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-- © GodSpeak International 2002 --
-- Do not republish without written permission from <copyright@godspeak.org> --

Author: Teresa Seputis <ts@godspeak.net>
Editor: Bob Hawley

Prayer-School Course #20

A Prayer Sampler

Lesson 1

Types of Prayer

By Teresa Seputis

Most people don't have a very good understanding of what prayer is. When they think of "prayer," many are thinking only of what I call "petition prayer." They think that prayer is asking God for things (either for themselves or for others) and hope God will say "Yes" to their request. If that is the only type of prayer a person knows how to do, they will usually think of prayer as dry and boring. They will scratch their heads at this and wonder how some people can pray for hours.

Did you know that most Christians struggle to pray a mere 15 minutes a day? Why is that? It is because most of them have a one-dimensional prayer life. Eph. 6:18 admonishes us to be constantly in prayer, but that may seem unrealistic to those who haven't discovered the dynamic and exciting aspects of what God intended our prayer lives to be.

The truth is that petition prayer is only a very small aspect of what prayer is about. In fact, the most exciting prayer is not talking to God, but having Him speak to you! Prayer can be dynamic, exciting and full of life. There are so many types of prayer that it will make your head spin. And God likes to interact directly with us when we pray, often bringing His tangible presence to the prayer session. It can be an incredible experience.

Prayer can, and should, be exciting and wonderful.

This teaching series will look at some of the types of prayer we can participate in. We will break these "types of prayer" into five broad categories, and we will explore each one. Those categories are:

  1. Our Relationship With God - This includes things like worship, conversational prayer, intimacy prayer, Spirit-lead (or God-directed) prayer and listening prayer. The goal of these types of prayer is simply to draw closer to God (Heb. 10:22, James 4:8), to get to know Him better (Matt. 11:27, Luke 10:22, John 10:4, 1 Cor. 8:3) and to experience and enjoy His presence (Ps. 16:11). I must warn you that God has a rich sense of humor and that will often come through when you develop a close personal relationship with Him (1 Cor. 1:9).

    This is my favorite type of prayer. When God shows up and meets you in prayer in a personal way, you won't want to stop because His presence is so wonderful. And He desires to interact personally with each of us.

  2. Our Spiritual And Emotional Growth And Maturity - This can include "practical things" like prayerful study of the Bible or of Christian texts (2 Tim. 2:15). Or it may go deeply personal, such as God examining our hearts (Ps. 139:23, Romans 8:27), repentance prayer (Mark 1:14-15, Luke 5:32, Acts 17:30) as we become aware of things in our hearts or if we fall in some type of sin. It may include God-issued invitations to make a deeper commitment to His Lordship in some area of your life (John 14:15, John 15:14). God will sometimes take you through some painful refiner's fire (James 1:2-4) as He works on character development. Or He may do some inner healing (Matt. 5:4, Luke 4:18) by bringing you back to situations where you were hurt and then bring healing into them. Or He may touch on areas where you were under enemy oppression or bondage and set you free from it (John 8:36, Acts 10:38).

  3. Our Personal Prayers (where we present our personal needs and concerns to God) - This would include asking God to help you with a problem or need (Matt. 7:7-8, Phil. 4:6), such as if finances are tight (Matt. 6:25-33) or there is a problem at work or if you need some sort of physical healing or emotional strength (Eph. 3:16, Phil. 4:13, Heb. 12:12). Or it can be seeking Him for wisdom or guidance (James 1:5). Or when something is really troubling you (John 14:1-3), you might discuss it with God and work through it with Him. Or perhaps you are seeking Him to give you a specific spiritual gift or anointing (1 Cor. 14:1, 1 Cor. 14:13, 1 Cor. 14:39). These are all examples of personal prayers, where we talk to God about out needs and desires and ask Him to meet us in them (Phil. 4:19).

    Sometimes God just comforts or encourages us or strengthens our faith. Other times He "goes deep" and exposes problematic things that He wants to root out of our lives. Sometimes He just wants to let us know that we are on the right track, that we are doing well. Other times He wants to redirect us and set us back on the right path. And He wants to meet out needs, to assure us of His faithfulness, and to "come through" for us.

  4. Prayers for Others (or Ministry to Others) - There is a wide variety of how you can do this. Sometimes it is making up your prayer lists and petitioning God on behalf the needs of others (Eph. 6:18, 1 Tim. 2:1). Sometimes God will put an intercessory anointing on you where you will literally stand in the gap (Ez. 22:30) on behalf of a person or group of people to plead their cause before God, or He may have you do indentificational repentance (Dan. 9:1-19), which is repenting on behalf of sins of a group that you did not personally participate in.

    Sometimes God will lead you to pray prophetically, where He will either give you supernatural revelation on a situation (Gal. 2:2, Eph. 1:17) or where He will put His words into your mouth as you pray. Or God may lead you into spiritual warfare prayer (Eph. 6:11-12), where you take authority over territorial spirits and over the strategies of the enemy.

    Or God may lead you to do ministry prayer with another person, such as praying for a physical healing (Matt. 6:10, Mark 1:34) or doing a deliverance (Matt. 12:28, Mark 3:15) or even praying prophetically over them (such as repeating to God, in their presence, the secret prayers they have been praying in their prayer closet.)

  5. Other Types of Prayer - There are many other types of prayer. This list is nowhere close to exhaustive. Some people are lead to pray Scripture over them or another person. Others are lead to sincerely pray the Lord's Prayer (from Matt. 6:9-13). Some are lead to pray in tongues (1 Cor. 14:15, Romans 8:26). Sometimes God may ask you to fast and pray (1 Cor. 7:5), and fasting is quite a unique prayer experience for those who have never done it before. Or God may call you to participate in some type of corporate prayer (Matt. 18:19, Acts 1:14, Acts 4:24) maybe for your church, for your city or for your nation.

As you can see, there are many kinds of prayer, and each has its own set of interacting characteristics. Fortunately, God does not expect you to pray in each of these ways every day (that would be more than a full-time job). There may be seasons where He directs you primarily to one type of prayer and there may be other seasons where He lets you select the type of prayer you do at a given time.

What I would like to do in this teaching series is to give you a wide variety of "prayer tools" to stick in your tool belt. You can pull out the one you need for a given situation or day. I hope that you will experiment with many of these and that you will experience a whole new breadth and depth of prayer as you sample some of these types of prayer.

Of course, all prayer is pretty much based on being in right relationship with God through Christ. If you have an area of sin or rebellion in your life, you may need to repent and deal with that before you can experience the fullness of these types of prayer.

The other thing I have to warn you about is that when you come to God, you have to come to Him on His terms. That means more than just coming to Him through the blood of Jesus. Of course, it is critical to come to God through Jesus for He said, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me" (John 14:6). But that is not the only thing I mean by coming on His terms.

When we come to God, we must be willing to let go of any unforgiveness and bitterness in our heart, or that will interfere with our ability to pray effectively. Jesus said, in Mark 11:25, "And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins."

The other thing about coming to God on His terms is that He gets to select the agenda for the prayer session. We may want to petition Him for that new car we need desperately. But He may want to talk to us about not ignoring our spouse and/or getting more involved in the day-to-day lives of our children. Often God will allow us to select the prayer agenda, but not always. When we come to God in prayer, He is the Boss, He is the One who is in control. And we have to come to Him on His terms.

-- © GodSpeak International 2002 --
-- Do not republish without written permission from copyright@godspeak.org --

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