How Often Do Pagans Pray?
A reader says, “This is going to sound kind of stupid, but someone I met at a Pagan meetup told me I have to pray to the gods every day. I don’t mind doing that, but sometimes I feel like it’s a chore, because I don’t always have anything to say when I’m praying. Also, what if I get busy and don’t have time? Do I have to pray twice the next day, or for twice as long? And just to make me more confused, someone else told me I have to pray at certain times of the day and different days of the week for different things. Why can’t I just pray when I feel like it? HELP!”
I wish I had a dollar for every letter I got that included the words “someone told me I was supposed to do” whatever. Let’s break this down a little bit at a time.
First of all, it’s actually not uncommon for prayers in some religions to have a set schedule. For instance, members of the Benedictine monastic order have a routine six prayers each day, at designated times. No matter what you’re doing, if you’re a Benedictine monk, you stop doing it so you can say the vigils, lauds, Eucharist, daytime prayer, the vespers, and compline at those specific times. It’s part of the ritual process. Likewise, Muslims pray five times a day – not only do they pray at specific times, they also have to be facing towards Mecca when they do so.
Are there Pagan traditions that require a certain number of prayers each day, or prayers at specific times? Sure. But unless you’re part of one of those traditions, those rules may not have to apply to you. You don’t follow the Benedictine or Islamic prayer schedule, so why would you be required to follow the schedule of a Pagan group you’re not part of?
Some magical traditions, primarily NeoWiccan ones, emphasise the use of days of the week or certain moon phases for particular magical workings, and sometimes (although not always) prayer is tied into that. But again, if you’re not part of one of those belief systems, there’s no reason you’re required to follow the guideline.
That said, it’s actually not a bad idea to get into the habit of praying regularly, if you’re going to do it at all. Some people only offer prayers to their gods during ritual or spellwork, but if you have a shrine to a deity in your home, regular prayer can help bring you closer to the deity spiritually. Does it have to be every day at the same time? Not at all – you can do it every day if you like, or every other day, or Tuesdays and Thursdays when your kids are soccer practice, or whatever works with your schedule. The key here is not the time or day, but the consistency.
Prayer is our way of communing with the divine – and hopefully finding some joy and peace in the process. If praying feels like a chore, you should probably find a way to change things up a bit.
So, when should you pray? When you want to say hello, when you want to let the gods know they matter to you, when you want to say thanks, when you feel inspired, when you don’t feel inspired, and most of all, when your heart calls to you to do so.
For more information on Pagan prayer, be sure to read:
The Concept of Appropriate Worship: What is the best way to honor the gods and goddesses of your tradition? Are all deities happy with the same sorts of offerings? Learn about the concept of appropriate worship, and how it affects your interactions with the Divine.
Making Offerings to the Gods: So you want to make an offering to the deity of your tradition — but what’s an appropriate choice? Here are some suggestions for different types of gods, and what’s an acceptable offering.
Pagan Prayer: Why Bother?: Prayer is a conversation, sometimes one-sided and sometimes not, between us and the Divine. Although some Pagans and Wiccans pooh-pooh the idea of prayer as being a Christian exercise, many more understand it as a way to take a step closer to our gods.
Pagan Prayers for All Occasions: Looking for a prayer for a special event or ceremony? Check here for About.com’s ever-growing list of Pagan and Wiccan prayers.
By Patti Wigington, Paganism/Wicca Expert
Article Found On & Owned By About.com