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? 

Tradition: Atheist spirituality

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