Praying for sinners is important, but an examination of the New Testament indicates that another type of prayer was more important to the early church.
What is prayer? Aspects of prayer
Perhaps we should start by looking at what prayer is. Let’s face it! “Prayer” usually means “asking God for things we want.” There should be more to prayer than that. In the churches I attend, the most frequent prayers are for the sick, and for bereaved families. This is important. It is asking God for things we want for others, rather than for ourselves, but even that isn’t nearly all that prayer should be. Someone has suggested that there is more than one type of prayer, and that we should use all of these kinds of prayer, on a regular basis, when we communicate with God. The ACTS acronym is useful in remembering that:
Adoration: praising God for what and Who he is.
Examples: 1 Kings 8:22 Solomon stood before Yahweh’s altar in the presence of all the assembly of Israel, and spread out his hands toward heaven; 23 and he said, “Yahweh, the God of Israel, there is no God like you, in heaven above, or on earth beneath; who keeps covenant and loving kindness with your servants, who walk before you with all their heart;
Acts 4:24 When they heard it, they lifted up their voice to God with one accord, and said, “O Lord, you are God, who made the heaven, the earth, the sea, and all that is in them; (The church, praying after Peter and John’s release.)
Confession: stating our sins and asking forgiveness.
Examples: Psalm 51:1 Have mercy on me, God, according to your loving kindness.
According to the multitude of your tender mercies, blot out my transgressions.
2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity.
Cleanse me from my sin. (David, praying for forgiveness about his adultery with Bathsheba.)
1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us the sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Thanksgiving: thanking God for specific things He has done.
Examples: Daniel 2:23 I thank you, and praise you, you God of my fathers, who have given me wisdom and might, and have now made known to me what we desired of you; for you have made known to us the king’s matter.
Matthew 11:25 At that time, Jesus answered, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you hid these things from the wise and understanding, and revealed them to infants.
Supplication: asking for things we want God to do, for others (also known as intercession) or for us.
Examples: Matthew 6:11 Give us today our daily bread.
Mark 14:36 He said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible to you. Please remove this cup from me. However, not what I desire, but what you desire.”
Romans 10:1 Brothers, my heart’s desire and my prayer to God is for Israel, that they may be saved.
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All of the types of prayer above are things we tell God, and we should tell this sort of thing to God. But prayer should be two-way communication. We should listen for God’s voice, and pay attention when He speaks to us, audibly or in our thoughts.
The previous post in this series is here.
Thanks for reading!