Thursday, January 22, 2009

United in Prayer

By Dana Massing "What do we pray for?" - Erie Times News - Erie, PA, USA
Saturday, January 17, 2009

Christians are praying for unity this week, but that's not the number one thing people ask God for

Help is what most people pray for, said Carol Zaleski, co-author of "Prayer: A History."

"A request is often involved -- for divine protection, healing or special favors for oneself or for others," Zaleski said. She said that prayer is, essentially, communication with God, or with spiritual beings.

More than half of Americans do it daily, according to survey results released in 2008.

The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life's U.S. Religious Landscape Survey found that 58 percent of the national population prays once a day or more. Percentages ranged from 5 percent of atheists to 89 percent of Jehovah's Witnesses and included 26 percent of Jews, 45 percent of Buddhists, 62 percent of Hindus, 71 percent of Muslims and 78 percent of evangelical Protestants, results showed.

"All religions involve prayer; and prayer goes on outside the boundaries of religion as well," said Zaleski, professor of world religions at Smith College in Northampton, Mass. "Prayer is the primary means of relationship to the divine. Without prayer there is no religion."

Prayer can be spoken or silent. It can include music, dance or visual expression, said Zaleski.

"There are many differences and distinctive notes between and among religions," she said. "Prayer may be addressed to an intercessor -- such as a saint, angel or deified ancestor; or it may be addressed directly to God without intermediary. Prayer includes forms of meditation, for instance, in Buddhism, that are not overtly theistic.

"One distinctive practice is the Sufi dhikr, which can involve whirling in imitation of the heavenly spheres while remembering the name of God, she said.

Sufism is an Islamic mystic tradition. Mecca is the center of Islam, Zaleski said, and Muslims face it to pray for that reason. Muslims are expected, if they are physically and financially able, to make a pilgrimage to Mecca at least once. "When Muslims turn to face Mecca, they are, in a sense, virtual pilgrims, united in prayer," Zaleski said.

Some Christians, particularly Catholics, Orthodox and Eastern, make a cross sign when praying.

Zaleski said it's "a way of identifying one's whole self with Christ." And within Christianity, many people bow their heads and fold their hands while praying to express humility, gratitude and assent to God's will, she said.

"It is a joyful posture, not a groveling one; humans need to feel that they are in the presence of something truly higher," Zaleski said.

1 comment:

darvish said...

A sweet and lovely post :) Ask nothing for yourself in prayer, and they float lightly up to heaven. Self-centered prayers are too heavy to rise.

Ya Haqq!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

United in Prayer
By Dana Massing "What do we pray for?" - Erie Times News - Erie, PA, USA
Saturday, January 17, 2009

Christians are praying for unity this week, but that's not the number one thing people ask God for

Help is what most people pray for, said Carol Zaleski, co-author of "Prayer: A History."

"A request is often involved -- for divine protection, healing or special favors for oneself or for others," Zaleski said. She said that prayer is, essentially, communication with God, or with spiritual beings.

More than half of Americans do it daily, according to survey results released in 2008.

The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life's U.S. Religious Landscape Survey found that 58 percent of the national population prays once a day or more. Percentages ranged from 5 percent of atheists to 89 percent of Jehovah's Witnesses and included 26 percent of Jews, 45 percent of Buddhists, 62 percent of Hindus, 71 percent of Muslims and 78 percent of evangelical Protestants, results showed.

"All religions involve prayer; and prayer goes on outside the boundaries of religion as well," said Zaleski, professor of world religions at Smith College in Northampton, Mass. "Prayer is the primary means of relationship to the divine. Without prayer there is no religion."

Prayer can be spoken or silent. It can include music, dance or visual expression, said Zaleski.

"There are many differences and distinctive notes between and among religions," she said. "Prayer may be addressed to an intercessor -- such as a saint, angel or deified ancestor; or it may be addressed directly to God without intermediary. Prayer includes forms of meditation, for instance, in Buddhism, that are not overtly theistic.

"One distinctive practice is the Sufi dhikr, which can involve whirling in imitation of the heavenly spheres while remembering the name of God, she said.

Sufism is an Islamic mystic tradition. Mecca is the center of Islam, Zaleski said, and Muslims face it to pray for that reason. Muslims are expected, if they are physically and financially able, to make a pilgrimage to Mecca at least once. "When Muslims turn to face Mecca, they are, in a sense, virtual pilgrims, united in prayer," Zaleski said.

Some Christians, particularly Catholics, Orthodox and Eastern, make a cross sign when praying.

Zaleski said it's "a way of identifying one's whole self with Christ." And within Christianity, many people bow their heads and fold their hands while praying to express humility, gratitude and assent to God's will, she said.

"It is a joyful posture, not a groveling one; humans need to feel that they are in the presence of something truly higher," Zaleski said.

1 comment:

darvish said...

A sweet and lovely post :) Ask nothing for yourself in prayer, and they float lightly up to heaven. Self-centered prayers are too heavy to rise.

Ya Haqq!