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A Public Prayer

A Public Prayer September 14, 2021

There is perhaps no more challenging task for a religious leader than to pray in public. How do you pray in a way that honors and respects your sacred traditions, and that is also inclusive of others who follow different traditions? It’s easy to say “this is what I do” and pray your usual prayers – and there’s a place for that. But especially for those of us who wear multiple religious hats, oftentimes a softer approach is needed.

My theology is polytheist and my practice is Pagan, but I am a Unitarian Universalist as much as I am anything else. UUs are united not by common beliefs but by shared values, and when I lead or co-lead Sunday Services, my words need to invoke those values. And they need to be accessible to everyone regardless of their religious background.

With these goals in mind, I offered this as the morning prayer in this Sunday’s service at Denton UU.

It is good to pray.
Let us pray.

This morning we pray prayers of thanksgiving.
We give thanks for life and health, for daily sustenance, and for our families, our communities, and our church.
We know that much of what we enjoy did not come from our own labors, but from the beneficence of others, and so we express our gratitude.

It is good to pray.
Let us pray.

This morning we pray prayers of devotion.
We pray to our Gods, to our ancestors, to Nature and the spirits of Nature, and to the values and virtues that inspire our higher selves.
We know that all relationships require frequent reaffirmation, including our sacred relationships. And so we express our love of the Divine, however we understand it.

It is good to pray.
Let us pray.

This morning we pray prayers of petition.
We ask for peace, in a world that is often violent. We ask for health, in a world struggling with pandemic. We ask for justice, in a world that is unjust, unfair, and oppressive.

We know that our petitions may be granted, or they may not be granted. But it is good to express the desires of our hearts, and so we pray.

It is good to pray.
Let us pray.

I ask you now to speak your words of gratitude. Speak your words of devotion. And give voice to the deepest yearnings of your heart.

It is good to pray.
Let us pray.

This prayer was written and presented by John Beckett for the Denton Unitarian Universalist Fellowship on September 12, 2021. You are welcome to use or adapt it in your own services, with attribution. All other rights reserved.

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