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1. Overview of Prayer – Etymology of the term ‘prayer’ from Medieval Latin and its translations in different languages. – Act of prayer across various […]

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1. Overview of Prayer

– Etymology of the term ‘prayer’ from Medieval Latin and its translations in different languages.
– Act of prayer across various spiritual traditions, including different forms and rituals.
– Typologies and modalities of prayer, including different types and practices.
– Origins and early history of prayer, its anthropological roots, and historical variations in prayer postures.
– Scientific studies and controversies surrounding the efficacy of prayer in healing and its incorporation in major religions.

2. Abrahamic Religions’ Perspectives on Prayer

– Evolution of prayer in the Hebrew Bible and its absence of standardized prayers.
– Importance of prayer in Judaism, with emphasis on prayer times, prayer books, intention, and communal prayer.
– New Testament perspective on prayer as a positive command and its role in bringing people closer to God.
– Rationalist approach to prayer in Judaism, focusing on divinity through philosophy and contemplation.

3. Meditation, Mysticism, and Religious Experience

– Role of meditation in engaging thought, emotion, and desire in prayer.
– Christian prayer focusing on meditating on the mysteries of Christ and mystical experiences.
– Concept of religious experience traced back to William James and its adoption by scholars of religion.
– Exploration of religious experience in Christian mysticism.

4. Prayer Practices in Different Faiths

– Islamic perspective on prayer, with Muslims performing ritual prayers five times a day and reciting specific prayers in Arabic.
– Practices in Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Taoism, and Indigenous religions, showcasing prayer as a form of worship, meditation, and connection with the divine.

5. Christian Approaches and Practices in Prayer

– Various Christian prayers, including spontaneous and scripted ones, with the Lords Prayer as a model.
– Christian practices and traditions like glossolalia in Pentecostal congregations and Christian Science’s view of prayer for healing.
– Importance of prayer in Christianity, including fixed prayer times, prayers for the dead, and the use of specific phrases to conclude prayers.

Prayer (Wikipedia)

Prayer is an invocation or act that seeks to activate a rapport with an object of worship through deliberate communication. In the narrow sense, the term refers to an act of supplication or intercession directed towards a deity or a deified ancestor. More generally, prayer can also have the purpose of thanksgiving or praise, and in comparative religion is closely associated with more abstract forms of meditation and with charms or spells.

Christians praying in diverse postures, including orans and clasped hands
Muslim men prostrating during prayer in a mosque

Prayer can take a variety of forms: it can be part of a set liturgy or ritual, and it can be performed alone or in groups. Prayer may take the form of a hymn, incantation, formal creedal statement, or a spontaneous utterance in the praying person.

The act of prayer is attested in written sources as early as five thousand years ago. Today, most major religions involve prayer in one way or another; some ritualize the act, requiring a strict sequence of actions or placing a restriction on who is permitted to pray, while others teach that prayer may be practised spontaneously by anyone at any time.

Scientific studies regarding the use of prayer have mostly concentrated on its effect on the healing of sick or injured people. The efficacy of prayer in faith healing has been evaluated in numerous studies, with contradictory results.

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