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How World Religions Pray to God

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Pray to a Deity

Otto Greiner - Wikimedia Commons

Otto Greiner - Wikimedia Commons


This article is about how to pray to a deity. Atheists may not pray and maybe agnostics but you pray. You may pray in the morning or evening. You may pray in private or in public. You may pray silently or out loud. Your prayers may be spontaneous, memorized or read from a book.

Prayer may be directed to a single god or many gods. Prayer may be personal or formal. The god you pray to might be powerful in a single area or all-powerful. We can learn how to pray to a deity.

Prayers can offered when you are alone or in the context of a community of like-minded people. Prayer offered in community is often formal and less spontaneous. Some religions proscribe specific ways in which to pray to a deity.

This article considers the definition of prayer.

Three of the world's major religions are considered.

  • Judaism
  • Catholicism
  • Islam

Prayer Defined

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines pray:

  • to entreat or implore.
  • often used as a question, request, or plea
  • to make a request in a humble manner
  • used to address God or gods with adoration, confession, supplication, or thanksgiving

Synonyms include:

beseech, importune, petition, plead, beg, solicit, and supplicate.


  • address God or gods
  • request in a humble manner
  • entreat
  • implore
  • question
  • request
  • plea
  • adoration
  • confession
  • supplication
  • thanksgiving.

Expressions of Prayer

Ways to Pray

  • One can bow, stand, sit, prostrate oneself, kneel, dance, walk or twirl when one prays. You can pray with eyes open or eyes closed. You can fold your hands or hold someone else’s hands. You can use rosaries or beads. You can raise your hands or lay hands on others.
  • Prayers can be read from a book, memorized or be spontaneous. You speak, sing or chant.
  • You can have musical accompaniment or pray in silence. Prayer can be informal--like you were "just talking to God" as you would any person.
  • Prayers are voiced on different occasions: before bed-time, upon awakening, before meals, on birthdays, and at births, baptisms, memorial services, funerals, and other days of special religious significance.
  • The purpose of praying can be to worship, request guidance, request assistance, confess sins or to express one's thoughts or emotions. People pray for many reasons. They can usually fit into two main categories: for personal benefit or for the sake of others. A third would be for the purpose of worship alone.



Jerusalem has been sacred to Judaism for roughly 3000 years, since King David proclaimed it his capital in the 10th century BCE. Jerusalem was the site of Solomon's Temple and the Second Temple. Although not mentioned in the Torah / Pentateuch, it is mentioned in the Bible 632 times. Today, the Western Wall, a remnant of the wall surrounding the Second Temple, is a Jewish holy site second only to the Holy of Holies on the Temple Mount itself. wikipedia


  • Judaism teaches how to pray to a deity.
  • Judaism is considered to be one of the oldest monotheistic religions and almost 3,000 years old.
  • The Jewish Bible is the basis of Jewish doctrine and faith.
  • Their deity's proper name is Yahweh.
  • The Jewish alphabet has no consonants, so Yahweh reads YHWH. His name is considered holy and not to be spoken. Adonai (Lord) is the word they say in place of his name.
  • There are three main movements in Judaism: Orthodox, Conservative and Reform.
  • A practicing Jewish person is expected to utter acclamations of praise or aberakah prayer at least 100 times daily. A brief exclamation, "Blessed are you, Lord," acknowledges with adoration and gratitude the major and minor gifts from God received each day: for example, sleep and water, air and food, friends and work, health and medicine, a rainbow and a sunset.
  • An invocation before eating and a gathering with several others for small-group daily prayer in the synagogue are likewise common elements of the Jewish tradition.

Jewish Prayers


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1. Shacharit: "morning light"

2. Mincha: named for the flour offering that accompanied sacrifices at the Temple in Jerusalem.

3. Ma'ariv: "nightfall"

4. Mussaf: "additional" are recited by Orthodox and Conservative congregations on Shabbat and on major Jewish holidays (including Chol HaMoed and Rosh Chodesh).

5. Ne'ilah:"closing", is recited only on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.

The Shema is used to describe the phrase: "Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God is one Lord!"

Shema Yisrael (Hear O Israel) is a memorized prayer from several Jewish Scripture verses.

  • First part--Shema: Deuteronomy 6:4-9
  • Second part--Vehaya: Deuteronomy 11:13-21
  • Third part--Vaiyomer: Numbers 15:37- 41

Religious Jews say prayers three times daily: Shacharit, Mincha, and Ma'ariv. Mussaf, a fourth is added on Shabbat (Sabbath) and holidays. A fifth prayer service, Ne'ilah is only prayed once in the Jewish Year. A book called a siddur holds a collection of daily prayers. The Jewish Bible (Tanakh), has three sections: Torah, Prophets, and Writings.

Prayer At The Western Wall

Jewish Men Pray at Western Wall in Jerusalem

Jewish Men Pray at Western Wall in Jerusalem

Western Wall

Western Wall, Wailing Wall or Kotel is located in the Old City of Jerusalem at the foot of the western side of the Temple Mount. It is a remnant of the ancient wall that surrounded the Jewish Temple's courtyard, and is arguably the most sacred site recognized by the Jewish faith outside of the Temple Mount itself. wikipedia

Morning Prayers

Orthodox Rabbi and worshippers during morning prayers, in prayer shawls and with prayer books

Orthodox Rabbi and worshippers during morning prayers, in prayer shawls and with prayer books

Jewish Liturgy

  • An important part of Jewish communal prayer services includes a reading from the Torah (the first 5 books of the Jewish Bible) and the Prophets.
  • A regular weekday morning service in an Orthodox synagogue lasts about an hour. A Shabbat (Sabbath) or festival morning service includes Shacharit and Musaf, runs three to four hours,
  • Most of the Jewish liturgy is sung or chanted with traditional melodies or trope (the notation system for chanting Torah). Synagogues may designate or employ a professional or layhazzan (cantor) for the purpose of leading the congregation in prayer, especially on Shabbat (Sabbath) or holidays. Wikipedia
  • Judaism has a special procedure for bowing during prayer: first you bend the knees, then you bend forward while straightening the knees, then you stand up.
  • Kissing the Torah - It is traditional to reach out toward the Torah, usually with the pinky finger, while reciting the congregational response (v'zot ha-Torah...), then kiss the finger.

Jesus at the Last Supper

The Last Supper

The Last Supper


Christianity is a monotheisitic religion that has its roots in Judaism. Catholics are one expression of Christianity. Christians pray to one God. In the Old Testament He is known as Yahweh or Jehovah. New Testament revelation identifies Yahweh as one God with three distinct personalities: the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Christians pray to all three persons of the Trinity--the doctrine of three persons in one God. Their Bible consists of the Old and New Testaments.

Central to the Christian faith is the belief in the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. His death is a means of salvation for those that believe that He died for their sins and the sins of mankind.

Vatican City

The Vatican

The Holy See is the central governing body of the Catholic Church and sovereign entity recognized by international law, consisting of the Pope and the Roman Curia. The Vatican can also be referred to as "The Holy City". wikipedia


The Roman Catholic Church is the world's largest Christian denomination with over 1.2 billion followers. Catholicism is a monotheisitic religion. Catholicism teaches how to pray to a deity. and they pray in different ways. The head of the Catholic Church is the Pope who resides in Vatican City, Rome, Italy. They acknowledge God's power, goodness and their dependence on Him through prayer. A prayer book is used that contains prayers for different days of the Catholic calendar.

One of the main prayers of Christianity and recited as part of the Catholic Mass. It is from the Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 6. 9-13:

Our Father

"Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.

Christians who follow the Roman Catholic Liturgy of the Hours pray seven times a day as the Psalm suggests. This covers the Office of Readings, Morning, Evening and Night Prayer, plus three brief Daytime Prayers. Others probably observe a more informal pattern of morning and evening prayers with a grace, blessing or prayer before meals. This type of informality lacks the precision and repetition of the Muslim and Jewish traditions, but reflects a commonly shared value of daily prayer.

Catholic Mass

Catholic Mass

Catholic Mass

The Mass

Through the Mass, Catholics express their faith in a communal way. They celebrate the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ when they partake in The Eucharist or Communion. Sitting, standing and kneeling are the means of expressing prayer and worship as part of the mass. Mass can be said by a priest anywhere at anytime but usually occurs in a church building. Mass can be held everyday but Catholics are required to attend to pray on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation.

The Rosary

Many Catholics pray using rosary beads. They recite The Apostle's Creed, several Our Fathers, Hail Marys and Glory Bes on each of the different beads.

Seven Sacraments Altarpiece

Seven Sacraments Altarpiece

Seven Sacraments Altarpiece

The Seven Sacraments

The Seven Sacraments of the Catholic Church are ceremonies that are occasions to receive God's saving grace. Prayers are an important part of each ceremony.

1. Baptism--infants are baptized, celebrating the gift of Salvation

2. Confirmation--a commitment to baptism and impartation of the Holy Spirit

3. Holy Communion (the Eucharist)--commemorating the life, death, resurrection of Christ

4. Confession (Penance or Reconciliation)--conversion, confession of sins, celebration

5. Marriage (Matrimony)--a public sign of giving oneself to another person

6. Holy Orders (Ordination)--vows taken by a priest at ordination

7. Anointing of the Sick (Extreme Unction or Last Rites)--ritual of healing for mind, body, spirit



As the birthplace of Muhammad and a site of the revelation of the Qumran, Mecca is regarded as the holiest city in the religion of Islam. A pilgrimage to Mecca, known as the Hajj, is obligatory for all able Muslims. wikipedia



Islam teaches how to pray to a deity. Islam is a monotheistic religion. The Quran (Koran) is the central text of Islam. Muslims believe the Quran to be the verbatim word of God (Allah). Five times each day, Muslims bow down to Allah in prayer. They follow a specific format as God revealed to the Prophet Muhammad. It is said that these prayers are the best acts of worship that a Muslim performs.

Muslims perform ritual washings before each time of formal prayer, called Wudu. These ablutions or ritual purifications are often accompanied by prayers and are essential for the worship to be efficacious and pleasing to Allah. It is a requirement of Islam to be clean when handling and reading the Quran.

Two other forms of washing are Ghusl and Tayammum. Ghusl is full body ritual washing required after giving birth, attending to the dead and several other occurrences which leave the body impure. Tayammum is the act of dry ablution using sand or dust, often performed in place of ritual washing (wudu or ghusl) if no clean water is available.


A Mosque in Arabic means "place of worship" or "prostration in prayer". An imam leads the prayer. The mosque serves as a place where Muslims can come together for salah (prayer) as well as a center for information, education, and dispute settlement. wikipedia

Prayer in a Mosque

Muslims praying towards Mecca;  Umayyad Mosque, Damascus.

Muslims praying towards Mecca; Umayyad Mosque, Damascus.

Prayer Rugs

Prayer Rugs

Prayer Rugs

Prayer Times

Each part of the world follows the times of day for each time of prayer. The names for each are set for specific times and for each part of the world. They follow the sunrise and sunset schedule of a specific area. Below is the Muslim Prayer Time Schedule for Pittsburgh PA for January 1 2013.

  1. Fajr (Dawn) 6:23
  2. DHuhr (Noon)12:25
  3. ASir (Afternoon) 2:47
  4. MaGHrib (Sunset) 5:05
  5. ISHaa' (Evening) 6:27

Muslims must pray five times a day with each prayer requiring five to 10 minutes. These occur at dawn, afternoon, later afternoon, following sunset and at night.

The prayer is recited facing Makkah or Mecca, the sacred spot where Muslims maintain that the Angel Gabriel first spoke to Muhammad. The believer kneels on a prayer mat, if possible, with forehead touching the ground. The posture and words convey a sense of submission, adoration and trust.

How to Pray to a Deity

Each religion defines how to pray to a deity. When one prays to a deity one approaches with humility and compliance to religious standards which can include ritual cleansing and ceremonies. These prayers can be done in private or in the context of community. Posture and attitudes are important to prayer. Sitting, kneeling, standing, and lying prostate are all positions of prayer. Singing, chanting, and dancing can be expressed during prayer. Each religion proscribes how to pray to a deity.

© 2013 ajwrites57

A Long

© 2013 AJ Long


AJ Long (author) from Pennsylvania on August 01, 2013:

Thanks manatita44! I tried to be objective! Thanks for reading and commenting!

manatita44 from london on August 01, 2013:

You took a broad viewpoint. I like that. It seemed fairly objective to me. Helpful and informative.

AJ Long (author) from Pennsylvania on July 29, 2013:

LailaK, thanks for saying so. I tried hard to be objective as I wrote. It took quite awhile to research, search for photos and edit. L0L. I appreciate your feedback!

LailaK from Atlanta, Georgia on July 29, 2013:

I really enjoyed reading this hub, ajwrites57! It's very informative. The pictures are wonderful. But most importantly, your hub has the unique quality of being objective rather than subjective. You didn't put in your personal opinion, which is something very valuable. Thanks a lot for writing this!

AJ Long (author) from Pennsylvania on April 02, 2013:

Juanita Sims, thanks for your kind comments! Yes, I have tried to be objective about these religions. I'm glad you found it informative and I hope you found it helpful. Thanks again for stopping by! :o)

Juanita Sims on April 02, 2013:

I love how you have not judged any of these religions as right or wrong, but rather informed people of your thoughts on how to pray, period, regardless of who one is praying to. Very thoughtful. Thanks for sharing!

AJ Long (author) from Pennsylvania on March 06, 2013:

Thanks so much for taking the time to read and comment! Prayer is so much a part of people's lives, so I think it is important to understand and respect others prayer lives. Thanks again! :o)

Beth37 on March 06, 2013:

What a great hub... You so often see articles on how to pray or who to pray to etc, but seldom on what prayer itself is... voted up and interesting. Thanks :)

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