Introduction

Multifaith prayer is a growing international phenomenon. In fact, the current proliferation of multifaith prayer activity is unprecedented in human history. And as more and more regions of the world become environments of multiculture and multifaith, the occasions for multifaith prayer are increasing.

In multifaith prayer, the wider community comes together in a spirit that can range from celebration to mourning. Occasions for multifaith prayer include:

  1. Prayer services on important civic, national and international days such as Earth Day, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Armistice Day and the International Day for the Elimination of Racism.
  2. Prayer services related to particular social concerns such as peace, justice, global unity, AIDS, child poverty and ecology.
  3. Prayer services related to tragedies such as natural disasters, multiple-victim shootings and airplane crashes (or the anniversaries of such tragedies).
  4. Prayer services at interfaith conferences, meetings and gatherings.
  5. Prayer services in hospitals and in care and correctional institutions.
  6. Prayer services at civic occasions, gatherings or conferences
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This growth in multifaith prayer activity is also being stimulated by new situations and new relationships that traditional religious services are no longer able to address, for example, interfaith marriages or memorial services following disasters in which there are victims of more than one faith.

The proliferation of multifaith prayer activity also reflects a desire for an interfaith encounter at a deeper level. Religious experience at the level of prayer and meditation involves a journey into the profoundest depths of the individual and the community. More and more people of various faiths are wanting to encounter one another at levels that go beyond verbal dialogue and common action. In the words of Jim Wallis, an American writer and Christian social justice activist: “more and more people find themselves drinking at the wells of each other’s spiritual traditions, and engaging in a deep and common quest.”

 

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