Popularity of Prayer
There are many different types of prayer, and the individual will engage in prayer for a host of reasons. Some types of prayer are highly elaborate and involve a set ritual. It is also possible for prayer to be more like a conversation where the individual spontaneously chooses what to say. Prayer is an important aspect of many religious faiths, but it is also something that has some practical benefits for physical and mental health.
Reasons for Prayer
There are many possible reasons why people may choose to pray including:
- It is an expected part of their religious practice.
- It can be a way of giving thanks to a higher power.
- It may give the opportunity for the individual to confess their sins and ask for forgiveness.
- The individual may use prayer as a form of petition because they want divine help.
- People use prayer to bring them closer to their higher power.
- It can be used as a means to clear the mind before beginning meditation.
Prayer can be defined as a spiritual communication or devout petition to a God or an object of worship. It is possible for prayer to be conducted as part of a group or as a personal petition. Prayers can involve just words or they can also be in the form of a song.
Types of Prayer
Most religions have their own version of prayer. The most common types include:
- Christianity involves many different types of prayer depending on the sect. Some types of prayer involve words taking from the Bible while other types of prayer are created by the individual spontaneously as the need arises.
- People of the Jewish faith are expected to pray three times a day. Most of these prayers come from a small prayer book called the Siddur.
- Muslims are expected to pray five times per day. They need to be facing Mecca when they recite the Salah.
- Some sects of Buddhism will recite a prayer before beginning meditation. The Buddha is not viewed as a god by most Buddhist so this prayer is about helping the individual awaken their own inner strengths.
- There are many types of prayer used in Hinduism. Many of the important Hindu texts are in the form of prayers.
- In Sikhism it is normal to pray before any important task.
- Neopaganism can involve praying to many different gods. The aim of some prayers will be to evoke magic.
Benefits of Prayer
Alongside the important significance that prayers will have for religious people there are other benefits including:
- Prayer can be a form of meditation. There are many mental and physical health benefits associated with this type of practice.
- It can help people release stress. This is good news because stress can be a major contributor to ill-health.
- Some people find that prayer helps them deal better with pain.
- Those who are following a spiritual path may find that prayer will be an important component of this.
- If people know that they are being prayed for it can lift their morale
- It may help people have a more positive outlook on life.
- If people are struggling with something overwhelming in their life they can get hope and strength through prayer.
- Many individuals claim that a prayer directly before going to bed helps them sleep better. This may be because it acts like a closing to all the events of the day.
Depending on their religion the individual will also believe in other benefits for prayer. This may include the ability of this type of communication to cause things to happen that would be considered supernatural.
Prayer and Alcoholics Anonymous
Members of 12 step groups are encouraged to pray because it is viewed as highly beneficial and part of the program. This is made clear in step 11 where it says, sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out. The serenity prayer is usually recited at meetings of this group. The words of this are, God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things that I can, and wisdom to know the difference.
Benefits of Prayer for those in Recovery
The benefits of prayer for people in recovery include:
- It can give them strength when times are hard. Those who are successful in recovery will use a number of tools to help them cope with difficulties and prayer can be one of these tools.
- It can be an effective tool for those trying developing a spiritual path.
- When people first become sober they may feel a bit fearful and alone. Praying may help them deal with this.
- Early recovery is often associated with a rollercoaster of emotions. Prayer can help the individual cope with the stress of this.
- When people first become sober their life may lack meaning and purpose. Prayer can bring them in contact with something higher.
- Addicts can be highly arrogant but getting down on their knees to pray can teach them a bit of humility.
- Praying for other people is a wonderful tool for increasing compassion. Buddhist metta meditation can also work in a similar way.
- Prayers of gratitude can remind the individual of the benefits of staying sober. This may reduce the risk of relapse.
Dangers Associated with Prayer
Most people who pray will get great benefits from this practice. In extreme situation there can be dangers associated with prayer including:
- It is not a good idea to replace medical treatments with prayer. Some people do have such a strong faith in prayer that they are willing to rely on it completely.
- Those people who have an addictive personality have a propensity for overdoing things. Prayer can be a wonderful addiction to people’s life so long as they do not use it as a means to escape reality.