A Note on the Term “Multifaith Prayer Service”

Whenever one is dealing with multifaith and interfaith matters, language can be a sensitive issue. In this document, the author has chosen to use the term “multifaith prayer service” to describe a gathering of many faiths for purposes of spiritual co-operation.


But the word “prayer” means different things to different people. And this word can certainly mean different things to people of various faith groups. For example, for faith groups who believe in a deity, “prayer” can refer to the relationship to that deity, a relationship that is engaged in by way of petition, praise or thanksgiving. For faith groups who do not subscribe to a belief in a deity, “prayer” can refer to a practice which leads to interior spiritual growth, inner transformation and transformation of consciousness, a practice that involves a process of ego-transcendence or self-transcendence. These are only two of many ways in which “prayer” can be understood and practiced.

The author has chosen to use the word “prayer” because of his conviction that this word best expresses the concept of a multifaith spiritual gathering. In this document, then, the word “prayer” is an umbrella term that refers to and includes the broad range of spiritual practices found in the multifaith commonwealth of spirituality.

Some multifaith prayer service organizers do not use the words “prayer service,” opting instead for words such as “celebration,” “observance,” “ceremony,” “vigil,” “liturgy,” “gathering,” “worship service”, “spiritual service,” or “service.” Please note that the word “celebration” would not be appropriate to describe all multifaith services – for example, a multifaith memorial service for the victims of an airplane crash.

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