Ten kinds of prayers

It is how striking the impulse to prayer arises across cultures and eras. I’ve even noted that one set of Zen Buddhist prayers in print is something even an atheist could endorse.

In her book, Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers, Anne Lamott lays out a basic approach to the universal practice of turning to the Holy One, regardless of name. Her three types seem to cover it all.

Still, there other types, even before we touch on wildly different faiths and theologies. Here are a few, even as I search for some formal Greek theological terms I’ve filed away somewhere.

  1. Supplication or petition: Humble, kneeling, raising a request or concern for God’s action.
  2. Intercession: Pleading on behalf of the needs of others.
  3. Confession: Openly admitting one’s sin and desire for pardon.
  4. Consecration, benediction, or blessing: Joyfully approving a person or situation, with the speaker as an active co-participant.
  5. Agreement: Corporate prayer encouraging each other in our shared faith when gathered together.
  6. Surrender: In times when one feels the weakest, a yielding to God’s strength and leading.
  7. Prophetic: Speaking as an oracle of the Holy One or the Holy Spirit.
  8. Listening or waiting: Sitting silently, raising one’s heart to the Presence, open to answer.
  9. Contemplative: Eliminating outward distractions by focusing on a repeated word or phrase, drawing the one closer to God in calm stillness.
  10. Fasting: Think about this one, especially if you’ve never tried it.


And we haven’t even touched on postures or breathing, much less chanting or dancing …


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