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Patti Wigington

Pagans and Prayer

By April 12, 2012

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Recently a friend of mine -- who's not a Pagan -- had a family member with some medical problems, and she asked all of her friends on Facebook to please pray for the individual who was ill. Naturally, I offered my prayers and well wishes. Later, she messaged me privately and said, "That was really nice of you to offer to pray for us, even though I know you don't do that."

I was kind of confused, and then it hit me. She had assumed that as a non-Christian, I didn't pray. It led to a pretty valuable teaching moment in our friendship, because I pointed out that polytheists like myself often do pray, and that being a Pagan doesn't necessarily make one completely lack in connection to the Divine. In fact, I told her, I'm certain that the bond I have with the deities of my tradition is as strong and valuable as the one she has with her god.

The Role of Prayer in Modern Paganism

Certainly, not all Pagans use prayer in their practice, but I would suspect many of us do, in fact, commune with the gods on at least a semi-regular basis. I'm curious, how many of you use prayer as part of your practice? Take the poll below:

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April 12, 2012 at 2:33 pm
(1) sue says:

Well said.

April 12, 2012 at 2:44 pm
(2) GinaBobina says:

I don’t know if it’s considered praying, but I talk to my Goddess and God all the time. I guess it would be prayer because I thank them for all the riches and happiness they bring me and when I’m troubled, I ask for their guidance and help in that as well. When I have loved ones that are troubled and have ask for prayers, I talk to Goddess & God about that as well.

April 12, 2012 at 10:00 pm
(3) Elisha says:

I’ve actually had this exact same conversation with my mom. “I know you don’t pray, but…” along with “I know you don’t believe in god, but…” at which point I have to backtrack and point out to her that I do in fact pray, every single night and I do very much believe in “god” or rather, gods.

April 12, 2012 at 11:56 pm
(4) Redbad says:

Two cents from the Ţeudiskaz: But for the reference to prayer, I’d've polled “Yes, all the time.” I associate the concept of prayer with that of worship. As GinaBobia posted above, I too talk to the gods and goddesses. (And all they want is for us to honor, not worship, them.)

You got a great about dot com, Patti. Keep up the fine work. Ves Heill!

April 13, 2012 at 9:53 am
(5) V says:

I do a weekly devotional ritual. Often, I say a prayer during the main part of the ritual, whether it is to find a Patron Deity, for prosperity, or for healing of loved ones.

Also, I am a bit confused on the difference between “worship” and “honor.” Can’t honoring the Gods and Goddesses be considered a form of worship? What about making offerings; would that be considered worship or honor? Just some thoughts.


April 13, 2012 at 12:46 pm
(6) Colleen Wilkins says:

My mom will often call me and ask me to pray for someone. She always gets nervous about the request even after three years of being open about my beliefs. She just can’t or wont get over that I am not following her path. But she has started adding a unique phrase to her requests. It cracks me up. because I have educated her much the way you educated your friend about my method of prayer. Her new request is “Say a prayer for ……, or whatever it is you do.” Like if it was a sacrifice it would be fine if it was going to help the person.She is getting pretty old.

April 17, 2012 at 8:44 am
(7) Kyrja says:

I suspect there are a wide number of definitions of what it may mean to “pray” – no matter what the actual dictionary may have to say in the matter. I communicate with the deities I serve in many ways, but feel wholly uncomfortable with the words, “pray” or “prayer.” So, while I may be doing what many might consider “praying,” I still makred “Never” in the poll because the focus of my intentions anc actions is different than what I perceive to be prayer.

April 17, 2012 at 8:58 am
(8) Runesmith says:

When I light a candle on my altar, I can almost hear the Goddess saying “What is it this time, you only call when you want something?”

But the only prayer I really feel safe using is, “Do with us as You think best, but give us the strength to bear it.”

As for prayers from followers of other faiths, I think it’s well to be quite sure what they are praying for. When my wife was dying, I once left my baby son with an evangelical fair that was in town, because any free childcare was worth taking; and when the pastor learnt that his mother was sick he offered to pray for her. It would have been rude to refuse, and probably wouldn’t have stopped him anyhow. But at the end, when she was desperate to die and get it over with, I wondered if we would have been better off without the prayers of someone who probably just prayed for life without any thought of its quality.

April 17, 2012 at 9:07 am
(9) Mandy says:

I’m a Pagan Pantheist, and I pray. I don’t believe the divine is seperate but within all of us… in the trees, in the grass, in the water, etc. But I still pray. I think it’s a common misconception that non-Christians don’t pray.

April 17, 2012 at 9:11 am
(10) Tanith says:

I personally usually only voice my prayers on special occassions. I honor the earth everyday and in turn the earth provides. The god and goddess knows what is in my heart and because I was raised Christian I never felt comfortable “praying” so it is not something I do now.

April 17, 2012 at 10:49 am
(11) Hedwigg says:

Prayer, affirmations etc., are the expressions of our intent.
Whether it be to offer guidance, healing or thankfulness.


April 17, 2012 at 10:51 am
(12) Mirabella says:

I usually say that I don’t pray, but rather wish or hope very hard.

April 17, 2012 at 11:33 am
(13) Kennie says:


I recently took part in an online survey being run by a Phd candidate that asked members of all faiths how they perceived prayer, the power of prayer and whether or not they actually prayed at all. It took about half an hour to fill out but is now closed so unfortunately I can’t point any of you off in the direction. I’m looking forward to seeing the results published though.

And yes, I do pray to the Goddess. :)

April 17, 2012 at 1:47 pm
(14) Surreal Odyssey says:

Colleen, you’re “Say a prayer for ……, or whatever it is you do.” made me laugh out loud! Wiggle your fingers, twitch your nose……..hahahaha

Anyway, I marked “rarely” because my thankfulness to the universe is so … all encompassing … not directed to a specific deity. When I speak to a tree or the wind, I don’t consider it prayer. It’s more like talking to friends.

Sometimes I do voice a request or I’m more specific within a ritual. I consider those interactions prayer.

I liked this topic. It made me stop to think about what my perception of prayer is.

LOL – under this box is a list of “Related Topics.” The first one is Pagan Prayers for All Occasions – so we must pray – right? Fate is so funny sometimes!

April 17, 2012 at 1:56 pm
(15) JamesByrne says:

To me Prayer is a part of the neopagan post christian hangover, imo praying is for abrahamic religions. An Aethiest wouldnt pray and they believe in nothing, a pagan should have belief in paganism and practice pagan ways.

If I want to commune with deity I can try active meditation or go and visit a heritage site that the deities I want to commune with are traditionally associated with. If I havent got those close by most pagan religions had animistic and totemistic elements, i go to a river or a mountain. Or I spend time with animals considered sacred by various peoples in my culture related to the deities or ones just associated with deities in literature. Lets not forget solar deities, go out in the sun! Dont sit in your room waving a stick praying like a christian…!

Well thats my empassioned rant. Rarely listened to but its better to be a voice in the wilderness then a sheep waiting for slaughter.

April 17, 2012 at 3:53 pm
(16) Meadowhawk says:

I pray all the time.

April 17, 2012 at 7:18 pm
(17) Gillian says:

I’m just saddened that prayer is thought of a exclusively Christian. surely every faith has some of meditative practice.

April 18, 2012 at 10:37 am
(18) AmberNyx says:

I admit that when I first started on my path in Paganism, I felt funny using the word “prayer” and instead called it “meditating”. I guess I was equating prayer with my Christian upbringing, which I wanted to leave behind.
Today I have no problem using the word “prayer” and do take time out in the morning (mostly outside) to pray for family, friends, animals, and ask for protection for myself and to thank the Goddess for Her blessings.

April 18, 2012 at 3:23 pm
(19) Mazzi B says:

For people who are perhaps unable to practise ritual like myself, prayer is one of the most effective and practical ways we have of communicating with the divine. I admit that it is sad that some people have stereotyped prayer as being solely for ‘the big three’

April 18, 2012 at 4:53 pm
(20) Dyana says:

I have had this argument many times with my Christian son-in-law. My answer was similar to yours, just because I have a different concept of the Divine I feel just as close if not closer to my spiritual “parents” as any Christian. I talk to them regularly through the day and I am sure they listen, and I hear when they “speak” their guidance to me. He is not as open-minded as your friend, but at least he knows where I stand. My spirituality is as valid and active as his.

April 18, 2012 at 11:08 pm
(21) S0lvengel says:

Since I’m still kinda in the broom closet with part of my family and friends when told about someone needing prayers I always answer, I’ll keep you in my nightly thoughts”

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