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Signposts: Daily Devotions

Saturday, February 6

These (foreigners) I will bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer; their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.
—Isaiah 56:7

God, through Isaiah, calls all people of faith to think about what it means to open our hearts and our minds to those who are very different from us. “Foreigners,” God says, are to be accepted—they, too, are people of faith, though they may be completely different from us.

A few Christmases ago,I received a book that  opened my eyes, and heart, to the wonder and mystery of faith in many forms. The book, titled Talking to God: Portrait of a World at Prayer, is a compendium of photographs and writing that literally took my breath away. As I slowly delved into its astonishing pictures and profound writing, I gained a whole new appreciation of “other” religions.

Through unforgettable photographs, one sees people of the world at prayer: a Navajo bronco-buster kneels in a dusty corral before a rodeo; a beautiful young nun prays at the Convent of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in France; a Tibetan Buddhist tosses wind prayers (Lung Ta) into the air,sending blessings wherever they are blown; thousands of Iranian women pray to celebrate the end of Ramadan.

Henri Nouwen is quoted in this book:

You must make the connection between prayer and life. The closer you are to the heart of God, the closer you come to the heart of the world, the closer you come to others.

Could Isiah's words mean for us today that by accepting, learning about, celebrating, and praying with people of other faiths, we are making our world “a house of prayer for all people”? I hope so.

May all beings have happiness, and the causes of happiness; may all be free from sorrow, and the causes of sorrow; may all never be separated from the sacred happiness which is sorrowless; and may all live in equanimity, without too much attachment and too much aversion, and live believing in the equality of all that lives. –Buddhist prayer (from Talking to God)

These Signposts originally appeared on explorefaith in 2007.