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Prayer and Praying
By Joan Whetzel
Everyone feels the need to intimately connect with something or someone outside ourselves. Prayer is one way to get that intimate connecting with God, like having a one on one conversation with God. There are so many ways enter into prayer, which means there’s really no wrong way of doing it.
Prayer can be defined as the act of making requests from God, the act of initiating a relationship or conversation with God, or the act of connecting with God – or with another deity. Prayer can be initiated on a personal level (just between you and God) or in group prayer, such as your regular religious services or in a prayer group. Prayer can be held in public places or it can be done in a private place. Prayer can be spoken aloud, sung or chanted, or it can be expressed silently. Some prayers are more formal in nature (i.e. the Nicene Creed or the Lord’s Prayer) while others are a more spontaneous outpouring by the pray-er. There are several types of prayer: worship, adoration, prayers of confession or asking for forgiveness, prayers of love, requests for help, the giving of thanks, meditative prayer, and intercessory prayer.
Prayer as a Tool of Faith
Prayers, when used as a tool of faith, are genuine expressions of our belief in God and a method for renewal of spirit. Prayers help to fulfill our longing to connect to God. They are a dialogue or conversation with God as well as a way to reach deeper into ourselves in our daily searches for more meaning for our lives. They’re an appeal to God for His support in times of need as well as for counsel when we cannot seem to find the answers we seek. Prayers are poetry, art, music, and moments of awe. Prayers are an expression of our gratitude to God.
Forms of Prayer
The different forms of prayer illustrate the many ways that we can communicate with God. Each form of prayer has its own purpose.
- Adoration praises the greatness of God and acknowledges that we are dependent on Him for everything.
- Praise and Worship are another way to thank God for creating the world and creating us. It’s another way of praising God’s majesty, glory and love.
- Thanksgiving shows gratitude to God for all the small things, like making sure we have food on the table, clothes on our back, a roof over our head, money when we need it. We’re thanking Him for everything He has provided us with.
- Confession and Expiation are two forms of prayer that are related. Confession and Expiation are opportunities to acknowledge that we have sinned, that we know which sins we have committed, and that we are asking for God’s forgiveness.
- Love prayers are prayers expressing our love for God in the same way we would tell our loved ones here on Earth how much we love them. They are simple expressions of love.
- Supplications or Petitions are prayers asking God for the things we need, either in the spiritual realm or the physical world (guidance, healing, safety, blessings, etc.). Usually these prayers include the intention that we are willing to accept God’s provision in these matters, whether it’s what we’re asking for or not.
- Meditative prayer may be sitting in silence, simply waiting on God’s time, meditation, contemplation, or centering prayer as a means of encountering God. Have you ever just been together with someone else, without actually feeling the need for conversation? Meditative prayer is like this, simply being together with God.
- Intercessory prayer is the act of praying for the needs and concerns of someone other than yourself. You’re praying on someone else’s behalf either because they asked for additional prayers for their needs and concerns, or because you see situations in their life that may benefit from the additional prayers.
Reasons to Pray
So why should we pray?
- To reflect on what we have experienced in our life, on the scriptures, on words of wisdom spoken over us.
- To create a moment of silence in a hectic life.
- To share a bit of stillness or a meditative place with God, and to connect with His nature.
- To deepen our relationship with God.
- To improve relationships with our loved ones.
- To improve our appreciation for the things we have in our lives – our home, our school, our car, our job, our paycheck.
- For the wisdom to make the right choices and the best decisions.
- To help us serve other people and our community.
- For our loved ones, for their needs, concerns, moral integrity, and their spiritual lives.
- For our government leaders, for their ability to make the wisest decisions, for all government leaders around the world.
- For our armed forces.
- For the opportunity to be a blessing or offer encouragement to someone else
- To ask and receive a measure of hope, especially in times of crisis.
- To ask for healing when ill or comfort when we are troubled.
- To ask for God’s assistance to let go of those situations that we have no control over.
- As a means of building our faith, developing character in a positive way, broadening our perspective on a situation or set of circumstances.
But the number one reason for praying should always be to bring us closer to God.
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