A well-known staple of religion is prayer. Many religions practice some form of worship through prayer, be it a ritual, a spoken act or silent reflection. Prayer is an act of appreciation and celebration of a deity or for one’s religion.
The World Day of Prayer is a day to appreciate prayer in its different forms. Every year, the day is celebrated on the first Friday of March.
The World Day of Prayer started in the 19th century when Christian women gathered to create a day when they could collectively become more involved in their religions. Their mission was to create a day to pray with others instead of simply praying for other people.
Though the day was started by Christian women, it has grown over the years to be a day during which other religions try to come together with Christianity to understand each other and bond. Though all religions have their own forms of prayer, the root behind the idea of prayer is the same.
Before other religions were involved, Christian women opened up their minds and hearts to other denominations of Christianity to learn and compare with each other.
Grace Roy, a freshman studying journalism, has been a Christian all her life and believes the World Day of Prayer is beneficial for the bonding of religions.
“In my opinion, prayer is super important as a way to access an understanding of God and Jesus Christ,” Roy said. “While I don’t think it’s the center of Christianity, I do think it’s one of the most important aspects.”
The Bible calls upon individual prayer to form a one-on-one connection with God, but it also tells its readers to pray with other believers because it makes the prayer powerful. Prayer is most powerful when it’s not in vain, meaning a person doesn’t pray because they feel it’s a chore. The meaning behind Christian prayer is to further a connection with God, and at the same time, it acts as a way to further devotion to the religion as a whole.
Roy finds herself praying often throughout the day — be it in her dorm, on the phone with her mother, with her friends from Bible study or just walking to class. Christian prayer doesn’t have a specific form or ritual to accompany it. People can pray out loud or in their heads, alone or with others.
“It’s super important to pray, and to know that Jesus hears you,” Roy said. “Whether or not you’re a believer, Jesus has a plan for every single life, so it’s important to pray and make that connection. I can’t imagine my life without that connection.”
As time moved on, more religions became involved in the World Day of Prayer. Another religion that has its own form of prayer is Buddhism. Instead of having established essential prayers like other religions, Buddhist prayer creates a spiritual feeling to help a person center themselves mentally and emotionally.
Jade Smith, a freshman studying journalism, learned about Buddhism from her dad and has been fascinated with the self-expression of the practice ever since.
“It’s a religion that is meant to harbor no judgement towards others,” Smith said. “I believe in mutual respect for humans, animals and other beings in the world, and it encompasses all of those things.”
Buddhists believe prayer is simply a form of spiritual connection with themselves, instead of a form of worship or connection towards a specific deity. For Buddhists, there is no wrong way to pray. Buddhist prayer calls for the visualization of things that make the practicer happy and peaceful.
Performing a Buddhist prayer is quite simple. The steps include getting into a comfortable position and centering yourself in a comfortable position, learning some basic mantras or creating your own and praying for the happiness and wellbeing of friends and family.
“I think the freedom and self journey of the prayer make it really important,” Smith said. “There isn’t one specific deity or person that they look up to to tell them how to live their lives, it’s based on a person and their own lives.”
The level of importance for prayer varies from religion to religion, but for Muslims, prayer is one of the most important parts of the religion.
Abdulmajeed Alharbi, president of the Muslim Students Association, recognizes that prayer is a staple of his religion, and takes pride in praying every day.
“It’s like submission to God, and you’re connected directly to Allah,” Alharbi said. “There is no one in between to connect you; you are directly connected.”
Islamic prayer takes place at five different times each day, at dawn, afternoon, late afternoon, sunset and late evening. Each prayer consists of different units, varying in number, that include phrases and poses. Muslims start the first unit of prayer by recognizing God’s greatness and end the second unit of prayer by wishing peace and mercy on all mankind. The first and second unit are consistent throughout every prayer during the day. However, a few of the prayers have more units and continue on.
Prayer is the second pillar of the Islamic religion, making it one of the most important parts of being an active practitioner.
“It cleans myself, and brings me comfort,” Alharbi said. “You will not see anyone who is submitted to Allah go to school and fight or make some mistakes, because when he finishes the prayer, he is cleansed from impurities.”