My answer: Yes. I go to church and don’t believe in a god. I enjoy the pastor’s sermon and always acquire a non-religious message from the religious message presented to me.
I’ve posted before about my religious non-beliefs before. Recently I had a conversation with someone close to me regarding my non-religious beliefs. I’ll call her Gina for privacy purposes.
After telling Gina my beliefs she said that she would pray for me. Gina said I should tell my pastor my beliefs. I responded that he already knew about them. Gina felt that the pastor was tolerated my beliefs so I would keep coming to church but he was praying for me as well.
Gina and the pastor were praying for the same thing but what were they praying for?
When I asked Gina specifically what she and my pastor were praying for me I never got a response. She said I’d have to ask my pastor. I feel like Gina couldn’t tell me what they were praying for me because she wanted to avoid a conflict with me.
I’ve heard people tell each other all of the time, “I will pray for your” or “I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers when the person being prayed for is sick or dying, or has just lost their job, etc. How is my situation different? Why can’t Gina tell me what her prayer is?
Why would Gina deflect me to my pastor? How do I know he would be anymore honest with me than she was? If she wouldn’t tell me as someone close to me then what obligation did my pastor have to tell me that information?
In my frustration I did what I always do: I went to Pete. Pete said that Gina probably meant that she and the pastor were praying for me to find a god (specifically their God) and the eternal light so I wouldn’t go to hell at my time of death.
While I respect the kindness of praying for me and I cannot reject the prayers, I do not feel that prayer for something someone doesn’t want or seek is warranted. Would you want someone praying for you to make the U.S. Olympic Beach Volleyball team if you wanted to be a basketball champion instead
I did some more research on prayer and looked up a definition of prayer. I took this excerpt from wikipida.org regarding prayer:
Prayer is an invocation or act that seeks to activate a rapport with a deity or object of worship through deliberate communication. Prayer can be a form of religious practice, may be either individual or communal and take place in public or in private.
There are different forms of prayer such as petitionary prayer, prayers of supplication, thanksgiving, and worship/praise. Prayer may be directed towards a deity, spirit, deceased person, or lofty idea, for the purpose of worshipping, requesting guidance, requesting assistance, confessing sins or to express one’s thoughts and emotions. Thus, people pray for many reasons such as personal benefit or for the sake of others.
I find it interesting that the definition never says which god is the right god to believe in. Which poses two interesting questions to me: What is god or what is a god? In other words, a god has many definitions and one of those definitions could be does a god even exist.
Wikipedia.org defines deity which is used in the prayer description above as “a being, natural, supernatural or preternatural, with superhuman powers or qualities, and who may be thought of as holy, divine, or sacred.”If Gina is praying to a deity then her deity maybe different than my deity. The beautiful idea is that we can all pray or meditate to something/someone or look inside ourselves to find out what’s really going on.
If someone wants to pray for us then I can’t stop them, however I do not believe it is right to pray for something that someone else may not want. Would you want me to pray for you to get cancer? Perhaps I find Gina praying for me to find her god similar to getting cancer: it’s just something I really don’t want right now.
I do not believe that we have to pray to the same god to find inner peace and happiness. If it makes you feel better to pray for me though please just keep doing it and don’t tell me about it. Whether you pray to a deity or don’t pray at all it’s okay. No one is judging you except you. Don’t put pressure on yourself. If you believe a god is judging you then that’s what you believe. Just be careful with pushing your beliefs off on someone else. And if you have plans on doing that, then at least tell the person why. Gina, I wish you would tell me why you were praying for me because I would really love to know.