Muslims perform Salaat, five times a day
The BBC's Africa Live programme on Wednesday comes in two editions.
In our first edition at 1630GMT, we are asking for the reaction of Africa's Catholics to Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger's appointment as the new Pope.
If you are a Catholic, do you welcome the decision? Will his interpretation of the Catholic faith serve Africa well?
Our second edition at 1830 GMT examines the art and power of prayer.
Everyday across the continent, millions of Africans visit their local church, mosque, temple or other sacred places.
It is common for Muslims to perform Salaat, the Islamic prayer held five times a day.
Among Christians, there is a growing trend of people going for lunch or evening prayers and holding night vigils.
Do you believe in prayer? How many times do you pray? Has prayer changed your life? How do you measure the impact?
BBC Africa Live would like to know what you pray for: Is it success in your exams, a baby, defeat for your enemies or a new Mercedes Benz?
If you spent more time working and less time on your knees would your prayers be more likely to come true?
Join the BBC Africa Live debate on Wednesday 20 April at 1630 GMT & 1830 GMT.
Please use the form to send us your comments - some of which will be published below.
I believe in prayer. It is the most potent comfort in a seemingly meaningless world.
Ben Eka, Nigerian in the US.
I am actually a Christian but I don't believe in prayer. You can achieve things without praying. I know people just deceive themselves saying that they have communicated with God. The only reason I pray is because other people do it too.
Abolish Pach, Sudan
Prayer in itself is powerful, especially in the hands of a true believer. But the rate at which people believe they ought to pray to the detriment of their daily lives and that of their neighbours, especially in Nigeria, is verging on the ridiculous. It seems people have forgotten that prayers can be said quietly in one's house, or even silently without speaking. Now, everyone wants the world to acknowledge that he or she is praying. I wonder if during the loud night time vigils broadcast through megaphones, or the call to prayers that is conducted for hours on end when people are trying to sleep, include in them prayers for peace and harmony, and any shred of consideration for one's neighbours? People praying need to reconsider whether they truly believe in the act of praying or whether it is merely a way of putting on a show to prove to others that their faith can shout the loudest.
I was born in a Christian family. Until a couple of years ago, I believed in prayer but found no answers or help in praying. There are many more people who are religious in Africa than anywhere else but look at the continent's poverty and the leaders we get. Prayer does not work.Precious, Zimbabwe/UK
I am a member of the Baha'i Faith and until I became Baha'i, I did not really understand the value of prayer. I thought prayer was something you do when you are asking for something, forgiveness, blessing or bounty. Being Baha'i has awakened me to a natural relationship of love that I have with my creator. I pray because I want to strengthen this relationship of love. When I pray I become mindful of God's will for my life and I increase my consciousness of His will and desire. I pray because I love God and I have to increase the bond of affection that exists between Him as the creator and me as the created.
Musenge Musenge, Zambia
I do pray sometimes, but I only seem to do so when I have problems. The one thing that puzzles me is whether prayers are worth anything. Frankly speaking, often, I pray and pray for poverty to end in my family and Africa, but it seems that my prayers have been falling on deaf ears.
Brima Bangoura, Minnesota, USA
No amount of prayers can sprout crops from the ground. Prayer is a helpless way of facing reality. Africa is the most prayerful and yet still the most underdeveloped continent. While we close our eyes and bend our heads at the dinner table to pray, by the time we've finished praying others have finished the dinner. Our salvation is not in prayer but in science, education and technology.
Are we ever grateful?! All we do is complain about the fact that our prayers are not being answered. And yet, there will come a time in the hereafter when we will receive much more than what we asked for in this fleeting world and on that day, after seeing what we receive, we will wish that none of our prayers had been answered in this world and that instead they had been kept for us in the hereafter.
After all is said and done, most of us know that, had it not been for prayer, we would have lost our minds. Prayer does work, believe it or not! For some of us, all we have is prayer, even here in the US, where one runs into walls all the time. If Africa ever taught me anything, it is prayer, so I use it and live by.
Roland S. Weah, Liberian living in the U.S.
In Africa, we live in a context where we don't control so many things, from politics to our own personal development. So I think our salvation lies in prayers all the time. When you pray, there is fulfilment and I think that prayers in a hazardous place like Africa are very essential.
Gilbert Kedia, Cameroon
When I need something, I go and ask Allah, and Allah gives me everything I need.
I believe prayer saved my life during the rebel war in Sierra Leone and it's through my prayer that God has given me wisdom to be in Australia today.
Abdulai Lukullay, Australia
Prayer is the pillar of Islam. When I pray I become closer to Allah, I ask his help and forgiveness. Moreover, prayer is a key act in Islam -- without it no deeds are accepted.
As everybody else I believe in prayer. But this just gives me the courage to confront problems head on. We look for divine intervention because, unlike in our governments, that is where hope is.
Hankie Uluko, Lilongwe, Malawi
Prayer is the master key that unlocks every closed doors in one's life. For a believer not to pray is like a fish out of water. Before anything could be achieved physically, you must have won the spiritual aspect of it. I wanted to change my old apartment though I had no job then and I prayed God to give me new apartment. Not only did God give me the new apartment which I asked Him but He provided me a job.God knows us more than we know ourselves and He is bound to bless us more than we have even asked from Him.
Paul Nnaji, Nigeria
I am a Hindu living in a small Hindu community in Port Louis. A formal prayer before a Lord Ganesha portrait in my home after the showers has become a routine task for me. This prayer adds mental strength to me and relaxes me as I feel released of all tensions.
Besides that I also pay a visit to a Laxmi Narayan temple in our community, at least once in a week. Recently my prayers also include saving Mauritius from tsunami fears, which has destroyed so many islands.
Ratan Munikar, Port Louis, Mauritius
I do not believe in prayer. I, however, believe in God who listens and answers prayers. Prayer is talking to God and listening to Him as well. God changes life and a life changed by God wants to have that communion with Him. As I spend time in prayer, my attitude changes a lot as I get the understanding of God's will, that He is in control, that He is the Supreme One. The only line that won't be out of order or busy is the prayer line to the throne of God. I thank God for the link in prayer.
Berhe, Ethiopian in the Uk
Prayers are the Christian weapon against the devil. Prayers draw us close to the Lord. Whenever we call His name He is ready to listen to us. I thank God for giving us one way we become close to Him through prayers. Prayers are the solution to our problems. I strongly believe in prayers.
T. Kiage, Kenya
In a crazy and demanding world, prayer keeps me sane, steady and focused. It drives me on.I have a morning devotion: everyday at 4am, I jump out of bed every morning with a recital from Psalms. I also frequently hold fastings, I pray for my nation, our leaders, my family, my friends and everybody and everything that needs God's grace. Since Iam still single, I have been fervently asking God for a life partner. As a lawyer, I know I step on so many criminal toes and I always pray for God's protection.
Pacharo Kayira, Malawi
I am a Catholic and we pray to ask saints to intercede for us.It help us, especially my mother, through the trying times, like after the death of my father.I like praying alone. I don't like gathering with others to pray. I am not comfortable with it.
Amadi ikechukwu, Nigeria
Prayer is very necessary to a Christian for the growth of the soul as food is to the body. Our Lord Jesus Christ prayed and worked at the same time. He even said that those who don't work should not eat! That shows how important it is for us to pray and work. God always answers my prayer and if he did not give me a particular thing I asked for, then it means that thing will not help me develop as a Christian so I take all his answers in good faith.
Catherine, Ghanaian living in the Uk
If you see all over the world, the poor prays more than everybody else. Prayer is a rich man or the ruling society prescription for the poor or underprivilaged so he can not bother the upper class. It is the way of controlling the society by teaching him that somebody else, not the rich, will lessen his misery. Also it helps the poor psychologically to be less stressful by believing in something.
I think that prayer is very important in a man's life and this has been proved by science. Prayer can relieve stress, depression and can give you peace of mind which is good for the body. But a man should not use all his time praying. The bible tells me that after the fall of man in the garden of eden, the Lord said "out of your sweat will you find something to eat" Genesis 3. Africans have to work very hard and at the same time pray so God will lift our continent.
Yaw Ofosu Agyei, USA/Ghana
One cannot profess to be an adherent to any religious sect or group without a conscientious and active regime of prayers. The form of the prayer varies from religion to region and even within the same religion. Prayer is the means we communicate with God, the ancestors, and in prayer we ask for blessings, guidance, protection and healing for ones family, community and world in general. I can attest to having been cured by prayers. To this date even though I can see myself as somebody who is sceptical about a lot of things, I am still dumbfounded to this date, 30 years after the fact, how the pastor miraculously cured me with only prayer and holy water and oils, when western trained doctors had given up hope on me. The African is incurably religious and prayer is always lingering around their consciousness.
Eric Bottah, Ghanaian in USA
What will happen if we all quit praying for one year; and put the extra time into work? I don't know but my guess is we will be a bit better off.
If you do believe in the Bible just read Matthew 7:7 "Ask and you shall be given..." Just remember that God answers prayer in 3 ways: YES and he gives you what you asked for, NO and he gives you something better or WAIT and soon or later you will have what you asked for.
Marie Aimee, Philippines
I don't believe in prayer .I just don't think there's anyone sitting in "heaven" and listening to our prayers. Praying is just a waste of time and energy. However, I appreciate the fact that it does help people who think they find some comfort and satisfaction in praying and believe it works for them. It's their way of compensating for the vacumm or lack of mental and conscientious self - sufficiency.The Creator, created and endowed us with all the reasonable assets we need, we just have to exploit and use them to better our lives and stop bothering God with our senseless words of prayer. The guy (I mean God) is tired, leave Him alone.
Prayer is the key to a successful Christian living. I know God answers the prayer of the believer and he has done that for me many times and I know He will continue to do that. The Holy Bible says the Lord will bless the work of our hands so it is expected of the true Christian to trust God for strength to work very hard for success in life.
Felix Kumah-Abiwu, Ghana
As a Muslim, I am a strong believer in the power of prayers. My religion guides me to pray five times daily and the wisdom behind this is to remind me of Allah as well as allow me to ask for his guidance and mercy. My religion teaches me that Allah is our creator and the almighty needs absolutely nothing from us. I was thought as a little girl by my parents that my prayers do not add value to the kingdom of Allah. In fact, the five daily prayers I perform are an investment for me. It allows me to ask Allah for mercy as well as establish communication with my creator. I find praying extremely therapeutic as it helps calm me after a hard day's work. I always say to my friends that even if I was not a Muslim, I will certainly establish some form of regular communication with Allah , the supreme, as there is a great deal of comfort in leaving all my worries and anxieties in Allah's capable hand's.
Kumba, The Gambia
I do believe in prayer. I have found that with prayer comes strength and peace to deal with the uncertainties that we encounter in the world that we live in today. I also believe that my prayers have been answered in many different ways. Prayer allows any one to feel connected to God.
Nesanet, Ethiopian in USA
During a terrible situation, when you pray or talk to your God you get help immediately. I experienced this in 1991 when I was a refugee student at Wollega Adventist Academy School in SW of Addis Ababa in Ethiopia. My classmates and I had to walk five days without carrying food and drinking water on an unsafe road. By deeply praying inside our hearts, our God had helped us escaped fighting between the former and the present Government in Ethiopia. Though you don't believe praying is a direct conversation between you a God, you can immediately get a result. You realise it during tough times of civil war when you have no drinking water or food and many people are losing their lives in front of you.
Thabor D. Ding, Sudanese/USA
It important to point out that the Muslim 5 daily "prayers" are not quite about asking God for money, gold and silver. Of course you can also do that if you wish, but the salat (or "prayer") is a Remembrance of the Divine, or to put it differently - reminding oneself of the Divine during the hustle and bustle of daily life.
Allah helps those who help themselves. If you have faith, and you pray to the almighty for guidance and protection while combining it with hard work, you are bound to succeed in whatever activity you are doing. If you do not succeed it is because the Almighty has willed it as such.
Ridwan M.Amin, Ghanaian living in US
Talking to God is the best feeling anyone can express. The best prayers that I pray are when I close my eyes and call out the name of Jesus until I feel his eyes on me. I can't express that joy. I keep my face bowed before him, then I just start talking to him. It is the most beautiful and peaceful feeling. Let the love and fear of God be in your heart.
Kalkidan, Ethiopian in USA
I believe in prayer. I also equally believe that prayer should be matched with good deeds, truthfulness and practising what we pray. Otherwise it becomes an insult to God.
Prayer is the spiritual heartbeat of a Christian. I pray many times a day. I pray for every one and everything - myself, my immediate and extended family, my church, pastor, friends, and employer. However, prayer is not a substitute for hard and conscientious work. You will not pass your examinations even if you prayed 24 hours a day and never opened your text book to read it. You would go hungry and not be able to pay your bills if you spent all the time praying and not holding down a job. Christians are supposed to work hard and with honesty. There can't be any short cuts to success, not even by using prayer.
Benjamin Obeng, Ghanaian in US
In Africa God is so close to us that we can not afford to ignore Him. Our lives are moulded in prayers. The best answers for prayer come with hard work. A lazy man's prayer is not answered. Prayer changed my life positively. I had a joint business venture with some Nigerian friends who duped me of my share in a legitimate business. I affirmed my confidence in God and forgave them. God compensated me with things I never thought of.
Hamid Alsharief, Sudan
I am a Muslim. I pray five times a day. A prayer is about five minutes long. So in total I have 25 minutes dedicated to prayer every day. This does not distract me from working. On the contrary, it offers me a calming and soothing mediation in between my busy and stressful days. I pray for spiritual as well as material things, depending on my needs at that time.
Zuleikha Hassan, Africa
Prayers are very powerful. They can change a situation. I normally pray for success and for protection. Thanks to prayers, I do survive here in Harare where I live unemployed but manage to pay my rent, be in front of the computer for more than six hours a day, all that because God uses some well-wishers from abroad to help me with money.
Kapinga Ntumba, Zimbabwe
Prayer is sharper than a double edged sword. It is also greater than any weapon ever made in man's history. The Bible strongly encourages us as Christians to pray for God's protection from all dangers and evil spirits. Also, for our hearts desires. One thing that is common amongst all religions is prayer.
Omorodion Osula, Boston, USA
I believe in prayer because it is a source of my spiritual refreshment. I grew up in a family that prays. It brings unity and love within and outside the family circle. Prayer gives me hope, strength and courage to carry on my daily business. I hardly panic over situations because I know that my God will take care of them.
Dr. Christopher Enakpene, Erlangen, Germany.
Prayer is part of everyone's life. Even when those who do not consider the existance of God encounter a real problem, they change their mind and start praying to God. I once do remember traveling at sea with some people who did not believe in God but when the sea became very rough and we were all afraid of what will happen next, they suggested that we should pray. Prayer works with good intentions only and God will never answer an evil prayer intented to hurt others.
Khaliif Mahad, Ontario, Canada
I am a Muslim and prayer provides me a "time out" moment from the hustle and bustle of this materialistic world. It is also a self reflection time and an opportunity to ask my creator to grant me the strength and the will to achieve my goals. I see prayer as a gesture of humility and a reminder that whatever I become in this world, I am still a mortal human being.
Mustapha Hydara, U.S.A
As a Buddhhist I chant each day for at least an hour. Chanting raises my lifestate. I believe that I am intrinsically connected with my environment and that when my lifestate is high, it influences the environment. In that way, my "prayer" or the chanting effects my own life and the world in which I live.
Barbara Bates, UK / Zimbabwe
I believe that much as prayer is essential, it is no substitute for consistent and conscientious work. If man had not worked assiduously there would have been no electric bulb (Thomas Edison), locomotive (George Stevenson), the Ford automobile ( Henry Ford) and penicillin to cure diseases. I think too many people spend too much time praying when they could be engaged in some form of productive venture. According to the bible, God himself went to work for six days and rested for one day in the week.I believe we can all learn from that.
I do believe in prayer because it is the key that opens heaven's doors for God to bless his children. Jesus said that ask and you will receive, seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened unto you. He was telling us that without prayer, a christian life is worthless.
If I didn't pray, it would be as if something was missing from my life
Jamal Jolan, Djibouti
How could you not pray when you know that man is created by God. I pray because nothing is impossible for him.
I do not believe in prayer at all. I think meditation and a quiet time during the day is nessasary for a heathly mind. As an orthodox atheist, and a successful person, determination and hard work will help you reach your goals. You can pray to a brick wall and get the same results as believeing in any god.
Aaron Thomas, USA
I am a Buddist. I pray rarely. I don't know but I don't completely believe in God. I know that without great effort, I can't get anything, even if I pray for the whole day.
Islam means total submission to the will of God and as a Muslim it is part of my life to submit to God. Submitting to God means living the life prescribed by the Holy book and prayer is just a tiny bit of that. Prayer keeps the check and balance in my life, keeps me honest, hardworking, considerate, loving etc. Prayer to me is not about asking God for anything but his mercy and forgiveness. If he decides to give me material things, it is an added bonus.
Hassan Alhassan, Ghanaian, USA,
I am one of the instructors of Evangelical Church of Cameroon. If someone wants his prayer to be heard, he must be a true christian otherwise, he is looking for trouble. I realized that when I was expecting my GCE results 4 years ago. I prayed, fasted but in the end I failed.
I pray everyday because Christ has commanded me to pray without ceasing. Prayer has changed my life, my worldview, and my relationship with those who do not share my faith, for the better.
Daniel Oduro Sem, Canada/Ghana
Why yes I believe in prayer!! There are testimonies after testimonies of things prayed for coming true. However, my beliefs and feelings about prayer have changed with time. Prayer to me isn't just putting in an "order list" to God. God is after a relationship that focuses on commmunitcation - prayer - not just a religious act or duty.
Emily Adams, Iowa, USA
I am a Christian and I believe in prayer. It is our way of communication to God. It would be nice if you added a picture of Christians praying in a Church or Jews praying at the great wall in Jerusalem. Showing a picture of only Muslims praying is very bias. It's like you're saying only Muslims pray.
Joelle Johnson, Maryland
I once read somewhere that "God governs the world but prayer governs God". I have always found this to be true. My prayers aren't always answered when and how I expect them to be but I usually see the blessing in retrospect and am grateful for it. However, I believe that just talking to God is not enough. Action is also prayer.
Ngum Ngafor, England
I pray a minimum of five times a day. The number of times varies depending on the on goings in life. Sometimes I wonder where I would be without prayer.
Munyimba Munyimba, USA
I believe in prayer a lot because any time I embark on any activity I pray and it sometimes works for me. But if it does not, I also thank him and I know at the right time He will give it to me.
Frank Appiah-Mensah, Ghana
In Islam, prayer is a blessing because it is a way to remember God at least five times a day. I also know that prayers and work go together. You pray to be successful, but you work hard to get the success.
M. Maamoun, Ottawa, Canada
How can one not believe in prayer? When I look at myself, I thank God for all that He has given me. But when I look at the suffering and poverty in Africa, my heart cries. The images that I see on the news keep appearing in my mind, especially those of weak young children who don't have even clean water to drink. They are starving there and here we're leading a luxurious life. I feel so helpless and pray to God to end poverty in Africa.
Anjum Khan, USA
I will be taking my GMAT exams in two weeks and I have been asking God to give me the strength to study hard and excel. Anyone reading this can consider me in their prayer too.
Blessing Akiri Young, Liberian in US