Types & Classes of prayer
As you pray at all times, with all kinds of prayers and requests, in the Spirit, vigilantly and persistently, for all God’s people. (Ephesians 6:18 – Complete Jewish Bible)
Pray at all times with every kind of spiritual prayer, keeping alert and persistent as you pray for all Christ’s men and women. (Ephesians 6:18 – J.B. Philips)
Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other’s spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out (Ephesians 6:18 The Message).
Pray at all times (on every occasion, in every season) in the Spirit, with all [manner of] prayer and entreaty. To that end keep alert and watch with strong purpose and perseverance, interceding in behalf of all the saints (God’s consecrated people). (Ephesians 6:18 – Amplified)
We customarily define a relationship with God in one word: prayer. Prayer is an art of which many speak but of which few know. In order for God to answer our prayers, we must offer them in accordance with the principles established in His Word.
Prayer is a very serious, specific and objective thing, which follows the laws and principles of the Word of God. Any attempt to pray in disharmony with these principles will result in a frustrating experience of not having your prayers and supplications answered.
The verses we read in Ephesians say that we must pray with all type of prayer. We know that there are different types or kinds of prayers. Each kind of prayer follows clear principles. There are established rules in the Word of God for these different types of prayer. It is in this point that there is great confusion.
Everything that we ask of or say to God we call prayer. Yes, it is all prayer but there are different types of prayer. Think of a pharmacy, where we find all types of medicines. Everything is medicine but there are a great number of different kinds of medicines, each one developed to treat a certain type of infirmity. The same thing happens in the world of sports. There are different types of sports, but each one of them has its own rules. Just think of the confusion that would ensue if someone tried to play football using the rules of basketball! What would happen if someone tried to buy cough syrup to put in their ears and rubbing alcohol for stomach problems? This is exactly the type of thing that many Christians attempt to do in the area of prayer. No wonder they get no answers to their prayers.
Some prayers do not necessarily seek to receive anything from God. The purpose of our prayers is to alter the circumstance in our life or the life of others. God desires to hear all of our prayers: “O You who hear prayer, To You all flesh will come.” (Psalm 65:2), “But the prayer of the upright is His delight” (Proverbs 15:8b).
Three Classes of Prayer
We can classify prayer on three different levels: some prayers have God as the center, in other prayers, man is the center and in yet others, those around us are at the center. On each of these levels, we can classify several different types of prayer.
1. God as the center of our prayers
Sometimes we place God himself at the center of our prayers: who He is, what He does in the present and what He has done in the past. The specific things we seek to express through this type of prayer are our gratitude praise and worship. On this level, there are three types of prayer:
Thanksgiving – the expression of our recognition and gratefulness to God for what He has done for us. The prayer of thanksgiving expresses gratefulness to God for the blessings that He has poured over us.
Praise – the prayer of praise is a step beyond the prayer of thanks. Praise expresses what God does. Praise is to gather all of the works of God and express them in words, in an attitude of thankfulness.
Worship – this type of prayer exalts God for who He is. It is the entrance into the holy of holies to respond to God’s love. It speaks nothing of man, but of God. It is the recognition of who God is. It is the answer of our love to divine love.
2. Us as the center of our prayers
Here we go to God to present our personal needs. Although this level of prayer speaks to God, the focus and attention is on satisfying our needs. We go to God to seek an answer to change some circumstance in our life. On this level, we also have three types of prayer.
Petition – this is a formal request to a higher power. It is presenting God with a request, with the view of satisfying a personal need, having as a basis a promise of God. In this type of prayer we already have the knowledge of God’s will, for which the request will be made in faith, certain of the answer even before the manifestation (Mark 11:24).
Consecration or dedication – expresses the attitude of submission to God’s will. This prayer is for occasions in which God’s will is unknown. It requires waiting, consecration and an entire disposition to know and follow God’s will.
Surrender – this is a turning over of all care and anxiety to God. It is a casting our care upon the Lord, with resulting rest. Christians offer prayers of surrender when a care, a problem or anxiety knocks at the door.
3. Others at the center of our prayers
Intercession – In this type of prayer, we approach God as priests, as intercessors, bringing with us the needs of other people. Our first motivation is to see circumstances changed in the lives of others. This describes the prayer of intercession: it is the ability to put ourselves in the place of others and plead their cause.