Types of prayer

There are many types of prayers.  If we are specific, the list could be endless, but in general most will agree there are seven or eight categories (It depends on who’s counting, but I count eight.  Eight is always a nice number. It represents new beginnings in the Bible).

By some counts there are 650 prayers in the Bible.  Prayer can be thought of as the breathing process of the Christian’s soul.  It is a form of exhaling, and offering up to God all our concerns as well as our praises.  It is a pouring-out of the deepest emotions of our being.   It begins with knowing that in Christ we are made worthy to come before God in prayer (Hebrews 4:14, 16)  and believing that our gracious God hears every word and that He desires to respond to us according to His good nature and will.  Through the Words of the Bible, God speaks to us.  In prayer, we speak to God.  We can be assured that God hears us, for in the Bible we are told:

Psalm 3:4  I cried unto the LORD with my voice, and he heard me out of his holy hill. 

Psalm 55:17  Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: and He shall hear my voice.

1 John 5:14  And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to His will, He hears us.

Seven Types of Prayer

Prayer of faith:  All prayer should be of faith.  However, there is also a category of faith prayer.  It is a surrendering prayer of trust, most often in times when we are at our weakest.  It is a prayer of utter dependence and submission, believing our God is sovereign and good. It is also a resting prayer of faith and trust, often when we do not even know what to ask or have not the words to speak.

Prayer of worship: This prayer is words of adoration that acknowledge and glorify who God is.  It is a remembering prayer of our Almighty God and His power and might.  It is a praise of His attributes—His love, His goodness, His mercy and grace. It magnifies His being, exalts His majesty and esteems His name.  Worship will cause us to bend a knee before Him in humble adoration—and God will raise us up in strength to serve Him.

Prayer of thanksgiving: Prayers of thanksgiving are also a prayers of remembrance.  It is receiving God’s gifts and giving thanks for His love and kindness.   It is recognizing and acknowledging that every good and perfect gift is from the Father of Lights (James 1:17)  Prayers of thanksgiving are often easy prayers to offer up to God.  We are quick to see the many blessings He has given us that make our lives more comfortable and more pleasurable.  But prayers of thankfulness should also be offered for the difficulties that come our way.  We know that our God is good and is working in all things to conform us to the image of His Son.  So we can thank Him even in our trials and tribulations, knowing we are sharing in the fellowship of the sufferings of Jesus (Philippians 3:10)

Prayer of confession, contrition and consecration: This prayer is a repentant prayer.  It is offered when we are convicted of sins and it is confession of sin and an expression of remorse for having sinned.  God desires that we humbly confess sin and He promises to wash us clean  (1 John 1:9).  Remember that God never desires us to remain downcast.  He has paid for, and forgiven, all our sins, so this prayer should always conclude with consecration—a heartfelt return and re-dedication to the One who died for us and a renewed devotion to love Him more and serve Him with joy.

Prayer of petition or supplication: These prayers are requests that God will do something for us, that He will meet our desires and needs. We are told that we can cast all our cares on Him (1 Peter 5:7)  and that when we take our requests to God, we are to do so with thanksgiving (Philippians 4:6).  When we start our prayer remembering all that God has done for us, our petitions will be supplications—humble desires, presented to God in accordance and surrender to His will.

Prayer of intercession: These are prayers for the needs of others.  Intercessory prayer is a ministry of Christian fellowship and it is a reminder of our union with other believers.  When our brothers and sisters in Christ are in need, we can lift them up to God in our prayers knowing and trusting that God will uphold and strengthen them in whatever their need might be.  Paul tells us we are to pray intercessory prayers for everyone (1 Timothy 2:1).  The most important intercessory prayer for a non-believer is for their eyes to be opened, their ears to hear the gospel of saving grace, and their hearts to be turned to Jesus in repentance of sin and trust in His atoning work to save them.

Prayer of agreement, also known as prayers of the people or corporate prayer:  Jesus prayed fervently that His followers would be united together in purpose and mission.  In Him, we are one with each other and we are instructed to gather together and pray.  While corporate prayer does not promise any greater blessing, it does please God for in and through our praying together comes a strength in unity in Christ.  The early church gathered together in faith, fellowship, worship and  prayer (Acts 2:42).  We are to do the same  (Hebrews 4:16).

Prayer of imprecation:  Last, and perhaps the least for Christians, is imprecatory prayer.  This type of prayer is found primarily in ten imprecatory Psalms (7, 35, 55, 58, 59, 69, 79, 109, 137 and 139). Imprecatory prayer is an invocation of God’s judgment on the wicked, as a means to uphold God’s righteous ways, to invoke His protection for His people and to destroy evil in the land. With the permanent indwelling of the Holy Spirit, New Testament believers have a protection that Old Testament saints did not have.  This should diminish the need or desire for imprecatory prayer.  In the face of evil, we are able to approach the throne of grace with prayers of petition and faith, and with full confidence that God is sovereign over all and He will work all things together for His glory and our good.

How Should We Pray?

Excerpted from Got Questions? We have Reasons for Hope – Reasons Book 1

God loves our prayers and desires us to enter into closer communion with Him through prayer. There is no required method of prayer.  Prayer is talking to our Father who is in Heaven.  Prayers can be long or short, petitions or praises, questions or affirmations. Prayers can be for oneself or for another.  They can be from a joyous heart, a downcast heart, a repentant heart, or a broken heart,  but all prayer should be offered to God with reverence and a desire to submit to His will.  

A Trinitarian Prayer

A beautiful pattern to approach our Triune God was given by Jesus when He taught the disciples to pray (Matthew 6:9-13).  Pray to the Father, through the Son and by the power of the Holy Spirit. The disciples also wrote of this in their writings. 

Pray to the Father

Matthew 6:9  After this manner therefore pray: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.

Pray through the Son (in His name).

He has made us worthy to come before the Father

John 14:6  Jesus said unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

Hebrews 7:25  Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever lives to make intercession for them.

1 Timothy 2:5  For [there is] one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;

1 John 2:1 . . .we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:

Pray by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Acts 1:8  But you shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you.

Ephesians 6:18  Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit. . .

Jude 1:20  . . .beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost. 

So Great a Cloud of Witnesses

Just as we learn from Jesus and the apostles about prayer, there are many who have gone before us in the faith and there is much we can learn from their words about prayer.  Hebrews chapter 11 is known as the great “Hall of Faith.” The chapter tells of many Old Testament saints and their steadfast faith in God.  Hebrews 12 opens with a reminder of the great “cloud of witnesses” and admonishes us to be faithful and to live our lives with our eyes set upon Jesus.

Hebrews 12:1-2  Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith. . .

 Take a few minutes to be encouraged and empowered by words of wisdom about prayer.  Some of these quotes are from those who are now at home with the Lord and others are from those who are elders in the faith but are still here with us.

Words of Wisdom

“I have been driven many times upon my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had no where else to go. My own wisdom, and that of all about me, seemed insufficient for that day.” — Abraham Lincoln

“Any concern too small to be turned into a prayer is too small to be made into a burden.” — Corrie ten Boom

“Do not have your concert first, and then tune your instrument afterwards. Begin the day with the Word of God and prayer, and get first of all into harmony with Him.”  — James Hudson Taylor

“The wise man in the storm prays God not for safety from danger but for deliverance from fear.”  — Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Prayer is not so much an act as it is an attitude; an attitude of dependency—dependency upon God.”  — Arthur W. Pink

“And Satan trembles when he sees the weakest saint upon his knees.” — William Cowper 

(15 more quotes about prayer in Got Questions? We have Reasons for Hope—Reasons Book 2)

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