Types of Prayer
The Bible talks about different types of prayer. Knowing what type of prayer to pray and when to pray it is very important to our prayer life.
In practice, we all use different types of prayer during our prayer times, and there is no reason why we cannot apply any of these types of prayers to all the situations that face us. Ask God to fill you with more of His love and make your prayer life richer.
Prayer of Supplication
Luke 11:9-13; James 5:17-18; 1 Kings 8:37-40; 1 Kings 8:54-55
Supplication means to petition or entreat someone for something. A passionate zeal and hunger fuels the prayer of supplication. Prayers of supplication are prayers that all Christians should regularly engage in, as we earnestly desire to seek God's face and know His will for our life. Ask God to give you a hunger for Him.
Prayer of Intercession
Genesis 18:22-33 (Abraham); 1 Kings 18:41-46 (Elijah); 2 Kings 4:32-36 (Elisha); Acts 12:1-18 (The early church)
To intercede means to plead or mediate on behalf of another person. Intercessory prayer means praying earnestly for the needs of others, and seeking God's will for their life. We are called to intercede for others, just as Jesus is interceding for us (Hebrews 7: 25).
- Be Sincere
Prayer is a sacred responsibility, and we need to treat it as such. Samuel told the Israelites, "Far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by failing to pray for you." (1 Samuel 12:23)
- Be Discreet
If you've ever had details of your personal life spread all over church, you know how devastating a little gossip can be. Here's a simple rule for any effective intercessor. Assume every prayer request offered by a friend is for your ears only, even if they don't specifically say so. If you belong to a prayer group, you might ask the person if they mind you sharing their request so others can pray, too. Even if they respond positively, refrain from telling the group any more than is necessary.
- Be Sensitive
Often, when people have just suffered a traumatic event, they're exhausted with having to retell their story to every person who asks. While we want to demonstrate concern for others, there's no reason to make them relive the ordeal by asking a lot of questions. All we really need to do is let them know we love them, and we're praying.
- Be Encouraging
An encouraging card or a sympathetic whisper promising to pray for someone in pain can brighten a dreary day and lift a weary heart. A simple expression of concern can be an incredible source of encouragement to anyone going through a physical, spiritual, or emotional struggle. And through the week, when they become discouraged, they can remind themselves that "Someone is praying for me!"
- Be Organised
So often we glibly promise to pray for someone - and we really mean it - but somehow we simply fail to do so. When you make a commitment to pray for someone, make a note of it. Amid the pressures of daily life, prayer often gets pushed to the back burner. The whispers of our conscience can be drowned by the screams of a hungry baby or the demands of a cranky boss. But no matter what your work schedule is, you can find time to pray.
- Be Committed
If you consistently have trouble making time for prayer, find a partner and hold each other accountable. Even if you don't have the time to pray together, just remind each other regularly of your commitment to pray. In promising to pray for someone, you've made a sacred commitment. It's a solemn responsibility - with incredible rewards.
Prayer of Faith
Mark 11:12-14; Mark 11:20-25; Luke 7:1-10; James 5:13-18; Matthew 9:18-26; James 1:5-8
The prayer of faith is rooted in our confidence in God's Word. When you are sure that what you are praying for is God's will for you, the prayer of faith can be employed. The prayer of faith is knowing God's will, praying it and receiving it from Him. Not forgiving and doubting are the two greatest hindrances to prayers of faith.
Prayer of agreement
Genesis 11:1-9; Matthew 18:19-20; Exodus 17:8-13; Psalm 133:1-3; Acts 4:23; Hebrews 10:24-25; Matthew 28:16-20
The prayer of agreement is when two or more people come together and agree with one another and with the Word of God that something specific will be done. When we stand together in unity - with one purpose, sharing a joint vision and trusting God's Word to be fulfilled - God can work miracles.
Prayer of Praise and Thanksgiving
Psalm 100; Acts 16:16-34; Psalm 149:4-9; 1Thessalonians 5:15-19
Praise and worship brings us into the presence of God. Praising God in both the good and bad times affirms our faith in Him. Praise and thanksgiving are powerful weapons. They disarm the two most deadly weapons to our Christian walk: unbelief and satanic attacks. These two things are manifested in many different ways, but praise and thanksgiving is the two-edged sword that helps us fight against evil.
Prayer of Contemplation
The following steps may help you build contemplation into your prayer life.
- Establish a time and a place
Establish a regular time and place to give God your undivided attention each day (not in the car or while doing the dishes!). Have everything you need: your Bible, a journal, a pen, etc., so you can move right into prayer.
- Keep your purpose clear
Come to this time for the sole purpose of seeking God's face. Keep this time for worship, meditation and listening for His voice. Intercession and supplication are for another time.
- Be still and quiet
This is a difficult discipline and takes much practice. After acknowledging God's presence, become still and quiet before Him. Relax your mind and breathe deeply, all the while thanking Him silently that He meets you in the stillness.
- Meditate on Scripture
Unlike Eastern meditation, our goal is not to empty our mind, but to fill it with the revelation of God's manifest presence. Read small portions of Scripture, asking God to reveal Himself to you. Wait on Him and listen for the Shepherd's voice.
- Journal your prayers
Write daily love letters to God that respond to the joy of being with Him. Chronicle what He seems to be saying to you in writing.
- Prepare for wandering thoughts
Don't worry if your mind wanders, especially at first. Jot down things you need to do later; then return your mind to seeking God's face again.
- Don't fear drowsiness
It is no sin to fall asleep in the arms of God. Of course, if this becomes the norm, you may need to change your sleeping habits!
- Infuse intercession with contemplation
Whenever the battle in prayer takes its toll, take a few minutes to contemplate the loveliness of Christ, rest in His arms and simply enjoy His presence. Then go back to the work of active prayer.
By Tricia McCary Rhodes