February 2011 Ministry Theme


by Marlene J. Geary

February’s theological theme is Prayer. How do Unitarian Universalists pray? How do Unitarian Universalists engage in spiritual prac­tice? Some questions to consider for this month:

As a person of a liberal religious faith, how do you practice your faith in private? Do you have any personal religious rituals?

In the book Simply Pray, Erik Walker Wikstrom describes four elements of prayer: nam­ing, knowing, listening and loving. Does this reso­nate with your own conceptions about prayer? Prayer is deeply rooted in our personal beliefs. It’s often so personal that we have no idea what our closest friends and family believe about prayer or how they engage in prayer. Prayer can be both individual and communal.

Let’s open up that discussion. What does prayer mean to us as Unitarian Universalists? As a part of a liberal religious community? What does prayer mean during a service? Does prayer re­quire a deity to be involved? What are humanist forms of prayer? Where is  the balance between the two? How shall we pray? from Judith Quarles (reprinted with permission) First, let us be open to the silence. Let us hear the sounds in this room, the noises outside. Let us be­gin to hear the soft beating of our hearts. And let us listen intently for messages from within. Next, let us feel gratitude for our lives and for our beautiful earth. As hard as life gets, as sad or lonely as we sometimes feel, let us always be warmed by the gifts of this life. Next, let us hold in our hearts all those, known or unknown who are in need. May we find in our­selves the energy and knowledge to bring care to the world. Finally, let us be aware of the blessing that it is not ours alone to do the work of the world. Love and community work wonders that we by our­selves could never manage. In this time of silence let us form our own prayers out of the concerns of our hearts.

—Amen, Hallelujah and Blessed Be