An intimate telling of how they pray.
Up close and personal.
Personally, that is.
Jewish and Christian clergy, among others, teach others how to pray, Monday, April 29, 2013, at 11:45 am until 1:30 pm at the distinguished Focus:HOPE, founded by the late Father William Cunningham and Eleanor Josaitis. The event with tours of the sprawling service campus are available at 1300 Oakman Boulevard, Detroit.
In a session called, "Powerful Praying, Prophets and Politics: Leaders Step Up to the Plate," each clergy will take about five minutes to tell how their prayer informs and leads to community involvement, even prophetic action.
Devotional books for daily praying, and the Psalms of the Bible are most popular.
A Lutheran minister told me at my Foam Factory office in Clinton Township, MI., that when one neglects thee devotionals, his or her life declines.
How true in my own experience of the Liturgy of the Hours, comprised largely of Psalms to be recited multiple times a day.
When I neglect my prayers, life is also neglected.
Rabbi Dorit Edut of Hungtington Woods, MI., with ties to the Downtown Detroit Isaac Agree Synagogue, notes:
"Every morning and evening I take time for personal prayer, usually after a short session of the daily prayers which are part of the Jewish tradition. In the morning, I center myself and connect to my inner being, thanking the Divine God for life and for restoring my soul. Then, I pray for health, prosperity, strength, and love for the members of my immediate and extended families. I pray that God sends physical and emotional and spiritual healing to all those I know are in need of this. I also pray for the leaders of our world to be guided to making good decisions and to work together. At night, I take time to thank God for the many individual blessings I experienced this day and ask for God's protection and peace for my family and myself during this night."
Oak Park resident, Rabbi Morehai Waldman spends time reciting Psalm 23, among others, he admits.
"That Psalm, among others, helped me through my bout with cancer," he confides.
What impressed me about the late Father William Cunnigham and Eleanor Josaitis, founders of Focus:HOPE in 1968, after the riots, was how they both pressed pennies in the palms of the hands of people they met, saying, "Remember in whom we trust."
Josaitis was a devotee of the twelve step spirituality. I know that she rose early each day to connect with the Creator.
The Holy Spirit was huge for Josaitis who moved with her husband, Don, and five children, from Taylor to Detroit, MI., after Cunningham hatched the need for a civil and human rights organization after the Detroit riot . It would be based on the prophet Isaiah, and Matthew's Gospel, Ch. 25.
Like the Trappist Thomas Merton of Gethsemane, Kentucky, the activist writer, urged people to find a garden to spend time with prayer. Cunningham enjoyed a long run at Detroit's Belle Isle Park, a jewel of an isle near downtown Detroit. After that, the buoyant and charismatic pastor would drive over to the Bonaventure Center on Mt. Elliott where Father Solanus Casey was a porter who answered the front door.
"Take a half hour a day," Merton advised those who wrote him, "and just walk up and down the flowerbeds with the intention of offering this walk up as a meditation and prayer."
JoAnn Loria Briffa of Clinton Township, Michigan, notes that prayer evolves over time for her.
"I find less need for books, words and images at this time as prayer evolves over the years if we continue to be faithful to the times given to prayer. Just sitting quietly by myself and being in touch with the God within. God is ever close and when silent and attentive I can feel His presence. I talk to God as I would an intimate friend. Practice often and talk to God as if He is in front of you."
A young attorney from Troy, MI., Sadeer Farjo, says:
"I like to sit before the Blessed Sacrament to pray."
I am increasingly convinced that some sense of a prayer beyond words is the deepest meaning of it, and why Saint Paul tells us that we can pray 'always' in I Thes., Ch. 5:18, and Eph.. 5:20.
Centering on "You are my beloved," is a favorite litany or mantra phrase that I repeat often when distractions come my way during two 20-minute segments daily. All of the stuff of the 'ego' begins to fall a way, and, a glimmer of God and union with God may occur momentarily at the very end of the session.
Devotional books like the very popular Lenten, Easter, and Stewardship themes for each day, among others, crafted by the late Kenneth Untener, a bishop of Saginaw, MI., are favorites to augment my connection with the Maker.
"I thirst," among the 7 last words of Jesus on the cross, recorded in the Gospel, are another preferred phrase to center on daily for myself.
Aim of prayer seems to make us all one with God and all of the world.
In fact, Edut, concludes:
"I always open and close with the words of the Jewish affirmation: "Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One."
To round off this entry, I would savor noting how Imams, and religious leaders from the Buddhist, among other faith traditions, personally pray.