Christian prayer

Prayer is an important activity in Christianity, and there are several different forms of Christian prayer.[1]

Christian prayers are diverse: they can be completely spontaneous, or read entirely from a text, like the Anglican Book of Common Prayer. The most common prayer among Christians is the "Lord's Prayer", which according to the gospel accounts (e.g. Matthew 6:9-13) is how Jesus taught his disciples to pray.[2] "The Lord's Prayer" is a model for prayers of adoration, confession and petition in Christianity.[2]

A broad, three stage characterization of prayer begins with vocal prayer, then moves on to a more structured form in terms of meditation, then reaches the multiple layers of contemplation,[3][4] or intercession.

There are two basic settings for Christian prayer: corporate (or public) and private. Corporate prayer includes prayer shared within the worship setting or other public places. These prayers can be formal written prayers or informal extemporaneous prayers. Private prayer occurs with the individual praying either silently or aloud within a private setting. Prayer exists within multiple different worship contexts and may be structured differently. These types of contexts may include:

Liturgical: Often seen within the Catholic Church. This is a very orthodox service, according to Catholics. Within a Catholic Mass, which is an example of a liturgical form of worship, there are bible readings and a sermon is read.

Often seen within the Holy Orthodox Church. The Holy Bible is read and a sermon is read.

Non-Liturgical: Often seen within Evangelical church, this prayer is often not scripted and would be more informal in structure. Most of these prayers would be extemporaneous.

Charismatic: Often seen within gospel churches. It is the main form of worship in Pentecostal churches. It usually includes song and dance, and may include other artistic expressions. There may be no apparent structure, but the worshippers will be "led by the Holy Spirit".

Background

Dürer, Albrecht - Hand Study with Bible - 1506
Hands on the Bible, Albrecht Dürer, 16th century.

Prayer in the New Testament is presented as a positive command (Colossians 4:2; 1 Thessalonians 5:17). The people of God are challenged to include prayer in their everyday life, even in the busy struggles of marriage (1 Corinthians 7:5) as it is thought to bring the faithful closer to God.

Throughout the New Testament, prayer is shown to be God's appointed method by which the faithful obtain what he has to bestow (Matthew 7:7-11; Matthew 9:24-29; Luke 11:13).

Prayer, according to the Book of Acts, can be seen at the first moments of the church (Acts 3:1). The apostles regarded prayer as an essential part of their lives (Acts 6:4; Romans 1:9; Colossians 1:9). As such, the apostles frequently incorporated verses from Psalms into their writings. Romans 3:10-18 for example is borrowed from Psalm 14:1-3 and other psalms.

Thus, due to this emphasis on prayer in the early church. lengthy passages of the New Testament are prayers or canticles (see also the Book of Odes), such as the Prayer for forgiveness (Mark 11:25-26), the Lord's Prayer, the Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55), the Benedictus (Luke 1:68-79), Jesus' prayer to the one true God (John 17), exclamations such as, "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ" (Ephesians 1:3-14), the Believers' Prayer (Acts 4:23-31), "may this cup be taken from me" (Matthew 26:36-44), "Pray that you will not fall into temptation" (Luke 22:39-46), Saint Stephen's Prayer (Acts 7:59-60), Simon Magus' Prayer (Acts 8:24), "pray that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men" (2 Thessalonians 3:1-2), and Maranatha (1 Corinthians 16:22).

Types of prayer

Ramsowo, kościół, modlitwa
Woman praying in a church
Conmemoración de Asociación de Costureros y Costureras 24 de septiembre
Catholic prayer doing the Lord's Prayer in Mexico

Liturgical prayers

Elements of the oldest Christian prayers may be found in liturgies such as the Roman Catholic Mass, the Orthodox Divine Liturgy, the Anglican Book of Common Prayer, and the Lutheran Book of Worship.

Seasonal prayers

Many denominations that adhere to a liturgical tradition use specific prayers geared to the season of the Liturgical Year, such as Advent, Christmas, Lent and Easter. Some of these prayers are found in the Roman Breviary, the Liturgy of the Hours, the Orthodox Book of Needs and the Anglican Book of Common Prayer.

Prayer to saints

The ancient church, in both Eastern Christianity and Western Christianity, developed a tradition of asking for the intercession of (deceased) saints, and this remains the practice of most Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and some Anglican churches. Churches of the Protestant Reformation however rejected prayer to the saints, largely on the basis of the sole mediatorship of Christ.[5] The reformer Huldrych Zwingli admitted that he had offered prayers to the saints until his reading of the Bible convinced him that this was idolatrous.[6]

Meditation and contemplative prayer

OCD Zelle
A Carmelite nun meditating on the Bible

Christian meditation is a structured attempt to get in touch with and deliberately reflect upon the revelations of God.[7] The word meditation comes from the Latin word meditārī, which has a range of meanings including to reflect on, to study and to practice. Christian meditation is the process of deliberately focusing on specific thoughts (such as a bible passage) and reflecting on their meaning in the context of the love of God.[8]

Christian meditation aims to heighten the personal relationship based on the love of God that marks Christian communion.[9][10]

At times there may be no clear-cut boundary between Christian meditation and Christian contemplation, and they overlap. Meditation serves as a foundation on which the contemplative life stands, the practice by which someone begins the state of contemplation.[11] In contemplative prayer, this activity is curtailed, so that contemplation has been described as "a gaze of faith", "a silent love".[12]

Meditation and contemplation are components of the Rosary, encouraged by the Magisterium.[13]

Intercessory prayer

This kind of prayer involves the believer taking the role of an intercessor, praying on behalf of another individual, group or community, or even a nation.

Ejaculatory prayer

Ejaculatory prayer is the use of very brief exclamations. Saint Augustine remarked that the Egyptian Christians who withdrew to a solitary life "are said to say frequent prayers, but very brief ones that are tossed off as in a rush, so that a vigilant and keen intention, which is very necessary for one who prays, may not fade away and grow dull over longer periods".[14]

Examples of such prayers are given in the old Raccolta under the numbers 19, 20, 38, 57, 59, 63, 77, 82, 83, 133, 154, 166, 181.[15]

They are also known as aspirations, invocations or exclamations and include the Jesus Prayer.[16]

Johnson's Dictionary defined "ejaculation" as "a short prayer darted out occasionally, without solemn retirement".[17] Such pious ejaculations are part also of the liturgy of the Church of England.[18]

Listening prayer

Listening prayer is a type of Christian prayer. As compared with the traditional Christian prayer, the listening prayer method demands "hearing and discerning God's voice through prayer and scripture; then obeying the Lord's direction in personal ministry."

Traditional Christian prayer requested people to thank God, as well as tell God their own request. When their prayers seemed unanswered, some would feel that God did not hear them or did not respond to them. Listening prayer asks: "Was it that God did not respond to you, or was it that you did not hear from God"? Listening prayer requires those praying to calm their minds down and read the Scripture. During the reading, some sentences may pop into mind, as if in answer to their prayers but listening prayers are also of two types one is normally listening to church father and second is prayer with music nowadays prayer with music is considered as prayer music or prayer song.

Child's prayer

A Christian child's prayer is typically short, rhyming, or has a memorable tune. It is usually said before bedtime, to give thanks for a meal, or as a nursery rhyme. Many of these prayers are either quotes from the Bible, or set traditional texts.

Prayer books and tools

AugsburgConfessionXXIOfTheWorshipoftheSaints
"Scripture...sets before us Christ alone as mediator, atoning sacrifice, high priest, and intercessor."—Augsburg Confession Art. XXI.[19]

Prayer books as well as tools such as prayer beads such as chaplets are used by Christians. Images and icons are also associated with prayers in some Christian denominations.

There is no one prayerbook containing a set liturgy used by all Christians; however many Christian denominations have their own local prayerbooks, for example:

See also

References and footnotes

  1. ^ Philip Zaleski, Carol Zaleski (2005). Prayer: A History. Houghton Mifflin Books. ISBN 0-618-15288-1.
  2. ^ a b Geldart, Anne (1999). Examining Religions: Christianity Foundation Edition. p. 108. ISBN 0-435-30324-4.
  3. ^ Griffin, Emilie (2005). Simple Ways to Pray. p. 134. ISBN 0-7425-5084-2.
  4. ^ "The Christian tradition comprises three major expressions of the life of prayer: vocal prayer, meditation, and contemplative prayer. They have in common the recollection of the heart" (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2721).
  5. ^ Ferguson, S. B.; Packer, J. (1988). "Saints". New Dictionary of Theology. Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press.
  6. ^ Madeleine Gray, The Protestant Reformation, (Sussex Academic Press, 2003), page 140.
  7. ^ Zanzig, Thomas; Kielbasa, Marilyn (2000). Christian Meditation for Beginners. p. 7. ISBN 0-88489-361-8.
  8. ^ Antonisamy, F. (2000). An introduction to Christian spirituality. pp. 76–77. ISBN 81-7109-429-5.
  9. ^ Christian Meditation by Edmund P. Clowney, 1979 ISBN 1-57383-227-8 pages 12-13
  10. ^ Fahlbusch, Erwin; Bromiley, Geoffrey William (2003). The encyclopedia of Christianity. Volume 3. p. 488. ISBN 90-04-12654-6.
  11. ^ al-Miskīn,, Mattá (2003). Orthodox Prayer Life: The Interior Way. St Vladimir's Seminary Press. p. 56. ISBN 0-88141-250-3.
  12. ^ "Contemplative prayer is the simple expression of the mystery of prayer. It is a gaze of faith fixed on Jesus, an attentiveness to the Word of God, a silent love. It achieves real union with the prayer of Christ to the extent that it makes us share in his mystery" (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2724).
  13. ^ https://w2.vatican.va/content/john-paul-ii/en/apost_letters/2002/documents/hf_jp-ii_apl_20021016_rosarium-virginis-mariae.html
  14. ^ Augustine, Letter 130, To Proba, paragraph 20
  15. ^ The Raccolta: Index of prayers and pious works contained in this collection
  16. ^ Stephen Beale, "Deepen Your Prayer Life Through Exclamations"
  17. ^ Samuel Johnson, A Dictionary of the English Language, vol. 2]
  18. ^ Matthew Hole, Practical discourses on the liturgy of the Church of England (London. William Pickering. 1837), p. 153
  19. ^ Augsburg Confession, Article 21, "Of the Worship of the Saints". trans. Kolb, R., Wengert, T., and Arand, C. Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress, 2000.

External links

Anglican prayer beads

Anglican prayer beads, also known as the Anglican rosary or Anglican chaplet, are a loop of strung beads used chiefly by Anglicans in the Anglican Communion, as well as by communicants in the Anglican Continuum. Anglican prayer beads were developed in the latter part of the 20th century within the Episcopal Diocese of Texas and this Anglican devotion has spread to other Christian denominations, including Methodists and the Reformed; as such they are also called Protestant prayer beads.

Benediction

A benediction (Latin: bene, well + dicere, to speak) is a short invocation for divine help, blessing and guidance, usually at the end of worship service. It can also refer to a specific Christian religious service including the exposition of the eucharistic host in the monstrance and the blessing of the people with it.

Book of Alternative Services

The Book of Alternative Services (BAS) is the contemporary, inclusive-language liturgical book used alongside the Book of Common Prayer (1962) (BCP) in most parishes of the Anglican Church of Canada. When first published, the BAS included the Common Lectionary, unlike the BCP; in printings since the publication of the Revised Common Lectionary, the latter has superseded the original lectionary.

Breviary

A breviary (Latin: breviarium) is a liturgical book used in Western Christianity for praying the canonical hours.Historically, different breviaries were used in the various parts of Christendom, such as Aberdeen Breviary, Belleville Breviary, Stowe Breviary and Isabella Breviary, although eventually the Roman Breviary became the standard within the Roman Catholic Church.

Collect

The collect ( KOL-ekt) is a short general prayer of a particular structure used in Christian liturgy.

Collects appear in the liturgies of Roman Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican, Methodist, Lutheran, and Presbyterian churches, among others (in those of eastern Christianity the Greek term [déesis] synapté is often used instead of the Latin term [oratio] collecta, both having the same meaning).

Contemplation

Contemplation is profound thinking about something. In a religious sense, contemplation is usually a type of prayer or meditation.

Hallelujah

Hallelujah ( HAL-i-LOO-yə) is an English interjection. It is a transliteration of the Hebrew word הַלְלוּיָהּ (Modern Hebrew haleluya, Tiberian haləlûyāh), which is composed of two elements: הַלְלוּ (second-person imperative masculine plural form of the Hebrew verb hillel: an exhortation to "praise" addressed to several people) and יָהּ (the name of God Yah).The term is used 24 times in the Hebrew Bible (in the book of Psalms), twice in deuterocanonical books, and four times in the Christian Book of Revelation.The word is used in Judaism as part of the Hallel prayers, and in Christian prayer, where since the earliest times it is used in various ways in liturgies, especially those of the Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church, both of which use the form "alleluia" which is based on the alternative Greek transliteration.

Kyrie

Kyrie, a transliteration of Greek Κύριε, vocative case of Κύριος (Kyrios), is a common name of an important prayer of Christian liturgy, also called the Kyrie eleison (; Ancient Greek: Κύριε, ἐλέησον, translit. Kýrie eléēson, lit. 'Lord, have mercy').

Last rites

The last rites, in Roman Catholicism, are the last prayers and ministrations given to an individual of the faith, when possible, shortly before death. The last rites go by various names. They may be administered to those awaiting execution, mortally injured, or terminally ill.

Litany

Litany, in Christian worship and some forms of Judaic worship, is a form of prayer used in services and processions, and consisting of a number of petitions. The word comes through Latin litania from Ancient Greek λιτανεία (litaneía), which in turn comes from λιτή (litê), meaning "supplication".

For the "Litany" as used in the Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Churches, see Ektenia.

Lutheran Book of Worship

The Lutheran Book of Worship (LBW) is a worship book and hymnal used by several Lutheran denominations in North America. In the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the LBW is sometimes called the "green book", as opposed to With One Voice, a blue-covered supplement; or the previous Service Book and Hymnal, bound in red; or The Lutheran Hymnal, which is also bound in red, but with a simple gold cross.

Mary, Mother of Grace

Mary, Mother of Grace (Latin: Maria Mater Gratiae) is a Roman Catholic prayer to the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Mary,Mother of grace,Mother of mercy, Shield me from the enemyAnd receive me at the hour of my death.Amen.(From the Roman ritual)

Memorare

Memorare ("Remember, O Most Gracious Virgin Mary") is a Roman Catholic prayer seeking the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Memorare, from the Latin "Remember", is frequently misattributed to the 12th-century Cistercian monk Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, apparently due to confusion with its 17th-century popularizer, Father Claude Bernard, who stated that he learned it from his own father. It first appears as part of a longer 15th-century prayer, "Ad sanctitatis tuae pedes, dulcissima Virgo Maria."

Misericord

A misericord (sometimes named mercy seat, like the biblical object) is a small wooden structure formed on the underside of a folding seat in a church which, when the seat is folded up, is intended to act as a shelf to support a person in a partially standing position during long periods of prayer.

Prayers of Jesus

A number of times the canonical gospels describe Jesus praying to God.

Sign-on and sign-off

A sign-on (or start-up in Commonwealth countries) is the beginning of operations for a radio or television station, generally at the start of each day. It is the opposite of a sign-off (or closedown in Commonwealth countries), which is the sequence of operations involved when a radio or television station shuts down its transmitters and goes off the air for a predetermined period; generally, this occurs during the overnight hours although a broadcaster's digital specialty channels or sub-channels may start up and closedown at significantly different times as its main channels.

Spiritual dryness

In Catholic spirituality, spiritual dryness or desolation is a lack of spiritual consolation in one's spiritual life. It is a form of spiritual crisis experienced subjectively as a sense of separation from God or lack of spiritual feeling, especially during contemplative prayer. Paradoxically, it is thought that spiritual dryness can lead to greater love of God.

Vigil

A vigil, from the Latin vigilia meaning wakefulness (Greek: pannychis, παννυχίς or agrypnia ἀγρυπνία), is a period of purposeful sleeplessness, an occasion for devotional watching, or an observance. The Italian word vigilia has become generalized in this sense and means "eve" (as in on the eve of the war).

Votive candle

A votive candle or prayer candle is a small candle, typically white or beeswax yellow, intended to be burnt as a votive offering in an act of Christian prayer, especially within the Anglican and Roman Catholic Christian denominations, among others. In Christianity, votive candles are commonplace in many churches, as well as home altars, and symbolize the "prayers the worshipper is offering for him or herself, or for other people." The size of a votive candle is often two inches tall by one and a half inches diameter, although other votive candles can be significantly taller and wider. In other religions, such as Hinduism and Buddhism, similar offerings exist, which include diyas and butter lamps.

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