What is prayer?

The Book of Common Prayer, 1979 has a useful section titled “An Outline of the Faith” starting on page 845. Within this Outline there is a section on Prayer and Worship, pages 856-857. It is a solid starting point for a deeper exploration and experience of prayer in the Anglican (Episcopal) tradition. I post it here and have added it to the Resources Page About Prayer in this blog. Remember, this a starting point, not an ending. These words open to a larger experience if you enter. Keep praying, there is always something new to discover or redicover as your relationship with God, with creation, and with others deepens.

From An Outline of the Faith

Section on Prayer and Worship, pages 856-857

Q. What is prayer?

A. Prayer is responding to God, by thought and by deeds, with or without words.

Q. What is Christian Prayer?

A. Christian prayer is response to God the Father, through Jesus Christ, in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Q. What prayer did Christ teach us?

A. Our Lord gave us the example of prayer known as the Lord’s Prayer. See page 364 [in the Book of Common Prayer].

Q. What are the principal kinds of prayer?

A. The principal kinds of prayer are adoration, praise, thanksgiving, penitence, oblation, intercession, and petition.

Q. What is adoration?

A. Adoration is the lifting up of the heart and mind to God, asking nothing but to enjoy God’s presence.

Q. Why do we praise God?

A. We praise God, not to obtain anything, but because God’s Being draws praise from us.

Q. For what do we offer thanksgiving?

A. Thanksgiving is offered to God for all the blessings of this life, for our redemption, and for whatever draws us closer to God.

Q. What is penitence?

A. In penitence, we confess our sins and make restitution where possible, with the intention to amend our lives.

Q. What is prayer of oblation?

A. Oblation is an offering of ourselves, our lives and labors, in union with Christ, for the purposes of God.

Q. What are intercession and petition?

A. Intercession brings before God the needs of others; in petition, we present our own needs, that God’s will may be done.

Q. What is corporate worship?

A. In corporate worship, we unite ourselves with others to acknowledge the holiness of God, to hear God’s Word, to offer prayer, and to celebrate the sacraments.


One thought on “What is prayer?

  1. You know, I have never once thought of Prayer as “responding to God”. While yes, I give thanks in my prayers to God for the things that he has done, I never considered the whole prayer being in response.
    Maybe thats why I cant hear him answer 😛

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