My first volunteer commitment at church was a prayer chaplain at Unity of Phoenix with Rev. Lei Lanni Burt and Rev. Richard Rogers in 2002. The chaplains were invited to take part in World Day of Prayer, reading names of those who had submitted prayer requests for the our 24-hour prayer vigil.
I volunteered for the midnight shift, thinking that no one else would be there, which would help keep my stage fright to a minimum! So I showed up, sat on stage and began – holding the piece of paper, reading the name, then closing my eyes, envisioning white light surrounding the piece of paper as well as the person named on it. I immediately felt the power of intention, of being connected, of belonging to something greater than myself in a new expanded, healing way. It was only for an hour and took place nearly a decade ago, yet the experience is alive for me now as it was then. For the next three years, I participated in World Day of Prayer at Unity of Phoenix in the same way.
When I moved to Unity Village to go to seminary, ironically my first introduction to being of service here was the traditional World Day of Prayer ministerial class presentation for the 11 a.m. service. There was no question in my mind about whether or not I would participate. I was hooked. For my three years in seminary, I had the privilege of co-creating with and leading the students in creating a service not just for Unity Village, but for the entire world.
Each year we held the intention of expressing prayer in ways that empowered and lifted others up. Prayer is not just about being silent, or bowing the head, or even using specific words. Charles Fillmore said “prayer is communion with God,” so for me the intention has always been to allow anyone to experience that communion in a variety of ways, whether through song, the silence, connecting with the others sitting next to you, honoring Mother Earth, or acknowledging all life on this planet.
Prayer is one of the most powerful practices we have for creating beauty in this life. Prayer is a consciousness for co-creating a world that works for all. For me, it’s less about the specific practice and more about the experience you have. If it opens you to ever-increasing connection with life, with each other, with our Higher self, then it is a living prayer. Our pains and suffering in life become softened by this opening, this living prayer, and healing leads us home to the divinity within our human experiences.
Prayer is a celebration of the sacredness of life, and that sacredness, that recognition of all that is holy is made up of all our joys and sufferings. Prayer grounds us in a powerful vision of human possibility.
This year I have been asked to lead the closing service where we will connect with people throughout the world, thanks to the gift of technology! It is an honor and deep privilege to be asked to lead this service, to create with others from all over the world in order to awaken and inspire each person to a greater awareness of their own divinity.
This year’s theme is “The Universe Is Calling” and World Day of Prayer will be an entire day dedicated to answering that call. The expression of our answer looks different for each person. How we express is a result of our prayer practice, our practice of communion with God, which ultimately is our communion with each other. As Mother Teresa said, “If we have no peace it is because we have forgotten we belong to each other.” Prayer is the practice of coming home to awareness, acknowledgment and action of belonging with each other, with all life, with earth and the whole cosmos.
The opening and closing ceremonies for World Day of Prayer are being live-streamed. To participate via the internet, check out the World Day of Prayer WEBSITE for more information.