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Asking the Clergy on Long Island: What is your favorite prayer?

From left, Samantha Tetro of Samantha's Lil Bit

From left, Samantha Tetro of Samantha's Lil Bit of Heaven Ministries, Cantor Irene Failenbogen of The New Synagogue of Long Island and the Very Rev. Michael T. Sniffen of the Cathedral of the Incarnation. Credit: Judy Donnenfeld; Irene Failenbogen; Yvonne Al

For believers, prayer can be an essential part of daily life. Kneeling, bowing the head or just standing in place to pray can be a powerful experience when asking for forgiveness, asking for strength in trying times or when giving thanks to God. This week’s clergy discuss the prayers that have been the most meaningful to them in building a relationship with the Almighty.

Samantha Tetro

Samantha's Li'l Bit of Heaven Ministries, East Northport 

My favorite prayer is the one that brought me out of darkness into God’s marvelous light, turned my mourning into joy. It gave me beauty for ashes and the certainty of eternal life in Heaven. It was a prayer spoken from my heart to God. It  acknowledged my need for a Savior and reconciled me to the very one who created me. (For it was my sin that separated us.) This prayer opened my eyes to a new life and a new beginning. A prayer so simple and yet so powerful, my life would never be the same.

It is my joy to share with you this prayer I wrote based on Romans 10:9-10: “Jesus (Yeshua), I choose today to ask you to come inside my heart and make it your home. I acknowledge you as my Savior and Messiah. I believe you died on that cross as an atonement for my sins. Because of what you did (and of no works of my own) I am now forgiven and receive the assurance of spending eternity with you in Heaven, In Jesus' (Yeshua’s) name.”  

This humble prayer of repentance and forgiveness pleases God. It recognizes the love God had for us and the costly gift that he freely gave through the sacrifice of his one and only son. (John 3:16) When praying this from the heart, God is glorified, and glorifying God is what we were for born for.

Cantor Irene Failenbogen

The New Synagogue of Long Island, Brookville

Through the 30 years that I’ve been leading Jewish services, I have encountered many wonderful prayers and melodies.

One of my favorites is the line during Shabbat morning service when we softly and gently pronounce words in Hebrew, which mean “My God, the soul you have given me is pure.” This mantra has always resonated in my spirit as a comforting mother that forgives any wrongdoing, any mistakes or any tumble in the path of making the right choice. It reminds us that even though we know there is darkness in us, underneath we are good. Our souls that we were born with are pure and perfect. The divinity breathed it into us with the purpose of bringing light to this world. We are all pieces of the same pure soul that is looking to find the unity with the creator and with humanity. Every morning, we have another chance to dig into the beauty of ourselves and tap into the beauty of other fellow humans.

As a composer, I was inspired by this prayer to write an original melody that expresses my own heartfelt creativity and soulful gratitude for the gift of being alive.

The Very Rev. Michael T. Sniffen

Dean, Cathedral of the Incarnation, Garden City

Prayers resonate differently with us in various seasons of our lives. In my prayer life right now, silence has become increasingly important as has the simplest of spoken prayers: “Thank you.”

The public liturgies of the church are an essential way that I connect with a broader community of prayer in word and sacrament. I am also sustained with prayers written by others as poetry. A prayer I have been saying daily in recent months was written by Ted Loder in his 1984 book "Guerrillas of Grace, Prayers for the Battle." It begins, “O God, I come to you now as a child to my mother, out of the cold which numbs, into the warm who cares. Listen to me inside, under my words . . ."

It is important to know that God listens to us under our words, where we really live. A prayer I say every Sunday during the Eucharist begins, “Almighty God, to you all hearts are open, all desires known, and from you no secrets are hid.” Prayers such as these can help us let go of our need to find the right words. We don’t need to impress God with our prayers. God already knows us fully.

Good prayers can help settle us into an experience of God as unconditional love. God wants every human to know that they are loved, completely. Prayer helps us remember that God loves us and everybody else, and that our lives are best lived with this essential truth in mind.

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