Maybe you don’t believe in the power of prayer. If you’ve lost your faith, or never had it, but would like a convincing demonstration of the power of prayer, then this challenge is for you. Find today’s date on the calendar. Flip six months ahead and mark that date. Now, starting today, pray for faith. Pray for faith every day, at least once a day, for six months. Pray sincerely, pray with all your heart, and one day — on or before the date you’ve marked — you’ll suddenly notice that all your doubts have vanished. In their place you’ll find an abiding faith, and you’ll never question again the power of prayer. — F.R. Duplantier
I actually did this in my mid-twenties. Having convinced myself that I didn’t need a “crutch,” I stopped going to church when I was 15 and began a lengthy period of unconscious moral decline — which culminated, fortunately, in an epiphany in which I recognized, and summoned the courage to admit, that I had become a moral cripple. I did need a crutch, after all. The seemingly insurmountable problem was that I no longer had any faith. I wasn’t a staunch unbeliever, merely an agnostic (never have understood how anyone could affirm God’s nonexistence), but the unquestioning faith I’d known as a child was utterly gone. How could I get it back?
The solution was paradoxical: I would pray for it. It seemed like a crazy idea, especially for an intensely logical person like me. How could I pray when I didn’t really believe in God, much less the efficacy of prayer? Why would God listen to the prayers of a faithless person like me? It was illogical, it didn’t make any sense, but I didn’t know what else to do. So I prayed.
It wasn’t much of a prayer, either, for I’d forgotten how to pray. I just asked for my faith back. Please, God, let me believe again.
I did that every day, several times a day, for weeks or months — I’m not sure how long, because I have no idea exactly when my faith was restored. I never could pinpoint the precise moment, because it came back quite unobtrusively. I just happened to notice one day that the doubt was gone, completely gone, never to return. Where the emptiness had been, there was fullness. It was a nice feeling.
Five more years passed before I actually ventured into a church again, but I had begun the journey home.