Report on Prayer

a) How do Christians pray?

In this section of my report on Christian prayer I’m going to be looking at how Christians pray. Prayer is both talking and listening to God, the dictionary definition of prayer is asking earnestly or to entreat.

Christians pray in two main places, in pubic and private worship. There are four major types of prayer that can be used in both public and private worship these include Adoration prayers, Confession prayers, Thanksgiving prayers, Intercession prayers and Supplication prayers.

Adoration prayers are prayers in praise of God. Confession prayers are prayers in which people admit to God that they’ve committed sins. Thanksgiving prayers are prayers that thank God for things he has done or provided. Intercession prayers are prayers that are for other people for example praying to God to look after a friend who’s going through hard times. Finally supplication prayers are prayers that ask God for something.

Public worship in used by Christians in a group to share the worship for example in a church service. Public worship can either be liturgical or non-liturgical. Liturgical worship is worship that follows a set order and is more formal. Anglican, Catholic and Orthodox churches use liturgical worship, whereas Non-Liturgical Worship is the opposite and is mainly used by Free Churches.

The way Christians pray in a liturgical service is normally either set pieces from the Bible or from a prayer book for example the Gloria or the Lords Prayer. Hymns are also a form of how Christians pray in a liturgical church service.

In a non-liturgical service Christians are free to pray in a way that they like and call out to God in the middle of the service or whenever they’re inspired. The hymns used are more joyous and more full of praise for God.

In my survey I found that communion or Eucharist (depending on what type of church you go to) is the most important way in which Christians pray in public worship. This is because Jesus started it, the service makes Christians remember that Jesus sacrificed his life to free us and it allows us to gain forgiveness from God.

Private worship is used by Christians when they’re on their own ‘And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth; they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your father who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.’

In private worship Christians pray on there own so there’s nothing to distract them from they’re prayer. In private worship Christians pray in many ways either set pieces from the Bible or from a prayer book or they use their extemporary prayers (prayers in their own words) which express their thought. Some Christians say prayers using The Lords prayer as an example ‘this then is how you should pray’ (Matthew 6 Vs 9).

The different way that Christians pray in could relate to the different Christian denomination they are from. Some Roman Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican and Methodist Christians use Rosary Beads to help them in their prayers. Rosary beads are sets of prayer beads arranged into 5 groups of 10 with extra beads marking the divisions. A prayer or shot phrase is said at each bead.

Some Christians pray using incense; this helps them because the incense is supposed to portray a rich sweet environment making it easy to imagine being with God during the prayer.

Icons, statues and crucifixes can also be used in private worship the icons and statues give Christians a visual image of a Saint which can help them concentrate during prayer and also they believe that the Saint takes their prayer to God. A crucifix helps because it contains the body of Christ that reminds Christians of the pain and suffering that Jesus Christ went through to get Gods forgiveness to the world. A Bible is also another aid in which Christian’s use during prayer because it’s the word of God it helps Christians feel closer to God.

Christians pray in a wide variety of positions. In meditation so they can focus there thoughts, in Church – they’re in the house of God, Standing so they have freedom to move, sitting down so they’re comfortable, standing with arms up stretched towards God – lifting praises to him, kneeling as a sign of reverence and humility and standing with hands out so they’re open to god and open to receive the holy spirit.

From my survey on Christian prayer I found that most Christians don’t think it matters how you pray its that you have faith in God and pray that matters.

Bibliography: I got my sources and information from – the Bible, ‘Christianity a new approach’ by Kevin O’ Donnell, ‘GCSE for you Christianity by Anne Jordan’, my class work, my survey and from ‘The power of Positive Thinking’ by Norman Vincent Peale.

b) Why do Christians pray?

Christians pray for many reasons some of these reasons include forming a relationship with God, God is like a father to all Christians seeing as he made them and forming a relationship with God by praying would make you feel closer to him.

Some Christians use prayer as an opportunity for reflection on their lives ‘I pray not to change God but to change myself’ (C.S. Lewis). This can help them become better people because they use the time to look back for example to see if what they’ve done could have upset people. Knowing that can help them not do it again and be a better person because of it.

Prayer can be a window into our minds it can help us understand ourselves better. This helps Christians in their lives because we can share, help and learn from common experiences. Prayer also helps us to be aware of our strengths and weaknesses by discussing them with God. We can use this realisation to benefit those around us.

Also Christians use prayer to express their feelings for example if you are worried or concerned about something just discussing it with God during prayer can help you get it into perspective ‘General, never take counsel of your fears’ (Stonewall Jackson). This means don’t let your fears govern you so by discussing them with God you can have faith and know that everything will work out fine.

Another reason Christians use prayer is to help us find a sense of self worth ‘they conquer who believe they can’ (Ralf Waldo Emerson). By believing in yourself and God you can achieve anything you want to ‘I can do all things through Christ with strengtheneth me’ (Philippians IV 13).

Some Christians use prayer to ask God things ‘if two of you shall agree on earth as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of My Father which is in heaven’ (Matthew xviii.19). This quote from the Bible shows Christians that if they ask in prayer and believe, there prayer will be answered. However prayer is not just for asking it is also a good opportunity to give thanks to God for all that we have ‘This is the day that the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it’ (Psalm cxviii.24) and ‘pray to give thanks for the gift of life; for what Jesus did and to feel spiritually refreshed inside.

Christians can also use prayer to ask for forgiveness one of the best examples of this comes in the Lords prayer that states ‘Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us’.

Another compelling reason why Christians pray is for God to help others who are in need, prayer is not only used by Christians to look after themselves it is also used to pray for others for example a friend who is going through hard times.

Prayer can be used to ask God for help an example of this is praying to God and asking him to change a situation like end a war. Prayer can be used to gain help when choosing a job, prayer can help because when Christians pray they feel calm and relaxed which will help them make the right decision. Also asking Gods advice can help because if a Christian was to know that God was backing them up and with them in their decision then they would put 100% of there effort into getting the job which helps.

Extensive knowledge of Christianity can be gained by using prayer and is another reason why Christians pray, it helps them learn about faith when they have faith in God God answers they’re prayers.

Christians also pray for the felling it gives them after they have prayed. From my survey I found that the most important things a Christian could gain from prayer is getting to know themselves and forgiveness. Both those things can bring a feeling of joy to a Christian’s life.

Christians don’t have to pray for a reason or pray at a set time they can pray when they feel like it. It says in the bible ‘Is anyone of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing the songs of praise. Is anyone of you sick? Pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And then prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up…. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.”

Bibliography: I got my sources and information from – the Bible, ‘Christianity a new approach’ by Kevin O’ Donnell, ‘GCSE for you Christianity by Anne Jordan’, my class work, my survey and from ‘The power of Positive Thinking’ by Norman Vincent Peale.

C) Does God answer prayers today?

For this part of my report there are two main controversial answers, I’ll be exploring both answers and I’ll weigh up the arguments and make a conclusion.

Some Christians would agree that God still answers prayers today for many reasons. For instance a fundamentalist would believe God does because they’re strong believers in God and they take the literal belief that he answers prayer. Also God answers prayers in many ways some might not be noticeable to some Christians. The wrong prayer could be being asked because what God does is right (he’s God) so we can’t ask him to change things he’s done we can only look to him and ask him to help us change ourselves.

Charismatic Christians would believe that God answers prayers because they think God has given them powers through prayer such as the gift of prophecy or healing etc. Miracles have happened from prayer so they must still occur for the miracles to have happened. Also God does still answer prayers today but we can’t expect him to answer all the prayers. To talk with God, you must believe that He is present, even though you cannot see Him as you see your parents and friends (Hebrews 11:6). Faith is not hoping that God will listen and speak with you, but trusting that He is real and available for conversation. Some of the prayers aren’t answered because they are controversial to another person’s prayer for example someone might pray for it to snow so that they don’t have to go to school and their neighbour might want it to be sunny so that their plants will grow. So God has a plan for everyone and so people’s prayer might not fit in with his plan.

Other Christians don’t believe that God still answers prayers today. Some of their reasons include that war and tragedies still happen today even though people pray for them to stop so God’s not answering their prayer. Also how can it be proven that God was answering the prayer and not just a coincidence? Some people believe God doesn’t exist so he’s not around to even hear prayers let alone answer them. God doesn’t answer prayers nowadays as a form of punishment because all people pray for is themselves for example wanting a faster car etc so God doesn’t answer our prayers nowadays. Also, lots of Christians are more sceptical nowadays and require solid proof of prayers being answered. This could be because of all the scientific breakthroughs in recent years may have left Christians to be more questioning.

Overall I believe that God does answer prayers today because after weighing up all of the arguments the arguments that God answers prayers today are better explained and more in-depth. Many of the arguments for God not answering prayers today are explain in the arguments for God answering prayers nowadays. For example people praying for a war to end may not fit in with Gods overall plan of our lives.

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