Even though I am questioning everything I ever thought I knew about God, I am having trouble letting go of the idea that there is some kind of power in prayer.
What is prayer, anyway? Is it begging a deity to do something? Is a deity a requirement? Is it a collective hope for something that brings people together in a way we can’t quite explain?
Maybe there is a God, maybe there isn’t. I don’t know. I have had many, many prayers that it seemed were never answered (or were answered “No” which I do not think makes sense). However, I have seen positive things happen after prayer.
Maybe they would have happened anyway.
Or, maybe there is a power in thinking and feeling and believing in a certain direction.
I googled “prayer for atheists” just to see what was out there. Of course, I found hundreds of well-meaning (I hope) prayers written for Christians to pray for their poor sad atheist loved ones.
And I found this post, a port in a storm, an oasis in the desert. It is attributed to Jerry Dewitt, a deconverted Christian pastor. Somebody I can relate to.
While it has its detractors in the comments, I find it to be very helpful, if for no other reason than to confirm what I feel: maybe something is going on when we spill it honestly. Regardless of where I end up, right now I don’t need to apologize to anyone for caring about and listening to other people.
And praying… Not because I expect a Sky Daddy to find me a parking place. But because it makes me feel connected to another human being.
My mother just called to give me some very bad news — a young relative had died early this morning. He was a man whose entire life was one series of life-threatening situations after another. He was born with severe birth defects. So, although his untimely death came as no real surprise, it was still shocking and heartbreaking to our family. He had overcome so many seemingly impossible health challenges that one more “medical miracle” didn’t seem out of the question.
For over twenty-five years I faced similar soul-shattering scenarios, but I had always believed that my relationship with God and my communications with him (through prayer) would carry us through any situation, no matter how painful.
But then I became an atheist.
So what does an ex-believer do when praying to a God you no longer believe in is not an option?
Admittedly, even though “nothing fails like prayer”…
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