Prayer and meditation

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.

There are many different kinds of prayer, including:

  • adoration - praising God for his greatness and admitting dependence on him
  • confession - owning up to sin and asking for God's mercy and forgiveness
  • thanksgiving - thanking God for his many blessings, eg health or children
  • petition - asking God for something, eg healing, courage or wisdom
  • intercession - asking God to help others who need it, eg the sick, poor, those suffering in war

Nature and importance of prayer

Most Christians believe prayer deepens a person's faith. Praying can help the believer come to a greater understanding of God's purpose for their lives. 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.

Other Christians, especially Roman Catholics, use a rosary to meditate on the life of Jesus.

Candles, a crucifix or a cross can all help Christians to focus on meditation and allow the Holy Spirit to enter their hearts.