Activity time: 30 minutes
Materials for Activity
- Paper and pens or pencils
- Resources for interfaith prayers, including Singing the Living Tradition and books of meditation
Description of Activity
One mission that some Unitarian Universalists take on is to help make our world a place that is more inclusive of religious differences. Hence, we often talk about the importance of interfaith work. Youth might not have the opportunity to engage in interfaith work as much as some adults, but there is one very simple way to help them further this work. It involves interfaith prayers.
Whether it be at a Parent, Teacher, Student Association meeting, a Thanksgiving meal for the homeless, or a vigil for a social justice cause, people of faith often participate in public prayer. Often, public prayer favors the beliefs in a Christian God. This can make participants who belong to other faiths feel excluded. As UUs, we can help by offering interfaith prayers that can bring together people from a wide range of theologies.
People generally address prayers to something or someone. To whom can your interfaith prayer be addressed? Brainstorm a list of addressees. The list might include words such as "spirit of life," "god of many names," "source of all life," "great mystery of life," "blessed spirit of all that is seen and unseen," and "loving spirit." Also pay attention to how the prayer will end. Will you say "amen," "we ask this in your name," or "blessed be"?
If your group is large enough, form two or three smaller groups and work on a short prayer. It could be a prayer for peace, justice, or wisdom or to help people work together toward a common goal. Groups can pick different purposes and different addressees. Use the hymnal and the books of meditation you brought as resources. Let groups work for ten minutes, then come together and share prayers. Ask if everyone feels included in the prayers and, if not, continue working on the prayers until they do.
Suggest that participants learn one of the prayers by heart so they can volunteer to lead a prayer should they find themselves in a situation where modeling interfaith is appropriate. By doing so, they will help spread our UU value of inclusiveness.
Including All Participants
Monitor groups to make sure all youth have the opportunity to participate, especially those who might be in a theological minority.