I Don’t Believe in God, But I Do Believe in Prayer
I have never believed in God. As a child, I was enrolled in the local Protestant church’s Sunday school. I remember my first day of Sunday school, just like I do my first day of kindergarten. It was surreal.
There were lots of new children. We were in the basement of the church. I was given a shiny new, soft-cover copy of the New Testament.
We hung our coats and sat at long rectangle tables. The ceilings, walls, and floor were stark white. Small rectangle windows at the very top of the walls streamed in bright light. Two women instructed the class, handing out the weekly prayer we were to remember and a drawing of some religious figure we were to familiarize ourselves with.
The first figure we were given was Jesus. The page looked like a photocopy out of a coloring book.
We watched a cartoon movie about Jesus (and in hindsight, I recognize that all or most of the characters were white). After the movie, we talked about Jesus and learned a new song, He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands, still one of my favorites — even as I reject faith. Then we colored in the picture.
We were given a section of our bible to read before next week and instructed to memorize the prayer that was handed out.
I enjoyed the Bible stories and the movies. The teachers were very kind and had a strong conviction.
But I didn’t believe it. I wondered if other people did or if everyone felt the way I did and maybe this “believing” was just something we did? Maybe we all just keep our doubt and skepticism quiet, I guess.
Obviously, I have since learned that people truly do have faith and that my atheism and skepticism are personal, but still totally normal. It was difficult for me to come to terms with the fact that I didn’t believe in God because I wanted to. I loved the idea of church, prayer, events, and rights of passage.
I loved how much my friends and family relied on God and Jesus. It looked — looks — comforting and I wish I could feel that way too sometimes.
And while I do not rely on God or religion, I do rely on the power of prayer. I may not have come away from my time in Christianity with a figure to watch over me, but I did come away with a new tool that helps me grow—a tool that helps me become a better person.
And, after all, isn’t that what Christianity is all about anyway?
In my twenties, I took my first yoga class and was introduced to the idea of mantras. Find a saying and repeat it to yourself.
The idea behind mantras is that they facilitate manifestation. I believe the way it works is by consciously repeating something, you deliver it to your subconscious in an effort to help your conscious and subconscious work together to reach a desired outcome.
The outcome can be emotional peace and stability, financial stability, personal protection, anything.
People truly believe that mantras work, they have real faith.
When I turned 30, I started blogging and came across lots of life coaches and business coaches. Their thing is affirmations and writing out long term goals.
When you write your goals daily and remind yourself of your desired outcomes, you’re more likely to read them.
Keep a journal and write your affirmation and three things you’re thankful for every day. Then write your big goal. Then, list the tasks you can do today that will bring you closer to the big goal.
The concept is different but the framework is the same: start with thanks, express desires, have faith.
I believe in the power of prayer because I believe it facilitates personal growth. Whatever you’re going through: wanting a new job, the health and safety of a loved one — anything with large or small outcomes — they require personal growth.
We can pray for our loved one to be saved, but we don’t know what will happen. All we know is that we can control the energy we put out there. We can control the mindset we have. We can control the way we navigate the situation. We can control the level of faith we have in the future — whatever it may hold.
The mind is the only thing that keeps you moving forward in life. Your body will stop if your mind gives up, your heart will not love again if your mind does not allow it.
Using prayers, mantras, and affirmations can keep you going when you want to give up.
When people tell me a story of how they prayed and it worked, I believe them.
No, as an atheist, I don’t believe God answered their prayer, but I do think they achieved personal growth on some level. Obviously we disagree on whether it was self-imposed or deity -supported but, nonetheless, a transformation took place.
Communication is the very foundation of growth and progress. When you pray, practice mantra, affirm, or simply write your thoughts and desires, you’re communicating. That communication facilitates the circumstances we need to continue on a forward trajectory.
Prayer is another form of communication, so while I don’t believe in God, I do believe in prayer.
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