In the general sense, prayer is “communicating with the Divine.” As noted in the previous article, the Divine refers to God, your Higher Power, or however you relate to It in your own religious or philosophical tradition. As the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer puts it, “Prayer is responding to God, by thought and by deeds, with or without words.” And the categories of prayer are: intercession/petition, thanksgiving, praise, penitence, adoration and oblation. Let us discuss each of these. Note, all forms of prayer except for the last two are verbal (talking to God) which is what most people think of when they hear the term “prayer.”
And certainly, we should talk to God! Sometimes clients tell me, “But I don’t know what to say to Him.” I encourage them, “Talk to Him like you’re talking to me. Pour your heart out to your friend! Tell Him what is on your mind.”
The most familiar and popular form of prayer is intercession or petition, where we ask for help for ourselves and others. Nearly everyone has said this kind of prayer, and I pray it for my clients and their families. Thanksgiving is, obviously, when we thank God for the blessings in our life, including intercessory prayers which He has answered. We praise God for His goodness, mercy and love, and for the beauty of creation. Penitence is when we apologize for things we have done, and ask forgiveness. All of these prayers are good and useful, but they are all spoken, and there is so much more! In the next article we will look at prayer that goes beyond talking.