Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Agnostic Prayer

Ah, prayer. Communication with God. The cornerstone of religiosity. "Agnostic prayer" seems like a bit of an oxymoron, but I'm Agnostic Mormon Mom--my very existence is an oxymoron. So I'm here to show you how agnostic prayer can work.

I mentioned in this post that I consider prayer to be a healthy meditative practice. I do. I think we can all benefit from taking time every day to really center ourselves, contemplate where we are and what we would like to accomplish, etc. But that post was kind of vague, so I'd like to use this post to get more detailed about my prayer style.

Personal prayer is about that meditative, centering idea. It's a time for me to be really honest with myself about my weaknesses and what I need to work on. It's a time for me to think about, and actually specify with words, what it is I really want out of my day and my life and my relationships. It helps me be grateful, focus on the things I have, cultivate a positive attitude.

Here's an example of a prayer I might utter.

Heavenly Father, thank you for this day. Thank you for my little family and for my husband who works so hard to support us. I'm grateful for our home and all of our material comforts. I'm grateful that we live in this country. I'm grateful for our opportunities, freedoms, and safety here. I'm grateful for my friends and family, who support me and inspire me. Please help me to always remember why I do what I do by staying at home with my kids. Please help me to find patience, energy, and inspiration when I need it, so I can be the best mom and wife I can be. I love these little people and I want nothing more than to set them on a healthy, successful path for life. Please help me to accomplish that just a little bit more each day. Please bless my husband in his job, that he will continue to excel and be happy at it. Please help me know how best to be supportive of him.

What I'm really saying there is:

I'm grateful for what I have. I have a pretty damn good life. I have a great little family and a wonderful husband who works his tail off so we can have everything we have. I'm fortunate to live where I live. I have amazing friends and family. (Maybe I should communicate that to them.) I do what I do because I believe in it. It's easy to get bogged down in the day-to-day drudgery of my job, but I have a plan here, and I'm defining it with actual words, and I'm going to stay focused on that today, through all of the tantrums and whining and laundry and diapers. I love my husband. He deserves my appreciation. Hmm...How can I show him that? How can I be supportive of him? Maybe I'll make him his favorite meal tonight, or write him a little note, or iron his shirts instead of letting them sit in the dryer and get extra wrinkled (he hates that). Or maybe I'll call him and say some cryptically naughty things to him on the phone because...well, you know.

[Okay, Adrienne, keep it clean. This is a post about prayer!]

Family prayer is my favorite kind of prayer, because it's a super effective way to communicate with family members about things they don't really listen to when I say them at other times of the day.  Oh, and it's also a good time to find out what is on other people's minds.

An example of my kind of family prayer:

Heavenly Father, we're so thankful for each other. We're thankful for our home and our daddy and our food and our toys. We're thankful for our friends and that we got to have so much fun playing with them today. Please help us to always be nice to each other and to be obedient to mommy. Please help us to have good attitudes tomorrow and to do our jobs happily.

I don't think I really need to go into what I did there. :)  The important thing is, everyone is focused on this one thing, and we're all thinking it together. We're reminding each other of how fortunate we are. We're aspiring to be good people and to be a strong family. We're aspiring. Together. That's awesome.

Recently one of my friends asked me if I pray at church. I do not pray at church, but nobody has ever asked me to since I came back. Rude, huh? In the past, if I had been asked to pray, I would have politely said, "You know what? I'd rather not. Sorry." No big deal.

Now days, I would probably pray, and here's why: I view an invocation as an opportunity to focus the meeting and everyone in attendance, to thank the teacher for their preparation, and to express my hope that we will all be edified. "God" is simply an object on which to focus my invocation.

Watch this:

Dear Heavenly Father, We're so thankful to be together at church today. We're thankful for our ward family and for the support and encouragement that we give to each other. We're thankful for the scriptures and the teachings of the prophets. We're thankful for the time and effort our teacher put into preparing this lesson for us. Please help us to find inspiration and guidance in this lesson. Please bless us to take what we feel here and use it to improve our lives and the lives of those around us.

What I'm really saying there is:

Hey, all you people in this room, I'm really thankful for you. I'm thankful that we can come here and use these writings and teachings to learn and grow together. Hey, teacher, thank you for your time and dedication to helping us grow. Let's all try to find something that will inspire us so that we can grow and become better, or so that we can find whatever peace and comfort we may be seeking.

So there ya have it. Agnostic prayer. It's legit.


  1. Thanks for this Adrienne, I always love your posts. This prayer post was lovely.

  2. Just recently found your blog. I googled "agnostic mormon" because after many years I can finally admit that this is what I am. Nobody really knows yet and I am working through how I will, when, and if I will let my family know. Your blog is the first link that showed up when I searched. I look forward to hearing more from you!! It's nice to find people I can relate to.

    1. Jenny, I'm so glad you found my blog! Navigating the social waters of Agnostic Mormonism is so tricky and uncomfortable. My heart goes out to you as you figure out how you want to do it. May your family and friends see through your faith "issues" to who you really are and continue to value you for that. That's my agnostic prayer for you. :)