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  • Writer's pictureChristina V. Mills

How to Pray: An Interfaith Outline

Build your own prayer.


Photo by Luis Alberto Sánchez Terrones




Purification


While not every tradition requires ritual purification, it is helpful to understand its role in prayer for anyone who would like to include it in their personal ritual.

Photo by Nathan Dumlao

Ritual cleansing can include washing the hands and face, or more, even including the feet.


The purpose of cleansing is to present oneself in the purest state possible before supplicating to the Ultimate Source. Some say cleanliness is next to godliness. It can also be an act of acknowledging one's sin and need to clean or repent from that which has made us dirty. Washing can help to prepare the heart, mind, and energetic state for the posture of prayer.





Posture


There are many postures for prayer to show humility and worship:

  • Standing

  • Bowing at the waist

  • Bowing the head

  • Kneeling

  • Prostrating

There are also hand positions you might take for prayer:

  • Arms outstretched to the heavens

  • Palms together

  • Hands cupped together, facing upward





Invocation


First, the invocation simply recognizes God or your Higher Power. Make it very clear to whom you are speaking.


Praise


Who doesn't like to receive compliments? You may lavish your Higher Power with compliments and praises. Even the trees and birds praise God through song and dance. Offer whatever is your best.


Scripture may also be read or recited.


Gratitude


Give thanks for what you already have, for your life, for another opportunity to do better, for anything you consider to be a blessing.


Asking for Forgiveness


We have all fallen short. When you recognize you have done something that is not right, all you have to do is acknowledge it honestly. Pretending that sin doesn't exist or that bad is good will not work. It will only dig you into a deeper hole. God can heal and forgive anything, but only when we acknowledge that something needs to be fixed.


After acknowledging what we have done wrong, then we have to repent or make an attempt to do better. Doing the same thing over and over again and asking for forgiveness shows that we're not actually growing.


The actual sign of a changed heart is changed behavior.



Personal Requests


Now that you have gotten out of your own way, request anything that is on your heart. You can ask for healing, a job, or whatever. Pray with a hopeful attitude.


Prayers for Others


Offer goodwill toward others. Pray for your family, friends, your community, and the world. Even pray for your "enemies" or people you may not like.


Completely avoid negative prayers. Never pray for bad to happen to someone or a group of people. Only offer positive prayers of goodwill, healing, peace, etc. Pray for everyone's well-being.


Closing


Often, prayers are closed with a word or phrase to send it off. Amen or Ameen mean "let it be." Om, is the sacred sound of the universe that is also used. You may also acknowledge and praise your Higher Power again at this time.



Photo by Steve Harvey
















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Peace & Pineapples!

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