January 9, 2015

I Am an Atheist But I Still Pray to God.


Confession: I’m an atheist and I pray.

I don’t believe in a deity or deities.

So, why and to whom do I pray?

Well, I pray to God. When I’m praying that’s what I start with. Simply, “God.”

Sometimes, when I’m having a really hard time and don’t feel like praying (meaning: I feel shitty and praying at that moment feels stupid), I’ll say a string of things like, “Higher Self, Universe, Guardian Angels, the Divine, Whatever.” (Yes, the “whatever” is really thrown in there)

But usually I start with “God.”

I grew up in a Christian home. My father is Catholic. My mother was raised Mormon, baptized Baptist, and now chooses not to think about religion.

We weren’t dragged to Church every Sunday. We didn’t have to pray before meals. I didn’t go to bible study. I did get involved with my mom’s Baptist church as a pre-teen, but our pastor left and we no longer felt comfortable.

Even though church or God was never a constant, prayer always had been.

As a child, I prayed every night. I was taught to do so. For the longest time I thought I was going to hell if I didn’t, or that I needed to ask for forgiveness on a daily basis—just one of the many reasons I stopped believing.

Now I pray because it’s what I know how to do. I pray because it is a habitual form of comfort. Prayer is my form of meditation.

When friends or family members ask for prayers, I pray for them. When I, or someone I know, needs good vibes or some extra love, I’ll ask for prayers.

Does it matter who they are said to? No, I don’t care. It’s the energy and intention behind the prayer that matters.

So, why pray to God?

I believe “God” is in each and every one of us. For me, God is short for goodness. God means life. By praying to God, I am acknowledging the goodness not only in me, but in everyone else.

Some days, smiling and laughter are my prayers. Some nights, I’m so tired that I forget to pray.

And all of it is okay, and acceptable, and there’s no hell waiting for me the next day because I didn’t say a prayer.

What do my prayers consist of on a regular basis and when do I pray?

When I pray to God, it’s while I’m lying down to go to sleep. I always say thank you first and foremost. Then I ask that my family and friends, coworkers and colleagues are in good health, that they know they are loved and thought of, and that I may share my blessings with them in any way possible. I go on to talk about all kinds of other things if I’m still awake at this point. It’s like talking to myself, but with a purpose—with intention.

Some would be uncomfortable using the word “prayer” for their inner dialogue, but I believe we can make anything a prayer, a mantra, a meditation. And I highly recommend it.

Why not make every breath, every word, every action a prayer? What a loving gesture to the world that would be—and a reminder to ourselves to be thankful to be alive.


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Author: Melissa Scavetta

Apprentice editor: Hilda Carroll / Editor: Renee Picard

Photo: KatMary/Flickr

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