My question arose while pondering the answers to Praying to people outside the Trinity?

Is prayer any form of communication with God? Is it called prayer solely because its communication with God? Or is there a specific form and reverence that is necessary for communication with God to be a prayer?

If I ask a friend for something and then ask God for the exact same thing, the former is a petition and the latter a prayer?

  • I cannot answer this question because it is too broad. The scope of activities, attitudes, and content that fall under the umbrella of prayer is great. Perhaps it is because of this that his disciples asked Jesus how to pray, prompting him to introduce "The Lord's Prayer". They did not want to know what prayer was, they wanted to know how to pray acceptably so that God would answer their prayers. The Bible has much better answers about how to pray acceptably (or unacceptably) than it does to questions about what prayer is. Commented Mar 19, 2016 at 23:42

3 Answers 3



  1. a devout petition to God or an object of worship.

  2. a spiritual communion with God or an object of worship, as in supplication, thanksgiving, adoration, or confession.

Prayer is, essentially, any type of communication directed to God, whether thoughts or vocal words. It can also be, simply, the act of devoting your heart towards God.

Anything that is, as dictionary.com put it, "spiritual communion" can be prayer, including acts that are not normally considered religious (driving a car, flying a kite, etc.)

  • That last paragraph sounds like a definition for worship. Is there a difference?
    – user23
    Commented Sep 2, 2011 at 0:06
  • Hmmm.. I would say that worship is a type of prayer, wouldn't you? When I worship, I tend to be in a state of prayer.
    – Richard
    Commented Sep 4, 2011 at 20:21

Prayer is defined by my (Lutheran) Church as being

A heart to heart talk with God.


The answer is probably best viewed from the perspective of the Jews, and therefore of Jesus Christ, who taught us the Lord's Prayer.

To a Jew, a prayer time is a time of self-judgement.

Source: for example, visit the site https://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/682090/jewish/The-Meaning-of-Prayer.htm

The Hebrew for “prayer” is tephillah. According to NAS Exhaustive Concordance, it comes from the verb, palal that means “to intervene, interpose”, or as indicated by Brown-Driver-Briggs, “to arbitrate, judge, intercede.” Its reflective verb is lehitpalal, “to judge oneself”. Thus, a prayer time should be a time to examine ourselves carefully, critically and sincerely, knowing that we are all sinners and fall short of God’s glorious standards (Romans 3:23):

For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;

Since we cannot possibly meet God’s expectations, we do not deserve His blessings and favors. Therefore, we humble ourselves before Him and confess our sins in our prayers. Psalms 51 and 69 come to mind as some of King David’s most significant prayers that are unparalleled in their long, sincere and careful examination of thoughts and feelings. It is only after first carefully, critically and sincerely examining ourselves that we can partake in sanctification with the help of the Holy Spirit.

It is from this Jewish perspective of what a prayer should be that we can fully understand the Lord’s Prayer – why we begin by exalting God's name when we say Our Father in heaven, holy be your name, humble ourselves before Him when we say forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sinned against us, and then request the Father not to bring us to the test but deliver us from evil, which is exactly meant for our sanctification.

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