Prayer and reflective worship is one of the only tenets that most faiths around the world share. The three largest religions in the world, Christianity, Islam and Hinduism are all wildly different in their beliefs yet still include some form of prayer within their worship. There are still small variations between how people of these different faiths pray though, which is
what we’re going to explore today. Understanding and education is key to accepting others as they are, which is why it’s essential to learn about how others live, even if you don’t share their beliefs.
Let us learn together so that we can continue to live love-filled lives.
Christianity is the most followed faith in the world and as a result, its prayer system is the most well- known. Prayer in Christian faiths can take many shapes and sizes, from small, quick prayers in one’s head to slower, more ceremonial prayers in churches or the home. The goal of prayer is to connect with God by asking for his assistance through confession of sin or by praising him, embracing his grace and showing our adoration for him.
Prayer can occur at any time of day and is usually associated with placing your hands together and having your head bowed and eyes closed, though these are not strict rules. The most important
aspect of prayer in Christianity is the intent – your heart must be focused entirely upon your act of worship, otherwise its value is lost.
Prayer in Christianity tends to become more structured during organised worship like in church. In church, we recite the same prayers in the same order, with additional time made available for personal worship in the house of God.
Islam approaches prayer slightly differently to Christianity. In general, Islamic rules towards prayer are more restrictive and structured. The holy text of Islam states that Muslims must pray five times per day at set times – dawn, midday, late afternoon, just after sunset and once more between sunset and midnight. Additionally, Muslims usually complete ablutions before they begin and will face a specific direction during their time praying. Due to this, many rely upon timetables to know when they should pray each day based on their location in the world – these are called prayer or Ramadan timetables. Alongside these preparatory rules, the prayers themselves are usually structured in the same way and include actions as well as spoken words. Generally, the priority on intent and showing love for the Islamic religious figure remains similar to how Christians worship God, it’s simply the way this worship occurs which is different.
Hinduism approaches prayer slightly differently. Hinduism focuses on communal chanting and mantras as their main form of worship, much like how we pray as a community in church – the main difference is that the mantras don’t necessarily have to form words or sentences, they can be syllables or sounds too. The mantras don’t necessarily need to have a distinct meaning, it’s the act of chanting them which is considered worship and prayer. Additionally, there are further differences when looking at how Hindus pray whilst alone. Physical activities like yoga and periods of meditation are prioritised over structured prayer. These periods of meditation can occur anywhere and usually occur daily alongside the mantras. These traditions, much like those of Christianity, are thousands of years old and are believed to help lead those in worship towards enlightenment.
Learning about these different faiths and how they approach prayer can help inform our own lives and our own approach to worship. With greater knowledge, we can learn how to accept others,
regardless of their flaws or beliefs. It’s this accepting and love-filled life which should always be our ultimate goal.