I posted this on a forum a short while ago and thought I would share on here. The question was: “What does prayer mean to you?”
In my religion there are two types of prayer: formal and informal. (I’m pretty sure that’s not what they’re called but it’s an accurate description.)
Formal is basically equal to ritual: reciting hymns, making offerings, all that stuff. This form of prayer is less personal and more focused on honouring the Gods. It’s a way of saying “hi, Artemisia here, I respect and honour and love you” 🙂 It also helps me focus on the spiritual dimension of my life and I always feel a lot more peaceful and clear-minded after ritual.
In formal ritual I don’t pray for specific things. If I do pray for something it will still be general, i.e. “May Apollon bring health and healing to those who need it.” These rituals also help build kharis, which, put very simply, is a way of building a relationship with the Gods. The more I honour, say, Hermes, and make offerings to him, the more likely he is to help me when I need it. This comes in handy for the second type of prayer.
Informal prayer (out of ritual) can happen anytime, anywhere. I often find myself praying on my way to exams and job interviews, whenever I’m scared or nervous, and whenever something great happens and I feel the need to say thanks 🙂 I tend to pray more for non-physical than physical things though. For example, if I’m about to have a job interview, I’ll pray for confidence and calmness rather than for getting the job. The Gods know best and the job might not be what I need, so I trust them with that.
Most of the time, I pray to a specific God. Depending on their domain (for example, Zeus for justice, or Hestia for the home) and the kharis I’ve built with them, I’ll pray to whichever God feels the most appropriate and will be the most likely to answer. I do believe that they answer and that it’s not just a way of sending my hopes and thoughts out to the world. At the same time, the act of prayer itself makes me feel a lot calmer and reminds me that I’m connected to something bigger, and that I’m going to be okay.