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Meditation as Forms of Prayer
The forms that prayer takes in the religions of the world generally follow certain patterns.
They include: the name of the deity or deities (such as "Our Father..."), blessings,
petitions and responses, and an "Amen". There are also ceremonial and ritualistic prayers, free prayers repetition or formula prayers (e.g., the repetition of the name of Jesus in Eastern Christian, a quietist monastic movement, or the repetition of the name of Amitabha Buddha in Japanese Buddhism), hymns, statements of praise or glory.
Religions of Nonliterate People
Prayer is one of the most ancient expressions of religion. Little is known about the form of early prayers that are found among the most primitive peoples of today. Together with the dependency in relation to the tribe, the primitive person is aware that they are not alone and they seek a relationship with a Supreme Being. The primitive often addresses their prayers, to various spiritual powers: the dead, the divinities of nature, protective gods or other gods, or perhaps a feminine divinity linked to the earth (i.e., the great mother). We are unable to determine the historical order of importance of one over the others, and it is difficult to describe the most primitive prayer. It was thought by modern scholars that prayer was absent in earliest religion. The first prayer may have been a cry, later brief formulas repeated as incantations, such as "Come . . . hear me . . . have pity." (e.g., Algonquin Indians of North America).
Internalized prayer is found among the Eskimos of North America, the Algonquin tribes, the Semangs (of the Andaman Islands in the Indian Ocean), and the Aboriginals of Australia. Prayer in gestures is also found among the Semangs. Another form is spontaneous prayer is found among the Negritos of the Philippines and the Alacaluf (Halakwulups) of Tierra del Fuego. More developed prayer structure and prayer vigils are found among the Negritos and the Pygmies of Gabon.
The prayers of peoples of a nonliterate society generally are concerned with the self and concerned with well-being at the same time; they are concerned above all with food, protection, and posterity. Among the Australian Aboriginals are prayers on tombs for the dead, so they may be received in heaven, and prayers are also addressed to the spirits of ancestors. Request and pardon accompany sacrifices in the prayers of the Semangs. Of special interest is the fact that the Wiradjuri-Kamilaroi of Australia practice public prayer on only two occasions: the burial of a man and the consecration of puberty. They believe that excessive prayer serves no purpose.