How did you pray this year?

Security, comfort & love

"Our prayer ... focused on [the fact that] evil, though seemingly triumphant in the moment of devastation ... had no power to last. Every story of survival, of a person calling a loved one, saying, 'I may not make it but I want you to know I love you,' that was good overcoming evil."

– The Rev. Paige Chargois, Baptist minister

"I have found myself praying more for our country in recent months than I have in the past. It's a prayer that we should be true to our best selves, our best values, and not fall prey to imitating the enemy, becoming vengeful."

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–The Rev. Donald Shriver, Presbyterian minister

"It's important we don't develop a spirituality of escapism. We need to take on the world with its challenges and become peacemakers, reconcilers."

– Peter Kuzmic, Overseas Ministries Study Center

Security & peace

"I pray and I hope my prayer will lead me to protect people and preserve peace. I think peace is something God is praying to us for – to have the capacity to bless our world. God is praying for us to take custody of our world and find ways to live up to the goodness that is inside of us. I always find the Psalms very comforting. There are so many that depict a voice in trouble, searching to God for salvation; for grace, security, peace; for changing enemies' thoughts and intentions.

My prayer is that our faith will continue to be strong and our prayers will not just be words. That they will lead us to act in ways that will lead to tolerance, goodness, compassion, and to courageousness and peace."

– Naomi Levy, Venice, Calif., rabbi and author of "Talking to God"

"All of us prayed together – across religious lines – not to have this cast as a religious war. There was an effort to provide settings in which people would pray ... across those lines of faith. We would demonstrate that however we came to God, there was a common ground we could share. There was a real desire to pray for those [touched by the tragedy], that they would have strength."

– The Rev. J. Bryan Hehir, president of Catholic Charities USA

"We pray that all of us and our national leaders might learn something from this event that we need to learn. And especially that we might listen enough to our critics.

"We had meetings with our Jewish and Muslim neighbors in New York, and we have been pushed by those meetings to consider the possibility that God is greater than any one of our religions. I've had that sense especially during the Lord's Prayer: When we say, 'Our Father,' I believe we're not just praying as Christians.

"The event has made me much more insistent that we must learn to value human beings as such wherever they are around the world. God loves them, therefore we must also."

– The Rev. Donald Shriver, president emeritus of Union Theological Seminary and author of "Ethics for Enemies."

"God is a reality whose will and wisdom are to be seen throughout his creation. Prayer is a call to the source of all power and authority ... and it is heard. There is a word [in Arabic] which means peace, security, and trust – they are all related, and are something human beings have always prayed for. But it is important to pray for peace and security based on justice, not peace at all costs. If there is not justice, peace will not take place, and, in fact, it is an offense to God."

– Seyyed Hossein Nasr, professor of Islamic studies at George Washington University

Comfort & grief

"I know that, externally, people have felt greatly threatened. And yet I know from my own spiritual growth that every time there's great turmoil, there's a great blessing that's coming.

I don't feel this is a terrible time. There's such great good going forward. For me the great comfort is knowing that God's law is governing, and that even though the violence is an aberration of that law, it can't neutralize it, it can't stop it. And [God's law] actually operates to renew and restore the very things that appear to have been lost. My prayer is that mankind know that."

– Lois Carlson, Christian Science practitioner and teacher in Evanston, Ill.

"God's promise was that whenever we had to confront the pain and unfairness of life, we would not have to face it alone because God would be with us. I can count on God to strengthen me and to give me the courage it takes to get on an airplane, to go to a crowded shopping center."

– Harold Kushner, rabbi laureate of Temple Israel in Natick, Mass., and author of "When Bad Things Happen to Good People"

"[Seeing good overcome evil after that day] was kind of like marking a new notch on my gun, so to speak: That's where God had mercy! That's where good overcame evil! There's just no way for evil to overcome that which is good, because that which is good is so deeply connected with God.

"I thought of where Jesus said, 'I will never leave you comfortless.'

"[Since the attacks], I've never spoken with anyone or heard anyone speak a single word of hatred. Not one. And I've not just been limited to church folk."

– The Rev. Paige Chargois, one of the leaders of St. Paul's Baptist Church in Richmond, Va.

"A lot of Quakers talk about holding someone in the light. I was more aware of the need to have the enemy in the light – that is, those we've decided are our enemies. I've tried to hold our leaders in the light. As one sees the scope of the national and international tragedy enlarging, the caring enlarges, too. One thing I've had in mind a lot is an epistle from George Fox [founder of the Quakers]: "Sing and rejoice, you children of the day and the light, because the Lord is at work in this thick night of darkness."

– Paul Lacey, chairman of the American Friends Service Committee board of directors

"That's what prayer should be: How to cope with anger and hurt and then move outward. Unfortunately, we are tempted into withdrawing into self-absorption. That would be a prayer that would be usable on Sept. 11. 'Deliver me from self-absorption and turn my eyes outward to others.' "

– The Rev. James Wall, former editor of The Christian Century.

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