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This is a favourite saying of my long-time friend, fellow Cursillista and active Anglican, Forbes, who, 18 years ago, introduced me to the Taoist and Buddhist meditation discipline, Qi Gong. Our small men’s group, a follow on to Cursillo, has been getting together regularly for about 29 years and we have often talked about whether or not being a Christian is the only way to have a relationship with God. Our opinion has been that aspects of other traditions can enrich our relationships as Christians.

I am honoured and grateful to have the opportunity to contribute to this community as a Christian and a member of the Anglican Church.  Christianity is a major facet of my relationship with the creator and my spiritual journey but not the only facet. I’ve been a bit tentative about sharing this info because I appreciate that aspects of my spiritual journey may be unfamiliar to you. However, when it comes to prayer, I draw on all of these aspects of my journey.

Qi Gong has been a part of my life for 18 years and I have been teaching for 13 years. It is a meditation and movement discipline related to Tai Chi and traditional Chinese medicine, specifically acupuncture. The intent of this practice is to heal one’s body. The word “Qi” or “Chi” is the Chinese word for the universal life force that permeates all things. There is no direct translation to English. In Hebrew, the closest word is “Ruache” which I believe translates to “wind of God”.

1 Corinthians 6:19 refers to our bodies as “temples of the Holy Spirit”. I like to take reasonable care of my personal temple and Qi Gong has helped me sleep better, be sick less often, be more relaxed and become more body-aware. I will write more on Qi Gong another time.

Another facet of my spiritual life is Reiki. This is a discipline that began in Japan. “Ki” is “Qi” in Japanese. Reiki is intended for healing of oneself and others. I am a Reiki Master. This means I have done training to the level where I could practice and teach Reiki. I have chosen not to do this for a living and to keep it as an aspect of other parts of my life. I practice on family members including pets. The animals seem particularly responsive.

I’m looking forward to an upcoming visit to Sorrento Centre, a retreat centre in the BC interior which is part of the Anglican Church. It is one of my favourite places. I will be attending a weekend of training in Inca Shamanic practice. My shamanic training predates my Qi Gong activity. This is not something I intended to do. What I was told: you don’t decide to be a Shaman, other Shamans recognize you. I was recognized by another Shaman, also an engineer, over 20 years ago.  I learned from him and other Shamans — who were actually mostly women. This weekend is attended mostly by women and is led by a Catholic nun.

How does all this stuff impact my prayer life? A few things: focus, intent and experience.

Qi Gong and Shamanic practice have many elements of meditation. They have helped me learn to tune out the background noise around me and in my head and focus.

When praying for someone else, my intention is for them to become all they have in them to become; I have no expectation, ownership, control or condition on the outcome. I strive to be a clear channel of God’s love and light. The Sufi poet Hafiz wrote “I am a hole in a flute that the Christ’s breath flows through.” This is my intent. It’s not perfect – sometimes the flute is a bit out of tune 😉

The healing arts, Qi Gong, Reiki and the Shamanic practices, can result in some tangible experience. In my mind these are more intense forms of prayer perhaps like comparing running to walking. And they are doing the same thing in different ways. It’s hard to describe Qi because we can’t see it. That’s an issue for some. However I usually argue that I’ve also never seen a microwave, cel phone signal or something as basic as gravity. I experience some indications of their existence.

I offered Reiki to my son’s girlfriend recently to help with her knee problem. Her comment: “This is weird, it feels all tingly”. She was experiencing something. What was actually happening to her knee? I don’t own that or have any expectation of the outcome – I leave that to our Creator. However I pray her knee will heal and she’ll dance again.

And all this is done with focus and intention. I believe the power of my prayer is real even though I don’t see it, and most of time there is no immediate or obvious result.

Do you have knowledge and experience from other traditions that are a part of your journey and prayer life? How does that make a difference for you?

Mark Perrin

About Mark Perrin

I’m a member of St Martin’s Anglican in Calgary and a director of the Anglican Fellowship of Prayer. I’m an engineer by training and consult in the oil patch doing engineering, IT and finance work. I am married and have three children. At church I’m an intercessor and participate in our healing prayer ministry. My spiritual life includes Christianity, the healing arts of Qi Gong, Reiki and Shamanism, and a curiosity about how creation works. In my spare time I occasionally post to this site, play with motorcycles, guitars, computers and model trains.
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0 Responses to All roads lead to Rome

  1. I’ll let Wikipedia describe it, “Nature religion is an academic term used to refer to those religious movements which believe that the natural world is an embodiment of divinity, sacredness or spiritual power. It does not denote any particular religious movement per se, instead being used in reference to a variety of different religious groups and sub-groups.”

    All my life I’ve felt the natural evironment is an all encompassing “church”. As much as I love the church building, and the church community, it’s easier for me to pray and meditate outside. Certainly not unknown in the Christian church, but perhaps more common in indigenous faiths.

  2. I’ll let Wikipedia describe it, “Nature religion is an academic term used to refer to those religious movements which believe that the natural world is an embodiment of divinity, sacredness or spiritual power. It does not denote any particular religious movement per se, instead being used in reference to a variety of different religious groups and sub-groups.”

    All my life I’ve felt the natural evironment is an all encompassing “church”. As much as I love the church building, and the church community, it’s easier for me to pray and meditate outside. Certainly not unknown in the Christian church, but perhaps more common in indigenous faiths.

  3. Well said, Wikipedia.

  4. Kyle Norman

    Thanks for this post Mark.  This is definately something that I think many in the church are now exploring.  I would be interested in your response to some of the questions I usually recieve regarding these things.  As I live in a multicultural city, every once and a while someone in the congregation will reference Qi gong, Reiki, or a host of other expressions of prayer and ask something like:

    “How do those practices coincide with our command to pray ‘in Jesus’ name?’

    I have to admit as someone unifnformed on Qi gong, Reikie, or Shamanistic practices, I usually don’t have the most definitive answer to give. 

    I would be interested to know who you would answer that question.

    Thanks again.

  5. Mark Perrin


    An interesting question! I have some thoughts on this but first I have to answer with another question. Can you suggest some scripture references that relates to the phrase “…our command to pray in Jesus’ name…”. It would help me to read the context of that.


  6. Kyle Norman

    I think the context is largely informed from Jesus’ statement regarding ‘anything you ask in my name’ (primarily in John) .  It is why many people end prayers with ‘In the name of Jesus Christ we pray . .’   

    Not an authoritative teaching – but I think that for many there is a strong identification of what ‘name’ we pray in and the God to whom we pray.  I wouldn’t say this is unfounded either.  That was one of the profound things regarding YHWH.  That term is not a title but a name – an identity.  This, of course, gets traced through to the name that is above every other name: Jesus.  Some may not be able to articulate that full rational, but I think that is essentially the base of it. I  think the overall fear and assumption would be that if we change the language (the name we use to pray) we change the God to whom we are praying.   Hence their questions regarding Qi Gong, Reiki, Native Spirituality and Shamanism

    A related question that I would have would be how is it (or would it be) recieved if you end a Reiki session with the phrase “This we pray in the Name of Jesus Christ  our Lord.”  Is that allowable with other masters?  It seems popular today to use practices from other traditions to expand and inform our prayers, does that go the other way?  Are people of other traditions taking Christian practices (rosary, lectio Devina, the Lord’s prayer) as a means to expand and inform their own prayer life?


  7. Afra Saskia Tucker

    I’m so glad all of this is being discussed. Just two comments for now:

    When Jesus stated that we should receive all that we ask in his name, do you think what he meant was pronouncing his name (however it would be in each’s language) at the end of any request would be sufficient for that request to be fulfilled? If we are talking about identity, does not a rose by any other name smell just as sweet? I don’t mean to sound facetious; it’s something I reflect on quite a bit, actually.

    Also, anecdotally: last month I was doing yoga led by a Christian who would utter to himself  ‘praise the Lord’ after certain poses. It struck me as unusual, but not inappropriate. I like to be open to see how things can fit together in new, yet untested ways. I’m always super inspired when people make connections and harmonize a variety of practices they discover beneficial to their well-being with their foundational faith tradition. For me, these are instances of spiritual openness and maturity.

  8. Kyle Norman

    We could probably go quite far down the road of discussing the connection between naming and identity.  I am currenly pondering a post regarding the culture’s endorsement of distinctive, community specific language, (have you tried ordering a DoubleDouble at Starbucks?) so maybe I will include some thoughts there.

    My question arose simply from reading Mark’s post and knowing that there are people in my congregation (probably a lot of congregations) who would think differently about this.  I wouldn’t want to suggest that they are not spiritually open or mature in any way – there is a deeply held faith and spirituality that goes along with their particular question regarding such practices.

    I would be interested in Mark’s response to people’s questions regarding this, as obviusly he is more involved and knowlegable about these things than I.  I think knowing Mark’s response would help me better clarify my own response if/when people in my congregation come to ask me about these things.

  9. Afra Saskia Tucker

    I have definitely never ordered a Double Double…anywhere. Lol. But yes, your point is well taken, and I look forward to reading your post on naming and identity.

    Just to clarify, I too share your concern that no one be labelled with spiritual immaturity. What I have shared is my own reality of moving towards spiritual maturity. I’m young, so the path appears far from over; but I take and share examples as they make themselves known. As you’ve suggested through your question to Mark, it’s not really obvious how these ‘alternative’ practices in conjunction with more common practices are to be negotiated. And that is why I have added my voice to the conversation.

    And yes, I too look forward to Mark’s answer. I definitely enjoyed his post.

  10. Mark Perrin

    Wow, this is quite the discussion! I’ll answer as best I can.

    I have learned most of these other traditions and techniques from other Christians. The Shaman I originally learned from and my Reiki Master who taught me — both practicing Christians. The Catholic nun leading the upcoming workshop at Sorrento would fall in that category. I learned adding Christian language and symbols to these practises from these folks. However, my Qi Gong master is 100% Buddhist.

    When I am doing healing work, I ask for Christ’s presence and my intention is to be a clear channel of God’s love and light – the hole in the flute. This is usually done in silence so the word’s “in Jesus’ name” don’t come out of my mouth. I often end with this phrase silently “In the name of all that is good”. When I am saying healing prayers with someone at Church, the prayer is out loud and ends with “in Jesus’ name we pray.” For me there is no difference in God in these two scenarios. To me there is one God who is the triple being of Mother/Father, Christ and the Holy Spirit. I appreciate that some are sensitive to how names are used. I personally connect with YHWH and I AM. I appreciate we’re all in different places and others will feel differently.

    Some may feel that these practices may be outside of our Christian tradition and I respect that. My feeling is the important part is the intent of what I’m doing rather than where the technique came from. If I am praying for someone or doing healing work and my intent is for them to heal and grow in the way God intended for them – for them to become all God gave them in this life to become – and as best as I can, I clear my personal agenda from the process, does it matter what label I apply to what I’m doing?

    I hope that helps a bit and I look forward to the next posts.


  11. But do we really need to name the Name of Jesus? Probably not … virtually all our prayers, both formal and extempore, are addressed in some fashion to the Father  — Oh Lord/Heavenly Father/ Almighty God. There is the very important self-identification of Jesus with God – for example when He calms the storm (and also  the peace of mind of the disciples) when He says “It is I”  – the same term used by God in naming Himself as YHWY in Ex.3.14 – the Greek form found in the Septuagint is ‘ego eimi’ -I AM. Jesus says exactly that in Mk.6.50 ego eimi  – ‘It is I’.

    This self-identity is repeated in other places  ‘I and the Father are One…’

    So by prefacing a prayer by Father; Lord; &c the Name of Jesus is already invoked.

    All of this is completely beside the point that we are in fact praying – a necessity of our spiritual life; be it for ourselves, for others, or simply !  proclaiming the Glory of God – Holy, Holy, Holy  — and the Gloria in Excelsis  for example.

  12. What about those who worship a mother goddess – Wiccans, for example?

    And by the same logic, those who worship one or more of the 3,000 (approx.) Hindu gods? What about the Aztec god(s)  — ewww ! I’ m not a big fan of human sacrifices!

    However, do we extend to them the courtesy, charity &c. of saying ‘Well, they are worshipping God whether they know it or not – they’re going about it in – not quite the right way.

    Obviously we must eliminate those who are ‘satan-worshippers’  in whatever form they are to be found as well as any ‘gods’ that are inherently evil. But where and how do you draw the line?

    Do we recall that the first Commandment ‘ no other gods but Me’  was to eliminate the various other gods of the times  — the Baals, the Egyptian gods &c?

    Do we ‘un-name’ all these beings, or simply categorize their followers as ‘well intentioned but misguided.

  13. Mark Perrin

    Very interesting! A couple thoughts drawn from my zero seconds of theological training 😉

    I keep thinking that the intention of the person praying is important. If they’re coming from a place of unconditional love, I’m wondering how important the labels are. When I hear my Buddhist Qi Gong master give a blessing, there are no God-like labels used but the intent sure seems the same.

    An issue for me is, if the person is praying for me, I need to trust them and their intention. Whether or not I trust them doesn’t have a lot to do with their religious affiation. My Buddhist Qi Gong master earned my trust a long time ago. There are a few folks who say they are Christians that, based on behaviour I’ve observed, I don’t trust.

    This seems like an opportunity to pose a slightly tangential question that I keep writing on the little question slips our minister collects from time to time. If God is the creator of all the universe and all we experience, is Satan (or whatever label is preferred) part of God’s creation?

  14. re: Satan. Oh yes, very much ‘created’ – remember the Creed? God is ‘maker of heaven and earth, and of all! things, visible and invisible.’ (my emphasis). And there is of course that fact that he is/was the greatest of the archangels, who rebelled against God and was thrown down with the third of the angels who rebelled with him. (His name was Lucifer before that)    see: Rev.12.7

  15. I think it was St. Augustine (among others, I’m sure) that used the image of ‘pillaging the Egyptians’ (refering to the Hebrews taking property and goods with them from Egypt in the Exodus) as a metaphor for taking what is good from a non-Christian culture and using it for Christian purposes. In his case, he was talking about the riches of Classical culture, but I think, to some degree, the same idea can be applied to some of the practices talked about here. Intention matters here, but also does the symbolic ‘capture’ by attaching Christian meanings and Christian associations with the practice we’re doing. So, a yoga instructor invoking Jesus or using a passage from Scripture as his meditation point does not alarm me. It is merely using a mediation technique in a new, Christian context.

    For myself, I find that the  same function of a lot of these Eastern based meditation techniques tends to be taken by refering the Desert Fathers and Mothers of the 4th century AD and onwards. Part of that is my Classics geekiness which tends to inform my the way I think, but I also note it as a deeply meditative set of practices where were Christian to start with and has brought very important wisdom and practices to bear which are only now being painfully rediscovered. This is why I tend not to veer towards yoga and such like because I figure my own tradition is rich enough for my purposes.

    I’m not denigrating anyone who does use yoga and such things, but I also note our tradition isn’t so bereft of resources for prayer as we might feel sometimes in our arid Western culture.

  16. your classical what? greek-i-ness did you say?

    logical and philosophical, I suppose, but not roman-tic …..


  17. Classical ‘greekiness’ did you say?

  18. Charlie;

    No, that’s Classical geekiness. A neologism, but meant to convey my status as a geek and as a Classicist. I’m a Latin teacher, so I come by it honestly.

  19. AHH! now I understand!

    A practioner of ‘Romantic Greekiness’

    (Sorry, Phil; whenever I run across the potential for an extended pun, well, it’s like a cinnamon bun – I just can’t resist.  🙂   )

    Come to think of it, next week is the beginning of Advent  –  so no more cinnamon buns for a while. No more puns either, I guess.

    Then, however – Christus incarnatus fuit – I can go back to being a nuisance. (a friendly one, I hope ! )

    I suspect that ‘fuit’ is not the future perfect of ‘esse’ but it’s been a very long time….

    btw: not quite all roads led to Rome; you’ve left out Constantinople.                                               so  if  you want a source of abundant reflective material, check them out -google!

    Pax dominum, amicus.


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