Re: Definition of a "prayer"

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Posted by Loren ( on May 23, 2003 at 10:12:38:

In Reply to: Definition of a "prayer" posted by simon on May 17, 2003 at 04:56:36:

Hi Simon,

That is a tough question, which you may not find a satisfactory answer. But here are some of my personal thoughts on the matter.

Some of the "prayers" we have were revealed deliberately as prayers, and then some of the things which we read as if they are prayers (like the Tablet of Ahmad) are well, tablets. Many of the "prayers" in our prayer books are extracts from tablets, and become part of a prayer book as a matter of someone(s) opinion that it constitutes a prayer.

Evaluating the meaning of prayer is helpful, and we find that most prayers and synonyms of prayers (other than praise or worship) have something to do with asking. Like supplication for instance. So in this sense a prayer is something where we are asking from God. The Writings are something where God is asking (or commanding)us.

On the other hand I think prayers can be read in the same manner as the Writings, and, simply reading prayers, IMHO, does not constitute praying. So the attitude and spirit is a vital component of whether or not praying is being acheived, regardless of whether what is being read is a "prayer" or not.

Then there are prayers which have particular rules associated with them such as the obligatory prayers. Since these rules cannot be seperated from the act of obligatory prayer it is almost conditional as to whether or not the rules are being followed that determines whether the individual is praying these or not.

As far as a format for what is a prayer or not,which is probably at least subconciously, defined by what the believers have experienced in the prayer books, most all of them have a common formula:

Opening praise, invocation: "He is God", "In the Name of ...."

Body: Asking for certain qualities or benefits, followed by praises and mentioning of attributes of God.

Closing Praises: "Thou art verily, the All-knowing, the ..."

Virtually anything in this format will pass as a prayer in the manner that we are accustomed to seeing them in the prayer books. However, this is not a strict thing, and any prayer book is merely a compilation. There is no rule agains an individual having his own complilation, and calling it a prayer book.


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