Inspirational Prayers from Five Traditions

Inspirational Prayers from Five Traditions May 21, 2022

Prayer represents one of the oldest ways people seek hope, comfort, and inspiration. My aim with this small curation is to show how five traditions have put aspirational ideas into words. Even if you don’t belong to any of the traditions, the following prayers have the potential to uplift your spirit and inspire you to act kindly during these trying times.

I want to extend special thanks to Matt Sanders and Ted Brownstein for compiling two wonderful books on interfaith prayer.

The power of prayer comes from a combination of repetition and faith. Over time, the ideas become instilled in the soul.

Lakota Prayer

In the tradition of many first nations, this Lakota prayer calls out to the earth, sky, and the four directions. The request for strength, support, wisdom, guidance, readiness, and purification. Who among us has not felt weak, alone, lost, and impure? It is something that we can all relate to.

Oh our Father, the Sky, hear us and make us strong.
Oh our Mother, the Earth, hear us and give us support.
Oh Spirit of the East, send us your wisdom.
Oh Spirit of the South, may we tread your path of life.
Oh Spirit of the West, may we always be ready for the long journey.
Oh Spirit of the North, purify us with your cleansing winds.

Prayer of St. Francis

Francis of Assisi was known for his humility and service. He is one of the most revered religious figures in Christianity. In this prayer, St. Francis turns the tables and asks for strength to be the giver rather than the receiver. The world would probably be better if more people sought to console, understand, and love.

O Divine Master,
Grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled… as to console,
To be understood… as to understand,
To be loved… as to love,
For it is in giving… that we receive,
It is in pardoning… that we are pardoned,
It is in dying… that we are born to eternal life.

Prayer of Non-Attachment from the Bhagavad Gita

This prayer explains the essential nature of Karma Yoga and the attitude of non-attachment. People often misunderstand non-attachment as apathy (not caring). That’s not what it is. The pillar in the philosophy of non-attachment is working for the sake of work without concern for reward. This prayer encapsulates that wisdom.

Set thy heart upon thy work, but never on its reward. Work not for a reward; but never cease to do thy work. Do thy work in the peace of Yoga and, free from selfish desires, be not moved in success or in failure. Yoga is evenness of mind—a peace that is ever the same.

Baha’i Prayer

In addition to believing that humans have free will and that religion is perfectly compatible with reason, the Bahai religion places tremendous emphasis on service (as do most religions). This prayer is a clarion call to action. It’s an encouragement to take faith from the abstract and into everyday life.

Strive that your actions day-by-day may be beautiful prayers. Turn towards God and seek always to do that which is right and noble: enrich the poor, raise the fallen, comfort the sorrowful, bring healing to the sick, reassure the fearful, rescue the oppressed, bring hope to the hopeless, shelter the destitute! Strive!

Unity Prayer for Protection

The Unity tradition is known for presenting most of its prayers in the style of affirmations (first person present tense statements). This prayer affirms what they already believe to be true. Instead of asking God to surround them with light, they state that the light of God already surrounds them.

The light of God surrounds me;
The love of God enfolds me;
The power of God protects me;
The presence of God watches over me.
Where I am God is!
And all is well!

If you have a favorite prayer from your tradition, please share it in the comment section.

Gudjon Bergmann
Author and Columnist

Picture: CCO License

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