We’ve received quite a lot of questions lately about secular prayer, sabbath, and fasting. There are some responses posted on our blog. Read more…
We’re grateful we had the opportunity to deliver a secular invocation at the Florida Legislature in January! Read more…
On this little internet space for Secular Gratitude, we talk about and provide tools for building little “stops” of mindfulness into our day. The practice of mindfulness and caring for our inner life creates greater happiness, human connection, emotional health, clearer thinking, and a myriad of physical health benefits. How do you practice mindfulness in your life? Secular grace? Secular Sabbath? Meditation? Gratitude? Connection to nature? Unplugging? Rituals? Journaling? Exercise?
Secular Gratitude is our initiative to promote mindful living and to help maintain traditions of grace, gratitude, and reflection that include everyone at a diverse table.
“Inclusive” prayers often aren’t, but many examples listed below provide inclusive options. A search for secular or Humanist prayer will bring you to more pages like this one – we hope you are able to find something that works for your gathering. Use these as inspirations toward creating a message that is meaningful to you.
If you have questions or would like to talk to someone about how to include others – or about how to cope when you are not included – use our contact form or email our Humanist Chaplain directly at BEOrlando@live.com.
- Find secular community: Secular Directory and Secular Web can help. Another great resource is Meetup.com
- Humanist celebrants, chaplains, or invocators: The Humanist Society state listing.
- Invocations for public meetings (examples): Central Florida Freethought Community (CFFC) Secular Invocations page
Collection of Secular Humanist “grace”, toasts, reflections, and benedictions (attributed if known)
Below are samples of secular prayers, reflections, graces, and other mindfulness practices from various authors and traditions, with attributions where they could be found. View these as inspirations to create your own words or practices of building the habit of mindfulness into your daily life.
If you are looking for prayers or inspirations that include everyone, this is a wonderful place to start. “Interfaith” prayers often still reference god/s, greater “powers”, or other supernatural references that exclude those of non-faith. You can surely find something below that will respect and include all members of your family, team, social group, etc.
A small secular grace
Thanks to the hands that brought our food
and those who worked to grow it,
what we receive from the plants and beasts,
and the earth for all we owe it.
(Peter Lindenmayer, Canberra, Australia)
Earth we thank you for our food,
For work and play and all that’s good,
For wind and rain and sun above,
But most of all for those we love.
(Blogger named McIntaggart)
All life is one, and everything that lives is connected: plants, animals and people.
(original first line… “…lives is holy: plants, animals, Man)
All must eat to live and nourish one another.
We bless the lives that have died to give us food.
Let us eat consciously, resolving by our work to pay the debt of our existence.
(John G. Bennett)
Secular Version of Let There Be Peace on Earth
(original version written by Sy Miller and Bill Jackson.)
Let There Be Peace on Earth and let it begin with me.
Let There Be Peace on Earth, the peace that we long to see!
With Earth as our mother, family all are we.
Let us walk with each other in perfect harmony.
Let peace begin with me. Let this be the moment now.
With ev’ry breath I take, let this be my solemn vow;
To take each moment and live each moment in peace eternally!
Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me!
Gratitude means taking a moment to pause and reflect on the good in our lives. I am grateful for…
“I am grateful for _______.”
“May this sharing of food foster peace and understanding among us. May it bring us to the recognition that we depend on each other for all the good we can ever hope to receive, and that all the good we can hope to accomplish rests in helping others in turn.” (Adam Lee)
“As we have earned this food, so must we earn all that is valuable in our lives.” (O.T. Nelson)
In this plate of food, I see the entire universe supporting my existence.
– Zen blessing
“What a great occasion! We are gathered here together in the safety of our home, each of us taking a moment from our busy, separate lives, to enjoy this wonderful meal with ones we love. Let this evening be a special time in our lives, a blessed stopping point in which we can simply enjoy who we are, where we are, and what we are doing. Let us enjoy this magnificent now with family and friends. Thank you, mother, for preparing this beautiful meal.”
“We have created this meal to serve and sustain our lives. Let us enjoy this meal in the full knowledge that all life is purposeful action aimed toward our highest value, our own precious lives and happiness.”
“We receive this food in gratitude to all beings
Who helped or sacrificed to bring it to our table,
And vow to respond in turn to those in need
With wisdom and compassion.” (Buddhist meal gatha)
“As we go through life, the most important thing we can collect is good memories. Thank you all for being here today to share this meal as a treasured part of that collection.”
“We have created this meal to serve and sustain our lives. Let us enjoy this meal in the full knowledge that all life is purposeful action aimed toward our highest value.” (Fellowship of Reason)
/For the meal we are about to eat,
/For those who made it possible,
/And for those with whom we are about to share it,
/We are thankful.
/In this home all are one
/As are the earth, the stars and sun
/With head and heart and hands be blessed
/That each of us may do our best
/As we prepare to eat,
/Let us remember the plants and animals,
/The labor of those who harvested the food
/And the effort of the cook who prepared it for us.
-Jenny (blogger at Dishwasher Required)
We receive this food in gratitude to all beings
Who have helped to bring it to our table,
And vow to respond in turn to those in need
With wisdom and compassion.
– Buddhist Meal Gatha
Let me be willing to see the big picture in all things,
act in accordance with my best, most ethical self,
and grant the benefit of the doubt to all those I meet.
The Day is Done, a bedtime reflection
The day is done
it cannot be changed,
my actions and my thoughts
reflected my own spirit on this day,
of some, I am proud, of some, I am not.
When I wake . . . there will be new chances
to think and act with wisdom and compassion
there will be new temptations to be petty, small or selfish.
May I choose wisely and well from waking to day’s end.
I do not think that the measure of a civilization
is how tall its buildings of concrete are,
but rather how well its people have learned to relate
to their environment and fellow man.
“…good company, good wine, good welcome, can make good people”
Sir Henry Guildford: Henry VIII, I, iv (William Shakespeare)
“Let us take a moment to think about where the food we are about to enjoy has come from and to acknowledge those who worked to bring us this food. Let us appreciate the earth, the sun, the air, and the water needed to nourish the plants and animals. Let us thank the farmer who cared for the plants and animals and the migrant worker who toiled to harvest the crops. Let us thank the laborer who processed the food, the truck driver who brought the food, and the grocery store workers who displayed it. Finally, let us thank our friends who prepared this meal and have provided us with the opportunity to be together and share each others’ company.” (Herb Silverman)
“As we come together to share this meal, let us first remember how it came to us and be thankful to the people who made it possible. This food was born from the bounty of the Earth, in warm sunlight, rich earth and cool rain. May it nourish us, in body and mind, and provide us with the things that are good for living. We are grateful to those who cultivated it, those who harvested it, those who brought it to us and those who prepared it. May its consumption bring about the pleasures of friendship, love and good company. And as we partake of this food in each other’s company, as what was once separate from all of us becomes part of each of us, may we also remember what we have in common and what brings us all together. May this sharing of food foster peace and understanding among us, may it bring us to the recognition that we depend on each other for all the good we can ever hope to receive, and that all the good we can hope to accomplish rests in helping others in turn. May it remind us that as we reach out to others to brighten their lives, so are our lives brightened in turn.” (Adam Lee)
“As we come together at this special time, let us pause a moment to appreciate the opportunity for good company and to thank all those past and present whose efforts have made this event possible. We reap the fruits of our society, our Country, and our civilization, and take joy in the bounties of Nature on this happy occasion. Let us also wish that, some day, all people on Earth may enjoy the same good fortune that we share.” (unkn)
“We give thanks to Nature for all it has provided us. For Family and Friends who walk with us throughout the years. We give thanks for those who have touched our hearts and made us smile. We give thanks to those who have alleviated suffering, Who have championed a cause, For those who have resisted unjust laws, Who have fought against oppression and injustice, and have fought for the freedoms we enjoy. We give thanks for those who have sacrificed their lives to make our world a better place to be. We give thanks for those who have advanced our understanding of medicine and science. Who have helped explain the workings of the Universe. We give thanks to those who have applied paint to canvas in a way that stirs feelings deep within us, Who have composed songs which make our spirits soar, To all the people – past, present and future – who strive to better our world and make life worth living, to these people, we give our highest praise and our endless thanks.” (Jennifer Beahan)
May we have grateful hearts for all we receive and be ever mindful of the needs of others.
“This food is the gift of the whole universe,
Each morsel is a sacrifice of life, May I be worthy to receive it.
May the energy in this food give me the strength,
To transform my unwholesome qualities into wholesome ones.
I am grateful for this food, May I realise the Path of Awakening,
For the sake of all beings.” (A Buddhist blessing for food)
We pause on this Thanksgiving Day to consider all we have to be grateful for:
For the wonders of the natural world and the beauty of each season in turn.
For the resources of this world, to be valued and used wisely.
For the people around the globe with whom we share a common humanity and desire for a better, more peaceful world.
For the connection with family and friends who nurture and support us each day, especially those gathered with us today.
For the food we are about to share and for all who brought it to us.
For the future and all the opportunities that are before us.
We acknowledge all these things today with appreciation and gratitude.
— Kathy Diedrich, Humanist Celebrant from MN
Corn and grain, meat and milk
Upon our table width and length
With loving thought and careful craft
Through so many hands have passed
Essence of life, fruits of our labors
Bringing sustenance and strength
To ours and all our neighbors
May we all be grateful for all we have
And compassion for those without.
— Douglas Van Curren, Humanist Celebrant and President of Humanists of Idaho
As we come together at this special time, let us pause a moment to appreciate the opportunity for good company and to thank all those past and present whose efforts have made this event possible. We reap the fruits of our society, our country, and our civilization, and take joy in the bounties of nature on this happy occasion. Let us also wish that, some day, all people on Earth may enjoy the same good fortune that we share.
– Red Bank Humanists
“We are grateful for the food before us, the friends beside us, the love among us.”
Let us be together; let us eat together. Let us be vital together, let us be radiating truth, radiating the light of life. Never shall we denounce anyone, never entertain negativity.
– The Upanishads
We Meet to Serve
We meet to serve our community,
to use our resources wisely and well,
to represent all members of our community fairly,
to make decisions that promote the common good.
We recognize our responsibility to the past and the future,
and the rights and needs of both individuals and community.
May we act wisely and well. (Abby Willowroot)
“We give thanks to the plants and animals who have given themselves so that we can enjoy this meal together.
We also give thanks to our friends and family who have traveled here today.
May this meal bring us strength and health”. (Native American thanks giving)
[We are grateful for] the serenity
to accept the things we cannot change,
the courage to change the things we can,
and the wisdom to know the difference. (Secular version of the Serenity Prayer)
Alternate first lines: “We are grateful for”; “May mindful living achieve “; “I strive for”; “Reason and mindfulness give us”; “We/I have the”; “May we achieve”; “Peaceful living requires and instills”; “Logic leads us to”; etc. Be creative, and formulate words that are meaningful to you.
For what we are about to receive, let us be thankful and ever mindful of those less fortunate than ourselves. (David Read)
“Let us think thrice while we are gathering here for this meal.
First, let us think of the people we are with today, and make the most of the pleasure of sharing food and drink together.
Then, let us think of the people who made the food and drink and brought it to us, who serve us and wait on us, and who clear up and clean up after us.
Finally, let us think of all the people all over the world, members with us in the human family, who will not have a meal today.” (Nicolas Walter)
“May this meal we’re about to share help our spirits shine brighter.
May this brightness send darkness away and
warm the hearts of strangers.” (Jane Hearne)
Let us enjoy good food and good drink,
And let us thank all whose efforts have set them before us;
Let us enjoy good companionship,
And let us each one be good company to the others;
Let us enjoy ourselves, without guilt,
But let us not forget that many are less fortunate. (George Rodger)
“As we come together at this special time, let us pause a moment to appreciate the opportunity for good company and to thank all those past and present whose efforts have made this event possible. We reap the fruits of our society, our Country, and our civilization, and take joy in the bounties of Nature on this happy occasion. Let us also wish that, some day, all people on Earth may enjoy the same good fortune that we share.” (Bruce Fowler)
A morning reflection: As I face today’s challenges, I will act with reason and mindfulness, be flexible and positive in attitude, and act with compassion toward all others. Today I will focus on [what is one thing you want to be intentional about today? kindness? active listening? healthy eating? humor and making people smile? giving compliments?]
May kindness grow within me,
bringing deeper awareness of life’s facets,
touching all who I meet, with a good feeling,
brightening the day of others, in my wake.
May each action I take, be rooted in kindness,
in everything, there is a kind and unkind way
to move forward, to resolve a situation, to be.
May the depth of my kindness increase, daily.
“Let us be thankful
…to those who planted the crops, cultivated the fields, and gathered the harvest
…for the plants and animals who have given themselves so that we can enjoy this meal together
…and to those who prepared this meal, those who served it, and those who will clean up afterwards
Let us remember
…those who have no festivity
…those who are alone
…those who cannot share this plenty
…those who are hungry, sick, and cold
…and those whose lives are more affected than our own by injustice, tyranny, war, oppression, and exploitation
In sharing this meal, let us be thankful
…for the good things we have
…for family and friends
…for warm hospitality
…and for good company. ”
An Affirmation of Community
Daily, we live side by side, sharing our community,
we take each other for granted, living our lives,
going through our days, seldom thinking of community,
seldom stopping to think of the needs of our neighbors,
caught up, in living and providing for ourselves and family.
Community is just there, and we take it for granted,
until disaster strikes,hardship comes, or weather rages,
then, we suddenly, and desperately, need our community,
we need it to help us survive, keep hope alive, to live.
It is community that provides the essential safety net,
protecting each of us in the face of loss and tragedy, it,
our community that brings out the neighbor in us all.
Today, I will do something to build my own community,
making it stronger for all my neighbors and myself.
We are so grateful for this food,
it restores our strength,
it heals our bodies,
it fuels our brains.
We are so grateful for this time,
to renew our spirit,
to share our trials,
to find new strength.
All that we have is a gift.
May we be thankful.
May we celebrate.
May we share.
For our friends,
for our families,
for our meal,
we are thankful.
we are thankful.
Thanks to the earth for the soil.
Thanks to the sky for the rains.
Thanks to the farmers for the harvest.
Thanks to our friends for the love.
May this meal we’re about to share help our spirits shine brighter.
May this brightness send darkness away and
warm the hearts of strangers.
(Helen Jane Hearn – from blog post, “how my family says grace without bringing Capital R Religion into it”.)
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