What is prayer? Simply, it is communicating, or talking, with God. Just as we communication and talk with the people in our lives who are closest to us, our partners, family, friends, in order to grow our relationships with them, so it is with God, and growing our relationship with Him.
Even Jesus, who was God incarnate, felt the need to pray and communicate with His Father in heaven. He gave thanks, He prayed for His disciples, He prayed for healing, He prayed for God’s Will, He prayed for the Church. He prayed because He knew the importance of keeping open communication between Himself and His Father.
So, what are the different types of prayer?
Let’s take a look at the main ones.
To adore someone is to show deep love and respect for that person. When it comes to adoration prayer it can take the form of praise and worship. Praying through the Psalms can be a good way to adore and worship God. I really like to use music and song as a way of worshiping God. Some people love to dance as an expression of their love and adoration for God.
God is worthy of our love, respect and adoration and He is worthy to be praised.
The Psalms are a great place to get started. Some good ones to begin with are Psalm 150, Psalm 8, Psalm 111, Psalm 76, Psalm 100, and Psalm 146.
After spending time worshipping God and reflecting on His amazing love and character, it can often lead into a place of confession as we recognise who we are and how we fall short in relation to our holy God.
Confession requires us to be open, honest, and transparent with God. It’s acknowledging and agreeing with God about where we have fallen short of His Holiness.
Psalm 139:23-24 is a prayer asking God to search our innermost thoughts and being, and asking Him to reveal anything in us that is out of harmony with Him. This can be a good place to start.
As God reveals things to us, whether it is an action we have taken, (such as an angry outburst), a thought (such as jealousy), something we should have done but didn’t (such as forgive someone), or allowing our negative emotions to take control instead of allowing faith and trust in God, whatever it is that God reveals to us, He wants us to confess this to Him, to admit our shortcomings, and to want to do things differently going forward.
Confession also requires repentance. It is not enough just to confess, or admit, our shortcomings, but we need to not want to fall short again. Of course, we will never be perfect, only God is perfect, but we do need to be sorry. We are not truly sorry if we plan on going ahead with our wrong attitudes and actions. Repentance means to change our mind, about something, to decide that instead of acting in this way, you will act in that way.
So, if we confess, agree with God about our where and how we fall short, and repent, genuinely not want to fall short, but to choose a better way, God has promised to forgive and restore us.
1 John 1:9 says that if we confess our sins to Him, because of His faithfulness to us and His justice, He will forgive us of our sins, and not just forgive us, but cleanse us of all unrighteousness, which leaves us righteous in His eyes.
God has promised in His Word that He will remove our sins as far as east is from west (Psalm 103:12), that He will drop them into the depths of the ocean (Micah 7:19), that because of Jesus death on the cross, we can, and will be, forgiven, and He will remember our sins no more (Hebrews 8:12).
The Bible encourages us to give thanks to the Lord (Psalm 107:1). Thanksgiving differs from adoration in that adoration is about praising God for who He is, whereas thanksgiving is about praising God for what He does. Of course, what God does comes from who He is, so there can be some similarities and cross overs but basically it is thanking God for the things He does for us and expressing our gratitude to Him.
We can thank God for His gifts, for life, love, the Bible, our Salvation, God’s blessings, our family, our homes, creation, the sunshine, the rain, our jobs, friends, His provision, the list is endless.
Thanksgiving is a choice. A thankful heart and attitude is something we can express to God, even if we don’t feel like it. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 encourages us to give thanks in all circumstances. This can come easy when things are good, but it can be a little more challenging during the hard times.
When things are tough, giving thanks and being grateful to God can help us to re-focus and get us through.
Intercession is where we pray for others. God gives us the opportunity to partner with Him in bringing other people’s needs before Him.
In James 5 we are instructed to pray for each other, we are also encouraged to pray for our leaders (1 Timothy 2:1-2), for the sick (James 5:14-15), and even for our enemies (Matthew 5:44).
Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you as you move into intercession for others. Sometimes God may put a person on your heart or mind, and even prompt you to pray a certain way for them. For example, someone might be on your mind to pray for and as you bring them before the Lord you may feel prompted to pray for them in their job, or their health, or their family. Listening to God’s promptings is how we partner with God in our prayers.
When interceding for others we should always be careful though not to pray our will on anyone, but only ever God’s will for a person. What I mean by that is, for example, instead of praying that Mary would take that job that’s been offered to her because you think it would be good for her, instead pray that God would give Mary His wisdom and that she would know God’s will as to whether she should take the job, and that God would bless her in her decisions and continue to provide for her. By praying this way you are working with God for Mary and praying His will for her.
Using scripture is also a great way to pray for people. Here are just a few scriptures you can use to pray for others.
What was sown on the good ground, this is he who hears the word and understands it, who most certainly bears fruit and produces, some one hundred times as much, some sixty, and some thirty.”
For this cause I also, having heard of the faith in the Lord Jesus which is among you, and the love which you have toward all the saints, don’t cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts[ enlightened, that you may know what is the hope of his calling, and what are the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints,
2 Thessalonians 1:11-12
To this end we also pray always for you, that our God may count you worthy of your calling, and fulfill every desire of goodness and work of faith with power, that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Rejoice in the Lord always! Again, I will say, “Rejoice!” Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. In nothing be anxious, but in everything, by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus.
Petition is where we get to pray for ourselves. This is probably the one that most of us find the easiest to do, after all, who knows our own needs better than ourselves.
But it’s not just about us asking God to give us stuff, yes, He wants us to bring our needs and desires to Him, but He also wants us to grow to become more like Him.
A few ideas you can use to pray for yourself are: you can pray that you will understand who you are in Christ, that you would be more aware of God’s presence with you through the day, that God will give you His wisdom, that you would develop Godly character, that you would use and choose your words wisely, that you would be filled with the Holy Spirit, that God would equip you for spiritual battle, that God would give you His strength.
As you read through Scripture, and learn more of who God is and who He wants you to be, you will find more ideas from the Word about how you can pray for yourself.
God is waiting to hear from you, to commune with you, and He wants to bless you.
“Pray without ceasing”
1 Thessalonians 5:17