Is there a substitute for prayer during hard times?

Was born and raised as a 'Hindu' in India.

all the rituals, prayers, made no sense to me, though i just practiced without any questioning. finally quit.

went to england to do masters. had a real difficult time, with my relationships with people and finances. tried jesus. didn't gain anything. been to churches and all that. realized miracles won't happen just because you pray to someone. in fact, realized, there aren't any miracles.

back to india again, for good. living with a bi-polar disorder father. this has come as a 'shock'. I got him checked with a psychiatrist. this is one of the hardest phases in my life. am sure i will see through this. i don't want to fall back upon any god's this time. been there, done that. not again. some where, deep inside, a voice is asking me to 'pray'. do they call this 'cognitive dissonance'? i guess. my atheist friends out there, any suggestions? much appreciated, Sandeep

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I think knowing as you do prayer will not work, falling upon it will be seeking a false hope. All you could do to help your old man, is to help in the management of the condition using the regimen prescribed by the docs and trying to remain sane in this difficult times. 

Those times when it is too hard, spend time with your friends who at least will help you in this hard time since the best I can do here is to express my sympathies and wish your old man well.

Thanks for that honest advice Onyango and also for reaffirming that praying would only be a falst hope. that's precisely correct.  The challenge is to remain 'sane' for me. i think it's time one of my close friend's door. 

time to knock, i meant. haha.

I can understand where you're coming from. About 8 years or so ago I was talking to a friend and I said believers have the luxury to fall back upon praying when things start to go bad. I don't have that, and that can be pretty unsettling at times.

And being a person who likes to examine every possibility(or at least I think I do), I have given thought to the possibility that all the bad stuff happening to me is because of my non-belief. I left religion pretty early(started questioning at 7 or 8, was definitely a non-believer by 9.5), and I wonder that my ability to screw up everything, and then whatever I don't screw up, screwing up on its own might be related to non-belief. Okay, these thoughts have been fleeting, few and far in between, and mostly been in jest, but they have been there.

What I have figured out is that belief in something does help in difficult times. But it doesn't have to be belief in god or some other supernatural entity. It could be belief in yourself that gets you through. For me, it's a combination in belief in (future)self, and having a bunch of plans & projects for the future that helps me.

Ant it goes without saying, at least to people here (some foks apparently need it repeated a few thousand times), that even if the belief helps one cope... that doesn't make it true!  At most one religion can be true since they contradict each other, but so many of them are claimed to give comfort.

Never said that it makes it true. Only pointed out that belief helps in coping. And the crucial point here is belief in what - there are lots of things that are real, and can be good to believe in -

  • Belief in self
  • Belief in a sports team - can be awesome to follow a team, specially when they are doing good - GGMU!
  • Belief in a process, idea or project

All of that is not the same as belief in fairy tales. There is a difference, and in this case, belief is good - as it is in something real, and tangiable.

One thing I noticed during some hard times in my life, that doing a 'foregiveness meditation' seemed to offer some relief.

I just lay down, start mentioning all the people that have been difficult, hurtful, crazy, etc, in my life, recognize my experience and how I relate to them, and forgive them one at a time. This helps me let go a little, mostly so I have some cognitive room to cope with the difficulties 'now', and keep myself away from spending energies blaming others. We seem to spend lots of mental energies doing things that are not helpful, and distract us from the process of finding solutions, help, and breathing room. I noticed how jaded I become at times, if I can't maintain my balance, and compassion for others.

I think, as atheists, we might not develope our cognitive skills or spiritual practices to help us cope. Life can be hard, generally. Reading through some of the blog posts on TA, I wonder how many of us self medicate as a way to cope? I doubt that self medication is a 'atheist thing', but just a copping method that many of us learned from our families and people around us, that is then carried on into our atheist commitment.   

I understand your pain, because I have gone through similar trials during my life.  What I have found is that our attitudes about the situation and how we handle it can save us; the help of other people are what can help save us--not any god.  To accomplish anything, we first must have confidence in our own abilities, and/or have the strength to ask someone for help.  If we relied on each other as opposed to gods and goddesses, I believe the world would be a better place to be.

Prayer is a useless endeavor, and has been proven as such scientifically.  It is a placebo in that it may give some comfort, but that is it.

Sandeep, I know what you're talking about. I also find myself feeling like I should pray sometimes but then I remember that I don't believe in god any more :) The key moment for me was when I realized I shouldn't try to replace religion with something else but that the right way would be to start from zero...

Now to your question: As it was suggested in previous posts rituals and meditation can be of help. Also talking to someone who went / is going through something similar is very helpful. It actually helps much more than if you try to solve it up alone. Even someone who just listens to you trying to understand can be a great support. The hardest problem with this is that these special people are rare to find.

So good luck with that and lots of personal strength!

Focus on something productive. Accomplishment is the most fulfilling thing. Also, perspective. You're helping. You're a positive force in the universe. That's the second most fulfilling thing. Mmmmm, fulfillment.

"..suck it up buttercup !!"

Sounds like a military meditation, during basic training.



This is minor compared to your struggle but last week I was so sick it made me cry and I went to the emergency room twice I really came close to praying to a God I don't believe in.  I think this may happen to a lot of atheists sometimes, but as many of the previous posters said, it does no good.  I instead turned to THINKING this will end, Sarah, you will not die, and you do not have meningitis, or anything that serious.  I lived and I am fine now. 


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