Praying is a practice in which a person seeks closer contact with God. A prayer can be public or private, silent or spoken. It can involve words or it can be a song. For most people, praying brings spiritual and emotional calm, so it can be said that it has a wider use than strictly a religious practice that is supposed to be performed in order to be a good Christian. Creating a relationship with God through prayer is a unique feeling and experience that greatly enriches one’s inner life. A person can often find a solution for a problem or come to a difficult decision simply by praying. Of course, praying needs to be absolutely honest, done with an open heart and complete trust in God.
Praying can be done at any time of the day. Yet, praying upon wakening and in the end of the day, before retiring to bed, are the usual times when most people do it. Prayers may command a person to God and ask for his grace and knowledge, or it can be a form of personal confession to god.
Public praying is usually done in a church, during Mass and holidays. People may also gather outside the church, in their homes, fields and other places, coming together to pray to God.
As for the private prayers, there are various kinds. Praise is a prayer in which we express our joy and love for God, while thanksgiving involves thanking God for all of his many gifts to men. In the type of prayer called confession, the person praying confesses his or her failures, sins and wrongs against God, other people or themselves. Intercession is practiced when a person is concerned about someone else’s troubles and plight while petition involves concern for one’s own situation.
A very special type of prayer is the silent prayer, when the words of the prayer are pronounced inside our mind and heart. This kind of praying practice has certain elements of meditation and it helps a great deal in connecting with God on a truly intimate, deep level. Then there is actual meditation, which is also a type of praying by itself. It is done when reading the Bible or other holy writings in a truly understanding, meaningful way. This practice provides a special insight into one’s life and faith and helps understand the place we have on this Earth.
Many people pray before meals, which is sometimes referred to as “grace.” With this kind of prayer, a person basically recognizes that all we have in this life (not just the food) is provided by God and thanks Him, asking Him at the same time to bless the meal as the symbol of that.
One of the best and the most widely used prayers is the Lord’s Prayer (Pater Noster, Our Father), which can be found in the Gospel of Matthew (Sermon on the Mount) and in the Gospel of Luke (when Jesus Christ teaches it to his disciples). This is one of the universal prayers, a powerful one as it unites different Christian churches and denominations.