By Barbara Latta, Crosswalk.com
We are commanded in the Bible to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:16). We may think that is an impossible task. After all, we may have time-consuming careers, kids to care for, homes to clean, errands to run, and appointments to keep.
How can we be in prayer all the time?
When Paul gave this instruction, I don’t think he meant for believers to be on their knees twenty-four hours a day calling out to the Almighty. He was telling us to be in a mind that is set on God’s holy Word instead of the worldly distractions around us.
Have you ever found yourself plagued with all kinds of thoughts while at the same time you were washing dishes, driving a car, working on a project, or even reading a book? I have caught myself needing to read something multiple times, because even though my eyes scanned the words, the meaning escaped me while my thoughts were elsewhere.
So, if we can worry without ceasing, we can also pray without ceasing. We remedy the anxiety virus by training our minds to think on the good things (Philippians 4:8).
Prayer is communication with our Father, and we have examples of many types of prayer in the Bible. Because we serve an infinite God, we can talk to Him about every aspect of our lives. We should also remember that prayer is listening, not simply broadcasting our wants and needs to heaven.
Here are 9 prayers in the Bible and what they can mean to us.
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1. Prayer of Salvation
If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. (Romans 10:9)
All of Israel was not saved and as we know now not all people receive the forgiveness provided for them. These scriptures clearly reveal individuals must come to the knowledge of sin and accept what Jesus did at the cross and through His resurrection for us to be redeemed.
The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9)
2. Prayer for Direction
Show me your ways, Lord, teach me your paths. Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long. (Psalm 25:4-5)
David was called a man after God’s own heart because he asked for spiritual direction through worship. He sought divine instructions before he went into various battles.
We can also see what happened to David when he followed his own feelings and didn’t listen to the words already spoken about avoiding sin (2 Samuel 11). But he also displayed a repentant heart and didn’t blame anyone else for his transgression.
We face daily battles also. We aren’t going against enemies with swords and spears, but we do face a spiritual enemy and the distraction of our own flesh (Ephesians 6). We need guidance as much as David did.
3. Prayer for Revelation and Wisdom
That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints (Ephesians 1:17-18)
Paul prayed this prayer for the Ephesians and all believers to receive wisdom and revelation.
After Solomon was anointed king over Israel, he asked Jehovah for wisdom to administer justice among the people (1 Kings 3:9).
We face opportunities to make decisions every day. Some are more important than others, but our response makes a difference in the outcome. We need godly wisdom to avoid emotional and sometimes physical disasters.
4. Prayer of Intercession
I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. (1 Timothy 2:1-2)
When Peter was in prison the church interceded for him and he was later released (Acts 12:5).
Moses interceded multiple times for the rebellious Hebrews when God was angry about their unbelief and complaining (Psalm 106:23).
We are called to pray for those in authority over us so we can lead a peaceful life.
Interceding takes our focus off ourselves and puts it on the needs of other people, even those who may have persecuted us such as those who stoned Stephen and crucified Jesus.
5. Prayer of Repentance
If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. (2 Chronicles 7:14)
The Hebrews continued to stray from heavenly commandments and fell into idolatry and wickedness. But our compassionate Lord forgave them when they turned back to Him.
Repentance means to turn around and go the other way. Turn our backs on the sin that drew us away and return to His love.
His forgiveness has been provided to us through the cross, but for our lives to benefit from His grace, we must receive the gift (1 John 1:9).
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6. Prayer for Boldness to Speak the Word
Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, works may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel. (Ephesians 6:19)
Paul asked the Ephesian church to pray for boldness to proclaim the gospel. Persecution had attacked him, and prayer was needed to offset the fear that would naturally come against his mind.
After Peter and John healed a lame man, they were warned not to speak in the name of Jesus any longer. The two disciples obeyed God rather than men’s edicts and prayed for greater courage and boldness to proclaim the Word (Acts 4:29).
We face the same opposition and the commission to go into all the world still stands. We need prayer in the Spirit to strengthen us against the same fear these New Testament saints faced.
7. Prayer for Healing in Soul and Body
Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers. (3 John 1:2)
This prayer from John shows us the Father desires for us to have a healthy soul (mind and emotions) as well as health in our bodies.
Isaiah 53:5 tells us all aspects of healing for our spirit, soul, and body were part of the atonement of Christ, for then and for now.
8. Prayer of Thanksgiving
For the sake of your word and according to your will, you have done this great thing and made it known to your servant. How great you are, Sovereign Lord! There is no one like you, and there is no God but you, as we have heard with our own ears. (2 Samuel 7:21-22)
God made a covenant with David that a descendant of his would always be on the throne of Israel. King David worshipped the Lord and extolled all the greatness of the Almighty.
Prayers of thanksgiving should be part of our daily worship. Nothing came from our own hands. All possessions belong to our Creator.
9. The Lord’s Prayer
Jesus gave His disciples an example of how and what to pray for in what we call the Lord’s Prayer or sometimes refer to as the Model Prayer.
Prayer to acknowledge God’s holiness:
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. (Matthew 6:9)
Praising the Lord for His goodness and majestic power helps us have the right mindset to know any problem or need we have is insignificant compared to Him.
Prayer to resist temptation:
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. (Matthew 6:13)
James 1:13 says God does not tempt us, so Jesus wasn’t praying as if the Father would do that. He was referring to how the Spirit guides us to resist.
Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. (James 4:7)
Prayer for the Father’s kingdom to come:
Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. (Matthew 6:10)
The people in Jesus’ day were still living under the Old Covenant. They prayed for their Messiah to appear. Even though He lived among them, many didn’t acknowledge who He was. After Christ’s resurrection and before His ascension, He gave believers a commission.
His work for our redemption was done, but His charge to evangelize and disciple the entire world was now up to us. For His kingdom to come in totality, the gospel must be preached across the earth. Only then can He set up the earthly kingdom He was promised and rule in righteousness over the world (Isaiah 9:7).
Prayer for provision and meeting needs:
Give us today our daily bread. (Matthew 6:11)
Our heavenly Father is our provider. When we put Him first, we can see His miraculous provision.
After being blessed with an offering from the Philippian church, Paul told these saints blessing would be theirs too. (Philippians 4:19)
This scripture applies to present-day beliefs as well. When we give to the Holy Spirit’s work, we are blessed in return.
Prayer for forgiveness:
And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. (Matthew 6:12)
The Bible also tells us if we don’t forgive others, we cannot be forgiven. How does this correspond to our forgiveness from Christ?
Forgiveness is a struggle when we have been hurt. But if we truly submit ourselves to our Savior and realize the great sacrifice He made for us, we have no right to hold a grudge against another person. Peter asked his Master how many times he had to forgive. Jesus’ answer indicated it was never-ending because His forgiveness to us is never-ending.
When hurts get in the way of praying, the first thing we should do is reflect on the great mercy Jesus extends toward us. His sacrifice was greater than anything we deserve.
Christ Prays for Disciples
Before Jesus was arrested, He prayed for His disciples and those of us who would come to believe in Him.
In John 17, He asked His Father:
That we would have His joy. (v. 13)
That we would be sanctified by His truth. (v. 19)
That we would be one as He and the Father are one. v. 21)
When doubt and fear cross our minds, we can remember that Jesus prayed for us before His death and continues to intercede for us at the right hand of the Father.
Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them. (Hebrews 7:25)
There are no greater prayers than those from our Savior and Lord.
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