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Prayer

Prayer

Prayer is a name given to the primary means for humans to make contact with the divine. In Western religion, especially, it is the means of contact between God and the individual believer. Prayer generally consists of one or more of the following elements: adoration and praise, thanksgiving, confession of sin, intercession for others, and supplication.

The belief that God intervenes to grant the petitions of fervent prayers, especially in the matter of healing the sick, has long been a central aspect of Christian theology, although in modern times more emphasis has been laid on submission to divine will than on desire for special favors. Such intervention is seen as the cause of most miracles and raises questions of the persistence of supernaturalism. Faith remains an essential component of successful prayer.

Samuel Jackson, in his biographical sketch of Jung-Stilling (J. Heinrich Jung ), records that he attained the means for his education by a succession of miracles in answer to fervent prayer. J. K. Lavater's life abounded in similar incidents. Augustus Franke of Halle erected a vast orphanage and yearly fed and educated thousands of children by the power of prayer, he said.

Christopher Blumhardt (1805-1880) of Württemberg, Germany, was not only famous for his prayer cures but also for his philanthropy, the means of which were procured by answer to prayer. Hundreds of persons reported to have been compelled by a power they could not resist to send presents of clothes or food to Blumhardt.

The Curé d'Ars, Jean Baptiste Vianney (1786-1859), furnishes a similar example of an extraordinary life of faith. He built three chapels and established a home for destitute children and another home for friendless women. Constant prayer, he said, was the source of his beneficence. When food, fuel, or money was wanted, he prayed for it and it came.

George Muller of Bristol, as related in his Life of Trust, being a Narrative of Some of the Lord's Dealings with George Muller (2 vols., 1837-41), depended on prayer for half a century for his own maintenance and that of his charitable institutions. He never asked anyone, or allowed anyone to be asked, directly or indirectly, for a penny. No subscriptions or collections were ever made. Hundreds of times there was no food in his house, yet he never took a loaf or any other article on credit even for a day. During the 30 years covered by his narrative, neither he nor the hundreds of children dependent on him for their daily food were ever without a regular meal. Secret prayer was his only resource, he claimed. The donors always described sudden and uncontrollable impulses to send him a definite sum at a certain date, the exact amount he was in want of.

F. W. H. Myers states in Human Personality and Its Survival of Bodily Death (2 vols., 1903) that "the recorded appearances, intimations, and messages of the departing and the departed" prove that "between the spiritual and material worlds an avenue of communication does existthat which we call the despatch and receipt of telepathic messages, or the utterance and the answer of prayer and supplication."

Traditional prayer in Western religions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) that imply a direct relationship between the believer and a beneficent deity have always been severely challenged by the existence of significant evil. The idea of a loving and omnipotent God acting on behalf of human life was put to its most intense test by the Holocaust of World War II. If there is any simple efficacy to devout and heartfelt prayers to a deity, why did the inconceivably monstrous horrors of the Nazi persecutions and prison camps fail to be averted? Reflection on this question has provided a watershed in theological thinking. It led in the short term to the emergence of the "death of God" movement in theology and only as some distance and reappraisal of the Holocaust has occurred has a theological reconstruction of faith been possible for many.

Less affected by the Holocaust were those who had adopted the alternative perspective on prayer offered by the metaphysical movements of the nineteenth century. Christian Science and New Thought metaphysics jettisoned a personal deity in favor of an underlying divine principle or law undergirding the visible structures of the universe. Prayer is seen much more as atuning oneself with the underlying universal spirit, in which condition anything is believed possible, especially on a personal scale. Numerous reports indicate that prayer with faith and confidence in this metaphysical context has produced the desired results in both a religious and secular setting. One wing of New Thought has retained a religious prayerful context, while a secular wing has simply emphasized the creative powers of the mind in achieving fulfillment of desire.

It seems possible that there are factors in prayer that are applicable to both religious and secular frames of thought, that faith and confidence enhance psychic factors at present not clearly identified. Even such mundane attempts to influence events as the willing of the fall of dice in parapsychological research may hold clues to the mechanisms of prayer.

Again, it is interesting to note that in such ancient religions as Hinduism, the gods are said to be unable to avoid granting requests when the petitioner has practiced intense austerities. This idea suggests that spiritual disciplines may bring about psychophysical changes in the petitioner that influence events. Secondary aspects of traditional prayer that may also have relevance are the ritualistic forms of prayers and the need for constant repetition, which, like autosuggestion, may enhance subconscious powers. The concept of faithful prayer often gradually drifts into various attempts not just to petition the divine but to assist or coerce the deity's action.

Ultimately, however, divine will takes priority over the mundane desires of petitioners, and even in mystical Hinduism the highest wisdom is said to be transcendental awareness, which is beyond desires and fears in the mundane world and which accepts favorable or unfavorable destiny with equanimity, much as the petitioner in the Christian tradition concludes, "Thy will be done."

Sources:

Bounds, E. M. Power Through Prayer. London, 1912. Reprint, Chicago: Moody Press, 1979.

Brown, William A. The Life of Prayer in a World of Science. London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1927.

Carrol, F. The Prayer of the Early Christians. London: Burns & Oates, 1930.

Fillmore, Charles, and Cora Fillmore. Teach Us to Pray. New York: Seabury Press, 1976.

Greene, Barbara, and W. Gollancz. God of a Hundred Names. London: Gollancz, 1962.

Humbard, Rex. Prayer With Power. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Books, n.d.

James, William. The Varieties of Religious Experience. London, 1902. Reprint, New Hyde Park, N.Y.: University Books, 1963.

Loehr, Franklin. The Power of Prayer on Plants. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1959.

Patton, William P. Prayer and Its Answers. New York, 1885.

Petuchowski, Jacob J., ed. Understanding Jewish Prayer. New York: Ktav Publications, 1972.

Sherman, Harold. How to Use the Power of Prayer. New York: C. & R. Anthony, 1959.

Stanton, Horace. Telepathy of the Celestial World. New York, 1913.

Steiner, Rudolf. The Lord's Prayer. London: Anthroposophic Press, n.d.

Theresa, St. The Interior Castle. London: Baker, 1921.

Yatiswarananda, Swami. Universal Prayers. 6th ed. Hollywood, Calif.: Vedanta Press, 1963.

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"Prayer." Encyclopedia of Occultism and Parapsychology. . Encyclopedia.com. 16 Dec. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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Prayer

Prayer (from Lat., precare, ‘to beg, entreat’). The relating of the self or soul to God in trust, penitence, praise, petition, and purpose, either individually or corporately. Some of these aspects of prayer have been isolated (e.g. petition as intercession), as have some of the ways of being before God (e.g. contemplation, meditation, recollection), so that the term ‘prayer’ may cover more, or less, in each tradition.

Judaism



See TEFILLAH; PRAYER BOOK (JUDAISM).

Christianity



Prayer is the acknowledgement of God as the source of all goodness and therefore the One who can meet human need and longing. It is thus an expression of wonder and a cry for help. A. Tanquerey (The Spiritual Life …, 1930) defined prayer as ‘an elevation of our soul to God to offer Him our homage and ask for His favours, in order to grow in holiness for His glory’. Christian prayer is prayer in Christ, sharing in the prayer of the Son to the Father through the Spirit, who in prayer exposes our deepest need (cf. Romans 8. 14–27). The model is Jesus' prayer to his Father, joyful, intimate, trusting, and obedient; the pattern is the prayer he gave to his disciples, the Lord's Prayer, which moves from adoration of the Father, through surrender to his will, to petition for sustenance, recognition of the need for forgiveness in the darkness of the world, and a cry for deliverance.

Islam



There are three major forms of prayer in Islam: ṣalāt, the obligatory prayer five times a day; dhikr, remembrance of God, developed especially in Sūfī Islam; and duʿāʾ, a more personal calling on God, of which the prayers based on yā Laṭīf, ‘O Gracious One’, are an example, based on Qurʾān 42. 19: ‘O Gracious One, … as you were generously kind in creating the heavens and the earth, and to me in the darkness of the womb, so be generously kind in your unswerving decree [qadar], and in your decisions concerning me.’ Prayers, or blessings, on the Prophet are also important.

Hinduism



Prayer permeates Hindu life, but not in so formal or detached a style as it does e.g. for Muslims. Great merit (puṇya) is accrued from the saying of prayers, many of which are derived from the Vedic hymns. Prayer is highly devotional, especially in bhakti, and often merges into mantra.

Sikhism



Prayer is rooted in nām simaraṇ, the calling to mind of God, brought about by meditation. Formal and informal prayer both begin and end with ardas. Praise is expressed through kirtan. Out of all this, petition flows.

Zoroastrianism



There are two main types of Zoroastrian prayer: private and more public liturgies. Every Zoroastrian is expected to recite the kusti prayers (naujote) at least five times daily having first cleansed himself or herself physically (by washing). The duty of prayer is common to all, high or low, male or female. There is a series of Avestan prayers which each Zoroastrian is expected to learn by heart, the Yatha Ahu Vairyo (Pahlavi, Ahunavar), thought to have been composed by Zoroaster himself: as the greatest of all Zoroastrian prayers, it can, where necessary, replace all other acts of devotion; Asem Vohu in praise of truth or righteousness; the Yenhe hatam, in praise of holy beings which is recited at the end of litanies; and the Airyema ishyo especially recited at weddings and which will be recited by the saviours at Frasokereti.

There are also the formal liturgies performed mainly in a temple, though some are still performed in the home.

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"Prayer." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of World Religions. . Encyclopedia.com. 16 Dec. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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prayer

prayer / pre(ə)r/ • n. a solemn request for help or expression of thanks addressed to God or an object of worship: I'll say a prayer for him| the peace of God is ours through prayer. ∎  (prayers) a religious service, esp. a regular one, at which people gather in order to pray together: 500 people were detained as they attended Friday prayers. ∎  an earnest hope or wish: it is our prayer that the current progress on human rights will be sustained. PHRASES: not have a prayer inf. have no chance at all of succeeding at something: he doesn't have a prayer of toppling Tyson.

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"prayer." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Encyclopedia.com. 16 Dec. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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"prayer." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Retrieved December 16, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/prayer-1

prayer

prayer Act of thanking, adoring, conferring with, or petitioning a divine power; also the form of words used for this purpose. Many religions have set forms for praying. Muslims recite prayers while facing in the direction of Mecca. In Christianity, the Roman Catholic missal contains regulated customary prayers. The Book of Common Prayer plays the same role in the Anglican Communion. Prayer can also be the private devotional act of an individual using his or her own words.

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prayer

prayer prayer mat a small carpet used by Muslims for kneeling on when praying.
prayer wheel a small revolving cylinder inscribed with or containing prayers, a revolution of which symbolizes the repetition of a prayer, used by Tibetan Buddhists.

See also Prayer of Manasses at Manasseh.

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Prayer

PRAYER

The request contained in a bill inequitythat the court will grant the process, aid, or relief that the complainant desires.

In addition, the term prayer is applied to that segment of the bill that contains this request.

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"Prayer." West's Encyclopedia of American Law. . Encyclopedia.com. 16 Dec. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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prayer

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