Prayer is an invocation or act that seeks to activate a rapport with an object of worship through deliberate communication. In the narrow sense, the term refers to an act of supplication or intercession directed towards a deity (a god), or a deified ancestor. More generally, prayer can also have the purpose of thanksgiving or praise, and in comparative religion is closely associated with more abstract forms of meditation and with charms or spells.
Prayer can take a variety of forms: it can be part of a set liturgy or ritual, and it can be performed alone or in groups. Prayer may take the form of a hymn, incantation, formal creedal statement, or a spontaneous utterance in the praying person.
The act of prayer is attested in written sources as early as 5000 years ago. Today, most major religions involve prayer in one way or another; some ritualize the act, requiring a strict sequence of actions or placing a restriction on who is permitted to pray, while others teach that prayer may be practised spontaneously by anyone at any time.
Scientific studies regarding the use of prayer have mostly concentrated on its effect on the healing of sick or injured people. The efficacy of prayer in faith healing has been evaluated in numerous studies, with contradictory results.
The English term prayer is from Medieval Latin precaria "petition, prayer". The Vulgate Latin is oratio, which translates Greek προσευχή in turn the Septuagint translation of Biblical Hebrew תְּפִלָּה tĕphillah.
Various spiritual traditions offer a wide variety of devotional acts. There are morning and evening prayers, graces said over meals, and reverent physical gestures. Some Christians bow their heads and fold their hands. Some Native Americans regard dancing as a form of prayer. Some Sufis whirl. Hindus chant mantras. Jewish prayer may involve swaying back and forth and bowing. Muslims practice salat (kneeling and prostration) in their prayers. Quakers keep silent. Some pray according to standardized rituals and liturgies, while others prefer extemporaneous prayers. Still others combine the two.
Friedrich Heiler is often cited in Christian circles for his systematic Typology of Prayer which lists six types of prayer: primitive, ritual, Greek cultural, philosophical, mystical, and prophetic. Some forms of prayer require a prior ritualistic form of cleansing or purification such as in ghusl and wudhu.
Prayer may be done privately and individually, or it may be done corporately in the presence of fellow believers. Prayer can be incorporated into a daily "thought life", in which one is in constant communication with a god. Some people pray throughout all that is happening during the day and seek guidance as the day progresses. This is actually regarded as a requirement in several Christian denominations, although enforcement is not possible nor desirable. There can be many different answers to prayer, just as there are many ways to interpret an answer to a question, if there in fact comes an answer. Some may experience audible, physical, or mental epiphanies. If indeed an answer comes, the time and place it comes is considered random. Some outward acts that sometimes accompany prayer are: anointing with oil; ringing a bell; burning incense or paper; lighting a candle or candles; See, for example, facing a specific direction (i.e. towards Mecca or the East); making the sign of the cross. One less noticeable act related to prayer is fasting.
A variety of body postures may be assumed, often with specific meaning (mainly respect or adoration) associated with them: standing; sitting; kneeling; prostrate on the floor; eyes opened; eyes closed; hands folded or clasped; hands upraised; holding hands with others; a laying on of hands and others. Prayers may be recited from memory, read from a book of prayers, or composed spontaneously as they are prayed. They may be said, chanted, or sung. They may be with musical accompaniment or not. There may be a time of outward silence while prayers are offered mentally. Often, there are prayers to fit specific occasions, such as the blessing of a meal, the birth or death of a loved one, other significant events in the life of a believer, or days of the year that have special religious significance. Details corresponding to specific traditions are outlined below.
Anthropologically, the concept of prayer is closely related to that of surrender and supplication. The traditional posture of prayer in medieval Europe is kneeling or supine with clasped hands, in antiquity more typically with raised hands. The early Christian prayer posture was standing, looking up to heaven, with outspread arms and bare head. This is the pre-Christian, pagan prayer posture (except for the bare head, which was prescribed for males in Corinthians 11:4, in Roman paganism, the head had to be covered in prayer). Certain Cretan and Cypriote figures of the Late Bronze Age, with arms raised, have been interpreted as worshippers. Their posture is similar to the "flight" posture, a crouching posture with raised hands, observed in schizophrenic patients and related to the universal "hands up" gesture of surrender. The kneeling posture with clasped hands appears to have been introduced only with the beginning high medieval period, presumably adopted from a gesture of feudal homage.
Although prayer in its literal sense is not used in animism, communication with the spirit world is vital to the animist way of life. This is usually accomplished through a shaman who, through a trance, gains access to the spirit world and then shows the spirits' thoughts to the people. Other ways to receive messages from the spirits include using astrology or contemplating fortune tellers and healers.
Some of the oldest extant literature, such as the Sumerian temple hymns of Enheduanna (c. 23th century BC) are liturgy addressed to deities and thus technically "prayer". The Egyptian Pyramid Texts of about the same period similarly contain spells or incantations addressed to the gods. In the loosest sense, in the form of magical thinking combined with animism, prayer has been argued as representing a human cultural universal, which would have been present since the emergence of behavioral modernity, by anthropologists such as Sir Edward Burnett Tylor and Sir James George Frazer.
Reliable records are available for the polytheistic religions of the Iron Age, most notably Ancient Greek religion (which strongly influenced Roman religion). These religious traditions were direct developments of the earlier Bronze Age religions. Ceremonial prayer was highly formulaic and ritualized.
In ancient polytheism, ancestor worship is indistinguishable from theistic worship (see also Euhemerism). Vestiges of ancestor worship persist, to a greater or lesser extent, in modern religious traditions throughout the world, most notably in Japanese Shinto and in Chinese folk religion. The practices involved in Shinto prayer are heavily influenced by Buddhism; Japanese Buddhism has also been strongly influenced by Shinto in turn. Shinto prayers quite frequently consist of wishes or favors asked of the kami, rather than lengthy praises or devotions. The practice of votive offering is also universal, and is attested at least since the Bronze Age. In Shinto, this takes the form of a small wooden tablet, called an ema.
Prayers in Etruscan were used in the Roman world by augurs and other oracles long after Etruscan became a dead language. The Carmen Arvale and the Carmen Saliare are two specimens of partially preserved prayers that seem to have been unintelligible to their scribes, and whose language is full of archaisms and difficult passages.
Roman prayers and sacrifices were often envisioned as legal bargains between deity and worshipper. The Roman principle was expressed as do ut des: "I give, so that you may give." Cato the Elder's treatise on agriculture contains many examples of preserved traditional prayers; in one, a farmer addresses the unknown deity of a possibly sacred grove, and sacrifices a pig in order to placate the god or goddess of the place and beseech his or her permission to cut down some trees from the grove.
Celtic, Germanic and Slavic religions are recorded much later, and much more fragmentarily, than the religions of classical antiquity. They nevertheless show substantial parallels to the better-attested religions of the Iron Age. In the case of Germanic religion, the practice of prayer is reliably attested, but no actual liturgy is recorded from the early (Roman era) period. An Old Norse prayer is on record in the form of a dramatization in skaldic poetry. This prayer is recorded in stanzas 2 and 3 of the poem Sigrdrífumál, compiled in the 13th century Poetic Edda from earlier traditional sources, where the valkyrie Sigrdrífa prays to the gods and the earth after being woken by the hero Sigurd. A prayer to Odin is mentioned in chapter 2 of the Völsunga saga where King Rerir prays for a child. In stanza 9 of the poem Oddrúnargrátr, a prayer is made to "kind wights, Frigg and Freyja, and many gods In chapter 21 of Jómsvíkinga saga, wishing to turn the tide of the Battle of Hjörungavágr, Haakon Sigurdsson eventually finds his prayers answered by the goddesses Þorgerðr Hölgabrúðr and Irpa. Folk religion in the medieval period produced syncretisms between pre-Christian and Christian traditions. An example is the 11th-century Anglo-Saxon charm Æcerbot for the fertility of crops and land, or the medical Wið færstice. The 8th-century Wessobrunn Prayer has been proposed as a Christianized pagan prayer and compared to the pagan Völuspá and the Merseburg Incantations, the latter recorded in the 9th or 10th century but of much older traditional origins.
In Australian Aboriginal mythology, prayers to the "Great Wit" are performed by the "clever men" and "clever women", or kadji. These Aboriginal shamans use maban or mabain, the material that is believed to give them their purported magical powers. The Pueblo Indians are known to have used prayer sticks, that is, sticks with feathers attached as supplicatory offerings. The Hopi Indians used prayer sticks as well, but they attached to it a small bag of sacred meal.
The most common form of prayer is to directly appeal to a deity to grant one's requests. Some have termed this as the social approach to prayer.
Atheist arguments against prayer are mostly directed against petitionary prayer in particular. Daniel Dennett argued that petitionary prayer might have the undesirable psychological effect of relieving a person of the need to take active measures.
This potential drawback manifests in extreme forms in such cases as Christian Scientists who rely on prayers instead of seeking medical treatment for family members for easily curable conditions which later result in death.
Christopher Hitchens (2012) argued that praying to a god which is omnipotent and all-knowing would be presumptuous. For example, he interprets Ambrose Bierce's definition of prayer by stating that "the man who prays is the one who thinks that god has arranged matters all wrong, but who also thinks that he can instruct god how to put them right."
In this view, prayer is not a conversation. Rather, it is meant to inculcate certain attitudes in the one who prays, but not to influence. Among Jews, this has been the approach of Rabbenu Bachya, Rabbi Yehuda Halevi, Joseph Albo, Samson Raphael Hirsch, and Joseph B. Soloveitchik. This view is expressed by Rabbi Nosson Scherman in the overview to the Artscroll Siddur (p. XIII).
Among Christian theologians, E.M. Bounds stated the educational purpose of prayer in every chapter of his book, The Necessity of Prayer. Prayer books such as the Book of Common Prayer are both a result of this approach and an exhortation to keep it.
In this view, the ultimate goal of prayer is to help train a person to focus on divinity through philosophy and intellectual contemplation (meditation). This approach was taken by the Jewish scholar and philosopher Maimonides  and the other medieval rationalists. It became popular in Jewish, Christian, and Islamic intellectual circles, but never became the most popular understanding of prayer among the laity in any of these faiths. In all three of these faiths today, a significant minority of people still hold to this approach.
In this approach, the purpose of prayer is to enable the person praying to gain a direct experience of the recipient of the prayer (or as close to direct as a specific theology permits). This approach is very significant in Christianity and widespread in Judaism (although less popular theologically). In Eastern Orthodoxy, this approach is known as hesychasm. It is also widespread in Sufi Islam, and in some forms of mysticism. It has some similarities with the rationalist approach, since it can also involve contemplation, although the contemplation is not generally viewed as being as rational or intellectual. Christian and Roman Catholic traditions also include an experiential approach to prayer within the practice of Lectio Divina, historically a Benedictine practice in which scripture is read aloud; actively meditated upon using the intellect (but not analysis) possibly using the mind to place the listener within a relationship or dialogue with the text that was read; a prayer spoken; and finally concludes with contemplation, a more passive experiential approach than the previous meditation, which is characterized by the Catechism of the Catholic Church as an experience of consciously being attentive, and having a silent love toward God, which the individual experiences without demanding to receive an experience. The experience of God within Christian mysticism has been contrasted with the concept of experiential religion or mystical experience because of a long history or authors living and writing about experience with the divine in a manner that identifies God as unknowable and ineffable, the language of such ideas could be characterized paradoxically as "experiential", as well as without the phenomena of experience.
The notion of "religious experience" can be traced back to William James, who used a term called "religious experience" in his book, The Varieties of Religious Experience. The origins of the use of this term can be dated further back.
In the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries, several historical figures put forth very influential views that religion and its beliefs can be grounded in experience itself. While Kant held that moral experience justified religious beliefs, John Wesley in addition to stressing individual moral exertion thought that the religious experiences in the Methodist movement (paralleling the Romantic Movement) were foundational to religious commitment as a way of life.
Wayne Proudfoot traces the roots of the notion of "religious experience" to the German theologian Friedrich Schleiermacher (1768–1834), who argued that religion is based on a feeling of the infinite. The notion of "religious experience" was used by Schleiermacher and Albert Ritschl to defend religion against the growing scientific and secular critique, and defend the view that human (moral and religious) experience justifies religious beliefs.
Such religious empiricism would be later seen as highly problematic and was — during the period in-between world wars — famously rejected by Karl Barth. In the 20th century, religious as well as moral experience as justification for religious beliefs still holds sway. Some influential modern scholars holding this liberal theological view are Charles Raven and the Oxford physicist/theologian Charles Coulson.
The notion of "experience" has been criticised. Robert Sharf points out that "experience" is a typical Western term, which has found its way into Asian religiosity via western influences.[note 2] The notion of "experience" introduces a false notion of duality between "experiencer" and "experienced", whereas the essence of kensho is the realisation of the "non-duality" of observer and observed. "Pure experience" does not exist; all experience is mediated by intellectual and cognitive activity. The specific teachings and practices of a specific tradition may even determine what "experience" someone has, which means that this "experience" is not the proof of the teaching, but a result of the teaching. A pure consciousness without concepts, reached by "cleaning the doors of perception",[note 3] would be an overwhelming chaos of sensory input without coherence.
In the Hebrew Bible prayer is an evolving means of interacting with God, most frequently through a spontaneous, individual, unorganized form of petitioning and/or thanking. Standardized prayer such as is done today is non-existent, although beginning in Deuteronomy, the Bible lays the groundwork for organized prayer, including basic liturgical guidelines, and by the Bible's later books, prayer has evolved to a more standardized form, although still radically different from the form practiced by modern Jews.
Individual prayer is described by the Tanakh two ways. The first of these is when prayer is described as occurring, and a result is achieved, but no further information regarding a person's prayer is given. In these instances, such as with Isaac, Moses, Samuel, and Job, the act of praying is a method of changing a situation for the better. The second way in which prayer is depicted is through fully fleshed out episodes of prayer, where a person's prayer is related in full. Many famous biblical personalities have such a prayer, including every major character from Hannah to Hezekiah.
In the New Testament prayer is presented as a positive command (Colossians 4:2; 1 Thessalonians 5:17). The People of God are challenged to include Christian prayer in their everyday life, even in the busy struggles of marriage (1 Corinthians 7:5) as it brings people closer to God.
Jesus encouraged his disciples to pray in secret in their private rooms, using the Lord's Prayer, as a humble response to the prayer of the Pharisees, whose practices in prayer were regarded as impious by the New Testament writers (Matthew 6:6).
Throughout the New Testament, prayer is shown to be God's appointed method by which we obtain what He has to bestow (Matthew 7:7–11; Matthew 9:24–29; Luke 11:13. Further, the Book of James says that the lack of blessings in life results from a failure to pray (James 4:2). Jesus healed through prayer and expected his followers to do so also (Mark 16:17–18; Matthew 10:8).
Observant Jews pray three times a day, Shacharit, Mincha, and Ma'ariv with lengthier prayers on special days, such as the Shabbat and Jewish holidays including Musaf and the reading of the Torah. The siddur is the prayerbook used by Jews all over the world, containing a set order of daily prayers. Jewish prayer is usually described as having two aspects: kavanah (intention) and keva (the ritualistic, structured elements).
There are also many other ritualistic prayers a Jew performs during their day, such as washing before eating bread, washing after one wakes up in the morning, and doing grace after meals.
In this view, the ultimate goal of prayer is to help train a person to focus on divinity through philosophy and intellectual contemplation. This approach was taken by Maimonides and the other medieval rationalists. One example of this approach to prayer is noted by Rabbi Steven Weil, who was appointed the Orthodox Union's Executive-Vice President in 2009. He notes that the word "prayer" is a derivative of the Latin "precari", which means "to beg". The Hebrew equivalent "tefilah", however, along with its root "pelel" or its reflexive "l’hitpallel", means the act of self-analysis or self-evaluation. This approach is sometimes described as the person praying having a dialogue or conversation with God.
In this view, prayer is not a conversation. Rather, it is meant to inculcate certain attitudes in the one who prays, but not to influence. This has been the approach of Rabbenu Bachya, Yehuda Halevy, Joseph Albo, Samson Raphael Hirsch, and Joseph Dov Soloveitchik. This view is expressed by Rabbi Nosson Scherman in the overview to the Artscroll Siddur (p. XIII); note that Scherman goes on to also affirm the Kabbalistic view (see below).
Kabbalah uses a series of kavanot, directions of intent, to specify the path the prayer ascends in the dialog with God, to increase its chances of being answered favorably. Kabbalists ascribe a higher meaning to the purpose of prayer, which is no less than affecting the very fabric of reality itself, restructuring and repairing the universe in a real fashion. In this view, every word of every prayer, and indeed, even every letter of every word, has a precise meaning and a precise effect. Prayers thus literally affect the mystical forces of the universe, and repair the fabric of creation.
Christian prayers are quite varied. 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. The Lord's Prayer is a model for prayers of adoration, confession and petition in Christianity. In medieval England, prayers (particularly the paternoster) were frequently used as a measure of time in medical and culinary recipe books.
Christians generally pray to God or to the Father. Some Christians (e.g., Catholics, Orthodox) will also ask the righteous in heaven and "in Christ," such as Virgin Mary or other saints to intercede by praying on their behalf (intercession of saints). Formulaic closures include "through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, through all the ages of ages," and "in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit."
It is customary among Protestants to end prayers with "In Jesus' name, Amen" or "In the name of Christ, Amen." However, the most commonly used closure in Christianity is simply "Amen" (from a Hebrew adverb used as a statement of affirmation or agreement, usually translated as so be it).
In the Western or Latin Rite of the Roman Catholic Church, probably the most common is the Rosary; In the Eastern Church (the Eastern rites of the Catholic Church and Orthodox Church), the Jesus Prayer. The Jesus Prayer is also often repeated as part of the meditative hesychasm practice in Eastern Christianity.
Roman Catholic tradition includes specific prayers and devotions as acts of reparation which do not involve a petition for a living or deceased beneficiary, but aim to repair the sins of others, e.g. for the repair of the sin of blasphemy performed by others.
Other forms of prayer among Catholics would be meditative prayer, contemplative prayer and infused prayer discussed at length by Catholic Saints St. John of the Cross and St. Theresa of Jesus.
In Pentecostal congregations, prayer is often accompanied by speaking in an unknown tongue, a practice now known as glossolalia. Practitioners of Pentecostal glossolalia may claim that the languages they speak in prayer are real foreign languages, and that the ability to speak those languages spontaneously is a gift of the Holy Spirit. Some people outside of the movement, however, have offered dissenting views. George Barton Cutten suggested that glossolalia was a sign of mental illness. Felicitas Goodman suggested that tongue speakers were under a form of hypnosis. Others suggest that it is a learned behaviour. Some of these views have allegedly been refuted.
Christian Science teaches that prayer is a spiritualization of thought or an understanding of God and of the nature of the underlying spiritual creation. Adherents believe that this can result in healing, by bringing spiritual reality into clearer focus in the human scene. The world as it appears to the senses is regarded as a distorted version of the world of spiritual ideas. Prayer can heal the distortion. Christian Scientists believe that prayer does not change the spiritual creation but gives a clearer view of it, and the result appears in the human scene as healing: the human picture adjusts to coincide more nearly with the divine reality. Christian Scientists do not practice intercessory prayer as it is commonly understood, and they generally avoid combining prayer with medical treatment in the belief that the two practices tend to work against each other. Prayer works through love: the recognition of God's creation as spiritual, intact, and inherently lovable.
The Arabic word for prayer is salah. In Islam, there are five daily obligatory prayers that are considered as one of the pillars of the religion. The command to ritual prayer occurs repeatedly in the Quran. The prayer is performed by the person while they are facing the Kaaba in Mecca. There is the "call for prayer" (adhan), where the muezzin calls for all the followers to stand together for the prayer. The prayer consists of actions such as glorifying and praising God (such as mentioning ‘Allāhu Akbar’ (God is Great)) while standing, recitation of chapters of the Quran (such as the opening chapter of the book (Al-Fatiha)), bowing down then praising God, prostrating (sujud) then again praising God and it ends with the words: "Peace be with you and God’s mercy". During the prayer, a Muslim cannot talk or do anything else besides pray. Once the prayer is complete, one can offer personal prayers or supplications to God for their needs that are known as dua. There are many standard invocations in Arabic to be recited at various times (e.g. after the prayer) and for various occasions (e.g. for one's parents) with manners and etiquette such as before eating. Muslims may also say dua in their own words and languages for any issue they wish to communicate with God in the hope that God will answer their prayers. Certain Shi'a sects pray the five daily prayers divided into three separate parts of the day, providing several Hadith as supporting evidence; although according to Shia Islam, it is also permissible to pray at five times.
Bahá'u'lláh, the Báb, and `Abdu'l-Bahá wrote many prayers for general use, and some for specific occasions, including for unity, detachment, spiritual upliftment, and healing among others. Bahá'ís are also required to recite each day one of three obligatory prayers composed by Bahá'u'lláh. The believers have been enjoined to face in the direction of the Qiblih when reciting their Obligatory Prayer. The longest obligatory prayer may be recited at any time during the day; another, of medium length, is recited once in the morning, once at midday, and once in the evening; and the shortest can be recited anytime between noon and sunset. Bahá'ís also read from and meditate on the scriptures every morning and evening.
In both Buddhism and Hinduism, the repetition of mantras is closely related to the practice of repetitive prayer in Western religion (rosary, Jesus prayer). Many of the most widespread Hindu and Buddhist mantras are in origin invocations of deities, e.g. Gayatri Mantra dedicated to Savitr, Pavamana Mantra to Soma Pavamana, and many of the Buddhist Dhāraṇī originate as recitations of lists of names or attributes of deities. Most of the shorter Buddhist mantras originate as the invocation of the name of a specific deity or bodhisattva, such as Om mani padme hum being in origin the invocation of a bodhisattva called Maṇipadma. However, from an early time these mantras were interpreted in the context of mystical sound symbolism. The most extreme example of this is the om syllable, which as early as in the Aitareya Brahmana was claimed as equivalent to the entire Vedas (collection of ritual hymns).
In the earliest Buddhist tradition, the Theravada, and in the later Mahayana tradition of Zen (or Chán), prayer plays only an ancillary role. It is largely a ritual expression of wishes for success in the practice and in helping all beings.
The skillful means (Sanskrit: upāya) of the transfer of merit (Sanskrit: pariṇāmanā) is an evocation and prayer. Moreover, indeterminate buddhas are available for intercession as they reside in awoken-fields (Sanskrit: buddha-kshetra).
The nirmānakāya of an awoken-field is what is generally known and understood as a mandala. The opening and closing of the ring (Sanskrit: maṇḍala) is an active prayer. An active prayer is a mindful activity, an activity in which mindfulness is not just cultivated but is. A common prayer is "May the merit of my practice, adorn Buddhas' Pure Lands, requite the fourfold kindness from above, and relieve the suffering of the three life-journeys below. Universally wishing sentient beings, Friends, foes, and karmic creditors, all to activate the bodhi mind, and all to be reborn in the Pure Land of Ultimate Bliss." (願以此功德 莊嚴佛淨土 上報四重恩 下濟三途苦 普願諸眾生 冤親諸債主 悉發菩提心 同生極樂國)
The Tibetan Buddhism tradition emphasizes an instructive and devotional relationship to a guru; this may involve devotional practices known as guru yoga which are congruent with prayer. It also appears that Tibetan Buddhism posits the existence of various deities, but the peak view of the tradition is that the deities or yidam are no more existent or real than the continuity (Sanskrit: santana; refer mindstream) of the practitioner, environment and activity. But how practitioners engage yidam or tutelary deities will depend upon the level or more appropriately yana at which they are practicing. At one level, one may pray to a deity for protection or assistance, taking a more subordinate role. At another level, one may invoke the deity, on a more equal footing. And at a higher level one may deliberately cultivate the idea that one has become the deity, whilst remaining aware that its ultimate nature is śūnyatā. The views of the more esoteric yana are impenetrable for those without direct experience and empowerment.
Pure Land Buddhism emphasizes the recitation by devotees of prayer-like mantras, a practice often called Nembutsu.:190 On one level it is said that reciting these mantras can ensure rebirth into a Sambhogakāya land (Sanskrit: buddha-kshetra) after bodily dissolution, a sheer ball spontaneously co-emergent to a buddha's enlightened intention. According to Shinran, the founder of the Pure Land Buddhism tradition that is most prevalent in the US,:193 "for the long haul nothing is as efficacious as the Nembutsu.":197 On another, the practice is a form of meditation aimed at achieving realization.
But beyond all these practices the Buddha emphasized the primacy of individual practice and experience. He said that supplication to gods or deities was not necessary. Nevertheless, today many lay people in East Asian countries pray to the Buddha in ways that resemble Western prayer—asking for intervention and offering devotion.
Hinduism has incorporated many kinds of prayer (Sanskrit: prārthanā), from fire-based rituals to philosophical musings. While chanting involves 'by dictum' recitation of timeless verses or verses with timings and notations, dhyanam involves deep meditation (however short or long) on the preferred deity/God. Again the object to which prayers are offered could be a persons referred as devtas, trinity or incarnation of either devtas or trinity or simply plain formless meditation as practiced by the ancient sages. These prayers can be directed to fulfilling personal needs or deep spiritual enlightenment, and also for the benefit of others. Ritual invocation was part and parcel of the Vedic religion and as such permeated their sacred texts. Indeed, the highest sacred texts of the Hindus, the Vedas, are a large collection of mantras and prayer rituals. Classical Hinduism came to focus on extolling a single supreme force, Brahman, that is made manifest in several lower forms as the familiar gods of the Hindu pantheon. Hindus in India have numerous devotional movements. Hindus may pray to the highest absolute God Brahman, or more commonly to its three manifestations, a creator god called Brahma, a preserver god called Vishnu and a destroyer god (so that the creation cycle can start afresh) Shiva, and at the next level to Vishnu's avatars (earthly appearances) Rama and Krishna or to many other male or female deities. Typically, Hindus pray with their hands (the palms) joined together in pranam. The hand gesture is similar to the popular Indian greeting namaste.
The Ardās (Punjabi: ਅਰਦਾਸ) is a Sikh prayer that is done before performing or after undertaking any significant task; after reciting the daily Banis (prayers); or completion of a service like the Paath (scripture reading/recitation), kirtan (hymn-singing) program or any other religious program. In Sikhism, these prayers are also said before and after eating. The prayer is a plea to God to support and help the devotee with whatever he or she is about to undertake or has done.
The Ardas is usually always done standing up with folded hands. The beginning of the Ardas is strictly set by the tenth Sikh Guru, Guru Gobind Singh. When it comes to conclusion of this prayer, the devotee uses words like "Waheguru please bless me in the task that I am about to undertake" when starting a new task or "Akal Purakh, having completed the hymn-singing, we ask for your continued blessings so that we can continue with your memory and remember you at all times", etc. The word "Ardās" is derived from Persian word 'Arazdashat', meaning a request, supplication, prayer, petition or an address to a superior authority.
Ardās is a unique prayer based on the fact that it is one of the few well-known prayers in the Sikh religion that was not written in its entirety by the Gurus. The Ardās cannot be found within the pages of the Guru Granth Sahib because it is a continually changing devotional text that has evolved over time in order for it to encompass the feats, accomplishments, and feelings of all generations of Sikhs within its lines. Taking the various derivation of the word Ardās into account, the basic purpose of this prayer is an appeal to Waheguru for his protection and care, as well as being a plea for the welfare and prosperity of all mankind, and a means for the Sikhs to thank Waheguru for all that he has done.
Wiccan prayers can include meditation, rituals and incantations. Wiccans see prayers as a form of communication with the God and Goddess. Such communication may include prayers for esbat and sabbat celebrations, for dinner, for pre-dawn times or for one's own or others' safety, for healing or for the dead.
In Raëlism rites and practises vary from initiation ceremonies to sensual meditation. An initiation ceremony usually involves a Raelian putting water on the forehead of a new member. Such ceremonies take place on certain special days on the Raelian calendar. Sensual meditation techniques include breathing exercises and various forms of erotic meditation.
In Eckankar, one of the basic forms of prayer includes singing the word "HU" (pronounced as "hue"), a holy name of God. ECKists may do this with eyes closed or open, aloud or silently. Practitioners may experience the divine ECK or Holy Spirit.
Practitioners of theurgy and Western esotericism may practice a form of ritual which utilizes both pre-sanctioned prayers and names of God, and prayers "from the heart" that, when combined, allow the participant to ascend spiritually, and in some instances, induce a trance in which God or other spiritual beings may be realized. Very much as in Hermetic Qabalah and orthodox Kabbalah, it is believed that prayer can influence both the physical and non-physical worlds. The use of ritualistic signs and names are believed to be archetypes in which the subconscious may take form as the Inner God, or another spiritual being, and the "prayer from the heart" to be that spiritual force speaking through the participant.
In Thelema (which includes both theist as well as atheist practitioners) adherents share a number of practices that are forms of individual prayer, including basic yoga; (asana and pranayama); various forms of ritual magick; rituals of one's own devising (often based upon a syncretism of religions, or Western Esotericism, such as the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram and Star Ruby); and performance of Liber Resh vel Helios (aka Liber 200), which consists of four daily adorations to the sun (often consisting of 4 hand/body positions and recitation of a memorized song, normally spoken, addressing different godforms identified with the sun).
While no dogma within Thelema expresses the purpose behind any individual aspirant who chooses to perform "Resh", note that the practice of "Resh" is not a simple petition toward the sun, nor a form of "worshiping" the celestial body that we call the Sun, but instead uses the positioning of that source of light, which enables life on our planet, as well as using mythological images of that solar force, so that the individual can perform the prayer, possibly furthering a self-identification with the sun, so "that repeated application of the Liber Resh adorations expands the consciousness of the individual by compelling him to take a different perspective, by inducing him to 'look at things from the point of view of the Sun' [...]".
Scientific studies regarding the use of prayer have mostly concentrated on its effect on the healing of sick or injured people. Meta-studies have been performed showing evidence only for no effect or a potentially small effect. For instance, a 2006 meta analysis on 14 studies concluded that there is "no discernable effect" while a 2007 systemic review of studies on intercessory prayer reported inconclusive results, noting that 7 of 17 studies had "small, but significant, effect sizes" but the review noted that the most methodologically rigorous studies failed to produce significant findings. Some studies have indicated increased medical complications in groups receiving prayer over those without.
The efficacy of petition in prayer for physical healing to a deity has been evaluated in numerous other studies, with contradictory results. There has been some criticism of the way the studies were conducted.
Some attempt to heal by prayer, mental practices, spiritual insights, or other techniques, claiming they can summon divine or supernatural intervention on behalf of the ill. Others advocate that ill people may achieve healing through prayer performed by themselves. According to the varied beliefs of those who practice it, faith healing may be said to afford gradual relief from pain or sickness or to bring about a sudden "miracle cure", and it may be used in place of, or in tandem with, conventional medical techniques for alleviating or curing diseases. Faith healing has been criticized on the grounds that those who use it may delay seeking potentially curative conventional medical care. This is particularly problematic when parents use faith healing techniques on children.
In 1872, Francis Galton conducted a famous statistical experiment to determine whether prayer had a physical effect on the external environment. Galton hypothesized that if prayer was effective, members of the British Royal family would live longer, given that thousands prayed for their wellbeing every Sunday. He therefore compared longevity in the British Royal family with that of the general population, and found no difference. While the experiment was probably intended to satirize, and suffered from a number of confounders, it set the precedent for a number of different studies, the results of which are contradictory.
Two studies claimed that patients who are being prayed for recover more quickly or more frequently although critics have claimed that the methodology of such studies are flawed, and the perceived effect disappears when controls are tightened. One such study, with a double-blind design and about 500 subjects per group, was published in 1988; it suggested that intercessory prayer by born again Christians had a statistically significant positive effect on a coronary care unit population. Critics contend that there were severe methodological problems with this study. Another such study was reported by Harris et al. Critics also claim that the 1988 study was not fully double-blinded, and that in the Harris study, patients actually had a longer hospital stay in the prayer group, if one discounts the patients in both groups who left before prayers began, although the Harris study did demonstrate the prayed for patients on average received lower course scores (indicating better recovery).
One of the largest randomized, blind clinical trials was a remote retroactive intercessory prayer study conducted in Israel by Leibovici. This study used 3393 patient records from 1990–96, and blindly assigned some of these to an intercessory prayer group. The prayer group had shorter hospital stays and duration of fever.
Several studies of prayer effectiveness have yielded null results. A 2001 double-blind study of the Mayo Clinic found no significant difference in the recovery rates between people who were (unbeknownst to them) assigned to a group that prayed for them and those who were not. Similarly, the MANTRA study conducted by Duke University found no differences in outcome of cardiac procedures as a result of prayer. In another similar study published in the American Heart Journal in 2006, Christian intercessory prayer when reading a scripted prayer was found to have no effect on the recovery of heart surgery patients; however, the study found patients who had knowledge of receiving prayer had slightly higher instances of complications than those who did not know if they were being prayed for or those who did not receive prayer. Another 2006 study suggested that prayer actually had a significant negative effect on the recovery of cardiac bypass patients, resulting in more frequent deaths and slower recovery time for those patient who received prayers.
Many believe that prayer can aid in recovery, not due to divine influence but due to psychological and physical benefits. It has also been suggested that if a person knows that he or she is being prayed for it can be uplifting and increase morale, thus aiding recovery. (See Subject-expectancy effect.) Many studies have suggested that prayer can reduce physical stress, regardless of the god or gods a person prays to, and this may be true for many worldly reasons. According to a study by Centra State Hospital, "the psychological benefits of prayer may help reduce stress and anxiety, promote a more positive outlook, and strengthen the will to live." Other practices such as yoga, t'ai chi, and meditation may also have a positive impact on physical and psychological health.
Others feel that the concept of conducting prayer experiments reflects a misunderstanding of the purpose of prayer. The previously mentioned study published in the American Heart Journal indicated that some of the intercessors who took part in it complained about the scripted nature of the prayers that were imposed to them, saying that this is not the way they usually conduct prayer:
Prior to the start of this study, intercessors reported that they usually receive information about the patient’s age, gender and progress reports on their medical condition; converse with family members or the patient (not by fax from a third party); use individualized prayers of their own choosing; and pray for a variable time period based on patient or family request.
One scientific movement attempts to track the physical effects of prayer through neuroscience. Leaders in this movement include Andrew Newberg, an Associate Professor at the University of Pennsylvania. In Newberg's brain scans, monks, priests, nuns, sisters and gurus alike have exceptionally focused attention and compassion sites. This is a result of the frontal lobe of the brain’s engagement (Newberg, 2009). Newburg believes that anybody can connect to the supernatural with practice. Those without religious affiliations benefit from the connection to the metaphysical as well. Newberg also states that further evidence towards humans' need for metaphysical relationships is that as science had increased spirituality has not decreased. Newburg believes that at the end of the 18th century, when the scientific method began to consume the human mind, religion could have vanished. However, two hundred years later, the perception of spirituality, in many instances, appears to be gaining in strength (2009). Newberg's research also provides the connection between prayer and meditation and health. By understanding how the brain works during religious experiences and practices Newberg's research shows that the brain changes during these practices allowing an understanding of how religion affects psychological and physical health (2009). For example, brain activity during meditation indicates that people who frequently practice prayer or meditation experience lower blood-pressure, lower heart rates, decreased anxiety, and decreased depression.
Some modalities of alternative medicine employ prayer. A survey released in May 2004 by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, part of the National Institutes of Health in the United States, found that in 2002, 43% of Americans pray for their own health, 24% pray for others' health, and 10% participate in a prayer group for their own health.
The Angelus (; Latin for "angel") is a Catholic devotion commemorating the Incarnation. As with many Catholic prayers, the name Angelus is derived from its incipit—the first few words of the text: Angelus Domini nuntiavit Mariæ ("The Angel of the Lord declared unto Mary"). The devotion is practised by reciting as versicle and response three Biblical verses narrating the mystery, alternating with the prayer "Hail Mary". The Angelus exemplifies a species of prayers called the "prayer of the devotee".The devotion was traditionally recited in Roman Catholic churches, convents, and monasteries three times daily: 6:00 am, noon, and 6:00 pm (many churches still follow the devotion, and some practice it at home). The devotion is also used by some Anglican and Lutheran churches.
The Angelus is usually accompanied by the ringing of the Angelus bell, which is a call to prayer and to spread goodwill to everyone. The angel referred to in the prayer is Gabriel, a messenger of God who revealed to Mary that she would conceive a child to be born the Son of God (Luke 1:26–38).Anglicanism
Anglicanism is a Western Christian tradition which has developed from the practices, liturgy and identity of the Church of England following the English Reformation.Adherents of Anglicanism are called "Anglicans". The majority of Anglicans are members of national or regional ecclesiastical provinces of the international Anglican Communion, which forms the third-largest Christian communion in the world, after the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church. They are in full communion with the See of Canterbury, and thus the Archbishop of Canterbury, whom the communion refers to as its primus inter pares (Latin, "first among equals"). He calls the decennial Lambeth Conference, chairs the meeting of primates, and the Anglican Consultative Council. Some churches that are not part of the Anglican Communion or recognized by the Anglican Communion also call themselves Anglican, including those that are part of the Continuing Anglican movement and Anglican realignment.Anglicans base their Christian faith on the Bible, traditions of the apostolic Church, apostolic succession ("historic episcopate") and the writings of the Church Fathers. Anglicanism forms one of the branches of Western Christianity, having definitively declared its independence from the Holy See at the time of the Elizabethan Religious Settlement. Many of the new Anglican formularies of the mid-16th century corresponded closely to those of contemporary Protestantism. These reforms in the Church of England were understood by one of those most responsible for them, Thomas Cranmer, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and others as navigating a middle way between two of the emerging Protestant traditions, namely Lutheranism and Calvinism.In the first half of the 17th century, the Church of England and its associated Church of Ireland were presented by some Anglican divines as comprising a distinct Christian tradition, with theologies, structures, and forms of worship representing a different kind of middle way, or via media, between Protestantism and Roman Catholicism – a perspective that came to be highly influential in later theories of Anglican identity and expressed in the description of Anglicanism as "Catholic and Reformed". The degree of distinction between Protestant and Catholic tendencies within the Anglican tradition is routinely a matter of debate both within specific Anglican churches and throughout the Anglican Communion. Unique to Anglicanism is the Book of Common Prayer, the collection of services in one Book used for centuries. The Book is acknowledged as a principal tie that binds the Anglican Communion together as a liturgical rather than a confessional tradition or one possessing a magisterium as in the Roman Catholic Church.
After the American Revolution, Anglican congregations in the United States and British North America (which would later form the basis for the modern country of Canada) were each reconstituted into autonomous churches with their own bishops and self-governing structures; these were known as the American Episcopal Church and the Church of England in the Dominion of Canada. Through the expansion of the British Empire and the activity of Christian missions, this model was adopted as the model for many newly formed churches, especially in Africa, Australasia, and Asia-Pacific. In the 19th century, the term Anglicanism was coined to describe the common religious tradition of these churches; as also that of the Scottish Episcopal Church, which, though originating earlier within the Church of Scotland, had come to be recognised as sharing this common identity.Book of Common Prayer
The Book of Common Prayer (BCP) is the short title of a number of related prayer books used in the Anglican Communion, as well as by other Christian churches historically related to Anglicanism. The original book, published in 1549 in the reign of Edward VI, was a product of the English Reformation following the break with Rome. The work of 1549 was the first prayer book to include the complete forms of service for daily and Sunday worship in English. It contained Morning Prayer, Evening Prayer, the Litany, and Holy Communion and also the occasional services in full: the orders for Baptism, Confirmation, Marriage, "prayers to be said with the sick", and a funeral service. It also set out in full the "propers" (that is the parts of the service which varied week by week or, at times, daily throughout the Church's Year): the introits, collects, and epistle and gospel readings for the Sunday service of Holy Communion. Old Testament and New Testament readings for daily prayer were specified in tabular format as were the Psalms; and canticles, mostly biblical, that were provided to be said or sung between the readings.The 1549 book was soon succeeded by a more reformed revision in 1552 under the same editorial hand, that of Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury. It was used only for a few months, as after Edward VI's death in 1553, his half-sister Mary I restored Roman Catholic worship. Mary died in 1558 and, in 1559, Elizabeth I reintroduced the 1552 book with modifications to make it acceptable to more traditionally-minded worshippers and clergy.
In 1604, James I ordered some further changes, the most significant being the addition to the Catechism of a section on the Sacraments. Following the tumultuous events surrounding the English Civil War, when the Book was again abolished, another modest revision was published in 1662 (Church of England 1662). That edition remains the official prayer book of the Church of England, although through the later twentieth century alternative forms which were technically supplements largely displaced the Book of Common Prayer for the main Sunday worship of most English parish churches.
A Book of Common Prayer with local variations is used in churches around, or deriving from, the Anglican Communion in over 50 different countries and in over 150 different languages. In some parts of the world, the 1662 Book remains technically authoritative but other books or patterns have replaced it in regular worship.
Traditional English Lutheran, Methodist and Presbyterian prayer books have borrowed from the Book of Common Prayer and the marriage and burial rites have found their way into those of other denominations and into the English language. Like the King James Version of the Bible and the works of Shakespeare, many words and phrases from the Book of Common Prayer have entered common parlance.Buddhist prayer beads
Buddhist prayer beads or malas (Sanskrit: mālā "garland") are a traditional tool used to count the number of times a mantra is recited, breaths while meditating, counting prostrations, or the repetitions of a buddha's name. They are similar to other forms of prayer beads used in various world religions and therefore the term "Buddhist rosary" also appears.
Conventional Buddhist tradition counts the beads at 108, signifying the mortal desires of mankind. The number is attributed to the Mokugenji (soapberry seed) Sutra wherein Shakyamuni Buddha instructed King Virudhaka to make such beads and recite the Three Jewels of Buddhism. In later years, various Buddhist sects would either retain the number of beads, or divide them into consecutive twos, fours, for brevity or informality. A decorative tassel is sometimes attached to the beads, flanked by talismans or amulets depending on one's local tradition. Because prayer beads are often painted in pigment, various traditional schools attribute a consecration ritual by the Sangha to the beads, to "open the eyes" for the purpose of achieving Enlightenment unique to the Karma of each believer.Eid al-Fitr
Eid al-Fitr ( eed əl FIT-ər; Arabic: عيد الفطر ʻĪd al-Fiṭr, IPA: [ʕiːd al fitˤr]), also called the "Festival of Breaking the Fast", is an important religious holiday celebrated by Muslims worldwide that marks the end of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting (ṣawm). This religious Eid (Muslim religious festival) is the first and only day in the month of Shawwal during which Muslims are not permitted to fast. The holiday celebrates the conclusion of the 29 or 30 days of dawn-to-sunset fasting during the entire month of Ramadan. The day of Eid, therefore, falls on the first day of the month of Shawwal. The date for the start of any lunar Hijri month varies based on when the new moon is sighted by local religious authorities, so the exact day of celebration varies by locality.
Eid al-Fitr has a particular salat (Islamic prayer) consisting of two rakats (units) and generally offered in an open field or large hall. It may be performed only in congregation (jamāʿat) and has an additional extra six Takbirs (raising of the hands to the ears while saying "Allāhu ʾAkbar" which means "God is the greatest"), three of them in the beginning of the first raka'ah and three of them just before rukūʿ in the second raka'ah in the Hanafi school of Sunni Islam. Other Sunni schools usually have twelve Takbirs, seven in the first, and five at the beginning of the second raka'ah. According to Shia Islam, it has 6 Takbirs in the first Rakat at the end of qira'a, before rukūʿ, and 5 in the second. This Eid al-Fitr salat is, depending on which juristic opinion is followed, farḍ فرض (obligatory), mustaḥabb مستحب (strongly recommended, just short of obligatory) or mandūb مندوب (preferable).
Muslims believe that they are commanded by God, as mentioned in the Quran, to continue their fast until the last day of Ramadan and pay the Zakat al-Fitr before offering the Eid prayers.Fajr prayer
The Fajr prayer (Arabic: صلاة الفجر ṣalāt al-faǧr, "dawn prayer") is the first of the five daily prayers (salat) performed daily by practicing Muslims. Fajr means dawn in the Arabic language.
The five daily prayers collectively form one pillar of the Five Pillars of Islam, in Sunni Islam, and one of the ten Practices of the Religion (Furū al-Dīn) according to Shia Islam.
The Fajr prayer is mentioned by name in the Qur'an at sura 24 (An-Nur) ayah. Inspired by the tafsir of the two hadiths that were transmitted on behalf of the Islamic prophet Muhammad, the worth of the Fajr daily prayer is explained as being God's most-favoured prayer since others are asleep.
During the Muslim holy month of Ramadan the call to Fajr prayer marks the beginning of the obligatory daily fasting (sawm).
Al-Fajr is also the name of eighty-ninth chapter (sura) of the Qur'an.Five Pillars of Islam
The Five Pillars of Islam (arkān al-Islām أركان الإسلام; also arkān al-dīn أركان الدين "pillars of the religion") are some basic acts in Islam, considered mandatory by believers and are the foundation of Muslim life. They are summarized in the famous hadith of Gabriel. The Sunni and Shia agree on the essential details for the performance and practice of these acts, but the Shia do not refer to them by the same name (see Ancillaries of the Faith, for the Twelvers, and Seven pillars of Ismailism). They make up Muslim life, prayer, concern for the needy, self-purification, and the pilgrimage, if one is able.Hail Mary
The Hail Mary (Latin: Ave Maria) is a traditional Catholic prayer asking for the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the mother of Jesus. In Roman Catholicism, the prayer forms the basis of the Rosary and the Angelus prayers. In the Oriental Orthodox Churches, Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Churches, a similar prayer is used in formal liturgies, both in Greek and in translations. It is also used by many other groups within the Catholic tradition of Christianity including Anglicans, Independent Catholics, and Old Catholics.
Largely based on two phrases in the Gospel of Luke, the prayer takes different forms in various traditions. It has often been set to music.I Say a Little Prayer
"I Say a Little Prayer" is a song written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David for Dionne Warwick, originally peaking at number four on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 pop singles chart in December 1967. On the R&B Singles chart it peaked at number eight.Isha prayer
The Isha prayer (Arabic: صلاة العشاء ṣalāt al-ʿišāʾ IPA: [sˤalaːt alʕiʃaːʔ], "night prayer") is the night-time daily prayer recited by practicing Muslims. It is the fifth of the five daily prayers– (salat) [Islamic evening begins at maghrib]. The five daily prayers collectively are one pillar of the Five Pillars of Islam, in Sunni Islam, and one of the ten Practices of the Religion (Furū al-Dīn) according to Shia Islam. It is a four rak'ah prayer and in Sunni Islam, the two Sunnah rak'ah following the Isha' are highly recommended and so is the three rakat Wajib Witr. There are a few optional prayers that can be recited after the Isha' prayer, including the Nafilat ul-Layl prayers (together termed tahajjud), as well as the tarawih in Ramadan.Jewish prayer
Jewish prayer (Hebrew: תְּפִלָּה, tefillah [tefiˈla]; plural Hebrew: תְּפִלּוֹת, tefillot [tefiˈlot]; Yiddish תּפֿלה tfile [ˈtfɪlə], plural תּפֿלות tfilles [ˈtfɪləs]; Yinglish: davening from Yiddish דאַוון daven ‘pray’) are the prayer recitations and Jewish meditation traditions that form part of the observance of Rabbinic Judaism. These prayers, often with instructions and commentary, are found in the siddur, the traditional Jewish prayer book. However, the term tefillah as referenced in the Talmud refers specifically to the Shemoneh Esreh.
Prayer—as a "service of the heart"—is in principle a Torah-based commandment. It is not time-dependent and is mandatory for both Jewish men and women.
You shall serve God with your whole heart.
However, in general, today, Jewish men are obligated to conduct tefillah ("prayer") three times a day within specific time ranges (zmanim), while, according to some posekim ("Jewish legal authorities"), women are only required to engage in tefillah once a day, others say at least twice a day.Traditionally, since the Second Temple period, three prayer services are recited daily:
Morning prayer: Shacharit or Shaharit (שַחֲרִת), from the Hebrew shachar or shahar (שַחָר) "morning light",
Afternoon prayer: Mincha or Minha (מִנְחָה), the afternoon prayers named for the flour offering that accompanied sacrifices at the Temple in Jerusalem,
Additional prayer: Arvit (עַרְבִית, "of the evening") or Maariv (מַעֲרִיב, "bringing on night"), from "nightfall".Further additional prayers:
Musaf (מוּסָף, "additional") are recited by Orthodox and Conservative congregations on Shabbat, major Jewish holidays (including Chol HaMoed), and Rosh Chodesh.
A fifth prayer service, Ne'ila (נְעִילָה, "closing"), is recited only on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.The Talmud Bavli gives two reasons why there are three basic prayers de-rabbanan ("from our Rabbis") since the early Second Temple period on: to recall the daily sacrifices at the Temple in Jerusalem, and/or because each of the Patriarchs instituted one prayer: Abraham the morning, Isaac the afternoon and Jacob the evening prayer. The Talmud yerushalmi states that the Anshei Knesset HaGedola ("The Men of the Great Assembly") learned and understood the beneficial concept of regular daily prayer from personal habits of the forefathers (avoth, Avraham, Isaac, Yaacov) as hinted in the Tanach, and instituted the three daily prayers. A distinction is made between individual prayer and communal prayer, which requires a quorum known as a minyan, with communal prayer being preferable as it permits the inclusion of prayers that otherwise would be omitted.
Maimonides (1135–1204 CE) relates that until the Babylonian exile (586 BCE), all Jews had composed their own prayers, but thereafter the sages of the Great Assembly in the early Second Temple period composed the main portions of the siddur. Modern scholarship dating from the Wissenschaft des Judentums movement of 19th-century Germany, as well as textual analysis influenced by the 20th-century discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, suggests that dating from this period there existed "liturgical formulations of a communal nature designated for particular occasions and conducted in a centre totally independent of Jerusalem and the Temple, making use of terminology and theological concepts that were later to become dominant in Jewish and, in some cases, Christian prayer." The language of the prayers, while clearly from the Second Temple period (516 BCE – 70 CE), often employs Biblical idiom. Jewish prayerbooks emerged during the early Middle Ages during the period of the Geonim of Babylonia (6th–11th centuries CE)Over the last two thousand years traditional variations have emerged among the traditional liturgical customs of different Jewish communities, such as Ashkenazic, Sephardic, Yemenite, Eretz Yisrael and others, or rather recent liturgical inventions such as Hassidic, Chabad, Conservative, and various Reform minhagim. However the differences are minor compared with the commonalities. Halachically, Jews can switch from one nusach tefillah to an other (and back) at any time, even on a daily basis, and are not bound to follow the nusach of their forefathers. Most of the Jewish liturgy is sung or chanted with traditional melodies or trope. Synagogues may designate or employ a professional or lay hazzan (cantor) for the purpose of leading the congregation in prayer, especially on Shabbat or holidays.Jumu'ah
Jumu'ah (Arabic: صلاة الجمعة, ṣalāt al-jumu‘ah), also known as Friday Prayer or Congregational Prayer, is a prayer (ṣalāt) that Muslims hold every Friday, just after noon instead of the Zuhr prayer. Muslims ordinarily pray five times each day according to the sun's sky path regardless of time zones.Lord's Prayer
The Lord's Prayer, also called the Our Father (Latin, Pater Noster), is a venerated Christian prayer which, according to the New Testament, Jesus taught as the way to pray:
Pray then in this way ... (Matthew 6:9 NRSV)
When you pray, say ... (Luke 11:2 NRSV)Two versions of this prayer are recorded in the gospels: a longer form within the Sermon on the Mount in the Gospel of Matthew, and a shorter form in the Gospel of Luke when "one of his disciples said to him, 'Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.'" Lutheran theologian Harold Buls suggested that both were original, the Matthaen version spoken by Jesus early in his ministry in Galilee, and the Lucan version one year later, "very likely in Judea".The first three of the seven petitions in Matthew address God; the other four are related to human needs and concerns. The Matthew account alone includes the "Your will be done" and the "Rescue us from the evil one" (or "Deliver us from evil") petitions. Both original Greek texts contain the adjective epiousios, which does not appear in any other classical or Koine Greek literature; while controversial, "daily" has been the most common English-language translation of this word. Protestants usually, conclude the prayer with a doxology, a later addendum appearing in some manuscripts of Matthew.
Initial words on the topic from the Catechism of the Catholic Church teach that it "is truly the summary of the whole gospel". The prayer is used by most Christian churches in their worship; with few exceptions, the liturgical form is the Matthean. Although theological differences and various modes of worship divide Christians, according to Fuller Seminary professor Clayton Schmit, "there is a sense of solidarity in knowing that Christians around the globe are praying together ... and these words always unite us."In biblical criticism, the prayer's absence in the Gospel of Mark together with its occurrence in Matthew and Luke has caused scholars who accept the two-source hypothesis (against other document hypotheses) to conclude that it is probably a logion original to Q.Maghrib prayer
The Maghrib prayer (Arabic: صلاة المغرب ṣalāt al-maġrib, '"sunset prayer"), prayed just after sunset, is the fourth of five obligatory daily prayers (salat) performed by practicing Muslims.The formal daily prayers of Islam comprise different numbers of units, called rakat.The Maghrib prayer has three obligatory (fard) rak'at and two recommended sunnah and two non-obligatory naflscode: ara promoted to code: ar . The first two fard rak'ats are prayed aloud by the Imam in congregation (the person who misses the congregation and is offering prayer alone is not bound to speak the first two rak'ats aloud), and the third is prayed silently.To be considered valid salat, the formal daily prayers must each be performed within their own prescribed time period. People with a legitimate reason have a longer period during which their prayers will be valid.Mosque
A mosque (; from Arabic: مَـسْـجِـد, romanized: masjid, lit. place of ritual prostration) is a place of worship for Muslims.Any act of worship that follows the Islamic rules of prayer can be said to create a mosque, whether or not it takes place in a special building. Informal and open-air places of worship are called musalla, while mosques used for communal prayer on Fridays are known as jāmiʿ. Mosque buildings typically contain an ornamental niche (mihrab) set into the wall that indicates the direction of Mecca (qiblah), ablution facilities and minarets from which calls to prayer are issued. The pulpit (minbar), from which the Friday sermon (khutba) is delivered, was in earlier times characteristic of the central city mosque, but has since become common in smaller mosques. Mosques typically have segregated spaces for men and women. This basic pattern of organization has assumed different forms depending on the region, period and denomination.Mosques commonly serve as locations for prayer, Ramadan vigils, funeral services, Sufi ceremonies, marriage and business agreements, alms collection and distribution, as well as homeless shelters. Historically, mosques were also important centers of elementary education and advanced training in religious sciences. In modern times, they have preserved their role as places of religious instruction and debate, but higher learning now generally takes place in specialized institutions. Special importance is accorded to the Great Mosque of Mecca (center of the hajj), Prophet's Mosque in Medina (burial place of Muhammad) and the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem (believed to be the site of Muhammad's ascent to heaven). In the past, many mosques in the Muslim world were built over burial places of Sufi saints and other venerated figures, which has turned them into popular pilgrimage destinations.The first mosque was built by Muhammad in Medina. With the spread of Islam, mosques multiplied across the Islamic world. Sometimes churches and other temples were converted into mosques, which influenced Islamic architectural styles. While most pre-modern mosques were funded by charitable endowments, modern states in the Muslim world have attempted to bring mosques under government control. Increasing government regulation of large mosques has been countered by a rise of privately funded mosques of various affiliations and ideologies, many of which serve as bases for different Islamic revivalist currents and social activism. Mosques have played a number of political roles. The rates of mosque attendance vary widely depending on the region.Prayer wheel
A prayer wheel is a cylindrical wheel (Tibetan: འཁོར་ལོ།, Wylie: khor lo) on a spindle made from metal, wood, stone, leather or coarse cotton. Traditionally, the mantra Om Mani Padme Hum is written in Newari language of Nepal, on the outside of the wheel. Also sometimes depicted are Dakinis, Protectors and very often the 8 auspicious symbols Ashtamangala. At the core of the cylinder is a "Life Tree" often made of wood or metal with certain mantras written on or wrapped around it. Many thousands (or in the case of larger prayer wheels, millions) of mantras are then wrapped around this life tree. The Mantra Om Mani Padme Hum is most commonly used, but other mantras may be used as well. According to the Tibetan Buddhist tradition based on the lineage texts regarding prayer wheels, spinning such a wheel will have much the same meritorious effect as orally reciting the prayers.Rosary
The Holy Rosary (; Latin: rosarium, in the sense of "crown of roses" or "garland of roses"), also known as the Dominican Rosary, refers to a form of prayer used in the Catholic Church and to the string of knots or beads used to count the component prayers. When used for the prayer, the word is usually capitalized ("the Rosary"), as is customary for other names of prayers, such as "the Lord's Prayer", and "the Hail Mary"; when referring to the beads, it is written with a lower-case initial letter ("a rosary").
The prayers that comprise the Rosary are arranged in sets of ten Hail Marys, called decades. Each decade is preceded by one Lord's Prayer and followed by one Glory Be. During recitation of each set, thought is given to one of the Mysteries of the Rosary, which recall events in the lives of Jesus and Mary. Five decades are recited per rosary. Other prayers are sometimes added before or after each decade. Rosary beads are an aid towards saying these prayers in the proper sequence.
A standard 15 Mysteries of the Rosary, based on the long-standing custom, was established by Pope Pius V during the 16th century, grouping the mysteries in three sets: the Joyful Mysteries, the Sorrowful Mysteries, and the Glorious Mysteries. During 2002 Pope John Paul II said that it is fitting that a new set of five be added, termed the Luminous Mysteries, bringing the total number of mysteries to 20. The Glorious mysteries are said on Sunday and Wednesday, the Joyful on Monday and Saturday, the Sorrowful on Tuesday and Friday, and the Luminous Mysteries are said on Thursday. Usually five decades are recited in a session.
For more than four centuries, the rosary has been promoted by several popes as part of the veneration of Mary in Roman Catholicism, and consisting essentially in meditation on the life of Christ. The rosary also represents the Roman Catholic emphasis on "participation in the life of Mary, whose focus was Christ", and the Mariological theme "to Christ through Mary."Salah
Salah ("prayer, worship", from Arabic صلاة; pl. صلوات ṣalawāt), also called salat and namaz (from Persian: نَماز), is one of the Five Pillars in the faith of Islam and an obligatory religious duty for every Muslim. It is a physical, mental, and spiritual act of worship that is observed five times every day at prescribed times. When they do this, they must face Mecca. In this ritual, the worshiper starts standing, bows, prostrates himself, and concludes while sitting on the ground. During each posture, the worshiper recites or reads certain verses, phrases and prayers.
The word "salah" is commonly translated as "prayer." Given how that word is generally used in English this can be misleading, as the word "prayer" is also used to translate a different word, "dua", a reverent petition made to God. Salah may be better translated as "divine worship," as it is primarily worship rather than petition.
Salah is preceded by ritual ablution. Salah consists of the repetition of a unit called a rakʿah (pl. rakaʿāt) consisting of prescribed actions and words. The number of obligatory (fard) rakaʿāt varies from two to four according to the time of day or other circumstances (such as Friday congregational worship, which has two rakats). Prayer is obligatory for all Muslims except those who are prepubescent, is menstruating, or are experiencing bleeding in the 40 days after childbirth.Yom Kippur
Yom Kippur (; Hebrew: יוֹם כִּיפּוּר, IPA: [ˈjom kiˈpuʁ], or יום הכיפורים), also known as the Day of Atonement, is the holiest day of the year in Judaism. Its central themes are atonement and repentance. Jewish people traditionally observe this holy day with an approximate 25-hour period of fasting and intensive prayer, often spending most of the day in synagogue services.