1.1 Definitions of Prayer

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You have probably witnessed someone pray — and you might have been praying too! Everyone does, knowingly or unknowingly; from simple uttering like “God Help!”  to those long winded statements made in large masses or religious functions.

Prayers are always made all over the world, each second of the time. From the darkest corner of the earth, to the brightest spot; from the lowest point ever reached, to the highest place ever known; from the languishing villages in the heart of the earth, to the flourishing cities man has made… through the entire universe, it is prayers and prayers and much of it….

But, have you ever asked yourself anything about prayer or praying? Well, questions like What exactly is prayer? Why do people pray? To whom do people pray?Are prayers really heard? and.. Do our prayers get answered? are already crowding in your mind! You are being genuine, and you truly are… human.

Let’s begin by answering one simple question. If a small child, say of eight, runs up to you and asks, ‘What is prayer?’ What would you tell them? Remember they are asking with an impeccable innocence, and are looking up on you to give them a satisfactory answer. How would you handle such a situation? Tricky?

Fine. Let us have a look at how others define prayer, and what they think praying means…

‘Prayer is a solemn request for help or expression of thanks addressed to God or another deity.’

– Oxford English Dictionary

‘Prayer is conversation with God; the intercourse of the soul with God, not in contemplation or meditation, but in direct address to Him.’

– Matthew G. Eason


(Praying is…) ‘To ask that the laws of the universe be annulled in behalf of a single petitioner confessedly unworthy.’

– Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914)

‘Prayer is the soul’s sincere desire unuttered or expressed,

The motion of a hidden fire

That trembles in the breast…

Prayer is the Christian’s native air.’

– James Montgomery (1818)


the Church’s banquet, angel’s age,

God’s breath in man returning to his birth,

The soul in paraphrase, heart in pilgrimage,

The Christian’s plummet sounding heaven and earth.’

– George Herbert — Witshire, England

(It is…) ‘An invocation or act that seeks to activate a rapport with a deity, an object of worship, or a spiritual entity through deliberate communication.’

– Wikipedia.com

‘…willful, directed action by the believer, seeking direct, unmediated communication with Allah.’

– Shaykh Muhammad Hisham Kabbani


‘…meditation which has self-change as its object…. transforming of one’s inner nature accompanied by the purification of the three faculties: thought, word, deed.’

– Venerable K. Sri, Dhammananda Mahathera


‘…the time of prayer is the time of self-judgement and self-evaluation. When a person addresses himself to God and prays for His blessings…’

– Nissan Mindel


(Prayer is….) ‘Seeking communion with God or gods, expressing one’s love and devotion to them and obtaining their grace or favours.’

– Jayaram V.


‘It is how we convey our confession, requests, intercessions, thanksgiving etc to our [H]oly God.’

– Carm.org


Copyright © 2015. Reinhardt Imonds. All Rights Reserved.


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