What is Prayer? An In-Depth Look At It’s Purpose And Importance

“It starts with a new spirit of prayer, using all the traditions, ancient and modern.

“When it comes, it will be linked to what has gone before, but it will look different – because it is a new renewal for new times.”

Just start.

The hardest thing about prayer is beginning

So just start.

Wanting to pray is the beginning of a relationship with God that can grow and grow.
Find the way of praying that is right for you.
Explore different ways of praying.
Listen as well as speak.
Give thanks as well as ask for help.
Don’t just look for results. Don’t give up when it gets hard. Trying to pray is praying.

Remember, God is present even in the darkness.

Praying can be woven into everyday life. Prayer is not just something done in church. It is about praying with others, praying alone, at any time and any place. It is living life in a relationship with God.

When we pray, there are millions of Christian people all around the world also praying; daily in churches, in their own homes, in their cars, at work. You might not hear them. You might feel very alone in your prayer; but you are not alone.

There is no such thing as private prayer because when we pray we are caught up in something much bigger than ourselves. There is no “my” prayer. It is, as the beginning of the Lord’s Prayer states, “our”.

The conversation starts here.

Just Start.

It can feel as though the concept of prayer is often something taken lightly in our busy society. We pray that we will make it to the bus stop on time, that we will get that promotion, or that our hair will have sorted itself out before our hot date on Saturday.

The concept of ‘prayer’ is thrown around almost as fleetingly and flippantly as wishing – treated as a ludicrous superstition with no real meaning.

In Church and religion, however, prayer takes on a whole new resonance and meaning. It becomes something special and sacred, and a means for the faithful to communicate directly with God.

The different types of prayer offer different benefits and ways to focus your energy, and working with your Church and congregation provides the chance to explore your faith, as well as the opportunity to celebrate and honor God.

a man praying to the bible

What is prayer according to the Bible?

The Bible sees prayer as speaking with God. Jeremiah 33:3 says “Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.” As the majority of prayers will start with some form of greeting to God, it seems clear that he is imploring his followers to pray to him when they are in need—to start a conversation which must rely on faith.

Philippians 4:6 also supports this, stating that we should, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.” It is clear that as far as the Bible is concerned, engaging in prayer is opening up a line of direct communication with God, and using it to speak to him about your needs and requests.

The Bible is also very clear about the distinction which must be made between prayers and magic. Matthew 6:7-8 clarifies this by saying, “And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words.

Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you need of before you ask Him.” This clarification reinforces the notion that prayer is something sacred for Christians, far removed from the supplications of the heathens.

Jesus is also used as a role model for prayer. In Luke 11:1-4, he gives five areas of focus for prayer:

  • “Father, hallowed be your name.” – God’s name be honored—the focus on his everlasting glory
  • “Thy kingdom come” – God’s kingdom will come if we focus on his eternal will
  • “Give us each day our daily bread” – God’s provision must be given, and we must focus on our present
  • “Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us” – Gods forgiveness is granted, and we focus on our past
  • That Gods deliverance will be provided to us, and we should focus on our future

What are the four types of prayer?

The Catholic Church divides prayer into four main types: Adoration, Contrition, Petition, and Thanksgiving.

Adoration – praising God

The Gloria is known as the prayer of adoration. When Mass is held on a Sunday or a holy day of obligation, the Gloria will be sing. It is said to recall and represent the singing angels who sang at the birth of Christ.

Contrition – asking God for forgiveness

The Confiteor and Penitential Rite are the prayers of contrition. The Confiteor is Latin for “I confess,” and involves the individual confessing to the sin, before asking the saints and angels to pray on their behalf, in the hope that God will grant forgiveness.

Petition – asking God for a favor

The General Intercessions, or The Prayer of the Faithful, is a prayer of petition. The congregation will request help from God, to care of the people and leaders of the Church, as well as the wider community.

Thanksgiving – showing gratitude to God

The prayer of thanksgiving always comes after Holy Communion. Here, appreciation is shown for all graces given at Mass. Each Mass will also include a profession of faith, and these texts summarise, in a succinct way, everything which is regarded by Catholics as divinely revealed truth. These are usually one of two pieces; the Apostles Creed and the Nicene Creed.

What is the purpose of the prayer?

The idea of prayer may seem as though it revolves around asking God to right your wrongs, to give you the things you desire, or to put right the things in your life you are looking to change, but this is an oversimplified idea of the notion of prayer.

As we have discussed, prayer is about more than asking God for the things you desire, though this is absolutely a part of it, as seen in John 16:24— “Ask and you will receive.” At its heart, however, prayer is much more than this. It is an opportunity for contemplation and meditation, to connect with God in a way which is personal and unique to you, and to ask for repentance and forgiveness.

The conversations you have with God through prayer are not all positive. As we have seen, worshippers may ask for forgiveness and repentance, and to be absolved of the sins they have committed. This act requires a deep self-exploration and reflection, an analysis of one’s thoughts and actions, and an analysis of them which sees them as they truly are.

To undertake the act of asking for forgiveness, we first must admit to ourselves that we have sinned; that our actions have caused harm or distress to others, or that they have gone against the will and wished of God. This forgiveness requires faith and an ability to detach oneself from sin.

Prayer is primarily an opportunity to talk through the incident. By asking for forgiveness, you are admitting you have done wrong, and this can be an excellent opportunity to consider your identity, your lifestyle, and the impacts of the choices you make.

Prayer also helps to strengthen and reinforce your relationship with the Divine, giving you a direct means of communication which places you closer to God. The beauty is that you can pray anytime, anyplace and anywhere—there is no need for fancy clothing or specific rituals. While these trimmings no doubt enhance the experience of prayer and working with your congregation is enriching for support and guidance, the power of prayer means that you can communicate with God whenever the need takes you, and receive the advice, support and guidance which is offered through the practice.

On a surface level, prayer would appear to be superficial and selfish; we talk to God in the hopes that we will receive the things we desire or eliminate the things we are looking to lose. In truth, however, the process is far deeper than that.

A prayer is an active act, which requires intense contemplation, personal analysis, and the chance to right the wrongs which are occurring within your very soul. There is real work which occurs during the act of prayer. By choosing to pray, you are actively choosing to open up the connection with God and to cherish and nourish that connection in its purest and most honest form— a private, genuine conversation.

What are the primary forms of prayer?

In addition to the four types of prayer outlined by Catholics, the Bible lists nine main types of prayer:

  • The prayer of faith (James 5:15)
  • The prayer of agreement, or ‘corporate’ prayer (Acts 2:42)
  • The prayer of request – also known as petition or supplication (Philippians 4:6)
  • The prayer of thanksgiving (Psalm 95_2-3)
  • The prayer of worship (Acts 13:2-3)
  • The prayer of consecration – also known as dedication (Matthew 26:39)
  • The prayer of intercession (Timothy 2:1)
  • The prayer of imprecation (Psalms 69)
  • Praying in the Spirit (1 Corinthians 14:14-15)

As you can see, there is more than simply praying involved. Your purpose for prayer is important, as there are different techniques and chants you can use to help you feel closer and more connected to God and your purpose.

What is the importance of prayer?

Within the Christian faith, it is difficult to deny that prayer is one of the most important actions a person can undertake in both their religion and their life. As it states in Luke 11:5-13 and Luke 18:1-8, “everyone who asks receives.” This quote suggests that prayer gives you the power to change not only your world but that of the wider community.

If you pray for more life, you will receive more life. If you pray for peace and tolerance, these are the qualities you will find reflected within your surroundings. The Bible also tells us that, “You do not have because you do not ask,” (James 4:2). The text itself is extolling the virtues of prayer, and the power it can bring in transforming your life for the better through open and honest communication with God.

Prayer is also essential for demonstrating your faith to God. It allows him to help you even when you are unsure of the assistance you need. Romans 8:26-27 tells us that, “Likewise, the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses.

For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered, Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is because He makes intercession for the saint according to the will of God.”

Even in your darkest hours, when you are confused, lost, or uncertain about the next step you should take, God will give you what you need and deserve, even if you are not yet convinced. It is a demonstration of faith and a way of demonstrating this to God.

Within the Church and the wider Christian community, prayer is far more than merely a fanciful wish. It is a sacred, holy act of communication between the faithful and God, and a way of asking for advice, guidance, and support when life becomes overwhelming and confusing. It is also a way to honor and celebrate God, to sing His praises and express thanks for the gifts he has provided humanity.

In addition, prayer can work as a means of repentance and forgiveness, a chance to examine your thoughts and actions and take steps to make sure you are always living your life to praise God and feel his love. Prayer is a miracle—a way to communicate directly with the Divine, and receive his word directly to you in response.