How We Talk to God

As part of World Interfaith Harmony Week 2015, I attended a delightful evening sponsored by the Intercultural Dialogue Institute. IDI is a non-profit organization that promotes respect and understanding amongst people of all cultures and faiths. I was attracted to both the theme of the event, “How We Talk to God”, and the panel, three of whom are associates at the Canadian Interfaith Conversation.

The panel included representatives from five major religions: Rabbi Shalom Schachter (Jewish), President Amar Erry (Hindu), Imam Abdul Patel (Muslim), Rev. John Mastandrea (Christian) and Rev. Zenji Acharya (Buddhist). The esteemed panellists had approximately 15 minutes each to explain their faith traditions of communicating with God. Even more meaningful than their explanations, however, were their humble demonstrations of worship.

Rabbi Shachter demonstrated the use of tefillin (phylacteries) and the shofar ram's horn. He explained the Jewish belief in a singular God, Yahweh, and detailed the different times and types of worship. Pres. Erry confirmed prayer to be an important part of Hinduism and demonstrated their worship by chanting mantras. Imam Patel relied on teachings from the Qur’an to explain the importance of worship, supplication and remembrance when petitioning Allah. He spoke of the Muslim belief in the oneness of God, creator of the universe, who can be reached through direct prayer. Rev. Mastandrea quoted biblical scripture to explain the purpose, method and responsibility of prayer for Christians. Rev. Acharya passionately articulated Buddhist history and its influence on other faiths.

Once again I was impressed by that which we have in common. Despite our different beliefs and traditions, the striking similarity is a deep reverence and respect we hold for a loving God who can and will communicate with us when we humble ourselves in worship. Because of my Christian understanding, I deeply related with each of the presenters and left with a renewed sense that we all are indeed brothers and sisters.

Contributed by Sandra Pallin, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints