by Sarah Kessler: You don’t have to be religious to express your thoughts and well wishes with a prayer…
In fact, there are many non-denominational and non-religious prayers that can help you say thanks or send healing intentions. There are even non-religious prayers that are perfect for reciting at a funeral.
A non-denominational or non-religious prayer might be a good choice if the person you’re speaking or writing to isn’t religious. Or you might be non-religious yourself, but still want to express your gratitude, condolences, or get-well-soon wishes with a prayer.
Below, we’ll provide you with 15 short prayers that could be perfect for those occasions.
Non-Religious Poems for Thanks
Sometimes, just saying “thank you,” doesn’t feel like enough. You might want to send a thank-you prayer to let a loved one know how much you appreciate them. Gratitude prayers are also a great way to remind yourself of all the things you’re thankful for in life.
Below are some non-religious poems and prayers that can help you say, “Thank you,” whether it’s to the universe, a higher power, or to someone you love.
1. “Good Company”
Sometimes you thank a loved one for a gift, and sometimes you thank them just for being there for you. William Shakespeare reflected on the value of “good company” in Henry VIII, creating what amounts to a short thank-you prayer or poem:
“…good company, good wine, good welcome, can make good people.”
2. “Thankful for Many Things”
Poet July Hebery wrote this thank-you poem, which mentions a “higher power” but doesn’t specify which one. Taken stanza-by-stanza, there are also portions that are completely secular. Here’s an excerpt, for example:
I am thankful for my family,
My friends I feel the same.
Life is filled with many thanks,
Life is the perfect game.
3. “Meal Gatha”
Many religions have a prayer that you’re supposed to recite before you begin a meal. Buddhism has its own, known as the Meal Gatha. Below is a secular version of that prayer:
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.
This excerpt from James Whitcomb Riley’s prayer, Thanksgiving, is perfect as both a gratitude prayer or thank-you note.
Let us be thankful for the loyal hand
That love held out in welcome to our own,
When love and only love could understand
The need of touches we had never known.
5. “Help and Caring”
If a friend or family reached out to you when you weren’t feeling well, you might want to send them a thank-you note. This short poem by Joanna and Karl Fuchs is like a miniature, non-religious prayer for saying, “Thank you for being there.”
Thanks for doing what you did;
You are kind beyond belief;
Your help and caring calmed me down,
And gave me soothing relief.
Non-Religious Poems for Healing
A prayer or poem can also help you comfort someone you love when they’re feeling ill. But you and your loved one might not follow the same religious beliefs. Luckily, there are several non-religious poems and prayers that can help you offer words of support.
Below are some prayers and poems for healing. Included are some you can say in hopes that a loved one feels better, and some you might send in a get-well-soon card.
6. “Titan Frame”
This poem by Christine Evangelou might help inspire strength when your loved one needs it most. It’s a lyrical take on the adage, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” Here’s an excerpt that you could use as a letter to your loved one or as a healing prayer on their behalf.
True strength is yielded by embracing hurt
Like a hidden oasis
That brings wisdom through the dirt
Feeling each wound like trickles of rain
Pouring through the sunshine of your Titan frame
And rising from failure like a warrior of war
Tenaciously healing to fight once more.
7. “May You Be Well”
This prayer written by Joanna Fuchs doesn’t mention a religious deity or ideology. Instead, it helps you pray for your loved one through “the powerful light of healing.” It might be a great option if you want to send a secular healing prayer in a get-well-soon letter.
May you be well.
May you be cleansed and purified
Of all that isn’t health.
May every cell in your body
Wake up and fight.
May the powerful light of healing
Move into every part of you.
May you return to being purely you.
May you be well.
8. “One Day”
This poem comes from the same anthology as Titan Frame (a book called “Beating Hearts and Butterflies). And it has a similar message. It can encourage you to have hope for healing, as well as use these negative experiences for growth.
One day, you will heal
One day, you will be grateful for the deepest cuts of pain
One day, you will glance at yourself
And see a stronger person through your reflection
One day, you will kiss away your hurt… gently, and with grace
Until then, use it all to propel you forward.
9. “God’s Speed”
It might not be strictly non-religious, but the phrase “God’s Speed” can apply to a wide range of religious denominations. If it feels right to you, or you think your loved one would appreciate it, you can use “God’s Speed” in a simple message like the one below.
God’s speed and guidance I send to you
As you get on your way to recovery.
I wish you the very best.
Get well soon.
10. “The Four Immeasurables”
A traditional Tibetan Buddhist prayer, The Four Immeasurables doesn’t mention any particular deity or religion. It’s a prayer for the “four immeasurables,” which are positive aspects of every person’s life: love, compassion, joy, and equanimity (peace).
And you’ll notice that a line of this prayer relates to suffering and its causes, which could include illness:
May all beings have happiness and the cause of happiness.
May they be free of suffering and the cause of suffering.
May they never be disassociated from the supreme happiness which is without suffering.
May they remain in the boundless equanimity, free from both attachment to close ones and rejection of others.
Non-Religious Poems for Funerals
If we traveled back in time and attended an early American funeral, most of the attendees would be members of the same church. Today, funeral guests come together from all backgrounds and religions to say goodbye.
So it makes sense that many modern funeral poems and prayers are non-religious. And even those that aren’t can easily be made non-religious by switching a few words around.
Here are a few non-religious funeral prayers to consider for your eulogy or condolence letter.
11. “Let Me Go”
Let Me Go, by the Victorian poet Christina Rossetti, is a short poem that you can use in place of a prayer at a funeral. Its uplifting message offers a way to celebrate your loved one’s life as a final goodbye.
When I come to the end of the road
And the sun has set for me
I want no rites in a gloom filled room
Why cry for a soul set free?
12. “Farewell, Sweet Dust”
If you’re looking for a short poem or prayer to recite at an ash-scattering, consider this short, non-religious poem.
Now I have lost you, I must scatter
All of you on the air henceforth;
Not that to me it can ever matter
But it’s only fair to the rest of the earth.
13. “Do Not Stand at My Grave and Weep”
You’ll likely recognize this famous funeral poem, which is popular at both religious and non-religious funerals. Its powerful imagery and emotional verses were written by Mary Elizabeth Frye in the 1930s.
Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there, I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glint on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn rain.
14. “To Those Whom I Love and Those Who Love Me”
This short poem (author unknown) is a beautiful, non-religious remembrance for a funeral eulogy.
When I am gone, release me, let me go.
I have so many things to see and do,
You mustn’t tie yourself to me with too many tears,
But be thankful we had so many good years.
15. “A Song of Living”
Amelia Josephine Burr wrote this funeral poem, which is all about making the most of life and finding peace at the end of it. It’s a non-religious poem that you can use in place of a prayer at a funeral or send in a condolence letter.
Because I have loved life,
I shall have no sorrow to die.
I have sent up my gladness on wings,
to be lost in the blue of the sky.
Create Your Own Non-Religious Prayer
Anyone can pray, whether you’re Christian, Hindu, or atheist. You don’t have to believe in any particular God or spirit to pray. You might pray to your own higher power, or to the universe as a whole. You might not know who (or what) you’re praying to, exactly, and that’s OK too.
If none of the prayers and poems listed above strike your fancy, you can create your own. All you have to do is find a traditional prayer that you enjoy overall. Then, edit the prayer slightly to make it non-religious or more meaningful to you. For example, you could replace the word “God” with “the Earth.” And voilà! You have yourself a unique non-religious prayer to use however you’d like.