Prayer is the instrument that allows the faithful to communicate with God and through which they can put His word on earth into practice. Many believers think that prayer is a way to ask God for things, whereas the meaning is much deeper and has nothing to do with the intimate and often material requests we want to make of Him.

The meaning of prayer for the faithful

Prayer gives form and substance to church life. In fact, every believer is called to seek moments of meditation to get in touch with God and make his life as a Christian special. For the church this gesture must become a natural function just like breathing, talking and eating. In other words, it must be a need, a function inherent in human life. Through this action man is able to touch and absorb God.

Prayer can be understood as “the breath of the soul”, that breath that envelops and penetrates our life and that gives us strength and life itself. This type of meditation is established by God to build an intimate and joyful communion between us and Him. At the basis of prayer we not only find our condition and not even our behavior or anything else that comes from ourselves. What gives value to prayer is our deep bond with Jesus.

What does praying mean?

Prayer is much more than a series of requests or thanks. To pray means first of all to abandon oneself completely to God’s will, to follow Christ with absolute trust, driven by a love that we cannot renounce.

When we think of this kind of deep meditation we are usually reminded of a faithful person in a humble attitude who asks God for something. Usually this request is something that responds to the satisfaction of one’s needs. In part this is not a wrong concept. Jesus himself in the Gospel asked us to knock, to ask, to ask even for daily bread.

The main meaning of prayer is to seek an encounter with God, regardless of what we can ask or receive. It is a need of our soul to be united to His Creator, to His All.

It may seem strange to you, but when we feel the need to pray, often the initiative is God’s. It is He who desires us, who calls us and who wants to know us. That is why prayer can be considered as a way to respond to the Lord’s call.

What does it mean to pray in other religions

Christian prayer is very different from that of other religions. Muslims, for example, pray prostrate on the ground as an act of adoration, recognizing the absolute sovereignty of God. According to their religion, however, Alah does not know them because he has no relationship with man.

In Hinduism, Buddhism and other Asian religions the relationship with God is even more impersonal: there is a vague divinity, a divine “I” does not really exist because the center is always man.

In the Christian religion instead, God became flesh to come and talk to us, he knows us and loves us. In order to pray, it is necessary to make an initial act of faith to establish a first relationship with God, the one who became man and asked us to follow Him, to let us love Him and to entrust ourselves completely to His voice.

What does prayer represent today?

Today we can say that prayer is facing a moment of crisis, the result of the characteristics that distinguish the Western world today. Prayer is lacking because man trusts so much in himself, in science and technology that he thinks he no longer needs God.

Modern society has changed and this is also reflected in the relationship with religion. It is important to remember that praying is an experience of deep meditation, which consists first of all in listening to God and only afterwards is it possible to talk to Him to put our hopes in Him. But listening is no longer a quality of the world in which we live.

The true meaning of prayer takes second place. For the Christian, it must not be an automatic or obvious gesture; to do so, one must have faith or find it again.

It is also important to pay attention to the words used in prayer. They will be words of request, of praise, of supplication, of complaint, of adoration, of thanksgiving, but at the base there must be trust in the Lord. We must leave that inner space in which God impresses in our hearts His words, those words of love, hope, deep peace and communion that allow us to find the answers we need.

Let us also remember that God’s needs are not standardized. We discover love little by little and entering into this complicity of trust can ask us to carry His cross, to save the world. In fact, it is precisely the Christians who, with their offering and prayer, lead the world towards salvation.

Prayer is also considered the best way to love one’s neighbor. In this way, the Lord forgives him of sins and purifies him by participating in the Sacrifice of the Cross. Also this gesture is never imposed on us: we accept it and live it through prayer.

When we think of meditation in this sense, we know that at the end of the journey we find the joy of the soul, inner peace and the discovery of our indissoluble bond with God.

Prayer is an essential instrument for the faithful. In order to exercise it, it is important to know how to take time to dedicate to meditation, just as Saint Seraphim did. To make contact with God easier and more immediate, it is possible to use an accessory that cannot be missing in the home of a Christian.