On Being has made an identity shift, expanding its scope to exploring questions about meaning, religion, ethics, and ideas. But our host Krista Tippett still asks her guests a key question during the interview about their religious or spiritual traditions in their formative years. And for a producer, it’s like watching her turn the key in the ignition.IMG_2466

The question always propels the guest somewhere unexpected even if, and maybe especially if, it’s a “no.” It really disarms them; you can almost hear their shoulders release and sit back a bit through the mic. Maybe they’re surprised that a radio host wants to know them as a human being and not just as a pundit or a preacher.

On Thursday, Minnesota Public Radio asked its listeners a similar question: “Do you pray?” And I’m dying to know the people behind these wise and sometimes humorous comments:

“Every day, throughout the day.”
Posted by Philip | April 21, 2011 10:16 AM

“I NEVER pray to ask God. I ONLY pary (sic) to thank God for what I have. It doesn’t make sense to pary (sic) to ask as if God will hold back on something you need and say ‘oh, you prayed so here’. Just doesn’t make sense. I finish that by saying I’m not sure if there is some one listening to my prayer but if I’m wrong, I rather be worng by praying to no one than not praying while God was waiting for a prayer.”
Posted by Mike | April 21, 2011 10:07 AM

“As an atheist, none. But, I certainly appreciate the potential of thoughtful introspection that often arises from prayer. Centering one’s self and understanding your needs (wants?) is important to all of us and if prayer may do that for some.”
Posted by Brian Ropers-Huilman | April 21, 2011 9:55 AM

“Given the state of the world, and humanity’s glaring incompetence to deal with its own problems so far, what else is there to do?”
Posted by Steve the Cynic | April 21, 2011 8:09 AM

“Good God no.”
Posted by J | April 21, 2011 8:00 AM

“As long as I can remember, even when my family went to mass weekly, I have always, always had a hard time with prayer. I kind of wonder if it’s not what help lead me to lack faith in Christianity as an adult. However, there is one exception: I’ll still say a Hail Mary or two in especially stressful situations. I’ve always done that, and I find it’s almost a reflex.”
Posted by vjacobsen | April 21, 2011 7:44 AM

About the image: Krista interviews Avivah Zornberg during this year’s production trip to Israel and the West Bank. (photo: Trent Gilliss)


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8Reflections

Reflections

I'm very introspective and analytical, but when I direct my thoughts toward God and engage in a conversation with God through prayer, I always end up filled with gratitude and peace and in awe that the presence of God is so real even in intangible ways.

As a professional religious person I am supposed to pray and do lead people in prayer every day as a chapain. Along the way in my forty plus years as a religious leader I've gone thru the full spectrum of questions, doubts, and participation in the prayer experience. Personally I participate in prayer intentionally at least a couple of times a day, following the ancient routines of Jewish/Christian prayer and the "Keeping of the Hours." In my work as a Chaplain I lead the community where I work in daily 11:00 am prayer. We read the Daily Lectionary readings, participate in silent and spoken prayer along the order of praise, confession, and thanksgiving/intercession. I have come to believe that prayer is a significant resource to calm anxiety, reduce depression, connect w/ persons and circumstances world wide that threaten our well being, and that prayer can lead to reduced blood pressure levels. I also am aa follower of the mindfulness-centered approach within the Buddhist tradition. I have a mindfulness bell "app" on my android that calls me back to center. The Great Spirit, however defined, awaits our connection and offers hope, grace and calm.

I'd prefer to think of it as a listening session followed by a big thank you. Sometimes I ask for strength and wisdom too.

Absolutely--IMO, prayer is an ongoing conversation with a Divine Universe and I engage in prayer on an ongoing basis, attempting to make each action a mindful reflection of prayer coming from my soul. Of course, that sounds a heck of a lot better hypothetically than it works in practice.

i do but inconsistently, not only in practice but in wonder. does it work? is it supposed to "work"? am i the object or subject of real change, in my approach, understanding or acceptance of circumstances? i find prayer perplexing especially the language of my modern main stream christian upbringing which i have set adrift as unworkable. and something formulaic that feels like the wrong size clothes. between telling god jokes, laughing, bursts of anger, disappointment and disbelief sometimes it just makes sense to get quiet. finally i find my interaction with beauty or seeing the world, ugly, small, hard, or wide, soft and welcoming as dichotomies for silent praise and wonder of whatever god is.

Yes, I do pray. Prayer is a "walking with" G-d. Walking has many forms and tempos. It can be quiet, and contemplative. It can be joyous and thankful. It can be sad, and mournful. It can be angry. It can be full of wonder. It can be a lifting of many people hurts and concerns. Prayer is a way to live in/with a Presence. A way to touch meaning and hope. It can be spontaneous, individual, liturgical. It can be made of words, of silence, of song. It can be still and it can dance. Prayer is like breathing. It gives life. I think many people who think they do not pray, may pray more than they recognize. And some of us who say we do, may pray less than we think.

In moments of crisis, I automatically do pray - that God - of hope, love and strength will be present within me - that I will stay, 'awake' to what needs to be done. During the day - if I am 'awake' the fullness of gratitude for my gifts; my life, is expressed in my prayers of thankfullness. Then there is the quiet time not for my thoughts but to listen to what He has to say to me - maybe for me to remember a person in need of my prayers - there is nothing that cannot be put to God through prayer. It is my relationship with Him through prayer, action, thoughts, and listening that creates a love-centered life for me with my Creator. I was given this 'prayer' while working on banners for the Liturgical Year - it was for Easter: 'Out of the Earth we came to be forever with thee, Paraclete'.

Prayer is being attentive to the power that exists outside of you. jmc

apples