As you surely know, my wife prays. In fact, she keeps a prayer journal, a hard-bound spiral notebook that rests atop her personal bible. She prays for strength, mostly: strength to overcome doubt, strength to know and lessen what she perceives as her own character flaws, strength to fight feelings of insecurity.
I see the entries in her journal. Her nice penmanship writes out the prayer. Usually, she begins by directly addressing her deity as “O Lord” or “Merciful Father.” Sometimes she praises the deity by noting how great its works are. Following the prayer, she cites a Bible verse, as the specific prayer either quotes that verse or draws inspiration from it.
I don’t wonder that my wife wants techniques for strengthening her resolve. Our three children are intense personalities and strong-willed. Our youngest, the son, is mildly autistic and ADHD. He has a ton of energy, some communication issues, and a propensity to tease his sisters too much. All the kids have lots of homework and activities, and my wife — who manages the home while I work in an office 30 minutes away — has responsibility for everything until I arrive home in the evening. When I have a big project that requires me to work long hours and weekends, she gets nearly no breaks.
Praying must have emotional and mental benefits for her. It must help compartmentalize issues and put bothersome issues in a form for the psyche to ‘digest’ and process. No doubt, that form includes the relationship of the penitent and the deity, where the penitent invokes the deity as a powerful father or king and verbally/gesturally offers respect and supplication.
So, I don’t fault my wife for praying or for being a religious believer. Neither do I patronize her. I simply accept her chosen way of coping with a good yet uncooperative life. Whether we have deities or not, we all must find ways to face reality and the uncertainties of the future. In my home, reality and the future involve homework, finances, next school year, home repair, upcoming events, and so forth — very basic stuff.
At this basic, quotidian level, I think mutual compassion is the best thing. Helping hands are good, too.