A right way to pray?

Ask a dozen Episcopalians how to pray, and you’re likely to get at least a dozen different answers back. For some, a more personalized view of prayer might be the evidence of good teaching taking hold, while for others such diversity might raise eyebrows: “Can’t they agree on anything?”

Some comfort appeared in a recent New York Times web readers’ poll, in which the same question was posed, and well more than a hundred responses poured in over five days before commenting was disallowed Tuesday evening.

Readers were asked to respond to the question, “What is the right way to pray?” Responses ranged from punchy and pithy …

[It] is written, “Be still and know that I am God.” [That] is all that is required.

… to the tragic …

[It] is all make believe and self delusion.

… to the pragmatic …

It’s good to stay on speaking terms with God. Helps minimize awkwardness when a mess arises.

… to the observant.

I’ve always found it heartbreaking that something that I understand as intrinsic to our very humanity—the capacity to express awe, thanks, sorrow, or need to whatever it is we understand as our creator and sustainer —would come be understood as homework, as some “technique” we have to master before we’re able to “get it right.”

Readers’ comments were solicited in conjunction with a recent Sunday Magazine article, “The Right Way to Pray?” by Zev Chafets, founding managing editor of the Jerusalem Report Magazine.

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