Does Islam support the concept that Religious beliefs and practices do not make someone a follower of God as opposed to a how they live their life?
In Islam the religion is a way of life, a person performs actions and responds in line with the Quran and the practice of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him)
-How should one read/use the Qur'an (e.g. can one take it literally and understand its message)?
The Quran should be taken as a guide, anything that someone is unable to understand should be taken to an exergite or taken to a rightous scholar who can access the tradition and then give you the correct meaning see website below.
-What is the reasoning/significance of religious practices such as praying five times and day?
These practices are put there to remind us about God primaraly and they are actions that are rewarded beyond belief, if done.
the Hajj rights are from Abraham (upon him peace), the sacrficie etc, the fasting from David and every Prophet, the charity from every Prophet.
The daily prayers: The first to pray Fajr was Adam upon him peace after he was taken out of heaven into the darkness of the world, in the middle of the night, he was overtaken by extreme fear. When dawn came and the light began to appear, he prayed to Allah ta’ala out of gratitude.
The first one to pray Zuhur was Ibrahim when it was called out, “O’ Ibrahim you vision is true,” this was at the time of Zawaal.
The first one to pray Asr was Yunis when Allah freed him from the belly of the whale and the prayer was in the time of Asr.
The first one to pray Magrib was Isa upon him peace, when Gibril informed him that his nation would call him one of a trinity then he prayed three units and this was after sunset.
The first one to pray Isha was Musa upon him peace when he arrived on a path that left Madiyan, he had four problems and he prayed four units.
The first one to pray Witr was the Messenger of Allah peace and blessings be upon him on the night of accession in the station of Gibril at the lote tree.
If I have failed to answer your question please email me then I can clarify.