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Six testimonials on prayer. What about you?

What is prayer? What function does it have in our lives and how do we practice it? E-ostadelahi.com drew a few questions on this theme from interviews conducted with six French public figures. From the actor to the priest, to the intellectual, to the dancer, all answer these questions in their own words.

Following this video, you too will have the opportunity to define the personal meaning you give to prayer by participating in a short poll.

  • Abdennour Bidar is a French philosopher and writer; his latest book How to get beyond religion? is an essay on the deadlocks reached by both Eastern religions and Western atheism; he was recently appointed by the French government to work on how to teach secularism in schools.
  • Guy Gilbert is a French Roman Catholic priest and educator; he is famous for his work with young offenders, in particular for his methods aimed at reeducating and reintegrating them into society.
  • Jérémie Bélingard is Principal Dancer at the Paris Opera Ballet; his latest appearances include Boléro, an acclaimed ballet based on the eponymous musical piece of French composer Maurice Ravel.
  • Michael Lonsdale is a French actor; his most notable recent role was in the much acclaimed Of Gods and Men, which won the Grand Prix of the 2010 Cannes Festival.
  • Roland Giraud is a prolific French actor who has embraced popular roles in both cinema and plays; his most famous role was probably in the world famous comedy Three Men and a Cradle, of which an American remake was later directed by Leonard Nimoy.
  • Thierry Bizot is a French television producer and writer; his much acclaimed book Catholic anonymous relates his spiritual rebirth at the age of 45.

What about you? What is your experience of prayer?

For each question, select your answer and click “Vote” to access the poll results. Your own answer will appear in bold characters.

If you are viewing this article from the mobile app, click here to participate in the poll.

1) Prayer, for you, is:

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2) “At the beginning, I was telling myself ‘I am just really bad at praying’.” (Thierry Bizot). In your opinion, what is decisive in determining the quality of a prayer? Select 1 or 2 choices

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3) “Even in the middle of a ton of things, I sometimes pray even while I act.” Like Michael Lonsdale, do you also sometimes pray while in the middle of a social activity?

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4) “I ask Him (God) to protect me, to protect my family and me.” (Jérémie Bellingard). What about you? What do you ask God for in your prayers?

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Further readings:

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  1. Johnny Feb 13, 2014 4:26 am 1

    It was wonderful to be given this insight into different perspectives on prayer. I agree that the exercise of voluntarily clearing our minds and trying to achieve a state of attention and reflection can improve the quality of our thoughts, regardless of our profession or beliefs. This quality of thought determines the way we perceive – and react to – people and events around us, which in turn profoundly affects our happiness and well-being.

    I have realized, when trying to have some attention and reflect on the nature of my thoughts, I am often horrified that they seem to gravitate towards judgmental, materialistic, or egoistic tendencies. If I don’t actively struggle against them, these tendencies give rise to a sense of bitterness, injustice or inadequacy.

    Occasionally, when others demonstrate kindness or remind me of the true value of things, I am inspired to be more altruistic and grateful for what I have. However, it should not be the responsibility of others to determine my inner quality of thought.

    These experiences helped me realize that having some heartfelt attention each day (whether I am at home, work, or a place of social gathering) can perhaps enable me – rather than society – to have more control over the quality of my thoughts, perceptions, happiness and well-being.

    Although the idea of a dialogue while in that state of attention depends upon each person’s beliefs, I have noticed that directing my thoughts towards a point of benevolence and grace (whatever name it has – God, Creator, the Source…) generates more willpower and a greater awareness of what might seem like insignificant actions. I was deeply moved by Thierry Bizot’s example that ‘Jesus said, “what you do to the smallest among you, you are doing to me”, so smiling to someone is a prayer’.

  2. NK Feb 13, 2014 7:02 pm 2

    Prayer for me is a channel for me to ask God for help in my most troubling moments. Although I do pray on a regular daily basis out of a sense of duty, I feel that in those moments that I am pleading for His help and intervention in my life are the moments when I feel the closest to Him. Maybe because those prayers are emotional ones that come straight from my heart.

    Thank you for the beautiful video, there are certain people at my work that I do not get along with, after watching this video I now see things from a different perspective.

  3. Ocean Feb 14, 2014 1:37 am 3

    To me prayer means connecting my spirit to the source. Making a direct connection to the source in order to feed my spirit with divine energy and wisdom.

    1. elnaz Mar 04, 2021 5:25 pm 3.1


  4. yocto Feb 14, 2014 5:24 pm 4

    I don’t know. What would you do when you are in love with someone? Won’t you pick up the phone to check on him, praise him, adore him, appreciate him, tell him how much you miss him, that anywhere you will follow him, tell him you love him and can’t live without him, that you will never give up, and ask him not to give up on you… that is my experience of prayer. I wish I could do just that, and nothing else, worship him every minute, 24/7, all year long.

  5. SA Feb 15, 2014 4:05 am 5

    It was extremely pleasant to watch these people speak. It had a real effect since it was clear they were talking from experience rather than in theory.

  6. HSH Feb 15, 2014 12:06 pm 6

    With thanks for such a useful article, as far as I experience during my prayers, the most important things are: having a pure intention, asking for God’s satisfaction and to be honest in our mind and heart.

    May God bless us all / HSH

  7. danjoon Feb 15, 2014 1:06 pm 7

    His guidance

  8. Holly Mar 08, 2014 11:18 pm 8

    Thank you so much – it’s great to hear / read about what is prayers , what differences does it make in our daily life, etc.,
    To me prayer is simply talking to God – it’s the time that I share my thoughts , my actions and plans with God – I have sadly not reached the stage of not asking for things from Him / God . I still ask for things in a variety of ways.
    I’m not very good with formal prayers , as I tend to get distracted easily , however, when I talk to God in my own way , I feel so empowered , I feel like I have a mounting which I’m leaning on , and I have an invisible hand which is directing me all the time.
    I tend to mostly thank God in my prayers, I cry and ask for his forgiveness, I also remember how he has and is always watching over me .
    Thus I simply shout in my head and at times loudly in my car or when I am alone – I love you God – Don’t let go of me, etc.,
    I always remind myself of one important thing in my prayers and that is , ( at least in my case ) I was nothing , I am still nothing and I will be nothing if it was not for his grace, kindness , forgiveness and most importantly his directions .

  9. NT Oct 06, 2014 3:57 pm 9

    I do love prayer, always . but my wish is that, with practice, i can do my prayer with better quality. because most of the time when I pray, I want material things in the back of my mind. another problem is I cannot concentrate for a long time while I am praying. maybe you can help me. anyway thanks for ostadelahi-inpractice.com. It has been a big help for me in my practice

  10. NT Oct 06, 2014 4:15 pm 10

    some times I am afraid to pray for HIS satisfaction. that shows I am very connected to material things. and I realize only HIS satisfaction is good for my soul

  11. Hello Oct 21, 2014 11:50 am 11

    Connection to him. Humbleness .

  12. HSH Nov 16, 2014 8:27 am 12

    Thanks, it was a very good evaluation of my daily prayers.

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