Presbyterians love to pray. Arms outstretched from the roof of the world, great wizardly sleeves of those Genevan robes. Eyes wrenched closed, the rhetoric as high as the pulpits; stuffed with well-worn clauses: Lord of lords, and true and living God, and Thy Kingdom come. One of my issues with our grand old waspy church is how we claim to love prayer but seemed – at least in the presence of others – too emotionally frigid to pray with a desperate specificity of, say Jesus – who once begged God not to let Him be tortured and murdered. Most Presbyterian petitions by contrast ran to the abstract: Our Father in Heaven, You are the absolute person, the never-changing One, the I Am who I Am, First and Last, ever blessed impassable God, invincible, holy, perfect, absolute, boundless, changeless, stainless, relentless, breathless, sleeveless, strapless, majestic, merciful, perpetual, plenipotentiary, radiant, sacred, sovereign, a meat lovers supreme with extra cheese; You are God, Abba, Father, Yahweh, Elohim, Jehovah, Adoni, Lord of hosts, Ancient of days, King of kings and also of Leon. The sequence of vocabulary words always unleashed themselves into the void of the sanctuary like a thousand rabid fruit bats looking for somewhere to land. At first I was highly impressed by these 19th Century orations, the hierarchy of clauses and subordinate clauses; but week-by-week I became quietly enraged at this incomprehensible appeal to divinity. Even in smaller groups, like Sunday School – which often began with a short prayer led by the teacher – you’d be hard pressed to hear genuine expressions of specific human suffering. “Are there any prayer requests?” the teacher would ask. Sometimes a hand would go up, but it was always a prayer request for somebody’s great aunt who needed a hip replacement, a biopsy, a cornea transplant. We could not bear to hear about the suffering of the people in the room, good Lord, No! Too real! We never prayed for our marriages, our children, our interior lives. The fable of our being respectable taxpayers would be shattered by anything real. I needed prayers! Even then, long before I knew of my wife’s growing crush on our neighbor, I knew she was unhappy. She’d already suggested her taking the girls and going away for an unsaid length of days. Sometimes I’d raise my hand during the prayer requests and say something verging on confessional. “I’ve been a little listless lately,” I’d say. “Everything seems to have lost its color.” Everybody would shuffle, Lauren would stiffen. I didn’t say why I was sad. I didn’t want to make everyone go pale. I didn’t want to say, “My wife said she wanted to move out.”

– Harrison Scott Key “How to Stay Married: The Most Insane Love Story Ever Told”