The Value Of Prayer

These words of wisdom from Lama Surya Das are music to my ears. Not only does he mention my teacher, Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh in a very loving way, he, like me, was born into a Jewish family.

Prayer was an important part of our daily lives. We said the morning shemah, the blessings on bread or wine on the Sabbath, and attended all the holiday services. We were kept out of school to attend these services.

Only one popular Buddhist teacher has written a book about prayer, and that’s Thich Nhat Hanh. Many Western Buddhists and mindfulness practitioners today seem unaware of the numerous prayerful traditions and practices of Buddhism in the old world. I myself  savor the mystic poems, songs, chants, prayers and sacred music practices of Vajrayana Buddhism. Perhaps because Mahayana-Vajrayana Buddhism is very inclusive and open to eclecticism, I too feel that way. I wanted to share with you a prayerful poem gifted to me this month, from some Catholic friends.

 “As we turn our lives to the crosswalk
of Lent’s dark journey,
let us locate ourselves in the intersection
and there open a holding space
to welcome the world.

Over these next weeks
exercise your holding heart
and make room for the world.

Go to your listening place.
Open up, within you,
open up around you,
a space wide and deep.

And in the quiet,
let the whole world
tumble in.

All the hurts and hopes of loved ones,
of enemies, of neighbors,
let them all in.

The complex tangles
of struggles personal and global,
let them in.

Summon the most ravaged and despairing.
Find room for those who are sorely afflicted.
Let them all come. Bar none!

Let this space hold and enfold them!
Let the expansive mystery of God’s love envelop
all that is confounding, disturbing, unresolved or unrealized.

Hold it, hold it all till it fills you.

Lift the brimming pitcher
and empty yourself into the vast vessel,
that is the Sacred Heart.”

With love and blessings,

Lama Surya Das


Prayer, for me these days focuses on the well-being of my family and friends, especially those going through a crisis, whether physical, emotional, spiritual, or psychological. These prayers come from my heart of metta practice and invoke feelings of compassion in me.

What is the value of prayer in your life today? Do you attend regular services? Do you wish all being to be happy? Do you make offerings to the deities at temples and monuments? Please share.

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