Power of Prayer Works Across Faiths

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“WWJD?”  A popular expression most of us are familiar with:  “What Would Jesus Do?”  But is this catchy phrase a fad, or a compass for life’s choices? And how important is it to pray for guidance?

On a daily basis, I believe this question is easily answered.  Let’s say someone is driving slowly in front of us and we are in a hurry.  Should we speed by and flip ‘em the bird, or slow down and be patient?  No doubt Jesus would tell us to take a chill pill and slow down.  Help a child or senior across a busy street?  Duh, a no brainer!  Jesus would drop everything to help anyone, anytime, anywhere, anyhow.

(Note: for purposes of this discussion, I refer to Jesus because of the popularity of the coined phrase and the implication that we should base our decisions on what is “right” or “just”.  This question could be posed equally across plenty of other religions, i.e. “What Would God Do?” “What Would Allah Do?” “What Would Buddha Do?” “What Would Yahweh Do?” etc.  So for those of you in the audience that do not necessarily believe in Jesus, know that I am not trying to be exclusionary. )

The point is, how often do we think about where we get our instructions for life?  Tenets of all religions basically are the same.  Simply put, the roads may be different, but the answers tend to be found in a set of teachings and rituals that deal with issues of right and wrong, ultimate reality, the meaning of life, how to find fulfillment, spiritual health, guidance or salvation.  Generally speaking, most religions believe there is a higher authority than Man.

So what about those times in life when questions and decisions are more complicated? Where our choices may have a long-term affect on not just our own sense of wellbeing, but that of our friends, family, community, world?

The answers aren’t always as easy, and I often wonder how leaders, whether on the local or global level, make the tough decisions they face each and every day.  What is the barometer?  Does WWJD apply?

After all, despite the Constitution’s Establishment Clause, didn’t we grow up saying the Pledge of Allegiance in school every day, swearing love of country as “one nation under God”?   Isn’t “In God We Trust” the official U.S. motto?  The United States Treasury prints the phrase on U.S. currency, which is circulated throughout the world.

Each year, my husband and I attend the Annual Orange Coast Mayors’ Prayer Breakfast hosted by the Orange Coast Christian Outreach.  And every year, as we sit in the jam-packed ballroom at the Hyatt Irvine, I ponder our Constitution’s First Amendment and the fine line between secularity of government and freedom of religious exercise.  And thanks to all the international unrest and uncertainty making the news these days, it seemed everyone in the room was pondering the power of prayer.

This year’s keynote speaker – author and global diplomat Pastor Bob Roberts, Jr. from Northwood Church in Texas – was not only a powerful orator, he brought to our attention the importance of learning about and respecting people of other faiths, despite how different they may seem from our own. Globalization, like just about everything else in our daily lives, applies to religion as well, and we must move from fear to courage when embracing or at least understanding other faiths.  He reminded us with everything going on to remember “God is in control.”

Various mayors in attendance from throughout Orange County presented proclamations and spoke briefly about why they think prayer is important.  A similar thread ran through many of their comments, that of particularly challenging times.

Irvine Mayor Sukhee Kang eloquently stated his feeling that “in challenging times, prayer is the gateway to humility.”

“These are especially challenging times,” stated our own Mayor Mike Henn.  “I am thankful for the grace of God in leading.”

Laguna Niguel Mayor Gary Capata told of a recent vote by his council to not only keep “In God We Trust” on the wall behind the dais, but also above the exit so that people entering the council chambers would see it coming, and going.

“Prayer is an expression of hope,” said Dana Point Mayor Pro Tem Scott Schoeffel. “And with hope, all things become possible.”

In somewhat of a flash mob moment, Huntington Beach Mayor Joe Carchio recalled an experience he recently had while standing under the eaves of a local big-box mart during a torrential downpour.

Along with some other customers waiting it out, he observed a little girl begging her mother “Mommy, Mommy, let’s run through the rain!” The mother protested that they would get wet, but as everyone began to take notice, the little girl retorted loudly, “No we won’t! Remember what you told me about Daddy’s cancer? That God would protect us, even when it rains?” After a few moments of silence, the Mom smiled tearfully, grabbed her daughter’s hand and off they ran to their car, followed by the other customers in a silent and spontaneous show of support.  That one got the tear ducts going.

Like years past, I left the breakfast inspired to live a better life, thankful that we live in a country that protects any and all religious beliefs, and with a few more insights when pondering “WWJD?”

Lynn Selich is a marketing and public relations consultant residing in Newport Beach. She can be reached at [email protected].

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