Scripture Reading: Philippians 4:4-9; Colossians 4:2-6
“…with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert…”
Ephesians 6: 18.
Warren Wiersbe writes, “Prayer is the energy that enables the Christian soldier to wear the armor and wield the sword.” 3⁴If prayer is the energy to a victorious life, then how deep is the well of your prayer life? Has your prayer life moved beyond the surface level of asking God to do something for you?
Has your prayer life moved beyond the surface level of asking God to do something for you?
There is more than one kind of praying. The Scriptures are rich with different expressions and forms of prayer. Here is a short sample of the different types of prayer we discover in the Bible. Each one uniquely affects our lives, touches God’s heart, and impacts our enemy.
Thanksgiving is the act of thanking God for what he has done or provided.
The Psalmist repeatedly encourages God’s people to give thanks to God. “Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind” (Psalm 107:8). Paul teaches we are to “give thanks in all circumstances” (I Thessalonians 5:18). When we find reasons to give thanks during loss, brokenness, and trials, God receives glory, and the Devil is irritated. Job, a man who suffered unimaginable loss, stood victorious over Satan and offered these words of thanksgiving, “The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised” (Job 1:21).
Adoration is worshiping God for who he is, his essence, character, and attributes.
David calls all beings, both angelic and human, to worship the Lord for who he is, “Ascribe to the Lord the glory due to his name; worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness” (Psalm 29:1). Joyful adoration assumes we know who God is. Our prayer lives falter from our lack of intimacy with God’s character. When our knowledge and experience of the essence and attributes of God expands, our adoration deepens. Satan hates praise! Because it reminds him that he is not God and was cast out of God’s presence (Ezekiel 28:17).
Confession agrees with God that we live in a sinful state, and our private sins (thoughts, behaviors) violate His holy character and desires for us.
Scripture is unequivocal on the importance of confessing our sins to God. In I John 1:8-10, we learn that those who claim to be without sin in their lives are self-deceived (v. 8). They make God out to be a liar and do not have God’s truth living in them (v. 10). Yet those who acknowledge their sins experience cleansing forgiveness (v. 9) through Jesus, our Advocate, and Atoning Sacrifice (I John 2:1–2). Satan hates authenticity! From the beginning, he has sought to minimize the impact of our sins (Genesis 3:4–5). Every time we confess our sins specifically, Satan is crushed, and our souls are set free.
Supplication is an earnest plea on behalf of ourselves and others.
It is a needy cry for God to move in and through our lives. Hannah pleaded with God intensely to give her a child. “In her deep anguish, Hannah prayed to the Lord, weeping bitterly” (I Samuel 1:10). Even Jesus offered intense cries to his Father. The Bible says, “In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death” (Hebrews 5:7). Supplication reflects a whole new level of brokenness, neediness, and reliance on God, which puts the Devil in his place as a defeated foe.
Intercession is a constant imploring for others before God.
In other words, to intercede is to make a case for others before God through our prayers. The Holy Spirit does this for us as believers (Romans 8:26). The Scriptures tell us this is the ministry of Jesus, “Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them” (Hebrews 7:25). So we have the privilege to stand in the gap for others, bringing their needs, burdens, and cares before the throne of God. Prayers of intercession are crucial to seeing spiritual victories in our lives. This is why Paul appealed to the churches to pray for him and his team (Ephesians 6:19–20; I Thessalonians 5:25).
Watchfulness is prayers of protection and discernment.
Paul writes, “With this in mind, be alert…” (Ephesians 6:18). We have a spiritual enemy stalking us. Peter writes, “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (I Peter 5:8). Jesus, knowing the enemy’s ability to strike at any time, told his disciples, “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matthew 26:41). Paul taught that one of the disciplines of prayer is not just being thankful but also watchful. “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful” (Colossians 4:2). Satan does not want God’s people to be on the watch for him or to have a heightened sense of awareness of his schemes. He wants us sleepy morally, spiritually, and physically so that we will be caught off guard and fall into his trap.
As you consider these different forms of prayer, take some time to reflect on the areas of strength you can build on and growth areas where you can stretch yourself. Personally, for me, my place of growth relates to the prayers of watchfulness. I need to increase my vigilance and awareness in my prayer life, my weaknesses, and the enemy’s schemes.
Father in Heaven, thank you for the gift of prayer and its various forms that enrich my life. Each one strengthens my faith. They make me more dependent on the power of the Holy Spirit, the advocacy of Jesus, and the richness of your great love. Father, I need you, I worship you, I confess my sins to you, and I thankfully receive your grace.
In the name of Jesus, Amen.