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Types of Prayer 1

Types of Prayer Part 1 In our recent series on ‘Reasons for Prayer’ we explained the scriptural basis for prayer with several examples. In this series on ‘Types of Prayer’ we will look at some of the various expressions of prayer mentioned in scripture. Having this understanding can give us a better foundation for our faith as we approach God for ourselves and others. The Bible uses several terms to describe prayer, and although they may have subtle differences, they are distinct and worth noting. At least four terms for prayer can be found in scripture. They are prayer, supplication, intercession, and thanksgiving. Of course, there are others, but these seem to be predominant throughout the Bible, and especially in the New Testament. An example is found when Paul admonishes Timothy, his son in the faith. Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 1Timothy 2:1-4 A petition is a request offered to God. It can be as simple as “Father, we ask you to bless our gathering today.” Most believers understand this form of prayer. Intercession and supplication have distinct characteristics, in that supplication is usually a strong plea to God for oneself, while intercession is the act of praying for divine intervention on another’s’ behalf. It is a prayer of mediation between two parties. Supplication is ‘the action of asking or begging for something earnestly or humbly.’ Jesus offered this type of prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane before His crucifixion (Hebrews 5:7). It is often an individual’s deep plea to God for help on his or her behalf. Intercession is always on behalf of others. It is often connected to a deep plea to God for His mercies, grace, and blessings on another. We can find multiple examples throughout scripture. Moses, Samuel, Isaiah, and Daniel are all individuals who interceded on behalf of the nation of Israel, although the Israelites were not walking upright before God. These men went before the Almighty to plead for His compassion, patience, and mercy upon a rebellious people who had turned away from His commandments and were no longer seeking Him. Let me make it clear, all intercession is not standing in the gap for rebellious or disobedient people. Often it is for a brother or sister in Christ who needs our prayer support through some crisis or impending danger. Or possibly someone who is battling a debilitating sickness or disease or spiritual attack. Paul asked the churches to pray for him so he could be delivered from evil men who did not have faith and fulfill the call of God on his life. (Romans 15:31) Giving of thanks is an individual’s response of appreciation for God’s goodness. It is usually through some form of worship, adoration, and grateful acknowledgement of His benefits, acts of kindness or mercy. In the Old Testament, thanksgiving was often correlated to some type of sacrifice or offering. Two examples are found in the book of Leviticus. “If he offers it for a thanksgiving, then he shall offer, with the sacrifice of thanksgiving, unleavened cakes mixed with oil, unleavened wafers anointed with oil, or cakes of blended flour mixed with oil. Besides the cakes, as his offering he shall offer leavened bread with the sacrifice of thanksgiving of his peace offering.” Leviticus 7:12-13 “And when you offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving to the LORD, offer it of your own free will.” Leviticus 22:29 In the New Testament, we are told to offer the sacrifice of thanksgiving through the fruit of our lips. It is to be a continuous part of our life. “Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name.” Hebrews 13:15 “…in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1Thessalonians 5:18 Other types of prayer found in scripture include “travail” and “groaning” which are deep supplication and intercession that goes beyond human words. An example of this can be found in the book of Exodus when God told Moses: “So God heard their groaning, and God remembered His covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob.” Exodus 2:24 “And I have also heard the groaning of the children of Israel whom the Egyptians keep in bondage, and I have remembered My covenant.” Exodus 6:5 God heard their groanings, not their eloquent petitions or formula type prayers they had remembered. It was the gut-wrenching cry of the heart that came up before His throne and moved Him to send a deliverer to set them free from their 400 year bondage in Egypt. Travailing prayer has a similar meaning yet is difficult to describe to the natural mind. The closest parallel would be the travail of soul a woman experiences during childbirth. There are no adequate words to describe the experience. It is pain with a purpose; struggle with an expected outcome; persistence with no letting up until the child is born. Such it is with travailing prayer. Along with groaning, it is one of the highest forms of intercession, and we need the Holy Spirit’s help to do it. It is not something we can work up on our own. It must come from deep within (see Romans 8:26-27). Jesus was given to this type of prayer during His earthly ministry. “He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.” Isaiah 53:11 KJV As He also says in another place: "YOU ARE A PRIEST FOREVER ACCORDING TO THE ORDER OF MELCHIZEDEK"; who, in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications, with vehement cries and tears to Him who was able to save Him from death, and was heard because of His godly fear, Hebrews 5:6-7. Let us pray that we will be stirred to go deeper in prayer and become a friend of God on a whole new level. Abraham was God’s friend, and he intreated Him on behalf of Sodom and Gomorrah because of his nephew Lot, whom God spared from the destruction of the cities. We, as God’s children can come to Him with earnest prayer and supplication to bring about change in our lives and the lives of others, our nations, and world. Next time we will highlight other Biblical examples of these types of prayer. Until then, may God our Father richly bless and keep you! James Brown CST 12/12/2022
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