My private convictions do not stretch to organised religion or belief in a deity. I do however, have very strong personal spiritual beliefs.

Religion and spirituality are separate concepts. They may exist concurrently or independently, and are incredibly individual and personal. Imagine what a wonderful world it could be, if universally everyone took comfort in their own beliefs, and offered acceptance to differing viewpoints.

At various times, and through a variety of circumstances, I have had people offer to pray for me. I find this – for the most part – to be a heartwarmingly beautiful gift. When life throws out the inevitable curve balls of grief, worry and uncertainty, more often than not the problems can’t be solved – we just cross our fingers and hope for the best. When there is nothing practical to be done, there remains only the gift of prayer.

What doesn’t kill me makes me stronger.

This too shall pass.

Time heals all wounds.

Cliches one and all. Undoubtedly true, but decidedly unhelpful. Prayer offered in my name, or in the names of my nearest and dearest, provides comfort. It is the knowledge I am being thought of and cared about, even when I’m not close at hand. Someone with a deep and abiding belief in the existence of a loving God, reaches out in prayer to ask for wisdom or strength on my behalf, to guide me through some of the trials we all must traverse.

Prayer however, is only a gift when offered on my behalf for something I am in agreeance with.

Please – no matter how profound and meaningful your religious beliefs are – do not pray I find your God. If you must do so, do not tell me. It is – quite frankly – deeply offensive. You are casting aspersions upon my own beliefs. You are saying I am wrong and you are right. Faith does not work like that. I can see believing in God has given you a deep sense of comfort and joy, but I have found comfort and joy too – in my own way.

Please – no matter how profound and meaningful your religious beliefs are – do not tell me to pray.  I don’t believe in your God – and that is okay. You don’t believe in my spiritual truths either. I respect your faith – please respect mine. Telling me to pray is you acknowledging I have a problem but telling me I need to deal with it on my own. No. Don’t do it. It’s rude. Don’t tell me to pray to a God you know I don’t believe in. In fact – even if I did believe in your God, still don’t tell me to pray. Telling me what to do is a burden not a gift.

But when my life takes a turn for the worse – and the shit is flying at frightening speeds in every direction – then please, if you are so inclined, offer a prayer. I am grateful for your love and concern. I am grateful for the time you spend thinking of me when I am not there. I am grateful you share my problems with your loving God, asking for guidance or intervention. I am grateful you care. I am blessed with your gift of prayer. Thank you.

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