Friedrich Nietzsche, The Gay Science.  Die fröhliche Wissenschaft.

First published in 1882.

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The Value of Prayer.

Prayer has been devised for such men as have never any thoughts of their own, and to whom an elevation of the soul is un known, or passes unnoticed; what shall these people do in holy places and in all important situations in life which require repose and some kind of dignity?  In order at least that they may not disturb others, the wisdom of all the founders of religions, the small as well as the great, has prescribed to them the formula of prayer, as a long mechanical labour of the lips, united with an effort of the memory, and with a uniform, prescribed attitude of hands and feet and eyes.  Let them like the Tibetans, chew the cud of their "om mane padme hum" innumerable times, or, as in Benares, count the name of the God Ram-Ram-Ram (etc. with or without charm) on their fingers; or honour Vishnu with his thousand names of invocation, Allah with his ninety-nine; or they may make use of the prayer-wheels and the rosary: the main thing is that they are settled down for a time at this work and are tolerable to look at. This kind of prayer has been invented for the benefit of the pious who have thought and elevations of their own.  But even these have their weary hours when a series of venerable words and sounds, and a mechanical, pious ritual does them good.  But supposing that these rare men in every religion - the religious man is an exception - know how to help themselves, the poor in spirit do not know, and to forbid them the prayer-babbling would mean to take their religion from them, a fact which Protestantism brings more and more to light.  All that religion wants with such persons is that they should keep still with their eyes, hands, legs, and all their organs: they thereby become temporarily beautified and more human-looking!  
 

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