Prayer

The Author Shares:
I feel it is appropriate to add this preface to the following Prayer article.  I add it here as it was prayer, and prayer alone, that has carried and sustained me, not only through my son, Sean’s, adoption, but also through our family’s utterly nightmarish experiences concerning Sean’s straight from the pit of hell  behavior.  I was utterly clueless.   I had no answers and no one that I turned to was able to provide any.
Prayers simply did not seem to be working.  This made me wonder if I was praying correctly.  Was I missing something?  
And those who had promised to be praying?  I honestly could not help but question if they were even praying at all!  Perhaps they were giving me religious answers.  Or were they just telling me what they thought I wanted (or needed) to hear? 
Without question Sean’s unusual circumstances and behavior dictated (to say the least!) unusual prayer requests.  Perhaps everyone was as much in the dark as I was!
One thing was for certain: year after year slowly passed with absolutely no manifestation of answered prayer!  I could not help but wonder if  those of us that was sincerely praying if we all might be praying amiss?
It is a known fact that, growing up, children with good parental guidance, soon learn there is an appropriate way to ask when they wanted something from an adult.  They learn early to be  respectful and say such things as please and thank you.  So, was there appropriate ways of praying that none of us knew about?
To you,  Dear Reader,  per your culture,  I ask:  Have you ever heard a child plead, “Pretty please” when he/she wanted something?   And what about the child who begins  his/her request by reciting a list of the good things they had done that should now warrant your  granting their petition?
In that we are our Heavenly Fathers children, these types of considerations and questions sent me on a quest to learn more about the topic and/or types of prayer.  
Of utmost concern was the ever looming question in my mind:  Exactly what does Holy Writ have to say about prayer?  Could prayer guidelines be found and, if utilized, could they  bring about answers to any ongoing, desperate situation we may find ourselves in?
If there were prayer variances,  what may,  or may not, be appropriate when Believers have an urgent need?
What I discovered brought a revolution to my personal prayer life.   I hope my discoveries will help you too!
*  *  *  *  *  *

For Christians, prayer is simply communication between our Creator God and His created beings, His children.  So the question is often asked: What should we pray for?  Do we ask to be delivered from our enemies or our short and/or long term trials? Do we pray for our health?  Or our wealth?  And if we personally believe in miracles should we be praying for one?

Without question, for the sincere Christian, prayer is extremely important as it develops a personal relationship with our Creator God. But, in prayer, can a Christian ask for the wrong things? And just how do we know the correct way to pray? What lessons might Jesus, God’s beloved son, teach us where prayer is concerned?

As we read Holy Writ we see that Jesus often prayed that God’s perfect will be done in His life. The same should be so with us! With each passing day the need for our Father’s guidance, strength and wisdom becomes ever the more important.

I Thess. 5:17 admonishes us to pray without ceasing.   Indeed, prayer can be frustrating if we don’t understand God’s Word and His ways.  Thus the development of a personal relationship with Father God is crucial.  Let’s take a look at the six forms of prayer as set forth in Holy Writ, each with different functions, to hopefully better equip us to be able to pray more effectively by applying the correct spiritual tool to our specific request or need.

1.   Prayer of Praise and Worship

Holy Writ instructs us in Psalms 100:4 to enter His gates with thanksgiving and into His courts with praise.  In this prayer format, you are not asking God to do or to give you something.  This prayer format does not ask God for any kind of direction nor is it dedicating your life to Father God.  Instead you are just praising the Lord, thanking Him for His bountiful blessings and mercy which He promises that are renewed every day.  You are telling Him how much you love Him.

Luke 2:20 is a wonderful example of the shepherds glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, and also describes their reaction when they saw baby Jesus.

Luke 18:43 gives an example of prayers of thanksgiving in the story of the blind man glorifying God when he was healed.   All the people who witnessed this miracle also gave God praises.

In Luke 11:2 Jesus gives specific instruction concerning the infamous Lord’s prayer when He told His disciples how to pray by saying, “When you pray, say, ‘Our Father in Heaven, hallowed be Your name.'”

John 11:41 Jesus gives yet another wonderful prayer example when He said, “Father, I thank You that You have heard Me,” when He referred to His prayer regarding Lazarus.

In Phil. 4:6 we are admonished in a prayer example given by Paul when he wrote to the Philippians, saying, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.”

2.   Prayer of Agreement

We are introduced to the prayer of agreement in Matt. 18:19 when Jesus said, “Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in Heaven.”

In order for a prayer of agreement to work, those involved in the prayer must be in agreement.  To effectively use the prayer of agreement one must be sure that all involved with this prayer must be in complete agreement.  When anyone asks another to pray in agreement with them concerning a matter it is extremely important that all parties concerned understand the specifics of the prayer request.  And if anyone does not feel they cannot honestly join in any kind of prayer of agreement he/she should not allow themselves to become a part of such agreement.

3.   Prayer of Faith Or Trust

The question arises here: What is faith?  Simply, and powerfully put ‘faith’ is ‘trust.’  I, personally, like to use the word ‘trust’ whenever possible as I simply relate better to it.  Oft times I feel people use the word ‘faith’ in the context of sounding or being religious, wherein for me, the word “trust” has a stronger connotation of an intimate relationship.

People often intermix a “prayer of faith” with a “petition prayer.”  A petition prayer is between you and God.  Yes, it is “asking.” However, for many, it is often actually demanding God for a particular outcome concerning a matter.

Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”  One’s faith is substance: something tangible, it’s real and evidence of things one is unable to see.  However, trust is all of that too!  Again I, personally, relate to “trust” better.

Count the number of times in Holy Writ when Jesus said to someone, “According to your faith.”  Reference to peoples’ faith is constant.  Even though it was His power that healed them, He always credited their faith with being the catalyst.   In fact, when Jesus went to His hometown, we are told, in Matt. 13:58, that He did not do many mighty works there because of their unbelief. Certainly Jesus did not suddenly lose His power on that visit to Nazareth.  It clearly was contingent upon their belief, the same as it is today!

Mark 11:24 is recognized to be the key verse for the prayer of faith in which Jesus says, “Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.”

Of great importance is the fact that Mark 11:24 does not say when you will actually see the result of your prayer.  Nor does it say how long it will take for one’s prayer request to become a reality or manifest.

This is where many Christians become discouraged and even distracted in their own prayer beliefs.  We must always remember that God lives in one eternal now.   There is no past or present for Him.   But we are temporal beings who live in the context of time.

So when we pray in faith or trust, God immediately gives us what we have  prayed for.   However, He gives it to us in the spirit realm. When He chooses to give us the answer in the natural world, due to a number of factors, it may take time for the answer to manifest itself. 

Many times we are looking for answers in the natural world before we look into the spirit realm.  We become impatient for answers. This is often the time(s) when the enemy of our soul(s) start(s) working on his infamous tactics of steal, kill and destroy.

We must never forget that God answers prayers, and He will answer each one of our specific prayer requests in line with His Word.  However, it is our faith, our trust, that brings His answer(s) to us, out of the spiritual world and into our personal physical world.  His power never changed.   So what changed?  It was the people’s level of faith, their trust, mixed with His power.

A powerful, yet simple spiritual explanation for this is the fact that God will not do something against our personal will.  God will not, He cannot, violate anyone’s free will.  So if anyone doesn’t have faith, or if they are not able to trust Him to do something,  He won’t arbitrarily override that lack of faith and/or trust.

4.   Prayer of Dedication and Consecration

The prayer of dedication and consecration works when there are at least two Godly alternatives available and you may not be getting clear direction concerning the one that God wants you to take.  When one’s direction is unclear, yet all options do appear to be right and legitimate, this would be the perfect time to say, “I am going to go with this option, Lord.  I want it to be your perfect (not permissive) will.  Now please show me if I am making a mistake here.”  Trust me, if you are in error, He will show you!

An outlined prayer of dedication and consecration is found in Luke 22:41-42.  Here Jesus withdraws from James, Peter and John and kneels down and prayed, saying, “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me.  Nevertheless, not My will, but Yours be done.”

Jesus was actually saying,  “If there is any other way to do this, (then) let’s do it that way.”  The great learning point here for all of us is the fact that Jesus is flexible when He asks the Father to show His (perfect) will by saying, “Nevertheless, not My will, but Yours, be done.”

Without question when one is not absolutely certain which direction should be taken in any decision it is absolutely correct, even “Godly” to ask for confirmation!

5.   Prayer of Intercession

Intercession is simply praying in behalf of someone else.   A person may be incapable of praying for him/herself.   Such would be the case if someone is extremely ill, on drugs, demonically possessed or perhaps mentally impaired.   Also it may involve praying for such things as the government, the church or specific prayers based on the knowledge of someone’s personal needs.

In Ephesians 1:15-18 Paul makes it clear that he is interceding in prayer for the church at Ephesus when he wrote, “Therefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers; 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.”

It is important to note here that Paul does not set himself in specific agreement with anyone.  This fact makes this particular prayer an excellent example of Intercessory Prayer.

Another good example of Intercessory Prayer is found in Paul’s greeting to the Philippians that is found in Phil, 1:3-4 when he wrote, “I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine making request for you all with joy.”

6.   Prayer of Binding and Loosing

Like all things in God’s system the prayer of binding and loosing only works in line with God’s Word and His laws which is clearly set forth in Matt. 18:18-19 when Jesus tells us,  “Assuredly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in Heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in Heaven.   Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in Heaven.”

There are two very important points here: (1) We have authority, here on this earth, by virtue of our “action” of the prayer.  Things do not begin in Heaven and come to Earth.  (2) The “prayer action” starts here on Earth.   Notice that it says, “Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in Heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in Heaven.”

One is able and has authority to bind foul spirits that are at work in people’s lives.   Also, one can loose angelic spirits to work on their personal behalf in those areas where God has already promised results.  When one prays in this manner, God affirms it, in Heaven, and puts His seal of approval on it.   Binding and loosing must be based on the authority God has granted His children in Scripture, not on some (whimsical) desire.

God has provided each type of prayer for a specific purpose. Though you may use more than one at any given time, it is important to be clear about which type you are using and why, and to be aware of its limitations.  If you follow the examples in the Bible, you’ll be sure to use them properly.

Clearly we see, as set forth in the above  examples, that  our prayers, whether they are prayers of supplication, faith or trust, should all be mixed with praise and worship.  

Remember the  secret ingredient  to answered prayer is found in Psalms 100:4 where we are instructed  to enter His gates with thanksgiving and into His courts with praise!

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