The Bible urges us to pray with all kinds of prayers (Ephesians 6:18). What are the kinds of prayer we should be using? A careful search of Scripture reveals at least five general categories of prayer:
Praise God. Praise God for who he is. He is holy. He is all-powerful. He is infinite and unchanging. He is faithful and righteous. God is love!
Praise God for what he does. He creates. He is the Maker of all things. God spoke into existence the heavens and the earth. The Lord made the earth rich in beauty and resources for our benefit.
God made us. He is the giver of all life. He gives us life. We praise him for our lives and for the provisions he makes to meet our daily physical needs. We are blessed by his abundance.
God saved us. He saved us from sin and condemnation. He sent Jesus to die for our sins and raised him up to be our Lord and our Shepherd. God sent his Spirit to dwell in our hearts and to transform us into the image of Christ, empowering us to live holy lives and enjoy God’s blessings to the fullest.
Praise and worship are an inspiring part of prayer.
Repent of Sins. If we deny that we are sinners, we make God out to be a liar. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just. He will forgive our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
Our goal is to experience victory over sin, but when we stumble and fall, we have an Advocate at the throne of our Father: Jesus Christ the Righteous one. He gave himself as our atoning sacrifice. He was raised up and exalted to God’s right hand in majesty. Now he always intercedes for us.
Confession and repentance are necessary for approaching God in prayer.
Ask Favors from God. Ask and it will be given to us. Seek and we will find. Knock and it will be opened to us. For everyone who asks receives. The one who seeks finds. To the one knocking it will be opened.
God is our loving Father, Abba, who knows how to give good gifts to his sons and daughters. God desires to give his greatest gift of all: himself. Will he not give the Holy Spirit to those who are asking?
We can approach God’s throne of grace and mercy with confidence, believing that he will always do what is best.
Petitions and intercessions are heard and answered by God.
Ask Questions and make complaints. We can ask God our questions. In doing so, we must remember two things. First, never forget all the answers he has already provided. We should not let a mystery overshadow the many important revelations God has given us.
Second, we must trust God to know what we need to know. The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and our children forever, that we may obey him.
In addition to our questions, the Lord will also hear our complaints. Obeying God in a world filled with rebellion and disobedience can be challenging, frustrating, and sometimes depressing. God knows our hearts already. We can pour out our most intimate thoughts and emotions to him.
Questions and complaints are welcomed by God in prayer.
Yield to God. We spend much time in prayer asking God to help us with our needs, to forgive us for our sins, to answer our questions, and to listen to our complaints. We can also bring something to give him: our commitments.
We can promise God to worship him and to walk in his ways, to obey him and to serve him. The Lord makes commitments and promises to us. We can make commitments and promises to him, agreeing in prayer to honor him in our hearts and in our households, through our worship and while we work.
Covenants and commitments can be made with the Lord both publicly and privately, both by individuals and by groups.
The various categories of prayer are not like the major parts of a car. A car needs an engine, a transmission, a body and suspension, an interior with seats and all the necessary controls for operating it on the street. If any of these things are missing, the car could be dangerous, or not function at all.
The different types of prayer are more like assorted colors of paint on the artist’s palette. The colors serve the painter. One picture may be dark with gray, black, and red. Another painting is bright with vivid yellow, green, and white. Our circumstances and mood will determine which types of prayer we use on any given day. Different prayers will use different categories, serving the one who has come to speak with the Lord.
We should be comfortable with all types of prayer. When the mood is right or the circumstance appropriate, we should be capable of praising, confessing, asking, or yielding. If we learn to use all the categories of prayer, we will enjoy a deeper and more satisfying dialogue with our Maker and Savior.
Bowing on our knees or standing with hands raised, joining together with other believers or alone in our prayer closet, speaking out loud or silently in our hearts, in public or in private, in sorrow and in joy, in the morning and in the evening, in the Lord’s house and in the world, we pray without ceasing. We pray believing. We pray in the Spirit with all types of prayer!
May God inspire us to commune often with him in prayer,