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Praying Hands by Albrecht Dürer

Prayer (from the Latin precari "to ask earnestly, beg, entreat")<ref>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}</ref> is an invocation or act that seeks to activate a rapport with an object of worship through deliberate communication.

Prayer can be a form of religious practice, may be either individual or communal and take place in public or in private. It may involve the use of words, song or complete silence. When language is used, prayer may take the form of a hymn, incantation, formal creedal statement, or a spontaneous utterance in the praying person. There are different forms of prayer such as petitionary prayer, prayers of supplication, thanksgiving, and praise. Prayer may be directed towards a deity, spirit, deceased person, or lofty idea, for the purpose of worshipping, requesting guidance, requesting assistance, confessing transgressions (sins) or to express one's thoughts and emotions. Thus, people pray for many reasons such as personal benefit, spiritual connection, or for the sake of others.

Some anthropologists believe that the earliest intelligent modern humans practiced a form of prayer. Today, most major religions involve prayer in one way or another; some ritualize the act of prayer, requiring a strict sequence of actions or placing a restriction on who is permitted to pray, while others teach that prayer may be practiced spontaneously by anyone at any time.

Scientific studies regarding the use of prayer have mostly concentrated on its effect on the healing of sick or injured people. Meta-studies of the studies in this field have been performed showing evidence only for no effect or a potentially small effect. For instance, a 2006 meta analysis on 14 studies concluded that there is "no discernable effect" while a 2007 systemic review of studies on intercessory prayer reported inconclusive results, noting that 7 of 17 studies had "small, but significant, effect sizes" but the review noted that the most methodologically rigorous studies failed to produce significant findings.<ref>K. Masters, G. Spielmans, J. Goodson "Are there demonstrable effects of distant intercessory prayer? A meta-analytic review." Annals of Behavioral Medicine 2006 Aug;32(1):21-6. [1]</ref><ref>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=citation }}</ref> Some studies have indicated increased medical complications in groups receiving prayer over those without.<ref name="Saletan 2006">{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=citation }}</ref><ref name="STEP 2006">{{#invoke:Citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=journal }}</ref> The efficacy of petition in prayer for physical healing to a deity has been evaluated in numerous other studies, with contradictory results.<ref name="Galton">{{#invoke:Citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=journal }} As found in {{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=book }}</ref><ref name="SouthMedJ">{{#invoke:Citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=journal }}</ref><ref name="Harris">{{#invoke:Citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=journal }}</ref><ref name="O'Laoire">{{#invoke:Citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=journal }}</ref> There has been some criticism of the way the studies were conducted.<ref name="STEP 2006" /><ref name="Infidels">{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=citation }}. Online reprint by Internet Infidels at Infidels.org.</ref>

Prayer sections
Intro  Act of prayer  Criticism  Pre-Christian Europe  Abrahamic religions  Eastern religions  Other religions  Animism  Theurgy and Western esotericism  Approaches to prayer  Prayer groups  Prayer requests  Prayer healing  See also  Notes  References and footnotes  Further reading  External links  

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