Question: How do we pray for old family members with different faiths? Can we pray for them in a Buddhist way, though everyone’s karmic inclinations are different?
Answer: Everyone has different karmic inclinations, but everyone has karma that can change too, with everyone’s efforts. Buddhists usually do not pray for others in terms of their religions, especially if there is doctrinal incongruence, such as when they have subjects of refuge deemed cosmically non-existent by the Buddha, or when they have impossible (or vague) spiritual goals. As such, we should continue praying for them with compassion in terms of our faith.
For example, after doing good, chanting of sutras, mantras, Buddha’s name and such, we should dedicate merits the usual way we do to benefit all beings, adding these lines at the end – ‘May I be more skilful in awakening So-and-so to the Buddha’s teachings by my good example and Dharma sharing, and may So-and-so be more swift in awakening to, and accepting the Buddha’s precious teachings leading to Buddhahood.’