I think it's safe to say that there are a lot of folks who don't pray until things get rough. They ask God for help or patience or strength, or maybe they pray for someone else who is having a difficult time. The same is probably true in my case. I've had my ups and downs over the years...didn't go to church in Japan as much as I'd like, and I've had trouble motivating myself to go these days, too. But I'm working on it, and I've always considered myself religious.
Religion was one of the big issues I had with dating in Japan, too. One of my potential deal breakers is that I have to be able to raise my kids to believe what I believe. If as adults they change their minds, so be it. But being that there are few Japanese Christians, it was a worry of mine - finding a woman who would defer to my beliefs in the case of our children.
Anyway, I'm getting off track here. If you're religious, prayer can be a good avenue for Japanese, as well as spiritual, enlightenment. One time when I visited Yoshie in Kyushu, we went to this Christian store in Fukuoka. They had all kinds of prayer books and religious literature in Japanese, and some interesting items like Bible manga. I bought this basic book of prayers and Catholic catechism, which I think is meant for children.
One prayer that isn't included in that book but that is probably my favorite, is the Prayer of Saint Francis. Sometimes when I'm in emotional turmoil or pain, I try remembering this prayer, and I find it helps balance me out a bit. This is also the prayer that was printed the prayer card for my father after he died. It's also been made into some beautiful songs.
Well, I've decided I'm going to memorize that prayer in Japanese. Here it is: