Christians describe prayer as a conversation with God. Prayer can be silent or said out loud. It can use set words, or a person’s own words. In prayer, Christians lift their minds and hearts to God.
Task: List as many reasons as you can for why Christians pray.
Our Father, which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy Name. Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, As it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, As we forgive them that trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, But deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, The power, and the glory, For ever and ever. Amen.
The Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6: 5-13) is the most important Christian prayer. Apart from the last sentence, it consists of the words Jesus gave directly to his followers.
Most Christians know the prayer by heart in their own language, and it is used today by every Christian tradition, though there are sometimes minor variations in the wording. It has a place in every Anglican act of worship, and forms a pattern for prayer for Christians:
- We bless God and pray for our world, our communities and our lives to be shaped by God’s will;
- We pray for daily needs to be met,
- For forgiveness for wrongdoings, strength to resist temptation and protection from danger.
Task: What do the following parts of the Lord’s Prayer mean?
hallowed be your name
give us today our daily bread
forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us
deliver us from evil
Christians interpret the response they might get to their prayers in the following ways:
- God answers prayers, but not always in the way the person wants. When a prayer is not answered, it may be that the person asked for something God thinks would not be good for them, or that their prayer will be answered later.
- Sometimes Christians think that God has answered their prayers in quite spectacular ways, eg the recovery of a sick person. They may see this as a miracle.
- For some Christians, meditation or contemplation is a way of trying to reach a higher spiritual level.
- Others, especially Orthodox Christians, use the ‘Jesus Prayer’,
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner. They may chant this prayer over and over to clear their minds and achieve inner peace.
Task: Why might someone use a candle to help them in prayer?
Task: Answer the following questions…
Why might someone choose to prayer alone?
Why might some people pray in a group?
Give an example of a set prayer.
What is a ‘house church’?
What symbols can people use at home and how can they help?
What are extemporaneous prayers?