“You enter in your room and you pray in front of your father who is present with you. It is a moment of intimacy with God.”

Here’s an interesting and inspiring glimpse at personal prayer in one of America’s most diverse cities from The New York Times:

In some homes, altars mark the area where family members worship. In others, the space is sanctified — for a time — by actions such as lighting candles over a dining room table on a Friday evening or praying several times a day while facing east, on a rug in a living room. The many ways that New Yorkers practice their faiths inside their homes reflect the city’s diversity.

“New York most likely has more religions than any other city in the world,” said Tony Carnes, the founder of A Journey Through NYC Religions, a nonprofit that is mapping houses of worship and religious sites in the city. His organization has identified 39 different categories of religions in New York, but within those, there are at least 435 variations, many of which can be considered separate religions, he said.

While these sacred spaces have long existed throughout New York, they became even more meaningful during the pandemic, as many houses of worship restricted access.

The article covers a cross-section of faiths, including Islam, Hinduism, Evangelical Christianity and Catholicism:

Every day Julio Mazariegos kneels in prayer with his wife, Francisca, and their three children, Jenny, 23, Edgar, 21, and Jesús, 18, in front of the altar he built in the living room of their apartment in Jamaica, Queens. Though his wife grew up in a very religious Catholic family with daily devotions in the home, Mr. Mazariegos’s family life was less religious, and more challenging. In his teens he fell into a life of “drugs and other vices,” he said.

But they met and fell in love in Guatemala, and he slowly found his way to the church after they came to Queens in 1995. As Mr. Mazariegos became more involved with his church and their family grew, he built an altar in their home because, he said, “an intimate space needs to exist with family.”

The family attends the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary Roman Catholic Church, where they are all deeply involved in church activities. Each of the children has made smaller personal alters by their own beds where they pray before going to sleep.

“You enter in your room and you pray in front of your father who is present with you,” he said. “It is a moment of intimacy with God.”

Read it all.