Thursday, April 3, 2008

Praying Together

Inter religious prayer... is it really possible? Is it possible for people of different faiths come together and worship? At first glance the answer should be "no", people with seemingly opposing world views who are trying to change each other should not be able to pray together. But I do not believe the answer is as simple as that, the answer is that it is possible for people of different faiths to pray together but their faith cannot end there.

We, the Taize Peace Committee, are in a unique position to think about and create a framework for inter-religious prayer. Our group includes Christians, Muslims and Hindus, all of whom are dedicated to peace and harmony in our societies and in our world. We also are connected to three homes for handicapped children, where the volunteers and children are Muslims, Christians and Hindus. Because this group is a part of the international l'Arche community, spirituality is an important part of everyday life, so how do these children and volunteers from three different religions all join together in prayer? This is the role of the Taize Peace Committee.

We are searching for a style of prayer that is not just accepting of everyone but fulfilling for everyone. I do not know if this is possible, but that is not for me to decide. The goal is to open a space for prayers to be raised from different people in their own faith while being in harmony and solidarity with the people around them. We are searching for songs, psalms and readings affirming our call to love one another and lift others up. We are not saying that these religious traditions are the same, nor are we trying to minimize their importance in people's lives. Instead we aim to bring people together in faith, and affirm a common spirituality in each other.

So we aim to bring spirituality, love and peace together in a supportive environment of prayer to God. To leave it there, thinking that everyone could be happy and fulfilled would be naive. I do not pretend to think that through inter-religious prayer people can grow in their faith. I believe that everyone could be spiritually renewed, but they could not grow and affirm each other in their common beliefs. This inter-religious prayer is an opportunity to be inclusive yet affirming, not to detract from anyone's faith. But prayer in one's own religious group, gathering together to worship with sisters and brothers is of vital importance. As a Christian I could not grow in my understanding of God and Christ without the support of Christian role-models in my life. And so I believe that inter-religious prayer can only be a part of a person's walk of faith.

Inter-religious prayer is about praying, doing something all our religious traditions do, and in doing so demonstrating God's love for all people. In this form, I believe inter-religious prayer has a place in these handicapped homes and is an idea of importance in our violently polarized religious landscape.


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