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Every night I thank God for the day that has just passed and the people I love.
It’s never an extensive prayer because sleep usually catches me somewhere in the middle. But it’s such a regular nighttime ritual that I can imagine only the worst illness, the direst emergency or utter exhaustion interrupting it.
Among the thank-yous I have in life is always one to my mother, for bringing me up with her religious faith.
Prayer can be an important way of navigating life.Credit: iStock
I know that nearly 40 per cent of Australians navigate perfectly well through life without religious faith. The absence of religious belief and training doesn’t affect the depth of our humanity or the value of our lives. My main reason for treasuring my religious belief is a selfish one: I think it makes life easier for me.
Firstly, my faith provides answers to the elementary questions of the universe’s creation and our roles on this planet. The Big Bang is a brilliant theory. But a belief in God helps me to answer the accompanying questions: why does the universe exist? Is it a cosmic accident? I find the idea of a creator of immeasurable intelligence and love a richer, fuller answer.
Faith in a spiritual dimension beyond our own is a belief that is easily and naturally received. There is a depth inside us that responds to the idea that there is more to this life and this world than what we see.
Christianity, for instance, backed by the evidence of scripture and centuries of research, is a thrilling narrative for its youngest to its oldest believers.
Christmas, for Christians, becomes the celebration of God’s entry into human life through the birth of His son. Easter, likewise, becomes an occasion to rejoice in the resurrection of Christ and the promise of eternal life.
Belief in a spiritual dimension to life also makes sense of much of the world’s art, music, architecture and literature. Those with faith can respond to the beauty of places of worship, paintings and sculptures with religious themes, liturgical music and literature with more than aesthetic appreciation; it strikes chords of both awe and familiarity in the existence of a world beyond our own.
Faith gives us a deeper appreciation of spaces of worship, their art and architecture.Credit: Alamy
Faith has helped people through the worst of human experiences and given them a power to pray to. Even when most alone, belief allows one to feel heard and keeps the small flame of hope from being extinguished altogether.
So while I’m grateful to mum for many things, it’s religious faith that provides me with a place in the circle of certainty and love that makes my life an easier journey home.
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