Ways to Pray
Prayer: an invocation intended to activate a rapport with an object of worship. It plays a significant role in Baby Screams Miracle — for characters Gabriel and Carol, prayer is an integral component of everyday life. For other characters, not so much. But when those less accustomed to prayer give it a try, the results are powerful, and they make for powerful theatre.
Of course, there are different types of prayer: various iterations of supplication, thanksgiving, and praise, practiced via incantation, hymn, silent prayer…the list goes on. Sometimes people pray for personal benefit. Other times, for the benefit of others. Most major religions involve prayer in some form or other. Even though in the theatre we don’t claim any one religion in particular, perhaps our form of prayer is applause. If that’s true, we’re quite a devout bunch.
Read on as we explore different types of prayer across religions, and don’t forget that Baby Screams Miracle opens January 30!
The most widespread prayer among Christians is the Lord’s Prayer, which according to the Christian gospels is how Jesus taught his disciples to pray. The Lord’s prayer is a model for prayers of adoration, confession and petition in Christianity. The most common way to end a Christian prayer is by saying “Amen” (from a Hebrew adverb usually translated as, “so be it.”)
Jews are supposed to pray three times a day, to give thanks, to praise, and to ask for help. Jews believe that the more you ask for God’s help, the more God loves you. But much of Jewish prayer consists of reciting written prayers aloud in synagogue, as an act of community participation and a symbol for putting yourself in the context of other Jews and the Jewish tradition as a whole.
In the Islamic faith, God ordered Muslims to pray at five times of day:
· Salat al-fajr: dawn, before sunrise
· Salat al-zuhr: midday, after the sun passes its highest
· Salat al-’asr: the late part of the afternoon
· Salat al-maghrib: just after sunset
· Salat al-’isha: between sunset and midnight
The prayer ritual, which is over 1400 years old, is repeated five times a day by hundreds of millions of people all round the world. In Islamic countries, the public call to prayer from the mosques sets the rhythm of the day for the entire population.
In certain Buddhist sects, prayer is an important accompaniment to the foundational rituals. For the most part, Buddhists see prayer as a secondary, supportive practice to meditation and scriptural study. According to Gautama Buddha, the primary figure of Buddhism, human beings possess the capacity and potential to become liberated, or enlightened, through contemplation, leading to insight. Prayer is seen mainly as a powerful psycho-physical practice that can enhance this contemplation, which is mainly referred to as meditation.
In Hinduism, prayer is called Prārthana. Hindu prayers can be broadly classified as Mānasika (mental), Vācika (verbal) and Kāyika (physical). Even a thought about the Divine can be considered Mānasika. Chanting mantras and verbal appeals and requests constitute the Vācika. Offering of oblation to fire, prostrating in front of god, lighting and waving the lamps, offering food to god, going on a pilgrimage — these are all part of the Kāyika, or physical Prārthana.
For Wiccans, magic is a way to bring about change for the good. Wiccans use the movement of energies of nature to help turn negativity into positivity and make positive changes.
Using prayer is one way to use these natural energies and put wishes for change-whether it be protection, love, health- out into the world.
Prayers and rituals are one way a Wiccan practitioner can help the mind receive the natural energies that emerge while doing magic.
Baby Screams Miracle opens January 30! Get your tickets: