prayer.” Many of the world’s religious traditions encourage a short, repetitive prayer tied to the breath. You say one line on the in-breath and a second on the out-breath. You can use two lines from tradition or scripture—the classic from the Christian tradition is “Jesus Christ / have mercy on me”—or you can create your own. Once you settle on a two-part phrase, keep saying the same thing. Part of the power of a breath prayer is its repetition. Live with it long enough for it to become a part of you.

Knowing: The second medium-size bead is for giving voice to the broken, wounded, worried places in your soul. (Traditionally, this is called a prayer of confession.) It is the chance to take a “fearless moral inventory” and to give voice to what lurks in the shadow. Prayer calls on us to be authentic, whole people, and knowing where we are weak and wounded is essential.

Listening: The third medium-size bead is for listening to “the voice of quiet stillness” within. This is a chance to sit in the Mystery, gently breathing. (Depending on the tradition, this is called meditation or contemplation.) Far too often, people think of prayer as “talking to the sacred,” forgetting that in any good conversation we must make room to listen as well as speak.

Loving: If your prayer journey is just for your own sake, then it is ultimately hollow. The fourth and last medium-size bead provides a place to bring the concerns of others—family, friends, communities, the world—into your prayer. These prayers of intercession, as they are traditionally called, are a chance to encourage your prayer to move outward. Call to mind people and situations you know who are in need, or sit quietly and see who (or what) comes to mind.

Closing: Whatever you said to enter into your prayer time, repeat with the four beads at the end of the circle.

Putting It All Together: You can take the journey of this prayer practice all at one time (expect to spend at least 30 minutes), or you can spread it out during the day (for example, Naming after breakfast, Knowing at lunch, Listening before dinner, and Loving before bed). Some people carry their beads with them everywhere, like “worry beads,” and find that simply touching them—while in line at the bank, or when waiting for a friend—brings them into a prayerful place.

This practice is expanded—and a Unitarian Universalist perspective on prayer is more fully explored—in Erik Walker Wikstrom’s Simply Pray: A Modern Spiritual Practice to Deepen Your Life (Skinner House Books, 2005).

by Erik Walker Wikstrom

Link: UUA Tapestry of Faith Lifespan Curriculum

Category: Spiritual practices

Tradition: Unitarian Universalist

· spirituality · spiritual path · spiritual practices · prayer · bead · UU