I used to resent religion because I focused on the ways that its myths were unlikely, given what I understood about science. Science seemed so pretty, so nice. It explained protein synthesis and the inter-relatedness of animals on earth.
But science gave me no real advice about how to live life. How to be a nice person, not an asshole.
The Jewish religion says that there is a godly soul and an animal soul. The animal soul wants to do self-interested things. It wants to eat, sleep, and might even want to help others (but its motivation for helping others is feeling good about it). The godly soul wants to do good things for their own sake.
In the ideal case, religion helps the godly soul shine. Its prayers and artifacts and philosophy and rules and communities are righteousness programming. Religion is the original life-coach. You bring the motivation to be good, and it helps you get there.
“Disbelief in magic can force a poor soul into believing in government and business.” – Tom Robbins
In the day-to-day trenches of adult life, there is actually no such thing as atheism. There is no such thing as not worshipping. Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship. And the compelling reason for maybe choosing some sort of god or spiritual-type thing to worship–be it JC or Allah, be it YHWH or the Wiccan Mother Goddess, or the Four Noble Truths, or some inviolable set of ethical principles–is that pretty much anything else you worship will eat you alive. If you worship money and things, if they are where you tap real meaning in life, then you will never have enough, never feel you have enough. It’s the truth. Worship your body and beauty and sexual allure and you will always feel ugly. And when time and age start showing, you will die a million deaths before they finally grieve you. On one level, we all know this stuff already. It’s been codified as myths, proverbs, clichés, epigrams, parables; the skeleton of every great story. The whole trick is keeping the truth up front in daily consciousness. – David Foster Wallace
And hence, the twice-daily practice of tefillin.