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The Power Of Prayer; Clergy To Discuss Ways Of Interceding With God

VAN NUYS - An interfaith panel discussion on the value of prayer will be held Sunday, focusing on the ways and traditions used when talking to God.

"What Does My Faith Tradition Say About the Value of Prayer?" is the latest in a series of religious forums to be sponsored by the San Fernando Valley Interfaith Council.

"We are encouraged to live our lives in a state of prayer, so we can look at work as being worship," said panelist Bradley Bullock, a member of the Baha'i faith.

"We think of doing everything for God," he said. "Prayer is communion and conversation with God."

Bullock plans to talk about what he calls the continuum of prayer, and where a person's soul falls along that line.

On one side of the continuum may be those who are seen as selfish because they pray for material things.

On the other end of the scale are those praying only for the love of God, known as the highest form of prayer.

The goal is to move along that continuum to attain spiritual growth, he said.

Rabbi James Kaufman of Temple Beth Hillel in Valley Village will discuss prayer from Judaism's perspective and plans to focus on the notion of free will, the ability to influence God and the limited expectations of what prayer can do.

"I'll be talking about the idea of intercessory prayer. That's when we want God to come down and cure someone who is ill. Jews don't believe prayer works that way," Kaufman said. "We believe that you have to act on that prayer."

Kaufman used the image of a triangle to explain how energy from a prayer should flow from each part of the triangle - from God, the ill person and the person making the prayer request.

Kaufman said every week he gets requests to pray for loved ones who are ill. But, he said, those making the requests then have an obligation to contact the person directly to complete the triangle.

"I say, sure, I will say a prayer for them. But it's important to let that person know that on Friday night 100 people were praying for him, too. They need to call the person and tell them," he said.

Prayer from the standpoint of the Church of Christ, Scientist will be presented by Joyann Gongaware, who plans to discuss where to pray, the best attitude to have when praying and the highest form of prayer.

"We take a deeply Christian approach, drawing on the words of Jesus. We expect healing to come from our prayers," Gongaware said.

Gongaware believes that the greatest result of prayer is in the transformation it has on the person who is praying.

Gongaware became aware of the power of prayer as a teen, when she developed an eye infection, something that afflicted her off and on, during a camping trip with a friend.

She did as the writings of church founder Mary Baker Eddy suggested - deny sin and plead to God.

"In just a matter of hours, the problem cleared up, and it never came back. That's tremendously empowering to a 13-year-old girl. You have a few experiences like that and you're hooked," she said.

"Prayer to me is looking to a power that is greater than myself," Gongaware said. "Prayer always makes a difference."

The panel will also include the Rev. Eric Thomas, from Christ Community Church in Canoga Park, and InSoon Lee, a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The Rev. Bob Bonnot, vice president of the SFV Interfaith Council, will be the moderator.

"What Does My Faith Tradition Say About the Value of Prayer?" will be held from 3 to 5 p.m. Sunday at the 12th Church of Christ, Scientist, 14654 Hamlin St., Van Nuys. Call (818) 718-6460. s=17"We are encouraged to live our lives in a state of prayer, so we can look at work as being worship.

©Copyright 2002, Los Angeles Daily News

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