What Happened When An Atheist/Agnostic Started Praying Every Night

Eventually I just tapped out. Sometimes I’m ahead, sometimes I’m behind, but the struggle has always been real (well, not really REAL, more like mental and imaginary which is prison for a cerebral person).

“I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened.”

-Mark Twain

No matter how hard I push, there is always the next obstacle, unforeseen or not. It’s exhausting and defeating. I also hate losing, in any sense of the word, and trying but not prevailing or feeling any sense of triumph is losing to me. A single autonomous entity, one man against the world Ayn Rand style is a proven losing strategy. The lone ranger will never be a Power Ranger. 

Beyond Pascal’s wager, there’s a solid rational argument to be made to believe in some greater power outside yourself. Believing, or in practice, praying, readily confers the following benefits but not limited to: 

  • A blanket of equanimity as you dislodge the entire team on your back
  • A low barrier to entry form of verbal journaling and reflection
  • Activation of your subconscious to do the work for you; what you seek will seek you (i.e. Reticular Activating System). 
  • Flashes of potential brilliance (more on that in a bit)
  • Pre-sleep ritualization and priming

I keep it as simple as sub-one minute whispered prayer every night as the last task for the day, recapping my gratitude, desires, and on a good day, thoughts and hopes for others. As one of my favorite books, The Slight Edge, would describe, it’s easy to do and easy not to do but the consistency over time is what compounds your results. 

One of the lines I’ve used for a couple of months is:

“Guide me toward what is best for me.”

Albeit generic, therein lies the power. What is best for you may come in small, big, or inconvenient packages, but come they will. Again, if you want to lean on the atheist stance, then just think of this as channeling your mindset and intentions in the right direction. 

People talk about getting messages from God, and I can’t explain how this happened, but I’m convinced praying in the way that I have described led me to wake up in the middle of the night on vacation in Northern Michigan with ideas pounding through my head. Be it my subconscious transferring to my conscious brain or a “message from God” I don’t altogether care, so long as I am indeed being guided to where I need to go. Like a bolt of lightning striking me, I had to pull out my phone and write down tons of ideas I felt absolutely compelled to express in writing. So here we are. The better question is will any of this be of consequence, which time will tell, but I can speak to the exact origin of any success I may have with my writing. Hell, now I feel like I HAVE to be successful otherwise I simply had a poor night’s sleep and fabricated stories as to why that was a good thing. 

If you pray and there isn’t a God, you aren’t really wasting your time due to the above benefits but perhaps you are. If you don’t, you miss out on all the above and/or other religious implications. What makes rational sense if you remove ego and identity? That’s my true north, choose yours.