Thursday, May 30, 2013

The difference between prayer, worship and Liturgy

There is very little difference between the words "prayer" and "worship".  But they do not mean exactly the same thing.

The basic difference in this day and age, is that worship is only directed to God but prayer can be directed to either God or the Saints.

So, what is prayer?

Let us begin by studying about the word, "prayer", what it means today and what it used to mean long ago.

To pray is to communicate with God or the Saints, our faith, our love, and our wants.  So, we can say that prayer is communication.

Prayer today is basically considered an act of faith in God.  An act of worship. Catholic and Protestant can agree upon this.  But, for some strange reason, Protestants tend to give a word one meaning and deny the fact that most words have multiple meanings.  Therefore they deny the fact that prayer has another very important definition.  And it is still seen in books which are written in the ancient language.  One of those is the King James Bible:

Power in Prayer
Luke 14:18
And they all with one consent began to make excuse. The first said unto him, I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it: I pray thee have me excused.

Notice that in this verse, the word "pray" is used in the sense of petition, beseeching or begging.  And this is the other sense which the Church recognizes in the word, "prayer".

Therefore, today, there are at least three religious senses to the word "pray".

1.  We can pray to God in the sense of praise, worship or adoration.
2.  We can pray to God in the sense of petition or request.

3. This one requires a bit of further explanation.  As we have seen, a prayer or request can be addressed to anyone, God or man.  In the Old Testament, prayer was addressed to God and man.  But prayer was not addressed to the dead, faithful or not.

However, there is a New Dispensation in the New Testament.  Jesus has shown us that those who die in the state of grace are counted amongst the living:

hn 11:26
And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die….

To prove this, Jesus spoke to Moses and Elijah on the top of the mountain:

Matthew 17
King James Version (KJV)
1  And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart,  2 And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light.  3 And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with him.
4 Then answered Peter, and said unto Jesus, Lord, it is good for us to be here: if thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias.

And Scripture tells us that all the Baptized are now on top of that mountain with the Saints:

Hebrews 12:21-24
King James Version (KJV)
21 And so terrible was the sight, that Moses said, I exceedingly fear and quake:)  22 But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels,  23 To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect,  24 And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel.

And so, in the New Testament era, we can make prayers of praise and petition to the Saints who went before us to the heavenly Kingdom.

We do not worship them, but we do acknowledge the love of God towards them as we do towards all our fellow men.

So what is worship?

In our explanation of the word "prayer", we used the word "worship" a couple of times already.  Like prayer, worship has a meaning which is universally accepted and another which is no longer used frequently, an archaic sense.

To worship is to acknowledge and praise God's authority and power over us.  In today's world, worship is only directed to God.

However, worship was not always exclusively directed to God.  We can see this in the ancient text of the King James Bible where Joshua worships the angel:

Joshua 5:14
And he said, Nay; but as captain of the host of the Lord am I now come. And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and did worship, and said unto him, What saith my Lord unto his servant?

However, Joshua was merely showing reverence for an authoritative figure.  In older times, in America and Britain,  Kings and Judges were referred to as "your worship".  Because of the recognition of their authority and power.

The online dictionary says:
archaic honor given to someone in recognition of their merit.
[as title] (His/Your Worship) chiefly British used in addressing or referring to an important or high-ranking person, especially a magistrate or mayor:
we were soon joined by His Worship the Mayor
Today, we no longer use the word, worship, to describe the honor we give anyone but God.  Instead we use the words reverence,  honor and veneration.

I'm sure you've noticed that prayer and worship have much in common.  They are almost synonymous when it comes to prayer directed to God.  Prayer directed to God is the worship of God.  Because any prayer directed to God acknowledges and praises His power and authority over our lives.

Indirectly, prayer directed to the Saints is the worship of God because in doing so, we also acknowledge the great thing which God has done through that Saint.  Much like when we praise a painting.  When we praise a painting we indirectly praise the painter who made the painting.  When we praise a Saint and acknowledge the holiness of the Saint, we indirectly acknowledge the God who made the Saint.


Liturgy is the work of man.  It is frequently called the Mass.  It is the public gathering of the people of God to acknowledge God's authority and power over our lives.  Therefore, worship is the main purpose of the Liturgy.  However, the Liturgy includes every form of prayer we can offer to God.  Praise, glory, honor, thanksgiving, petition, sacrifice, etc.  It also includes rites and rituals which were commanded by God that we should do in remembrance of His Son.

Many people think that private prayer and worship are all that is necessary and that Liturgy is optional.  But that is far wrong.  It is clearly explained in Scripture that God takes great offense with those who do not honor Him in the Liturgy on the appointed day:
The Lamb's Supper
Hebrews 10:25-31
King James Version (KJV)
25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.
26 For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins,
27 But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.
28 He that despised Moses' law died without mercy under two or three witnesses:
29 Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?
30 For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people.
31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

Heavenly Liturgy

What is the heavenly Liturgy?  Scripture reveals that the saints and angels in heaven are always praying to God.  Therefore, we are taught that all our prayers on earth are linked to the prayers of the angels in heaven.

This is especially true in the Mass.  Where we believe that we, humans on earth, join the whole cohort of heaven in proclaiming God's glory.  This is why the Church recommends that we pray continually in order that we may always be united to the Mass and to the heavenly Liturgy of the saints and angels.

With that in mind, through the centuries the Church has given us many tools in order to encourage us to pray continually.

and many, many other devotions are taught by and supported by the Church.  We should take advantage of these and to the yearnings in our heart in order to always remain united to God, wherever we may be.

I hope this helps. Let me know if there is anything which needs clarifying.  See also New Dispensation and Prayer for the dead.


De Maria


  1. This is excellent!!!. Thank you De Maria.

  2. You did great research. Am not sure how instrument and rosaries assist in our worship and prayer. Are they able to speak to Jesus on our behalf?

    1. Hi, you said, You did great research.


      Am not sure how instrument and rosaries assist in our worship and prayer.

      Two ways. First:

      Acts 19:12 So that from his body were brought unto the sick handkerchiefs or aprons, and the diseases departed from them, and the evil spirits went out of them.

      As this verse shows, items which have been blessed by saints, convey God's blessing to the rest of us.

      2nd, as reminders. Holy water, for example, reminds us of our Baptism. Relics, remind us of the saints which they represent. Crucifixes remind us of Christ's ultimate sacrifice. And they all remind us to be holy, as God is holy.

      Are they able to speak to Jesus on our behalf?

      No. But God can speak to us, through them. The Bible, is, of course, the greatest example of such.

      Did you want me to get in touch with you privately for some reason?

  3. jesus has already stated he should be the only intermediate between man and god, so praying to anyone else is a sin dont let whoever wrote this take you away from god

    1. If Jesus is the only intermediary, why are you here stepping in the middle between us and Jesus? Here is what Scripture says:

      1 Tim 4:16 Continue in them because doing so, you will save yourself and those who hear you.

    2. jesus has already stated he should be the only intermediate between man and god, so praying to anyone else is a sin dont let whoever wrote this take you away from god

    3. The word 'praying" has a twofold meaning - not a singular meaning like protestants make it out to be.

      You are correct in that Jesus is the ONLY intermediate between man and God The Father but the question is: what is Jesus intermediating that the Saints can not?

      Also, why are you selectively using one passage of Scripture to support your claim when you should be reading and considering EVERY Scriptural verse that talks about and gives examples of "mediation"?

    4. provide any reasoning from the bible to back your claim that praying is a twofold meaning and that praying to mere humans is acceptable, did any prophet apart from jesus say pray in my name? did any prophet ask hes followers to pray directly to them? wether you like it or not what catholics and other denominations that take part are doing is blasphemy i await you to provide evidence from the bible to state otherwise

    5. jac0b14January 9, 2017 at 4:13 PM
      provide any reasoning from the bible to back your claim that praying is a twofold meaning.....

      Why from the Bible? Did language exist before the Bible or did the Bible use pre-existing language to express its meaning?

      The answer is that the language that is used by the Bible, existed before the Bible. So, if you want to see the meaning of any word, you need to go to a dictionary. The Bible does not define words. It uses words which are defined by the culture in which that language is used. Look up the word, "prayer".

    6. jac0b14

      Where do you get the idea that Catholics believe that we "pray in the name" of any prophet, saint, or person? You're distorting the Catholic belief and you didn't even bother to look up what I said.

      I suggest you also learn your Bible. Since you claim that I need evidence "from the Bible', here's two of them from the Gospel of Mark

      Mark 5:17 And they began to pray him that he would depart from their coasts.

      Mark 6:46 And when he had dismissed them, he went up to the mountain to pray.

      Notice the first verse shows the people "asking" Jesus; then notice the second verse is showing a form of worship? Also to show you that "pray" also means to "ask":

      Mark 11:24
      Therefore I say unto you, all things, whatsoever you ask when ye pray, believe that you shall receive; and they shall come unto you.

      Also, the word "pray" is used even in courts of law, which means to "ask". When Catholic "pray to the Saints" we are "asking them" to intercede WITH US and on our behalf, since the prayers (requests) of a righteous man go further than those of us who are grave sinners.

      And your little comment:"whether you like it or not" is about as arrogant and imbecilic a statement as I would expect from an anti-Catholic. The real question is: who gave you authority to determine what is to be practiced and believed from the Scriptures?

      Since you keep demanding Catholics to provide "proof" from the Bible, then I would expect you to answer my question "straight from the Bible" as well. I await your answer and evidence.

  4. Replies
    1. John 6:51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”


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