Madonna on prayer: It 'isn't a religious thing'

Madonna's love affair with the cross has spanned her music career and points to her Catholic upbringing. She appears here with large cross earrings on the cover of her self-titled album from 1983

Madonna turned heads this week with more boundary-pushing photos of herself in a feature for Interview Mag in which she also talked more about her spiritual beliefs. 

The pop icon has from the outset of her career blurred the lines between art and her own take on religion, with the cross and spiritual themes appearing regularly in her work over the decades.

She was interviewed for the magazine by illusionist David Blaine and at one point he asked her if she could recall her favourite childhood song. 

The song she cited was an old Christian campfire song, I Know a Place, which sings about the beauty and quiet of nature and ends with the lines, "All my life such beauty to receive / Now I know that God had made this place for me". 

Madonna was raised in a Catholic household and she said in the interview that her mother sang it to her when she was four.

"My children know it too," she told Blaine.  

Her Catholic upbringing has clearly influenced her style and music over the years, but as an adult she has largely followed the Kabbalah faith.

In a Harper's Bazaar interview last year, she admitted that while she is a "big believer in ritualistic behaviour as long as it doesn't hurt anybody", she is "not a huge fan of rules".  

"I have a funny relationship with religion," she admitted at the time.  

In her interview with Blaine, she further elaborates on the importance of ritual to her.  The two went on to talk about the value of setting aside time to process the things happening in their lives.

Madonna picked up on this by saying she sets aside time for prayer.  But for her it's more a process of giving thanks, than making a spiritual connection with a deity. 

"The ritual of prayer isn't a religious thing as much as it is having a ritualistic moment to acknowledge things and not take things for granted," she said.

"For instance: the fact that you wake up and there's air in your lungs; the fact that you have a job to do; the fact that you have friends; the fact that you have your health. You're going to do something that's going to bring you joy. We take these things for granted. And, you know, I think it's important to call angels to you to protect you." 

Blaine took the conversation about angels further when he said his angel was his mother.  Madonna suggested people have several angels protecting them. 

"Your mother is going to be with you regardless," she told Blaine. "There are other angels that exist besides your mother. My mother is protecting me, too. But she's not the only one."