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Sustained by faith; Christians share the value of prayer in their lives.

Byline: Anna L. Griffin

An innocent man faces a certain death. Knowing full well the fate that will befall him, he stumbles in his acceptance of it.

Withdrawing from his friends, he searches for the power to overcome the agony he knows he must face.

He prays, and finds the strength to proceed.

The example of Jesus in prayer before his final days is one Christians worldwide have shared during Holy Week.

An exercise of faith and hope. Communication with God. An acknowledgement of the presence of God.

All these are used to define prayer, yet those who pray say prayer defines them and this is its power.

"It's a relationship with an unseen," said the Rev. James M. Hayes, an associate chaplain and rector of the Jesuit community at the College of the Holy Cross, Worcester. Rev. Hayes said prayer takes a tremendous amount on the part of the person praying.

"What comes into play is humility, accepting the will of God," he said. "We often pray, and we want things to happen in our time. But God has his own time. Things happen when they are supposed to happen, and in acknowledging that, something happens within us."

"Prayer to me is the place I go to - that I need to go to," said Lorraine Wickman of Gardner. Mrs. Wickman is coordinator of the Lifelong Learning Institute for Enrichment program at Mount Wachusett Community College, Gardner.

"It's not just a question of where I would be without prayer, but who would I be?" Mrs. Wickman said. "There have been times in my life when prayer is all that I've had, and it has sustained me."

"There's a peace that comes to me when I pray that comes to me out of clarity - because my focus is suddenly shifted to the right place; the cares of this world are put aside," she said.

The Rev. John E. Doran, pastor of St. Leo's Parish, Leominster, says prayer can take many forms. "You can have people saying prayers together in a group - reciting the same words, but it still is a personal experience. You can have prayers of thanks and praise; you have prayers in times of sorrow, for consolation. You can pray for yourself, or you can pray for others."

He said, "The important thing to remember is that God is in all of it, and he will be there for you, whatever the need may be."

Pray "every day in every way" is the approach taken by the Rev. Karen Ann Campbell, rector of the Church of The Good Shepherd in Fitchburg.

"When people ask me about prayer, I tell them it's everything that you do," Rev. Campbell said. "It's every action you take, every thought you have and every word you speak."

"With this perspective, I am always mindful of what I do and say," she said.

Remembering to pray in good times, as well as in bad, is essential. "Have an attitude of gratitude," Rev. Campbell said. "Please remember all that is good in your life and show God your appreciation. It is so important for us to do this, because we often turn to God only in times of need."

"You should pray always," said Capt. Brian Peabody, corps officer of the Salvation Army Montachusett Corps, headquartered in Fitchburg. Capt. Peabody said that in prayer everything is placed before God. "Through prayer, we reach into the deepest part of ourselves, showing God our needs, our failures, our joys, our aspirations."

Prayer acknowledges the power of God. "Through God all things are possible," Capt. Peabody said. "Our strength comes from him. We believe this is essential through our life's journey."

"I can't separate prayer from my life," said Rosemary Reynolds of Fitchburg. A former Fitchburg city councilor, she is head of the Massachusetts Chapter of Democrats for Life.

Ms. Reynolds said some people view prayer as a request line for God. "You can always ask," she said. "What happens is that through prayer, God shows you what the right thing is, and it may not be what you asked for."

"I know that whatever I have facing me - no matter how great it may be - God can handle it, and he'll get me through it. I trust in him. It's as simple as that."

And prayer is easy.

Rev. Hayes said. "I would suggest that if someone wants to pray - be open, be attentive, listen. God will come to you."

Contact reporter Anna Griffin by e-mail at agriffin@telegram.com.

ART: PHOTOS

PHOTOG: (1) T&G Staff/RICK CINCLAIR; (2) ED COLLIER

CUTLINE: (1) Sunbeam leader Deborah Andujar leads a group of Sunbeams in a prayer group yesterday as they look at photographs of members of their church family at the Salvation Army Center for Worship and Service in Fitchburg. (2) The Rev. Khatchadour Boghossian, left, and Archpriest Vazken Bekierian wash the feet of Lucas Abusamra last night at Holy Trinity Armenian Church in Worcester.
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Title Annotation:LOCAL NEWS
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Apr 6, 2007
Words:827
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