The Essences of Prayer

There is not a single kind of prayer. There are at least three radically distinct forms, namely personal, meditative, and public prayer, each with its own distinctive form of effectiveness. Personal prayer is a sustained thought, silent or spoken, concerning the most intimate moral or spiritual concerns of our lives. Some such prayers take the form of a request to a deity to intercede in our lives in some manner. Effectiveness of such might be measured by the sincerity, pertinence and honesty of the propositions expressed. Meditative prayer, sometimes called mindfulness meditation, attempts to still the mind with a focus varying from individual to individual. Effective meditative prayer has quite different features because the ability to focus concentration varies individually. Public prayers are another species of speech act altogether, with the trappings of a public ritual. The effectiveness of public prayer involves rhetorical qualities absent from the first two forms.

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