Sharing how we express and practice our respective faiths can yield great riches. Worshipping together encourages greater appreciation of others and ourselves. The power of coming together in prayer for a common cause is inestimable. As clergyman E. M. Bounds exhorted: “Prayer breaks all bars, dissolves all chains, opens all prisons, and widens all straits….”
Planning a Multifaith Prayer Service
1. First, identify what level you are planning your service for — your town, region, state, etc., and what religions are active in that community. Look for the presence of African indigenous religions, Native American, Baha’i, Buddhist, Christian, Confucianism, Hindu, Muslim, Jain, Jewish, New Thought, Shinto, Sikh, Unitarian Universalist, Wicca, Zoroastrian, and other practitioners. Also look for those active in spiritual centers who would describe themselves as Spiritually Independent (the "nones" not affiliated with any particular religion). Seek representation from each group to participate in the planning of the service. Your best resources may be the interfaith council and other interfaith organizations in your area.
2. Once you have identified who will participate in the planning, establish some ground rules for your planning meetings and for the service. Make sure your ground rules include shared agreement around how to respectfully address conflict if it occurs, and shared agreement not to proselytize during the service.
3. Decide if you will have a specific theme for your service's prayers, such as peace or unity. You may want to pray for the nation's future, a safe and fair election, local efforts, or national issues. Consider the democratic values and virtues of our nation that mean the most to you, such as justice for all, commitment to the common good, or equality. See the Values, Virtues, and Spiritual Practices chart for some meaningful markers of democracy identified by Spirituality & Practice. Also, see The Language of Democracy for more than 300 quotes about what American democracy has meant to others.
4. Decide on a format — whether the service will borrow from all of the participating traditions or distribute distinct sections of the service among them. Identify what might be contributed from the different traditions that will be participating. Sharing and exchanging prayers or other offerings from respective faith traditions has value, but having parts of the service specific to different traditions may call more attention to differences than to commonalities. Invite the representatives of the participating traditions to consider how to make their contributions inclusive. For example, a Christian representative might agree to refrain from ending their prayer with “in Jesus’ name.” Prayerfully consider the approach your group would like to take and obtain consensus for that approach. Pay special attention to ensuring the inclusivity of both the opening and closing.
5. Determine how to stage the event. During the COVID-19 pandemic, for example, you may need to have a virtual service. An online service may also work better for groups that are spread out geographically. If you plan an online service, do a technology run-through with all the participants in advance.
6. Consider the history of the location where the service originates. You can use sites, like https://native-land.ca/, to learn about the people who are indigenous to the land where you are; you may want to open your service with an acknowledgment of that lineage. If there is a history (or current situation) of some form of oppression or injustice in the area, acknowledge it.
7. Plan for how to involve the attendees, considering how to best elicit participation, such as through responsive readings, litanies, call-and-response singing, etc.
8. Actively seek participation of both youth, elders, and in between, as well as gender balance.
9. Design a program to be handed out or available online to list the leaders who are participating and the faith group they represent.
10. Develop a plan for publicizing the event among the different faith groups and to the general public.
11. Make sure you address with your planners the need for sensitivity to all participants, keeping in mind that some items, like food, drink, or tobacco are forbidden in some sacred spaces. Be aware of activities that some might frown upon, such as dancing or displays of affection. Some terms may be problematic, such as God versus Truth.
12. Make a place and time to share refreshments or a meal together after the service!
- Prelude of sacred music
- Welcome/Opening statement
- Candle lighting
- Greetings among participants
- Call to worship
- Readings from sacred texts
- Sermon or storytelling
- Prayers, litanies, blessings, vows
Greeting for Prayer with Those of Other Religions
I bow to the one who signs the cross.
I bow to the one who sits with the Buddha.
I bow to the one who wails at the wall.
I bow to the OM flowing in the Ganges.
I bow to the one who faces Mecca,
whose forehead touches holy ground.
I bow to the dervishes whirling in mystical wind.
I bow to the north,
to the south,
to the east,
to the west.
I bow to the God within each heart.
I bow to epiphany,
to God’s face revealed.
I bow. I bow. I bow.
— Mary Lou Kownacki in Prayers for a New Millennium
Prayer to the God of Many Names
GOD OF MANY NAMES: Jehovah, Yahweh, Allah, The One, the Tao, Spirit of Life, God our Father and God our Mother, come to us all and be a vital presence in the work of all the community of faith. Be present in the work of all the community of faith. Be present in them as they work to strengthen in their members the sense of your presence in their lives. Be with us as each of our communities of faith, in its own way, tries to discern the direction of your will that we may aspire to some Ultimate Creative Good, here and in the world, in which you and we move, and have our being.
Be present in our churches, temples, synagogues, and mosques as together we work to strengthen the eternal values of all of us – the values of life and kindness and justice. Move in us as we care for and about this city, that it may more perfectly be a place for all to live and work in safety and neighborliness.
God of many names, work through us as justice, that we may feed the hungry and clothe the naked, for even here is the presence of injustice and the need for redress.
Come to our entire community of many faiths as a voice of conscience and caring, a voice urging us to prevent the kind of evil that has destroyed lives and shattered families elsewhere.
God of many names, come to us as value and respect for our different faith, for the diversity of faith that is natural, and for the numerous ways by which we invoke your presence in our congregations and in our personal lives.
Be present in our communities of faith as a vision of oneness of all the human family – that all of us are in your image – that all of us are moved by the force of your presence within us – that all of us need the same things in order to live full lives that honor you.
Help each of our faith communities to fulfill its mission; to do its work more perfectly; to make the world and our city a better place for its presence.
God of many names, come to us, be with us, move us in the ways of lovingkindness, peace, and justice. Amen.
— Norm Naylor at a community prayer breakfast in For Praying Out Loud: Interfaith Prayers for Public Occasions by L. Annie Foerster
Prayer for Candle Lighting
We are the generation that stands between the fires:
behind us the flame and smoke
that rose from Auschwitz and from Hiroshima;
before us the nightmare of a Flood of Fire,
the flame and smoke that consume all Earth.
It is our task to make from fire not an all-consuming blaze
but the light in which we see each other fully.
All of us different, all of us bearing One Spark.
We light these fires to see more clearly
that the Earth and all who live as part of it
are not for burning.
We light these fires to see more clearly
the rainbow in our many-colored faces.
Blessed is the One within the many.
Blessed are the Many who make one.
— Rabbi Arthur Waskow in Life Prayers from Around the World edited by Elias Amidon and Elizabeth Roberts
Litany of Faith and Hope
LEADER: We are a garden:
ALL: A community of many different varieties growing
we need water, sun, and soil.
We have one source.
We live alongside one another, respecting one another,
maintaining our identities,
like an iris and a carnation.
LEADER: We come together:
ALL: To discover we have a common language:
LEADER: We seek:
ALL: To know one another.
LEADER: We need:
ALL: To build on these experiences of community,
to be full of care for people of all faiths.
We believe in our children being friends with other children
who may not look like them, who may hold different
beliefs, who have different backgrounds.
We believe the barriers are in our minds; justice, peace, and
understanding will ultimately prevail.
We believe we share a common origin as human beings; we
are children of the same creator.
We believe in the dignity and worth of all human beings.
We know the world is big enough for all of us.
— members of the Moslem and Unitarian Universalist Communities of Greater Dayton, Ohio in
For Praying Out Loud: Interfaith Prayers for Public Occasions by L. Annie Foerster
Prayer that We May Listen to Each Other
The ringing of a bell calls us to worship.
The pounding of a drum calls us to war.
The popping of a cork calls us to celebration.
What is the sound that calls us to hear one another?
Listen … Listen carefully …
It is here, in the silence … Listen deeply …
The beating of our own hearts calls us to ourselves;
calls us to be our true selves;
calls us to be our best selves;
calls us to be what we might become.
Listen … There is another sound …
The breath of our neighbor calls us outside ourselves;
calls us to be companions;
calls us to allies;
calls us to partners.
Listen … we must heed the call of our own hearts,
where love and truth, caring and justice, are born.
Listen … we must heed the call of others,
to gather together for some great purpose,
where passion and fidelity, compassion and equity, are
The hammering silence calls us together
that we may be well,
and do good,
in this world together.
— L. Annie Foerster in For Praying Out Loud: Interfaith Prayers for Public Occasions by L. Annie Foerster
Prayer to Open Hearts
Creator, open our hearts
to peace and healing between all people.
Creator, open our hearts
to provide for and protect all children of the earth.
Creator, open our hearts
to respect for the earth, and all the gifts of the earth.
Creator, open our hearts
to end exclusion, violence, and fear among all.
Thank-you for the gifts of this day and every day.
— A Native American prayer in 1000 World Prayers by Marcus Braybrooke
Prayer to Build One World
Lead us from death to life,
from falsehood to truth.
Lead us from despair to hope,
from fear to trust.
Let peace fill our hearts,
our world, our universe.
Let us dream together,
to build one world
of peace and justice for all.
— Anonymous in Prayers for Healing edited by Maggie Oman
Prayer for Peace
Let us know peace.
For as long as the moon shall rise,
For as long as the rivers shall flow,
For as long as the sun shall shine,
For as long as the grass shall grow,
Let us know peace.
— Cheyenne prayer in Prayer: Language of the Soul by Philip Dunn
Prayer for Our Actions
Peace is for the hungry to be fed; feeding the hungry is prayer in action.
Peace is for the sick to experience care; caring for the other is prayer in action.
For the oppressed, peace is to be released; working for the freedom of the other is prayer in action.
Allowing the voiceless to be heard is prayer in action.
Bringing the marginalized to the centre is prayer in action.
May our action together be our prayers.
— Jehangir Sarosh in “Moving Forward through Prayer and Worship Together” in Interfaith Worship and Prayer: We Must Pray Together, edited by Christopher Lewis and Dan Cohn-Sherbok
Prayer to Dispel Misery in the World
As no one desires the slightest suffering
nor ever has enough of happiness,
there is no difference between myself and others,
so let me make others joyfully happy.
May those feeble with cold find warmth,
and may those oppressed with heat be cooled
by the boundless waters that pour forth
from the great clouds of the Bodhisattvas.
May the rains of love, blazing stones and weapons
from now on become a rain of flowers,
and may all battling with weapons
from now on be a playful exchange of flowers.
May the naked find clothing,
the hungry find food;
may the thirsty find water
and delicious drinks.
May the frightened cease to be afraid
and those bound be freed;
may the powerless find power,
and may people think of benefiting one another.
For as long as space endures
and for as long as living beings remain,
until them may I too abide
to dispel the misery of the world.
— Shantideva in Life Prayers from Around the World edited by Elias Amidon and Elizabeth Roberts
Prayer for Our Brokenness
Look at our brokenness.
We know that in all creation
Only the human family
Has strayed from the Sacred Way.
We know that we are the ones
Who are divided
And we are the ones
Who must come back together
To walk in the Sacred Way.
Teach us love, compassion, and honor
That we may heal the earth
And heal each other.
— Ojibway prayer in Prayers for Healing edited by Maggie Oman
Prayer for Love
May love make a bridge from heart to heart, and hand to hand.
May love find a way when laws are blind, and freedom banned.
May love lift the hopes that force and fear have beaten down.
May love break the chains and give us strength to stand our ground.
May love make a bridge that winds may shake, yet not destroy.
May love carry faith through life and death to endless joy.
— adapted from Singing the Living Tradition by the Unitarian Universalist Association as quoted in 365 Blessings to Heal Myself and the World by Pierre Pradervand
Prayer for Unity
In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful,
look with compassion on the whole human family; take away the controversial teachings of arrogance, divisions and hatreds which have badly infected our hearts; break down the walls that separate us; reunite us in bonds of love; and work through our struggle and confusion to accomplish Your purposes on earth; that, in Your good time, all nations and races may jointly serve You in justice, peace and harmony. Amen.
— Movement of Reforming Society in A World of Prayer by Rosalind Bradley
Give us, O God,
leaders whose hearts are large enough
to match the breadth of our own souls
and give us souls strong enough
to follow leaders of vision and wisdom.
In seeking a leader, let us seek
more than development for ourselves —
though development we hope for —
more than security for our own land —
though security we need —
more than satisfaction for our wants —
though many things we desire.
Give us the hearts to choose the leader
who will work with other leaders
to bring safety
to the whole world.
Give us leaders
who lead this nation to virtue
without seeking to impose our kind of virtue
on the virtue of others.
Give us a government
that provides for the advancement
of this country
without taking resources from others
to achieve it.
Give us insight enough ourselves
to choose as leaders those who can tell
strength from power,
growth from greed,
leadership from dominance,
and real greatness from the trappings of grandiosity.
We trust you, Great God,
to open our hearts to learn from those
to whom you speak in different tongues
and to respect the life and words
of those to whom you entrusted
the good of other parts of this globe.
We beg you, Great God,
give us the vision as a people
to know where global leadership truly lies,
to pursue it diligently,
to require it to protect human rights
for everyone everywhere.
We ask these things, Great God,
with minds open to your word
and hearts that trust in your eternal care.
— Joan Chittister, OSB
Prayer to Heed Warning Voices
Source of All Blessings,
you bless us with warning
voices — poets, prophets,
thinkers who dare to speak against
the current of accepted norms, to
question, at the risk of their good
standing, their careers, even their
lives. May I have ears to hear these
lonely voices of Common Sense,
so often nearly drowned out by the
din of public opinion, and to heed
them, take their message to heart,
weigh it, and let it change my life.
— "Blessing #27" by David Steindl-Rast in 99 Blessings
Prayer for the Rulers of the Nations
Today, O God. I hold before you the rulers of the nations —
Kings, Queens, Presidents, Prime Ministers — all who
are in positions of supreme leadership.
I can be quick to criticize: help me, Lord to first enter
their dilemma. On most issues of state I have the luxury
of withholding judgment, of not committing myself,
of sitting on the fence. Even when I have an opinion,
it has little influence and seldom any consequence.
Not so with rulers of the nations.
To the extent that they really lead, they must
make decisions, even if they are poor ones.
Help these leaders, O God, in the loneliness of their decisions.
Put wise counselors around them.
Take, I pray, the bits and pieces of virtue that are
in each ruler and cause them to grow and mature.
And take all the destructive motives and cause
them to vanish like smoke in the wind.
Lord, I know that many — and perhaps most —
rulers do not know you, nor do they seek you.
But you seek them! Help them see how good right decisions are.
And where decisions must be made that are not in their
own interest, deepen their sense of duty. Having seen
the light, give them the courage to walk in the light.
— Richard J. Foster in Prayers from the Heart
Prayer for Our Nation
May we as a nation be guided by the Divine
to rediscover the sacred flame of our national heritage,
which so many have given their lives to safeguard;
Let the wounds of separation and division be healed
by opening our hearts to listen to the truth on all sides,
allowing us to find a higher truth that includes all;
May we learn to honor and enjoy our diversity
and differences as a people, even as we
more deeply touch our fundamental unity;
May we, as a people, undergo a transformation
that will draw forth individuals to lead our nation
who embody courage, compassion, and a higher vision;
May our leaders inspire us, and we so inspire
each other with our potential as individuals
and as a nation, that a new spirit of forgiveness,
caring, and honesty be born in our nation;
May we, as a united people, move with clear,
directed purpose to take our place within
the community of nations to help build
a better future for all humankind;
May we as a nation rededicate ourselves
to truly living as one nation, under God,
indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
And may God's Will be done for the United States,
as we, the people, align with that Will.
— Corinne McLaughlin and Gordon Davidson in Prayers for Healing edited by Maggie Oman
Blessing for Our Leaders
Eternal God, Fount of wisdom,
we ask you to bless the national leaders we have elected,
grant that through their discussions and decisions
we may solve our problems effectively,
enhance the well-being of our nation,
and achieve together a fairer and more united society.
— The New Zealand Prayer Book
We swear by peace and love to stand
Heart to heart and hand to hand.
Mark, O Spirit, and hear us now,
Confirming this our Sacred Vow.
— Druid sacred vow in Prayer: Language of the Soul by Philip Dunn
So long as we enjoy the light of day
may we greet one another with love.
So long as we enjoy the light of day
may we pray for one another.
— Zuni prayer in 1000 World Prayers by Marcus Braybrooke
For more prayers related to democracy, see the "Prayers/Mantras" section of the Practicing Democracy Project.
For a wide selection of prayers, use our Spiritual Practices search engine; to add keywords, click on "modify this search."
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