What is a prayer


A boy has lit a candle and is silently praying. He put his hands together, this is called "folding his hands". This is to express that there is nothing else to be done besides prayer.
The Jews put on a special shawl for prayer. The black box on the forehead contains a small scroll with a prayer.

In a prayer a person speaks to God. He can only think, speak softly or loudly or sing a prayer. He can pray alone, in a group, or even in a whole church full of people. He can stand, sit or kneel. Sometimes someone also prays, for example a pastor or an imam, and people pray silently.

There are prayers in almost all religions. The praying person believes that God listens to him like a person. Some people also believe that God not only listens to them, but speaks to them from within. Many people hope that this will provide answers to their questions. Stories are known from the Bible in which a person heard the voice of God and then passed it on to other people. Such a person is a prophet.

Most religions also have prayers that are written down. The most famous prayer in Christianity is the “Our Father”. Jesus himself is said to have told the people who were with him. In Judaism it is “Sch’ma Israel”, in German it reads: “Hear, Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is only.” For Muslims, prayer is one of the five pillars of Islam.

Prayer can have different contents. Originally, the word “prayer” did not have to do with “pray”, but with “ask”. When a person prays for others, it is intercession. There are also prayers for the sick or prayers at table that are said before dinner. A well-known old children's prayer is: "I am small, my heart is pure, no one shall live in it but God alone". Many prayers want to praise and glorify God. In the Old Testament, for example, these are the psalms.

Are prayers repeated often?

Sometimes full people say the same prayer or similar prayers many times in a row in order to properly immerse themselves in them. Some people can also use it to forget their worries and relax. Many religions have prayer chains as an aid. These are strings on which pearls are strung like a necklace that is worn as jewelry. The distance between the pearls or the size of the pearls shows which prayer is due.

The rosary is best known in the Catholic Church. There is also a variation of this in the Protestant Church. In the Orthodox Church there is the komboskini with a hundred knots. The same prayer is said every time, with the name Jesus Christ invoked above all.

In Buddhism and Hinduism there is the mala. This prayer beads usually contains 108 small and one large pearl. To do this, you usually take nuts or you carve the pearls out of palm wood. With every pearl you say a mantra, that is a special syllable, a special word or a short saying.

The Misbaha is the Islamic prayer beads. It usually has 33 or 99 beads made of wood or plastic. But there are also necklaces with eleven or a thousand pearls. You can say the 99 names that Allah bears in the Koran. But you can also praise him 33 times for his actions, thank him 33 times and say 33 times how omniscient and powerful he is.