Churches, mosques, synagogues, temples, and the like are spiritual dojos (or they should be). They are useful and essential places when used in the right way. But the real prayer begins when one leaves and faces the world without those protective walls, or the immediate guidance of their teacher.
All spiritual teachers must teach their students to leave them. To walk away. If they don't do that, they are not real. Any true master knows that the student does not belong to them; and to have them around our short lives is a great blessing. If religion is used not as a method of perfecting the human being, but to perpetuate or augment political power - or more specifically, the transformation of the ego into a false god, then it ceases to be what it claims to be. All its rhetoric is mere Orwellian Doublethink; and in the end, the natural nobility of the human being is degraded and ruined.
Real mercy appears from time to time in its purest form, but we rarely recognize it as such, because we see it through out own distorted perceptions. The knowledge that real mercy encompasses has to be carried by the illuminated beings in this world. There's no other way. Real Faith is a dimensional shift in consciousness; a direct experience of certainty that bypasses the mind and the emotions. It is a revelation of the soul, not a subscription to a premise or a concept. It cannot be seen by the eyes or encompassed by the mind. There are no words to describe or teach it; a teacher can only show the way. There is, in the end, no intercessor between the seeker and That Which is Sought. All else is, at best, a helpful road map or a fancy GPS; not the road itself.
I am a musician. I have 40 years of practice under my belt. And as essential as it was, NONE of my studies or practice ever gave me any indication of what it would be like to be on stage, and making music that would invoke a real reaction from the listeners. An hour before I wrote this, I did exercises on my sitar: essential to keeping my fingers and skills in shape. But when I do my next performance, I must bring tears to people's eyes. I must make them feel, to go into trances and have visions. To invoke a real spiritual experience / remembrance.
Most people cannot differentiate a moment of REAL spiritual enlightenment from mere emotional or intellectual intensity. This is a fatal mistake they fall into again and again. Unless they learn the difference between true enlightenment and the the phantoms our minds and emotions throw into our faces, they will never realize the potential that lies dormant in us all,,, waiting for us to claim the gift that Allah gave us.
Who are we to refuse our birthright?