"Devotion takes many forms: the solemnity and joy of prayer; the ecstasy of song, poetry, or art; the intimate connection between individuals in marriage, family, or community. It involves opening the heart fully to the presence of love and beauty, which brings a compassionate and reverent awareness of the Divine in all things. Through the lens of devotion, every aspect of creation is seen as purposeful, and hence received in gratitude."
— LaVera C. Draisin quoted in Opening the Inner Gates edited by Edward Hoffman
At this point in history, both freelance seekers and traditional believers from the world's major religions are blessed with a treasure-trove of devotional practices. We can pick and choose from formal and informal ways to pray. We can meditate in silence or sing with loud voices. We can sweat our prayers, walk the labyrinth, say affirmations, or draw a mandala.
To explore the breadth and richness of these spiritual tools and resources, we needed someone who has an encyclopedic mind, is by nature open-minded and hospitable, and has a special knack for locating inspirational material.
Maggie Oman Shannon, the editor of Prayers for Healing, is the right woman for this Herculean task: to describe and deliver 50 prayer practices from around the world. In the foreword, Alan Jones, Dean of Grace Cathedral, San Francisco, praises the author for offering us devotional material that works the body, mind, and spirit. And in her introduction, Shannon notes wisely:
"The purpose of The Way We Pray is not to encourage promiscuity of spiritual practice but to inspire a fidelity to the practice of prayer. By enlarging the arena in which we explore the Divine, we can expand our sense of the spiritual."
We certainly felt excited and expansive as we explored the pages and practices on ikebana, milagros, prayer bowls, treasure maps, God Boxes, and amulets. By the time we finished this wonderful spiritual book, we were ready to take them to heart and make some of them a regular part of our practice.