The Tradition, Book One
by Rev. Chung Hwan Kwak
Prayer Rooms and Altars
God is invisible; He can reveal Himself to us no matter what the circumstance. In order to cultivate an atmosphere more conducive to communication with Him, it is fitting for us to create a special place of prayer, whether elaborate or simple.
If it is possible, devote one room in the center or home for use as a prayer room; it may double as a guest room if necessary. This practice allows us to attend others in the same manner as we desire to attend God and True Parents.
If it is not possible to set aside one room, choose a certain area in one of the major rooms to serve as the main place of prayer.
Services and Daily Use.
Worship services may be held in the prayer area.
It is a good practice, but not mandatory, for members to offer prayer in the prayer area when entering or leaving the center or home each day.
If desired, members may maintain this practice with regard to all daily activity, for example, even when leaving from the home or center on a shopping trip. Such practices show Heavenly Father their desire to live with the humility and purity of offering and attending
Him even in simple tasks. In this way, too, one may experience great spiritual guidance.
Clean the prayer area each day to nurture a more holy and sanctified feeling. Make it special, as if it were a Holy Ground.
Much attention should be paid to the proper upkeep of this area. Beautiful curtains, fresh flowers, plants, special chairs, pillows or cushions will help promote a holy environment.
Prayer Room Decorations
Possibilities for prayer room decorations include a scroll with the contents of My Pledge (Korean or native language), or the Unification Church symbol or flag.
Prayer Room Etiquette
Bowing When Entering and Exiting Prayer Room.
There is no actual tradition which requires bowing when entering and exiting a prayer room. If a member feels comfortable doing so, the practice of offering a bow (such as a nod of the head or a bow to the waist) is certainly acceptable. However, more important than any external ritual is for each member to cultivate an attitude of attendance during prayer.
Refer to chapter 1, Attendance Etiquette: Offering a Full Bow for details on the correct way to bow. It is important to keep the whole body as low as possible so as to maintain a dignified posture.
The most respectful position is kneeling; however, members also may sit or stand. Members should be aware that sitting with their legs stretched out directly in front of them appears too casual, even disrespectful, when coming before Heavenly Father or True Parents.
There are several factors to keep in mind when setting up an altar. Do not become overly concerned about how fancy or simple it is. While an altar can help create an atmosphere, the attitude with which we pray is what is most important. We speak with Heavenly Father in front of the altar; the purity of our mind during prayer is the most significant thing to Him.
If it is Difficult to Set Up an Altar.
Members in politically dangerous situations or who are traveling may find it difficult to set up a permanent altar. Prayer and worship services can certainly be held without an altar or a picture of True Parents. The most important thing is the attitude and mind with which the service is dedicated to God, not the external setting.
If the situation allows, carry a small picture of True Parents or other items mentioned below, and if desired, use them to set up an altar for prayer services.
If making a permanent altar is possible, the area should first be thoroughly cleaned and sanctified with Holy Salt. (Refer to chapter 8, Holy Salt: Rooms or Areas.)
Place a clean cloth (light-colored is most preferred) on the "altar" (small desks, tables, etc., are all acceptable). Place a picture of the True Parents or the True Family upon it. Other items which would be considered appropriate include: flowers (fresh if possible), a Shimjung Candle, and a container of special Holy Salt (i.e., salt made by a church elder or the first Holy Salt a member received -- not Holy Salt which is used daily).
Although it is not necessary, members may place a small picture of Heung Jin Nim on the altar.
Placement of the Altar
It is best to place the altar along the north wall of a room. However, if the placement of doors or windows makes it difficult to position the altar there, it may be located against any wall. If it is at all possible, the altar should remain set up in the room.
Holy Day Offering Tables
On Holy Days members create an "offering table" by placing bowls and baskets of fruits, nuts, candies, etc., on the altar. (See chapter 14, Holy Days: Recommendations for Holy Day Celebrations Held on Center/Departmental/State/or National Level for details.)
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