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Prayers In The Culture

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With ambrose ekhosuehi {Last update 25/092017}

Prayers in the culture is the living entreaty of the human person with divine reality of love, embracing both trial and joy. Prayer is a consciousness of divine reality, a raising of heart and mind to the object of faith and awakens a new understanding of life experience. It s a growth in awareness, a surrender, a commitment, a risk and implies dependence on divine reality.

Prayer has been classed with protective magic or with social mechanisms of explanation and control. As such it is the central phenomenon of religion and core of worship, which includes many types of religious practice, ritual, instruction, reading, singing, offering of gifts and so on.

Prayer is a continuous mode of living and the spiritual disposition of the believer and fundamental spiritual communication, verbal, ritual and materialized moments of formal exchange.

Social Anthropologists have been more interested in the secondary Sycho-social functions of prayer. Necessity teaches us to pray. Prayer is born of individual need. Prayer is basically petitionary. Prayer of thanksgiving and penance are indirectly related to the anticipation of needs. They express dependence and buttress further petitions. This petitionary prayer is eliminatory prayer, when it is spontaneous and oral.

Prayer is secondary when it is learned, or written, thus identifying with the original experience of the composer. Many spontaneous prayers are faithfully reproduce formulars that are learned or conform to tradition.

Prophetical prayer is the prayer of salvation, prayer that services religious needs and reveals a new dimension of life to the belieier. Through this prayer, the believer seek to transcend life. Mystical prayer is the prayer of self-forgetting, adoration and ecstatic praises. The believers is taken out of self to discover the deep centre of things. It is the prayer of silence, of the heart, of mind, of profound contemplation and are identifiable in most religious systems.

Life situations are the raw material of prayer — child-birth fiesta marriage, sickness, famine, planting,. employment, business undertakings, poverty, death, war, epidemic, certain calamity, misery, excetera.
Prayer may also be centered on seasons or times of day. All these are occasions of prayer. The dominant purpose of a prayer may be one of the following- petition, intercession, thanksgiving, praise, confession, contrition, purification, blessing, cursing, lamenting, sorrowing, then forgiveness, vow, promise, divination, commemoration, hope and trust.

The theme of prayer answers the prayer. The theme may be a new insight generated by the prayer itself, divine governance, mediation, reciprocity, judgement and so forth,

Prayer texts take literary forms, short formulas, praise, poems, litanies, and may be verbalized in speech or songs. Usually, prayers include an invocation, consisting of a naming of the faith address, or an invitation to the addressee or presentation of the one praying. This is accompanied by the expression of a problem, the promise of praise and a request for help.

Materialized prayer uses manipulation of material objects in action, while corporeal prayer uses body posture without words such as prostration, kneeling or hand clapping. Apophatic prayer is silent prayer without words.

Prayers of scolding or compliant may be simply a way of presenting a difficult problem. Bargaining prayers are human responses to divine inscrutability. Divinatory prayer is seeking a sign that the prayer is answered.

Prayer is often associated with gift-giving and sacrifice. The gift represents the giver, who is giving to the receiver. The receiver is thereby placed under obligation to the giver, not to refuse the gift but also to repay it in due course.


The gift expresses and creates a social relationship. This is even clearer when the gift is food, or drink, or both food and drink.

When consumed it contributes to the life process of the receiver and is a symbol and vehicle of shared life-, hence the social importance of feasts and ritual meals.

A sacrifice can be seen as a gift to God or spirits but it has to be transformed to make the sacrifice sacred- the offering of a materials thing which undergoes a change.

There is also the fact that Almighty God cannot be placed under an obligation to human beings. Everything belongs to him. The sacralization of the gift may take the form of dedication to him; destruction, libation, burning, immolation of gifts offerings.

The killing of living things — immolation usually carries a further meaning depending on the significance. “Life is in the blood” so says the Holy scripture, hence the Christian says that sacrifices offered to created sprit are idolatrous that is offering divine worship to a creature.

However, in most culture, immolation is not an exclusive form of divine worship. Animal’s blood is not necessarily a symbol of life. Blood symbolizes sin. The malice of idolatry is to manipulate divine reality and substitute a creature for God.

It should be noted that there is no religious culture in which wood, stone, metal is substituted for God even if the believers says that the statue is from above.

The Benin people say: “Erhunmwu reo mase Ihen”, prayer is better than curse, Taboo or sacrifice.
Prayer therefore is one who pray, entreaty, petition to or communing with a god or spiritual power, the wish put forward in expressing one’s desire.

A person may forget his/her creator or hide far away from the Ancestors or may run
after idols or accuse the deity of having abandoned him or her, yet the living and the true God tirelessly calls each person to that mysterious encounter known as prayers in the
culture.

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