How Often Do Pagans Pray?

You can pray outside or inside, whenever or wherever you like. Image © Deborah Harrison/Getty Images; Licensed to About.com

So you ran into some fellow Wiccans or other types of Pagans at a recent meetup, and you thought it was all going very well... until someone told you that you had to pray to the gods every single day. Or maybe even two or three times a day.

You probably got really uncomfortable, because sometimes you forget to pray, or other times you feel like you should, but you're just too busy. So then you had that moment where you wondered if you should maybe pray twice the next, or do it for twice as long.

And then someone else chimed in, and said you had to pray at certain times of the day, or different days of the week for different things... now what do you do?

The first thing you do is relax. You're not doing it wrong. In fact, if you got paid a dollar for every time someone told you that you "were supposed to X in this way and ONLY this way," you'd be rich. 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, emphasize 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. If you're going to pray to a specific deity, take some time to do a bit of research - maybe you're bored because you don't know what the gods of your tradition want.

And if you're bored, they might be too! Be sure to think about the concept of appropriate worship. If you want to pray as part of making an offering to the deities, go ahead! 

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.