Types of Prayer
Praying always with all prayer (all kinds of prayer) and supplication (request or petition) in the Spirit. (Ephesians 6:18)
There are different types of prayer. We pray to interact with God. We pray to avert judgment. We pray to seek his will for our lives. We pray for help in time of need.
Each type of prayer produces the results that type of prayer is designed to produce. Producing those results requires that we meet the requirements and complete the steps required for that type of prayer.
These prayers are vital. Success in prayer depends on the results of these.
God ministers to us today through human apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers. (Ephesians 4:11) He also ministers to us today through his angels who are sent as ministering spirits to minister for us. (Hebrews 1:14) More important than all of these is the ministry of the Spirit of truth who Jesus asked God to send to guide and lead us into all the truth and show us things to come. (John 14:16, 16:7,13)
One of the most common prayers is the prayer for guidance: asking God to show us what path to take, what step to take and when to take it. Most seek God’s guidance when there appears to be a significant risk of loss associated with choosing the path or step to take. Some decisions are irreversible or cannot be reversed without significant, and perhaps ongoing, cost.
There are times when we choose paths and steps where the decision appears to be obvious and there is no apparent risk of loss. When we make that choice most feel little need to seek God’s guidance, yet our need for God’s guidance is no less for those decisions that appear easy to us than for those that appear difficult. The costliest decisions we make may very well be to ones that appear to be the most obvious to us and we feel most capable of making without any assistance.
Truth and our perception of truth are critically important to us. Success - which may be continued life - requires that we align our lives with truth. If we are to walk in truth consistently we must consistently perceive the truth correctly. To the degree that our lives are not aligned with truth we risk loss and failure - which may be the loss of life itself. If we fail to correctly perceive the truth it will be very difficult to avoid the loss of misaligned life.
One of our first and highest priorities in prayer is to overcome sin: to learn how to and to apply the power of God to overcome sin. To overcome sin we have to overcome intense direct spiritual opposition - for we wrestle not against flesh and blood (even our own), but against spiritual power. We also have to overcome spiritual opposition that works by means of widely held intense and deceptive doctrinal opposition. If we seek to overcome these forces arrayed against us using our own strength we will fail, but if we hold fast to truth and faith and use the power of God we will succeed.
The Bible has some verses that appear to say that it is possible to cease from sin and it has other verses that appear to say exactly the opposite – that we are unable to cease from sin. Both sets of scripture are true. How are we to reconcile them? The problem is not with the scriptural evidence; it is in our perception and measuring of that evidence.
The armor of God is vital to protecting ourselves and the word of God growing in our hearts (Ephesians 6:10-18, Mark 4:14-20). The prayer itself is simple.
“Father, in the name of Jesus I thank you for your armor. I put on your armor, truth, righteousness, the gospel of peace, faith, salvation, and the sword of your Spirit.”
The armor is particularly effective if we align our lives with it: living lives of truth, righteousness, peace, faith, salvation, and being led by the Spirit.
Here is the scripture from Ephesians 6. Note the specific strength it provides.
The prayer to produce repentance is a key prayer in spiritual growth and fruitfulness. While it is a key prayer, it should not be a regular, common prayer in the life of an individual. Constant prayer for repentance is a clear sign of unsuccessful prayer for repentance.
Like all other prayer types we need to know the results we are working to produce and the steps to produce them. We need to know if this is a prayer where God gives us the results, or if it is a prayer where God gives us the means to produce the results. If we just throw out what we call a prayer to produce what we call repentance we are unlikely to produce real repentance.
The Bible isn’t like other books. It isn’t designed to be read once. It is designed to be read repeatedly. The words of the Bible are spirit and life. They are food for our spirit: food that causes us to grow spiritually and through our spirit provides health to our bodies. Just as we would not eat one meal and never eat again, we shouldn’t read the scripture once. We should feed the Word of God into our hearts continually: just like we eat food for our bodies.
The words which I have said to you are spirit and they are life. (John 6:63)
Be as nursing infants, and yearn for the word as for pure and spiritual milk by which you shall grow strong for life (1 Peter 2:2)
You have been believers so long now that you ought to be teaching others. Instead, you need someone to teach you again the basic things about God’s word. You are like babies who need milk and cannot eat solid food. For someone who lives on milk is still an infant and doesn’t know how to do what is right. Solid food is for those who are mature, who through training have the skill to recognize the difference between right and wrong. (Hebrews 5:12-14)
Like eating without exercise, only hearing or reading the Word of God will produce little growth. Real growth comes when we follow the instructions and submit to the correction of the Word: when we do what the Word says to do.
Prayer for spiritual growth may be for growth in general, or for growth in a specific area: love, faith, patience, etc.. Successful prayer for spiritual growth is required to produce results in all other prayer. Prayer for spiritual growth is another prayer where God gives us the means to produce the result instead of giving us the result. Spiritual growth works just like physical growth. It is the result of the conception and fruitful growth of seed. The seed that produces spiritual growth is the word of God.
Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God which lives and abides forever. (1 Peter 1:23)
The guidance of the Spirit of truth is another vital gift given to us by God. The importance of the Spirit of truth’s ministry is evident in what it took God to give it to us. Jesus told his disciples that if he didn’t go away (be killed, resurrected, and ascend to heaven) then the Spirit of truth could not come (John 16:7). According the Jesus, the ministry of the Spirit of truth is so important and valuable to us that it is better than Jesus being here on the earth!
It is best for you that I go away, because if I don't, the Comforter won't come. (John 16:7)
There is a path in life that becomes filled with distress, sorrow, and pain. Some people attempt to escape the pain through alcohol or drugs. The danger of this path is that it only pushes the pain away momentarily and it becomes a circular path of pain followed by alcohol or drugs followed by pain followed by more alcohol or drugs.
The distress, sorrow, and pain on this path can become so severe, or just so tiring, that one begins to contemplate suicide as an escape. Before making a choice to take that path, however, a person should consider what path options are available and what are the likely outcomes of those paths. Since some of the path choices are eternal and irreversible one should take their time making the choice. One should also seek the best available guide into the truth of the choices available and the best available help to avoid error.