Let's Pray 2014

by Sarah Catherine Gutierrez on February 28, 2014
On January 25, 2014 from 1:00 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. the Arkansas House of Prayer and the Interfaith Center co-sponsored an interfaith prayer workshop called “Let’s Pray.” Presenters from several of the world’s major religions taught techniques about how to meditate in that faith tradition. 73 participants had an opportunity to practice those processes as well as sit in silence in the beautiful House of Prayer. The cool, crisp and sunny day was a perfect backdrop for speakers through the large windows of the St. Margaret’s Welcome Center.
Participants traveled to the workshop from the greater Little Rock area, Russellville, Conway, Jonesboro, Harrison, Fort Smith, Dover, Heber Springs, and Searcy. God’s presence was tangibly felt by all, evidenced by the overwhelmingly positive feedback. Many commented on the welcoming atmosphere and the incredible opportunity to experience four different perspectives on prayer that while still being quite unique, had many overlaps.  Many participants singled out their interest in hearing a Muslim discuss her prayer practice and then learning more about Islam.
The day kicked off with Ret. Rabbi Levy teaching “Preparing to Pray from the Jewish Tradition,” which includes a series of prayers aimed at quieting the mind to transition into the service.  Next, Sophia Said presented “Dhikr—A Sufi Muslim’s Way to Meditate,” which coordinated repetitive spiritual phrases and physical movements aimed at deepening the connection to God while praying.  Following Ms. Said’s teaching, she was joined by The Rev. Susan Sims Smith for an enlightening Q&A on Islam. The Rev. Susan Sims Smith followed with a teaching called “Christian Meditation – Undoing Fear Contracts,” aimed at using silence to allow God to show us our habitual fear responses and to continuously “upgrade” our operating systems to move past fear and into love.  Ann Cox was the final presenter with the topic “Meditation from a Buddhist Perspective.”
Due to the size of the workshop, participants were broken into two groups to experience a 15 minute silent meditation at the Arkansas House of Prayer. Based on interviews of participants returning from this time in silence, many people felt an incredible energy in the group and that they were able to move deeply into prayer and meditation. Some thought that in future workshops a second chance to experience the Arkansas House of Prayer would be nice.
We are tremendously excited at the new people who experienced the Arkansas House of Prayer through the Let’s Pray workshop and the interest in obtaining a key fob and pursuing volunteer opportunities. During the event, the Interfaith Center also presented a new series on Muslim Christian dialogue between the Rev. Susan Sims Smith and Sophia Said that will be available for different faith congregations to host over the next year.
In all, we were overjoyed by the participation and love circulating in the room and are grateful for the ability to house such a workshop at St. Margaret’s.

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