News Story

Harmony Week Program Focuses on How We Talk to God

The Intercultural Dialogue Institute (IDI) recently sponsored a dinner and panel discussion entitled “How We Talk to God” as part of World Interfaith Harmony Week 2015. IDI is a non-profit organization that promotes respect and understanding amongst people of all cultures and faiths.

John Voorpostel, chairman of Toronto’s World Interfaith Harmony Week celebrations, opened the IDI event, stating, “Together we have different faiths and traditions and we’ve embarked on a noble cause committing ourselves to showing Toronto and the world that we can live together and foster the very human desires for peace, understanding and respect.”

Sandra Pallin, national director of public affairs for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and Michele Hynynen, Mormon Newsroom copy editor, represented the Church at the event. As national director of public affairs, Sandra is also a participant in the Canadian Interfaith Conversation, of which three of the event’s panellists are associates.

The panel comprised representatives of five major religions: Rev. Zenji Acharya, North American Museum of Asian Heritage and Art (Buddhism); Rev. Dr. John Joseph Mastandrea, Metropolitan United Church (Christianity); President Amar Erry, Arya Samaj Markham of the Vedic Cultural Center (Hinduism); Imam Abdul Hai Patel, founder of the Canadian Council of Imams (Islam); and Rabbi Shalom Schachter, Beth Tzedec Congregation (Judaism).

The esteemed panellists explained their respective faith’s traditions of communicating with God and offered humble demonstrations of worship.

Rev. Acharya passionately articulated Buddhist history and its influence on other faiths, while Rev. Mastandrea quoted biblical scripture to explain the purpose, method and responsibility of prayer for Christians.

President Erry confirmed prayer to be an important part of Hinduism and demonstrated Hindu worship by chanting mantras and concluding with a prayer for peace.

Relying on teachings from the Qur’an, Imam Patel explained the importance of worship, supplication and remembrance when petitioning Allah. He emphasized that prayer can take place anywhere and that no intermediary is needed. “Prayer is direct communication and is wireless. There’s no special time to call upon God,” he said. “He’s ready to hear our calls 24 hours a day throughout the whole year. … [Prayer] is a wireless entity and a very fast system.”

After Rabbi Schachter demonstrated the use of tefillin (phylacteries) and the shofar (ram's horn), unique to the Jewish faith, he remarked, “It’s amazing the similarities we find in our approaches to prayer. It’s a nice manifestation of the [biblical] phrase ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations.’”

Sandra Pallin agreed with this sentiment, stating, “Despite our different beliefs and traditions, the striking similarity we have 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.”

In the Book of Mormon, the Lord Jesus Christ commanded, “Ye must always pray unto the Father in my name” (3 Nephi 18:19). Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are encouraged to pray daily, frequently, and in private, in families, and in public.

"As soon as we learn the true relationship in which we stand toward God (namely, God is our Father, and we are His children), then at once prayer becomes natural and instinctive on our part (Matt. 7:7–11). Many of the so-called difficulties about prayer arise from forgetting this relationship. Prayer is the act by which the will of the Father and the will of the child are brought into correspondence with each other. The object of prayer is not to change the will of God but to secure for ourselves and for others blessings that God is already willing to grant but that are made conditional on our asking for them” (Bible Dictionary, “Prayer,” 753).

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