Praying with people of other faiths reinforces our awareness that the divine mystery transcends all doctrines. Yes, we cherish the Christian faith, but with a heightened awareness that God is not ours, or anyone else's, to possess. That humility, together with a respect for the integrity of each faith on its own terms, is where we start.
The best policy when choosing music, prayers, symbols, and other elements for your gathering is always to ask for the input of the people of other faiths who will be participating. However we offer a few general guidelines and tips:
• Prayers should be just that - not show-and-tell moments in which different religions display their wares, but devices that help participants pray.
• Don't be afraid to use prayers and songs from particular religious communities, acknowledging where each originates and inviting people of other faiths to enter in to the extent that they may be able.
• The Book of Psalms can usually be used without offence among the Abrahamic Faiths. We especially recommend Psalm 23. The Lord's Prayer is also often acceptable for use among Abrahamic faiths but be sure to ask.
• For music (and prayers) it is often best to invite guests to bring something from their own tradition to share. There is a balance between allowing people to share things that are unique to their faith tradition, and also respectfully communicating to help people realise when something they offer from their own faith tradition may be offensive or alienating to people of other faiths.
• Silence often speaks louder than words. Let it.
• Look for symbols (candles, flowers, water etc) and gestures (worship, prayer, blessing) which may carry religious significance for all.
Here are some examples of what others have done during such gatherings. But what was right for them may not suit you. Focus on the people and purpose of the particular gathering you have in mind. The following resources may be of help to you in this endeavour.
Sample Orders of Service
Christian Order of Service on the Theme of People of Other Faiths
Recognising that God is the creator and provider of the whole human family, and respecting sincere efforts to know and relate to God, this order of worship, adapted from With all God's People: The New Ecumenical Prayer Cycle, suggests elements that enable us to pray for neighbours of other faiths.
web version | pdf version
Prayers and Readings for Times of Tragedy
Finding Words for Unspeakable Tragedy: Resources for Ecumenical and Interfaith Worship and Prayer (from National Council of Churches USA)
Prayers and Resources- General
You may find some of the prayers and readings within the following books useful in planning an interfaith gathering. Not everything in these books will be suitable but they may be a helpful resource. Please see our disclaimer.
Mosaic, Favourite Prayers and Reflections from Inspiring Australians
Rosalind Bradley (Editor)
1000 World Prayers from Many Faiths and from Around the World
Marcus Braybrooke and John Hunt (Editors)
Bedside Prayers: Prayers and Poems for when you Rise and Go to Sleep
Peace Prayers: Meditations, Affirmations, Invocations, Poems, and Prayers for Peace
Harper San Francisco Staff
Rituals for Life, Loss, and Love
All in Good Faith: A Resource Book for Multi-faith Prayer
Jean Potter and Marcus Braybrooke (Editors)
Life Prayers: 365 Prayers, Blessings, and Affirmations to Celebrate the Human Journey, from Around the World
Elizabeth Roberts and Elias Amidon (Editors)