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Question for Christians: How do you Pray?


Beeks

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In Judaism there are mostly very set prayers that you pray at set times. There's not a whole lot of creativity involved. =)

How do Christians pray? I know Catholics have some set prayers, but what about Protestants? Hardcore fundies? I hear a lot of "pouring my heart out to the Lord" and "taking solace in His Word" but what does that all really mean? Do you just chat with God like He's an equal? Are there specific prayers for specific things?

Enlighten me!

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When I was a Christian (I was just a pre-teen and younger at the time), I would pretty much just chat with God. Not so much like an equal but like I might talk to a parent.

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Like valsa says, prayer for me tends to be very informal, more like talking to someone than anything else. Of course, growing up in a fundie-lite church means I know all about "pouring your heart out to the Lord," which is usually getting away from everything and just spending time in meditation, talking to God, reading the Bible, journaling often.

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From the Baptists: We pray before every meal, at bedtime, all the time in church, and after we leave a function. We pray for everything.

I personally only pray at bedtime and I just pray for my family's safety and well-being.

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It varies. I'm pretty weird in some ways, so I pray some set prayers (I pray the Lutheran rosary as sort of a meditative practice, but that is VERY rare for people in my denomination). For more personal prayers, it's really more like talking to God.

I do sometimes follow sort of a pattern - praise, thanksgiving, asking forgiveness of sins, and then asking for any needs or wants, but I don't always pray that way or include all of those things in a prayer. There's an acronym I learned years ago - ACTS - Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication and it does help when I'm at a loss for words).

I also read and study some of the more traditional prayers and prayers from the past sometimes for inspiration, but I feel weird "praying" somebody else's prayers, even in those group setting where people pray the Lord's Prayer, because it seems like it's too easy to just repeat the words but not really be what's in my heart.

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When I was a kid, I was taught to just talk to him about anything. I was told to start with praise and thanks, and spend as much time as possible thanking him for anything I could think of. After that, I could make requests, but I had to be humble about it and ask him to only do things that are according to his will. So for example, it could be "please help me get accepted to Soandso College, unless it is your will for me to not go there". I remember a big debate among the adults in my church (I haven't gone since I was a teenager), and they disagreed about whether you should pray requests for minor things. One woman said she would never bother the great and almighty God with help finding her keys, but another woman argued that he likes to hear from you as much as possible and it is also a sign of humility to ask for such small favors. But yeah, it's sort of anything goes and is often treated just like a conversation.

In church and Christian clubs and activities, we would have group prayers which worked a little differently. Anyone could submit a prayer request, which was very often safe travel for someone going on vacation, health for anyone in the hospital, and praise for things like babies and marriages. And there would usually be someone in the group who would use it as a political platform and put in something like "God, please guide your followers to realize that they should support Jay Q. Random in the upcoming election", or "God, please guide our politicians to not ban our guns". Then someone in the group would essentially just go down the list, or we would all go around a circle and we'd usually all repeat the same exact requests.

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Guest Anonymous

I pray by talking to God about whatever I feel the need to talk to him about. It doesn't have to be sit down, eyes closed, and end with amen. The only time I have ever repeated prayers are when I repeated after the man who was guiding me through a Sinner's/Salvation prayer and when saying the Lord's Prayer (Our Father which art in Heaven...)

When lay down at night I thank God for the day and for my family or other things, I pray for those around me who I know are hurting or sick, I pray for things I need help with, things like that.

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I don't really want to get into how I pray now (also, I'm not necessarily Christian :think: ), but I can tell you how we prayed as I was growing up.

I attended both a Baptist school and a Lutheran school and while Lutherans had some set prayers and liturgies and stuff, your every day public prayer was roughly the same among both sets of people. Private prayers can of course be a different matter, but I carried over some of the structure of many of my private prayers and I assume most Christians do. We always began by addressing God, e.g. "Dear Lord", "Dear God", "Heavenly Father". To this day, even with my very different interpretation of "God", I still begin English prayers like this (maybe a "Heavenly Mother" thrown in there hehehe). I honestly don't remember prayers being addressed to "Jesus". It still sounds odd to me. After the address, you say whatever is on your mind. Generally you both praise and thank the Lord, and include a request, which could be anything from something specific ("please ensure Mrs. Harman has a safe and quick recovery") to a very general "please be in our hearts today". Both my Baptist and Lutheran congregations ended prayers with "In Jesus' name we pray, Amen". :pray:

And that's that.

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I pray throughout the day, but it's very informal. I don't even have to use words. Imagine if a loved one passed, and you felt that person was with you all the time, but others couldn't see him... that's how it's feels for me.

Outside of church, church meetings, and the praying for people on prayer requests, we do a formal grace at dinnertime, I thank God for the day and my family and ask for them to feel loved and protected at bedtime, and I'll throw up a more formal prayer when we pass an accident or someone is sick, etc. By "formal" I don't mean prescribed; just in words instead of the Vulcan mind-meld stuff described above. ; )

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Being raise Catholic, I often use rote prayers (rosary, hail marys, our fathers) when I'm feeling stressed in general or need to calm and center myself. When the issue is something more specific, then my prayers are more specific. My mom is recoverying from back surgery, so I've been prayer a lot for a speedy recovery, but when I start to feel overwhelmed, I'll pull out my rosary and go through a decade or two on that to help calm and center myself. Hopefully, that makes some sort of sense to everyone.

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At my (Methodist) church we say the Lord's Prayer every Sunday and we have some specific prayers for when we have communion. Usually we'll also have a "prayer of invocation" or a "prayer of confession" which someone (I'm not sure who) has written beforehand, and then they put it up on the projector screen and we all recite it together. Those tend to be very formulaic (and they tend to get recycled), but I think that has more to do with lack of creativity on the part of whoever comes up with them.

I don't do much personal praying, but if I do, I mostly just talk like I would to a friend or someone else I trust. In group settings where someone has to come up with a prayer to say out loud on the spot it usually goes something like, "Lord, thank you for bringing us all here today" and then, depending on the situation, "please be with those who are sick or hurting/bless this food/help us to sing to your glory/guide us home safely/etc." It's not necessarily, "pouring your heart out to God," but it's not a set, specific prayer, either.

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I love hearing that something so personal is not all that codified :) I do hope it's not by rote for the fundies.

Additional question from a nonChristian: do Christians also include listening? Or does prayer always mean asking?

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I love hearing that something so personal is not all that codified :) I do hope it's not by rote for the fundies.

Additional question from a nonChristian: do Christians also include listening? Or does prayer always mean asking?

I think the listening part depends on the person. Myself I try, but I think I'm a bit deaf at times. I do try to do "meditative prayer" that includes scripture or a religious book.

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Personally, I generally pray in a conversational way. Sometimes in tongues, sometimes just in a normal voice, sometimes I will write down prayers rather than speaking them aloud. I don't tend to pray for meals and such, but usually with a group we all will.

I SHOULD do more listening than I currently do...

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Yes I chat with God. Not as an equal. Me=/=almighty infinite God. :p

But as Someone who knows me, loves me, and cares for me.

Sometimes it's just praise--I like to sing that. Sometimes it's putting my worries and fears in front of him. He already knows them, but it helps me. Recently we have been asking for a couple of things specifically, and asked others to pray with us about those things. Not with the assumption that a "good" answered prayer is one that perfectly matches our idea of what we want, but hoping for something and asking for clarity and wisdom about it and related decisions, and asking for ultimately God's will for us, whatever that may be.

"Listening" mostly comes through reading the Bible, as we consider that God's word to us. Once in a great while, I will get a feeling that I can't describe, a prompting, about something I need to do.

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Great question, Beeks! I am also Jewish so it's nice to get another perspective on prayer.

I am also interested in how other non-Christians pray. Are there any Pagans/Wiccans/Muslims/Buddhists/fill in dotted line on the board?

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Great question, Beeks! I am also Jewish so it's nice to get another perspective on prayer.

I am also interested in how other non-Christians pray. Are there any Pagans/Wiccans/Muslims/Buddhists/fill in dotted line on the board?

Actually, yes, I'd love to hear from everybody else as well! I don't know if they'll open the thread since it's addressed to Christians, though. I'd especially love to hear from Wiccans and Pagans because I really don't understand those religions and when I've tried to Google I don't know what's legit info and what's not.

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I pretty much exclusively pray set prayers; I usually use either Siddur Sim Shalom (the Conservative Jewish prayerbook) or the Koren Sacks Siddur, which is a Modern Orthodox prayerbook that I like because of the layout and the great English translations. I'll pray in English, Hebrew or both, depending on what my mood is and how much time I have. It's funny, because my personal prayer life as a Christian was pretty much zero, but as a Jew, it's a near-daily thing. A lot of Jewish prayers are biblically-based and/or deal with the collective Jewish experience, though I always find new stuff that pertains to me when I'm able to take my time and really think over what I'm saying instead of just doing it by rote. I'll add personal petitions or petitions for other people during the relevant section of the Amidah (or during the day whenever they occur to me). I like the familiarity of a set structure to prayer, although I love the Hasidic concept of hisbodedut, or secluding yourself somewhere to just talk with G-d free-form. I think I'm too type-A for that to really work for me, though.

I've found that prayer as a Jew is much more physical than it was for me as a Christian, maybe because I wear tallis and tefillin. As someone who needs that tactile component, that's fine by me.

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I pretty much exclusively pray set prayers; I usually use either Siddur Sim Shalom (the Conservative Jewish prayerbook) or the Koren Sacks Siddur, which is a Modern Orthodox prayerbook that I like because of the layout and the great English translations. I'll pray in English, Hebrew or both, depending on what my mood is and how much time I have. It's funny, because my personal prayer life as a Christian was pretty much zero, but as a Jew, it's a near-daily thing. A lot of Jewish prayers are biblically-based and/or deal with the collective Jewish experience, though I always find new stuff that pertains to me when I'm able to take my time and really think over what I'm saying instead of just doing it by rote. I'll add personal petitions or petitions for other people during the relevant section of the Amidah (or during the day whenever they occur to me). I like the familiarity of a set structure to prayer, although I love the Hasidic concept of hisbodedut, or secluding yourself somewhere to just talk with G-d free-form. I think I'm too type-A for that to really work for me, though.

I've found that prayer as a Jew is much more physical than it was for me as a Christian, maybe because I wear tallis and tefillin. As someone who needs that tactile component, that's fine by me.

I can relate to all that. And the Koren Siddur is an awesome piece of work :)

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It's really fantastic. Is it dorky that I love the fonts? Because their fonts are just great. The layout is awesome, the way they tell you when to bow and stuff is really well done... it's an excellent siddur. My first siddur was an Artscroll transliterated, which... well. The transliteration was helpful enough, but the translations and commentaries are just so Charedi, it's a little ridiculous. I found that I couldn't actually focus on davening after a while because the translations were so over the top. But really, this thread probably isn't the place for my patented Artscroll rant. :roll:

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