As you leave this place
may the Living Lord go with you.
May he go behind you, to encourage you,
beside you, to befriend you,
above you, to watch over you,
beneath you, to lift you from your sorrows,
within you, to give you the gifts of faith, hope, and love,
and always before you, to show you the way.
and all shall
and all manner
shall be well.
- Dame Julian of Norwich -
- 14th Century Mystic -
What is prayer?
To me praying is the opportunity to connect. To connect with all that is larger than me. May it be called Allah, God, Goddess, Yahweh, Brahma, Nature, Source, Spirit or any other name.
To connect with myself and be present. To become still within me. To let words of comfort or entreaty or gratitude bring me both joy and solace. And maybe a moment of rest from the busy world around me.
Here is what others have said, answering the question: What is prayer?
Rachel Naomi Remen, Author and Founder and Director of the Institute for the Study of Health and Illness gave the following talk in the summer of 1993:
Prayer without Ceasing
Some personal thoughts on the nature of prayer
...my grandfather came... I asked him a question, "What if God blinks?" It was the only time that I've ever seen him angry.
What he said was, "Nischuma-la" (and by the way, for many years I thought "Nischuma-la" meant "Little Naomi" - it actually means "Little Beloved Soul"). He said, "Nischuma-la, if you wake up at night, would you know if you were alone in the house? Would you know if Mom and Dad had gone out to the movies if you wake up in the dark at night?" And I said, "Sure!"
Then he said, "How would you know that you weren't alone in the house? Would you see them and look at them?" I said, "No." He said, "Would you hear them? Is that how you'd know?" I said, "No." He said, "Would they talk to you? Is that how you would know?" I said, "No," and I remember thinking, "How odd. He's asking stupid questions like a grown-up," because my grandfather never did that.
I said with irritation, "No - I would just know. I would just know that I wasn't alone in the house."
My grandfather smiled at me with great love and said, "Good. That's how God knows you're there. He doesn't need to look at you. And that's how you know that God is there. You just know."
In remembering this, I realized for the first time that perhaps this was what prayer was - that knowing. That's how you pray, by that knowing. You know that God is there and you're not alone in the house.
It doesn't have to be
The blue iris, it could be
Weeds in a vacant lot, or a few
Small stones; just
Pay attention, then patch
A few words together and don't try
To make elaborate, this isn't
A contest but the doorway
Into thanks, and a silence in which
Another voice may speak.
- Praying from Thirst -
- Poems by Mary Oliver -
Prayer is not asking.
Prayer is putting oneself
in the hands of God,
at his disposition,
and listening to his voice
in the depths of our hearts.
- Mother Teresa -
Prayers for the Dying Have Many Voices
I am offering prayers for the dying from a variety of religions and faiths on the following web pages. We have such a rich cultural heritage of comforting prayers for the dying. I have organized the various religions and faiths in alphabetical order.
African Prayers for the Dying:
We Africans carry in our heritage the cradle of humanity. We carry the deep sorrows of slavery. We carry the suffering of AIDS leaving whole villages of only children. We are living on the dark continent with yet so much light. In our African prayers. In our dances. In our stories. In our living. In our dying.
Click here for African Prayers
Buddhist/Taoist Prayers for the Dying:
We believe in rebirth and reincarnation. We know ourselves part of the wheel. The wheel of life. Turning and turning. Until we are complete and enter into Nirvana. Many of us do not get off the wheel until everyone has done so. As our service to humanity. Click here for Buddhist Prayers
Christian Prayers for the Dying:
As Christians we believe in the redeeming power of love. Christian Prayers are one way to access that love. It is available to us at any time in our lives. No matter how dark our path has been. No matter how far we have strayed. Click here for Christian Prayers
Hindu Prayers for the Dying:
As Hindus we have this amazing wealth of deities to ask for support. We have a heritage of spiritual stories that date back thousands of years. We have a strong and cultivated belief in reincarnation. And we have integrated death and dying into our daily existence. Click here for Hindu Prayers
Islamic/Sufi Prayers for the Dying:
As Muslims we know ourselves guided by Allah who loves to be revealed in the desert. To make it easier for us to know Allah. So that we are not distracted by the rest of this splendid creation. Click here for Islamic Prayers
Jewish Prayers for the Dying:
As Jews we have been blessed with a direct personal connection to God for thousands of years. We have been able to hear Yahweh and speak to him in person. When our faith was strong enough. When our need was strong enough. Click here for Jewish Prayers
Native American Prayers for the Dying:
We Native Americans, or First Nations People, have a long tradition of knowing ourselves fully connected to the elements around us. We come from you. We are part of you. We return to you. Click here for Native American Prayers
Pagan and Wiccan Prayers for the Dying:
Just as the seasons change, so do our bodies change. Dying for us is part of these seasonal changes. We know that rebirth follows death. Just look at spring bringing back its beauty after the emptiness of winter. Year after year. Without fail. Click here for Pagan and Wiccan Prayers
Spiritual Prayers for the Dying:
Those of us who have found our very own path to Spirit, Source, God, All That Is often have a very private way of connecting to that which is larger than us. The term "spiritual" here is a catch all term for a wide range of highly individualized and often personal ways of connecting to the Divine. Click here for Spiritual Prayers
Tibetan Prayers for the Dying:
As Tibetan Buddhists our basic spiritual goal is to strive for enlightenment. That way we can better help others attain the same state of freedom we have achieved. Freedom from heavy emotions. Freedom from being born again and again to the yoke of karma, the consequences of our actions. Click here for Tibetan Prayers
I always believe that it is much better
to have a variety of religions,
a variety of philosophies,
rather than one single religion or philosophy.
This is necessary because of the different
mental dispositions of each human being.
Each religion has certain
unique ideas or techniques,
and learning about them
can only enrich one's own faith.
- His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, 1981 -
Video Describing the Charter of Compassion
If you are looking for more prayers from all over the world, please visit World Prayers: Gathering the great prayers from all spiritual traditions around the world into a unified nonprofit archive; for the purpose of inspiration, study and cross cultural appreciation. To visit their site, click on the image to the left of this text.
Video of Celine Dion and Josh Groban singing "The Prayer"
Here are a few verses of the lyrics to "The Prayer" (for the complete lyrics click here). They were written by David Foster & Carol Bayer Sega.
I pray You’ll be our eyes
And watch us where we go
And help us to be wise
In times when we don’t know
Let this be our prayer
When we lose our way
Lead us to a place
Guide us with Your grace
To a place where we’ll be safe
I pray we’ll find Your light
And hold it in our hearts
When stars go out each night
Remind us where You are
Let this be our prayer
When shadows fill our day
Oh Lord, lead us to a place,
Guide us with Your grace
Give us faith so we’ll be safe