This question juxtaposes the spiritual practice of prayer with the theological principle of universalism — the idea that all religious expression, indeed all creation, is encompassed within the Divine. The Bible gives expression to both the practice of prayer and the concept that God is drawing in all things.
The Book of Psalms gives poetic voice to songs and prayers of praise and lament and supplication. These Psalms echo the experiences of the people of the kingdoms of Israel and Judah as recounted in the books of Samuel and Kings. Prayer is central to the stories of the life of Jesus found in the Gospels. And Christians are urged to “pray without ceasing” in Paul’s First Epistle to the Thessalonians 5:17.
Universal salvation, the drawing in and healing of all things, finds articulation in such biblical passages as Isaiah 25:7-8 (“the shroud that is cast over all peoples, the sheet that is spread over all nations,” that is death, will be destroyed by God) and Isaiah 45:23 (“every knee shall bow and every tongue confess”). Micah 4:1-2 speaks of peoples and nations streaming to “the mountain of the Lord.” Even in the judgment scene from Matthew 25:31ff, neither the “sheep” nor the “goats” knew who was the “Son of Man.” The people were judged solely on whether they had shown care for “the least of these.”
For Christians, the biblical witness gives full warrant for praying that people of all faiths experience God’s healing and wholeness, God’s salvation, in their lives.
David Rice, First Presbyterian Church (PCUSA) of Anniston
We are all children of God
One of the most important things I have learned about prayer is that we can offer our prayers to God for any one we wish. As I wrote in a previous column, we need to remember that we are all children of God. We believe that God made everyone, therefore God must care about everyone. We are called to include others in our prayers because one of the ways we demonstrate our love for God is by how we show our love for others. And praying for others is one way we show that love.
The Catholic Church has a great tradition of praying for people of other faiths. We believe that it is important to have both ecumenical (inter-Christian) and inter-faith dialogue so that we can better understand each other.
Each year in January we have a week of prayer for Christian unity. And in our prayers on Good Friday we pray for all people – for all Christians, for all who believe in God, and even for those who do not believe in God.
I believe it is important for us to pray for others whenever we get the chance. We may have disagreements in some aspects of our faith, but we can all agree that prayer is important to our lives of faith. Praying for others is one way we show that we love everyone who God loves.
Bryan Lowe, Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Church, Anniston