My Daughter Wants to Know Why I Pray
As part of our month-long God series, Abby Sher tells us about her relationship with prayer.
I have prayed every day for the past 25 years. Often obsessively, locked in a closet for hours at a sitting. My mother, my therapists, friends, boyfriends, even reporters have asked me to show them what this compulsive ritual entailed. I’ve refused them all. I’ve always felt like if I explained my thoughts or connection to God, I would sound stupid, or worse, irreverent.
I was raised in a reform Jewish household, where matzah balls, Maneshewitz and Oy, what tsuris defined my heritage. I began praying in earnest when I was 11 and my aunt and father died in quick succession. I was sure I’d made them die, and I had to atone before I struck again. After Mom tucked me into bed at night, I recited the
five, 10, then 50 times. I soon added a song of thanks and a list of sick people whom I needed to heal. In high school I snuck into dark closets not to kiss boys but to chant psalms. I once ran away from home just to pray behind the synagogue in a pile of soggy leaves. True worship, in my mind, had to be secret in order to be sacred.