This is the primary approach to prayer found in the Hebrew Bible, the New Testament, most of the Church writings, and in rabbinic literature such as the Talmud. Rather, it is meant to inculcate certain attitudes in the one who prays, but not to influence. Prayer books such as the Book of Common Prayer are both a result of this approach and an exhortation to keep it.
Among Jews, this has been the approach of Rabbenu Bachya, Rabbi Yehuda Halevi, Joseph Albo, Samson Raphael Hirsch, and Joseph B. This view is expressed by Rabbi Nosson Scherman in the overview to the Artscroll Siddur (p. In this view, the ultimate goal of prayer is to help train a person to focus on divinity through philosophy and intellectual contemplation (meditation).
In this approach, the purpose of prayer is to enable the person praying to gain a direct experience of the recipient of the prayer (or as close to direct as a specific theology permits).
This approach is very significant in Christianity and widespread in Judaism (although less popular theologically).
This approach was taken by the Jewish scholar and philosopher Maimonides it became popular in Jewish, Christian, and Islamic intellectual circles, but never became the most popular understanding of prayer among the laity in any of these faiths.
In all three of these faiths today, a significant minority of people still hold to this approach.
Prayer can be a form of religious practice, may be either individual or communal and take place in public or in private.
A variety of body postures may be assumed, often with specific meaning (mainly respect or adoration) associated with them: standing; sitting; kneeling; prostrate on the floor; eyes opened; eyes closed; hands folded or clasped; hands upraised; holding hands with others; a laying on of hands and others. There may be a time of outward silence while prayers are offered mentally.
Prayers may be recited from memory, read from a book of prayers, or composed spontaneously as they are prayed. Often, there are prayers to fit specific occasions, such as the blessing of a meal, the birth or death of a loved one, other significant events in the life of a believer, or days of the year that have special religious significance.
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.