Praying together

When we say a prayer, are we alone? Or do we pray with others, seen and unseen? Hopefully, if we are sincere we stand in the Divine Presence, so we are not alone in that sense – but do we have others beside us as we pray? Religious congregations usually encourage some form of group prayer, but especially in the West not all followers of the Sufi path practice an established religion.

The Confraternity of the Message is a litany of prayers given by Pir-o-Murshid Hazrat Inayat Khan; in the century since his time many devotees have pledged to recite the Confraternity on a regular, usually daily, basis. At least one international group now meets online to repeat these prayers, and through this sacred discipline feel close to each other despite the separation of thousands of kilometres.

The name of this set of prayers implies a fulfilment of the wish in the prayer Salat, that all of humanity be united as children of God. Without doubt the word Confraternity or ‘brotherhood’ is now problematic for some, but it was current at the time that this gift was given, and it is undeniable that these prayers are moved by a sincere wish that all human beings, in forgetting their distinctions and differences, might remember Who has made us and to Whom we ultimately belong.

Within the sequence of prayers, three Suras are repeated a number of times: ‘Pour upon us Thy Love and Thy Light’; ‘May the Message of God reach far and wide’; and ‘Disclose to us Thy Divine Light.’ Like the prayers Saum, Salat and Khatum, the Suras lift our awareness upward, toward the Divine Ideal, but the wording of the Suras in the first person plural – ‘Pour upon us‘ , ‘Disclose to us‘ – as well as the name of the litany, could also expand our awareness horizontally. Others also find meaning in these prayers, and sharing moments of love and peace and beauty is the foundation of family. There is a profound comfort in discovering that we are not alone.

We might also remember that these words came to us through Pir-o-Murshid Hazrat Inayat Khan, and that when we repeat them from the heart he is certainly standing by our side and praying with us. If we become aware of this blessing, the prayers lift us to another level.

And finally, mindful of the affirmation of the Invocation that we are united with all the illuminated souls, we might be conscious that these words are the essence of the prayers of all the illuminated souls throughout history. Whether we pray with a group, or alone on a hilltop or in the privacy of our own bedroom, we are adding our small voice to their ever-living chorus. This is the truth embodied in this phrase from the Nature Meditations :
Let my heart reflect 
the spirit of the holy ones

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