The motif Prayer is a part of: Ritual
Faith, speech, words, ritual
Prayers in a religious sense of the word, are adressed to one or more gods, divine or sacred persons in anticipation of help, blessings or a good relationship.
There are prescribed prayers, e.g. the Lord's Prayer and Ave Maria, and there are prayers, which are spontaneous and individual. Both kinds are present in Andersen's tales.
Early the next morning, John packed his little bundle and tucked his whole inheritance into a money belt. All that he had was fifty dollars and a few pieces of silver, but with this he meant to set off into the world. But first he went to the churchyard, where he knelt and repeated the Lord's Prayer over his father's grave. Then he said, "Farewell, father dear! Ill always be good, so you may safely pray to our Lord that things will go well with me."
Toward nightfall the weather turned dreadfully stormy. John hurried along as - fast as he could to find shelter, but it soon grew dark. At last he came to a little church which stood very lonely upon a hill. Fortunately the door was ajar, and he slipped inside to stay until the storm abated.
"I'll sit down here in the corner," he said, "for I am very tired and need a little rest." So he sat down, put his hands together, and said his evening prayer. Before he knew it he was fast asleep and dreaming, while it thundered and lightened outside.
When he woke up it was midnight. The storm had passed, and the moon shone upon him through the window. In the middle of the church stood an open coffin and in it lay a dead man, awaiting burial. John was not at all frightened. His conscience was clear, and he was sure that the dead do not harm anyone. It is the living who do harm, and two such harmful living men stood beside the dead one, who had been put here in the church until he could be buried. They had a vile scheme to keep him from resting quietly in his coffin. They intended to throw his body out of the church - the helpless dead man's body.
Why do you want to do such a thing?" John asked. "It is a sin and a shame. In Heaven's name, let the man rest."
"Stuff and nonsense!" the two evil men exclaimed. "He cheated us. He owed us money which he could not pay, and now that he has cheated us by dying we shall not get a penny of it. So we intend to revenge ourselves. Like a dog he shall lie outside the church door."
"I have only fifty dollars," John cried. "It is my whole inheritance, but I'll give it to you gladly if you will solemnly promise to let the poor dead man rest in peace. I can do without the money. I have my healthy, strong arms, and Heaven will always help me."
"Why certainly," the villainous fellows agreed. "If you are willing to pay his debt, we won't lay a hand on him, you can count on that."
They took the money he gave them and went away roaring with laughter at his simplicity. John laid the body straight again in its coffin, folded its hands, and took his leave. He went away through the great forest, very well pleased.
(...) "Almighty God, I could kiss your footsteps in thankfulness for all the splendors that you have given us in this world."
His traveling companion also folded his hands and looked out over the woods and towns that lay before them in the warm sunlight. Just then they heard a wonderful sound overhead. They looked up, and saw a large white swan sweeping above them and singing as they had never before heard any bird sing. But the song became fainter and fainter, until the bird bowed his head and dropped slowly down dead at their feet - the lovely bird!
"Two such glorious wings!" said the traveling companion. "Wings so large and white as these are worth a good deal of money. I'll take them with me. You can see now what a good thing it was that I got a sword." With one stroke he cut off both wings of the dead swan, for he wanted to keep them.
The old King was so distressed by all this trouble and grief that for one entire day every year he and all his soldiers went down on their knees to pray that the Princess might reform; but she never would. As a sign of mourning, old women who drank schnapps would dye it black before they quaffed it - so deeply - did they mourn - and more than that they couldn't do.
Everyone in the town had heard at once that the Princess had a new suitor, and therefore everyone grieved. The theatre was closed; the women who sold cakes tied crape around their sugar pigs; the King and the preachers knelt in the churches; and there was widespread lamentation. For they were all sure that John's fate would be no better than that of all those others.
The traveling companion beamed with delight when he heard how well things had gone. But John clasped his hands together and thanked God, who he was sure would help him through the two remaining trials.
That evening John said his prayers, went to bed early, and fell serenely asleep.