Non-Theistic Prayer
Reverend Charles M. Bidwell, PhD.
Lent, 2005

If we cannot bring ourselves to pray to a transcendent, omnipotent, anthropomorphic deity, then should we abandon prayer?

There is no need to abandon prayer either privately or publicly. I suggest that what we need to do is revise our understanding of prayer.

Positive Psychic Energy - Prayer may be conceived of being a form of psychic energy directed to a person or persons. It is our fervent wish that some good happen to someone. We concentrate on that person or persons. We imagine seeing them in our mind's eye. We send or transmit to them our best intentions. Somehow we sense that through the mysterious connection we all have with all other persons some force for good is transmitted or conveyed to those we concentrate upon during prayer. It may also be true that we can send negative impulses and wish the person harm, but I cannot recommend that in the spirit of Jesus.

Concentration of Resolve - Sometimes when we pray for a better world, a more peaceable kindom, a more just society, a safer community, an end to hunger and poverty, a reduction or end to loneliness and despair among some groups, what we are doing is focussing our desire to see some change occur. If we take a theistic stance and fool ourselves that we can call on God to intervene and make the change, then we will not direct much energy to being a force for that change. To believe in a non-theistic divine force, is to believe that we are a part of that life force and we are responsible for making the changes for which we pray. This is often the focus of public prayer when we pray that some change come about in our community.

With slight revision, I can still pray as Jesus indicated we could:

My Creator, (my soul's Source, my spirit's Destiny, Ground of Our Being, Force Driving Creation, etc.)
in whom/which is heaven, or within which we can find heaven (as co-creators)
we revere/respect you.
We will work to see your divine intent become a reality where we live.
We will work to see that everyone has the food they need to live and have health and energy to contribute to the welfare of Earth and its life systems.
We sense that we are forgiven for our admitted shortcomings to the extent that we art able to forgive others their failures.
We recognize the presence of evil in our world and strive to avoid being a part of it as well as pointing it out whenever we are aware of it.
We work for these changes in our lives and in the lives of others in the spirit of Jesus who cared for all those who were unjustly treated or oppressed.
May we make these things so.
You will note that at no time do we ask an external force to intervene and do the work which only we can do.