Various Faiths Find Healing Power in Prayer

November 18, 2000

Source: Los Angeles Times

On November 18, 2000, the Los Angeles Times reported that "Pastor Craig Brown of United Methodist of Thousand Oaks said prayer is a two-way communication between an individual and God that can be expressed in different forms: written prayer, extemporaneous praying that's created as a person speaks, silent prayer, hymn singing, or intercessory prayers done on behalf of others...According to the Rev. George Reynolds, associate pastor at Our Lady of the Assumption in Ventura, the Roman Catholic Church teaches there is a need for prayer as a way to converse with God. There are several forms of devotional prayers said in groups, such as during Mass. Others are designed for specific purposes--including to bless meals and for night and morning prayers. During Mass there is a cycle of set prayers that change with the seasons. Before Vatican II, in the fall of 1962, these prayers were all spoken in Latin by the priest during Mass. These days, Mass is spoken in 86 languages in the diocese that reaches from Los Angeles up to Santa Maria...The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints also places a strong emphasis on prayer...Mormons are encouraged to pray regularly with their families, their spouses and alone, using heartfelt words rather than repeating standardized language. They are taught to pray in four parts. First, they begin the prayer by calling upon God using words such as 'Our heavenly Father' or 'Father in heaven.' Second, they thank him for the blessings he provides. Third, those praying may ask God for blessings, such as inspiration about a decision, guidance at work, help in school or for answers to spiritual questions. Finally, Latter-day Saints are instructed to conclude their prayers by saying 'in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.'...But for Buddhists, it's quite a different story...The world's 250 million followers of Buddha believe that correct thinking and self-denial will enable the soul to reach a state of release into ultimate enlightenment and peace, known as nirvana. Because so many Westerners associate religion with praying, the Buddhist Church of America, headquartered in San Francisco, came up with something called the Metta Sutra, words that sound prayer-like but that do not call upon a deity, and that can be used for all occasions, Nakagawa said. The recitation begins, 'May all beings be happy.'...Prayer is an important aspect of the Church of Religious Science, whose practitioners believe learning the intricacies of prayer requires many lessons, explained the Rev. Marilyn Miller. To learn how to call upon the universe based on a system of affirmative prayer, believers may take classes for 2 1/2 hours a week for about three years to receive certification as a Religious Science practitioner. Any member, not just those interested in becoming church leaders, may participate...In Religious Science, the technique of prayer is simple; the extended lessons are to learn how to be receptive to answers, Miller said. Prayers go unanswered all the time, she said, because those asking do not know how to listen to the answers. For Jews, the primary purpose of prayer is for communication between a person and God, explained Rabbi Richard Spiegel of Temple Etz Chaim of Thousand Oaks...Jews have different prayers to say every morning, afternoon and evening. They are said in Hebrew and have Hebrew names. Some Jewish prayers are set to music and are sung by a cantor during temple services..."