Conversation with God: Non-religious people pray too

Even non-religious people often find themselves praying

Before World War II, Corrie Ten Boom and her family served their community by opening a church for the mentally disabled and providing foster care in their home for young children. But when the Nazis invaded the Netherlands in May 1940, everything changed.

Jewish families and other minorities were arrested or forced into hiding. New restrictions caused the Ten Boom family to abandon their charitable work, until May 1942 when a knock was heard at the door. A well-dressed Jewish woman whose husband had been taken away and whose son was missing had heard that the Ten Booms helped Jewish families. Thus began “the hiding place” for those pursued by the Gestapo. The Ten Booms constructed a secret room on the top floor of their home, and many Jewish refugees escaped the Nazi Holocaust by hiding there. The Nazis eventually discovered the operation. Corrie, her sister Betsie, and her father were sent to a concentration camp where her father and Betsie died within a year. In spite of horrifying conditions and the constant reality of death, Betsie often reminded Corrie, “There is no pit so deep that He [God] is not deeper still.”

What kept them going? Simply put, they were sustained by faith and the power of prayer.

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A prayer is putting oneself in the hands of God.
“What wings are to a bird, and sails to a ship, so is prayer to the soul,” Corrie would later write. The Ten Booms prayed constantly for protection, for guidance, for strength and for endurance. They believed in and witnessed the tangible impact of prayer.

All people of faith pray, although they may pray differently, and with a different concept of God. No one religion has the corner on prayer. And for many Americans, every day is a day of prayer. More than half (55 percent) of Americans said they pray every day, according to a 2013 Pew Research Center survey, while 23 percent said they pray weekly or monthly. Twenty-one percent reported they seldom or never pray. Even among those who are religiously unaffiliated, 21 percent said they pray daily.

So what exactly is prayer? Can it be exactly understood?

A prayer is putting oneself in the hands of God.

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A prayer is a hope.

A prayer is a cry from the heart. Anne Lamott says that three of the greatest prayers are, “Wow!”, “Thanks!” and “Help!” Sometimes people who claim to have no faith cannot help but pray these prayers.

For people of religious faith, a prayer is the most intimate and holy connection between a person and the Divine. “God does nothing except in response to believing prayer,” John Wesley said. “Prayer is where the action is.”

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But prayer is also a hiding place, a shelter from the storm, a refuge in hard times. While some disdain prayer as a crutch for the weak, believers affirm that only in weakness can someone experience the strength of God. It changes things, believers say. It brings peace. It affects circumstances. It softens hearts that need reconciliation.

Prayer makes a difference.

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