Prayer

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 What Is Prayer?

 

For some, it is a formal way to ‘talk to God,’ in which they set aside a specific time of day or in a specific place whether in their home, or at their place of worship (church, synagogue, temple, etc.).

According to Biblestudytools.com “…Though prayer also includes adoration (e.g., Pss. 144-150 Luke 1:46-55 ), confession (e.g., Psalm 51 ; Luke 18:13 ), and thanksgiving (e.g., Psalm 75 ; 1 Thess 1:2 ), Christian prayer has always been essentially petitionary… Petitions are made for rain and fire, relief from famine and plague, resurrections from the dead, and so forth..”

Even though I wasn’t raised in any formal religion, I still remember growing up learning the ‘now I lay me down to sleep…’ children’s bedtime prayer.

 

A Child’s Bedtime Prayer

~ Henry Johnstone

Now I lay me down to sleep.
I pray the Lord my soul to keep.
If I should die before I wake,
I pray to God my soul to take.
If I should live for other days,
I pray the Lord to guide my ways.

Father, unto thee I pray,
Thou hast guarded me all day;
Safe I am while in thy sight,
Safely let me sleep tonight.
Bless my friends, the whole world bless;
Help me to learn helpfulness;
Keep me every in thy sight;
So to all I say good night.

 

Thriving-Baby-Boomers - Spirituality - Prayer

Child praying

 

I find this such a scary prayer to teach children on so many levels. First off, it’s planting the seed about death at bedtime; secondly it is teaching the child to petition to an outside source.

The Lord’s Prayer also fits this category of a petitionary prayer:

 

The Lord’s Prayer

Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.

Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us, and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever.

Amen.

 

Give us, forgive us, lead us, and deliver us are all phrases of petition, asking of someone, something outside of one’s self.

Most people are also familiar with the Serenity Prayer – another form of petitionary prayer most often used within 12-Step recovery programs.

 

Serenity Prayer

Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971)

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

 

Again, petitioning someone, something outside of one’s self for the serenity, courage and wisdom.


The fewer the words the better prayer. 

~ Martin Luther


 

Therefore, the shortest form of a prayer is “Help,” or “please Help!”   It’s still a petitionary prayer though.

 


 

Prayers can either be formal or informal; they can either be said aloud or silently. Some people believe they need special postures such as kneeling and/or hands folded in a certain manner. Most experts agree that belief is a necessary part of prayer; without belief, they say, there is little likelihood that the prayers will be answered.

Prayer can also be a way of being. I firmly believe that as I go about my day, my life and my actions are a prayer. And I do ‘talk to God’ (The Universal Creative Force) as I go for a walk in my neighbourhood. Most of my prayers are prayers of gratitude and awe at the magnificence of Life and Nature. Most of my prayers are silent, with no special postures or gestures.

 

Do you have any prayer rituals you’d like to share? Leave your comment in the box below.

 

 

See my essay on Spiritual Mind Treatment (a prayer format of the New Thought Movement)

 

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