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Archive for Saturday, July 23, 2011

Faith Forum: What’s your favorite place for prayer?

July 23, 2011

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The Rev. Gary Teske, pastor, Trinity Lutheran Church, 1245 N.H.:

A great many people like to get away from other people, from the hustle and bustle of every day activities and find a quiet, isolated place to prayer. They might slip away to the privacy of a quiet room, sort of an “inner sanctum” for prayer and meditation. Or, they might go to a garden, a forest or into the mountains where they sense the grandeur of God in the beauty of creation. Jesus is reported in the Gospels to have regularly withdrawn from the crowds and even from his disciples in order to pray. There have been times in my life when I have gone to a place such as I just described to reflect, meditate and pray.

However, I would say that my favorite place to pray is actually, in worship. I like to gather with my community of faith on Sunday mornings or at other times, and pray prayers that have been prayed by my spiritual ancestors for a millennium or more. I like to pray, or say my “amen” to the prayers of my friends in Christ for the sake of the church, the world and all who are in need. I like to hear the prayers of others that lift up, not just my concerns, but the concerns of others, concerns that I am often blind to. And I like to endorse the prayers of others with an “amen” or a brief, “Lord, hear our prayer!”

I also like to pray prayers that are set to music which is the case with many of the hymns and songs we sing during worship. For example, it is a delight to sing prayers such as, “Take my life that I may be, consecrated Lord to thee,” or, “Be thou my vision,” or maybe “Lord dismiss us with your blessing.” I find it interesting that the prayer that is most well-known in Christian circles, the “Lord’s Prayer,” never once uses the singular pronoun except for God.

You will not find a “me” or a “my” anywhere in the prayer, only “our” and “us.” I am far from proficient at praying, and find that I need a community of faith to pray with me, and for me.

— Send e-mail to Gary Teske at gteske@tlclawrence.org.

Rabbi Zalman Tiechtel, Chabad Jewish Center, 1203 W. 19th St.:

I like to pray in a sacred space. I feel a connection and closeness when I stand in a house of worship, it feels like a “local call.”

But hey, if God is everywhere, why should prayer be more effective in one place than another? Although God is everywhere, his light shines stronger in some places than in others. We can compare this to the human body: You are everywhere in your body, yet you are far more conscious of your mind than of your toes. So too, in the universe that God created, there are places, times and states of being where we are able to be more aware of him — and it is from those places/times/states that our prayers can fly best.

Any person is able to create for himself a time of day and a special place from which she or he reaches out to God. And we all should — somewhere in our homes or gardens, a place of prayer and meditation, along with a time of day or week that we sit there and connect. But even more special is a place that was chosen not just by us, but by God as well. For me that is the synagogue, a place which God chose to be designated as a house of worship. So although I tend to pray anytime and anywhere, there is one place where I feel his presence most.

— Send e-mail to Zalman Tiechtel at rabbi@jewishku.com.

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