The Daily Stoic for September 14th, “A Different Way To Pray”.
“Try praying differently, and see what happens: Instead of asking for ‘a way to sleep with her,’ try asking for ‘a way to stop desiring to sleep with her.’ Instead of ‘a way to get rid of him,’ try asking for ‘a way to not crave his demise.’ Instead of ‘a way to not lose my child,’ try asking for ‘a way to lose my fear of it.’”
—MARCUS AURELIUS, MEDITATIONS, 9.40.(6)
It’s true that even if you don’t believe in God, or any other divine entity, we all eventually “pray” sometimes. It may not be an actual prayer, but it’s a yearning that we somehow cast outside of ourselves. “Please”, we say, “please, let it…”.
A Different Way To Pray
Even though I am an atheist, and I don’t believe in anything outside of the most strict scientific view of the world, I have done that in the past. I certainly found myself “praying” some days ago when I fell severely ill, hoping, or broadcasting my hope that the infection was not really that severe and I could go home instead of spending days at the hospital.
It didn’t work, though, and I spent 5 of the worst days of my life there. Today, still under antibiotics but recovering fast, I see it with a lot more perspective and a brighter angle. But it wasn’t a pretty experience.
Today’s daily stoic meditation suggests to, instead of desiring the end of the external situation “magically”, asking for fortitude for ourselves so we can cope with the situation better. To be honest, that thought didn’t even cross my mind back then. But I wonder how would I have reacted if, instead of “praying” to be back home soon, and that everything was just a short fever episode, I had “prayed” to be strong enough to endure the more than possible hospitalization I was going to go through.
I wonder if my stay there would have been better and lighter. Probably yes. So I hope I can apply this Stoic lesson the next time I find myself in such a situation.
Today’s Daily Stoic, “A Different Way To Pray”, suggests us not to “pray” for an external entity, god or magical force to change our lives or an awkward situation, but to look inside of us instead and ask for strength and fortitude to endure it.
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