Category: Prayer


God is listening & hears you. Watch this short video to find God’s love and forgiveness! Salvation is only one prayer away.

After watching video, please, select a poll response below.

SPIRITUAL POLL

 original post from Jesusonline

The Bible reveals many types of prayers and employs a variety of words to describe the practice. For example, 1 Timothy 2:1 says, “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people.” Here, all four of the main Greek words used for prayer are mentioned in one verse.

Here are the main types of prayers in the Bible:

The prayer of faith: James 5:15 says, “And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up.” In this context, prayer is offered in faith for someone who is sick, asking God to heal. When we pray, we are to believe in the power and goodness of God (Mark 9:23).

The prayer of agreement (also known as corporate prayer): After Jesus’ ascension, the disciples “all joined together constantly in prayer” (Acts 1:14). Later, after Pentecost, the early church “devoted themselves” to prayer (Acts 2:42). Their example encourages us to pray with others.

The prayer of request (or supplication): We are to take our requests to God. Philippians 4:6 teaches, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” Part of winning the spiritual battle is to be “praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication” (Ephesians 6:18).

The prayer of thanksgiving: We see another type of prayer in Philippians 4:5: thanksgiving or thanks to God. “With thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” Many examples of thanksgiving prayers can be found in the Psalms.

The prayer of worship: The prayer of worship is similar to the prayer of thanksgiving. The difference is that worship focuses on who God is; thanksgiving focuses on what God has done. Church leaders in Antioch prayed in this manner with fasting: “While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.’ Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off” (Acts 13:2-3).

The prayer of consecration: Sometimes, prayer is a time of setting ourselves apart to follow God’s will. Jesus made such a prayer the night before His crucifixion: “And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, ‘My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will’” (Matthew 26:39).

The prayer of intercession: Many times, our prayers include requests for others as we intercede for them. We are told to make intercession “for everyone” in 1 Timothy 2:1. Jesus serves as our example in this area. The whole of John 17 is a prayer of Jesus on behalf of His disciples and all believers.

The prayer of imprecation: Imprecatory prayers are found in the Psalms (e.g., 7, 55, 69). They are used to invoke God’s judgment on the wicked and thereby avenge the righteous. The psalmists use this type of appeal to emphasize the holiness of God and the surety of His judgment. Jesus teaches us to pray for blessing on our enemies, not cursing (Matthew 5:44-48).

The Bible also speaks of praying in the Spirit (1 Corinthians 14:14-15) and prayers when we are unable to think of adequate words (Romans 8:26-27). In those times, the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us.

Prayer is conversation with God and should be made without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). As we grow in our love for Jesus Christ, we will naturally desire to talk to Him.

Is corporate prayer more powerful than an individual praying alone?

Corporate prayer is an important part of the life of the church, along with worship, sound doctrine, communion, and fellowship. The early church met regularly to learn the doctrine of the apostles, break bread, and pray together (Acts 2:42). When we pray together with other believers, the effects can be very positive. Corporate prayer edifies and unifies us as we share our common faith. The same Holy Spirit who dwells within each believer causes our hearts to rejoice as we hear praises to our Lord and Savior, knitting us together in a unique bond of fellowship found nowhere else in life.

To those who may be alone and struggling with life’s burdens, hearing others lift them up to the throne of grace can be a great encouragement. It also builds in us love and concern for others as we intercede for them. At the same time, corporate prayer will only be a reflection of the hearts of the individuals who participate. We are to come to God in humility (James 4:10), truth (Psalm 145:18), obedience (1 John 3:21-22), with thanksgiving (Philippians 4:6) and confidence (Hebrews 4:16). Sadly, corporate prayer can also become a platform for those whose words are directed not to God, but to their hearers. Jesus warned against such behavior in Matthew 6:5-8 where he exhorts us not to be showy, long-winded, or hypocritical in our prayers, but to pray secretly in our own rooms in order to avoid the temptation of using prayer hypocritically.

There is nothing in Scripture to suggest that corporate prayers are “more powerful” than individual prayers in the sense of moving the hand of God. Far too many Christians equate prayer with “getting things from God,” and group prayer becomes mainly an occasion to recite a list of our wants. Biblical prayers, however, are multi-faceted, encompassing the whole of the desire to enter into conscious and intimate communion with our holy, perfect, and righteous God. That such a God would bend an ear to His creatures causes praise and adoration to pour forth in abundance (Psalm 27:4; 63:1-8), produces heartfelt repentance and confession (Psalm 51; Luke 18:9-14), generates an outpouring of gratitude and thanksgiving (Philippians 4:6; Colossians 1:12), and creates sincere intercessory pleas on behalf of others (2 Thessalonians 1:11; 2:16).

Prayer, then, is cooperating with God to bring about His plan, not trying to bend Him to our will. As we abandon our own desires in submission to the One who knows our circumstances far better than we ever could and who “knows what you need before you ask” (Matthew 6:8), our prayers reach their highest level. Prayers offered in submission to the Divine will, therefore, are always answered positively, whether offered by one person or a thousand.

The idea that corporate prayers are more likely to move the hand of God comes largely from a misinterpretation of Matthew 18:19-20, “Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.” These verses come from a larger passage which addresses the procedures to be followed in the case of church discipline of a sinning member. To interpret them as promising believers a blank check for anything they might agree to ask God for, no matter how sinful or foolish, not only does not fit the context of church discipline, but it denies the rest of Scripture, especially the sovereignty of God.

In addition, to believe that when “two or three are gathered” to pray, some kind of magical power boost is automatically applied to our prayers is not biblically supportable. Of course Jesus is present when two or three pray, but He is equally present when one believer prays alone, even if that person is separated from others by thousands of miles. Corporate prayer is important because it creates unity (John 17:22-23), and is a key aspect of believers’ encouraging one another (1 Thessalonians 5:11) and spurring one another on to love and good deeds (Hebrews 10:24).

Praying in the Spirit is mentioned three times in Scripture. First Corinthians 14:15 says, “So what shall I do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my mind; I will sing with my spirit, but I will also sing with my mind.” Ephesians 6:18 says, “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.” Jude 20 says, “But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit.” So, what exactly does it mean to pray in the Spirit?

The Greek word translated “pray in” can have several different meanings. It can mean “by means of,” “with the help of,” “in the sphere of,” and “in connection to.” Praying in the Spirit does not refer to the words we are saying. Rather, it refers to how we are praying. Praying in the Spirit is praying according to the Spirit’s leading. It is praying for things the Spirit leads us to pray for. Romans 8:26 tells us, “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.”

Some, based on 1 Corinthians 14:15, equate praying in the Spirit with praying in tongues. Discussing the gift of tongues, Paul mentions “pray with my spirit.” First Corinthians 14:14 states that when a person prays in tongues, he does not know what he is saying, since it is spoken in a language he does not know. Further, no one else can understand what is being said, unless there is an interpreter (1 Corinthians 14:27-28). In Ephesians 6:18, Paul instructs us to “pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.” How are we to pray with all kinds of prayers and requests and pray for the saints, if no one, including the person praying, understands what is being said? Therefore, praying in the Spirit should be understood as praying in the power of the Spirit, by the leading of the Spirit, and according to His will, not as praying in tongues.

What is prayer?

The most basic definition of prayer is “talking to God.” Prayer is not meditation or passive reflection; it is direct address to God. It is the communication of the human soul with the Lord who created the soul. Prayer is the primary way for the believer in Jesus Christ to communicate his emotions and desires with God and to fellowship with God.

Prayer can be audible or silent, private or public, formal or informal. All prayer must be offered in faith (James 1:6), in the name of the Lord Jesus (John 16:23), and in the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:26). As the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia puts it, “Christian prayer in its full New Testament meaning is prayer addressed to God as Father, in the name of Christ as Mediator, and through the enabling grace of the indwelling Spirit” (“Prayer” by J. C. Lambert). The wicked have no desire to pray (Psalm 10:4), but the children of God have a natural desire to pray (Luke 11:1).

Prayer is described in the Bible as seeking God’s favor (Exodus 32:11), pouring out one’s soul to the Lord (1 Samuel 1:15), crying out to heaven (2 Chronicles 32:20), drawing near to God (Psalm 73:28, KJV), and kneeling before the Father (Ephesians 3:14).

Paul wrote, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6–7). Worry about nothing; pray about everything.

Everything? Yes, God wants us to talk with Him about everything. How often should we pray? The biblical answer is “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). We should keep a running conversation going with God all day long. Some find the ACTS formula of prayer helpful, but there is really no special formula for how to pray in the Bible. We should just do it. We can pray under any and all circumstances. Prayer develops our relationship with God and demonstrates our trust and utter dependence upon Him.

Prayer is the Christian’s way of communicating with God. We pray to praise God and thank Him and tell Him how much we love Him. We pray to enjoy His presence and tell Him what is going on in our lives. We pray to make requests and seek guidance and ask for wisdom. God loves this exchange with His children, just as we love the exchange we have with our children. Fellowship with God is the heart of prayer. Too often we lose sight of how simple prayer is really supposed to be.

When we make petitions to God, we let God know exactly where we stand and what we would like to see happen. In our prayers, we must admit that God is greater than we are and ultimately knows what is best in any given situation (Romans 11:33–36). God is good and asks us to trust Him. In prayer, we say, essentially, “Not my will, but your will be done.” The key to answered prayer is praying according to the will of God and in accordance with His Word. Prayer is not seeking our own will but seeking to align ourselves with the will of God more fully (1 John 5:14–15; James 4:3).

The Bible contains many examples of prayer and plenty of exhortations to pray (see Luke 18:1; Romans 12:12; and Ephesians 6:18). God’s house is to be a house of prayer (Mark 11:17), and God’s people are to be people of prayer: “Dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in God’s love” (Jude 1:20–21).

School prayer and Bible reading was abolished in 1962. See the amazing statistical evidence of why prayer and the Bible needs to be reestablished in the schools. The statistics for violence, morality, household stability and more are staggering. You’ll be shocked knowing just how bad it is.

The phrase “the prayer of faith” comes from a passage in James 5, which says that “the prayer of faith [or “the prayer offered in faith,” depending on the translation] will save the one who is sick” (James 5:15, ESV).

Some Christians believe this verse means that, if only one prays with enough faith, healing for the sick person is guaranteed. Others believe that “the prayer of faith” simply refers to the prayer offered by the elders of the church, and the word save refers sometimes to the spiritual and emotional comfort of God, rather than physical healing (see 2 Corinthians 1:3–5).

Here is the context of the verse: “Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective” (James 5:14–16).

The “prayer of faith” is made by the elders of a church visiting a sick person under their spiritual care. The prayer, accompanied by an anointing with oil, is offered “in the name of the Lord”; that is, in the Lord’s authority and subject to His will. Prayer is made in full confidence of God’s power to heal. If the particular illness is the result of personal sin, then confession and repentance of that sin is also called for.

The “raising up” of James 5:15 is not necessarily physical—if it were, then no believer should ever die! Many Christians do die from disease or injury every year, but this doesn’t mean they are lacking faith or that those praying for them lack faith. It simply means that it was not the Lord’s will to heal in that particular instance (see 1 John 5:14). The prayer of faith is offered in faith, and part of faith is trusting that God knows best. Those who pray should be unwavering in their confidence that God will always do what is right. Having prayed the prayer of faith, we can cheerfully commit our lives into God’s hands. The restoration of the sick one that James 5:15 guarantees as a result of the prayer of faith includes emotional, spiritual restoration that comes in the form of God’s comfort and peace.

Jesus talked to His disciples repeatedly about prayer. He told them to pray for God’s kingdom to be represented on earth and for His will to be done; He told them to pray for their daily sustenance, for forgiveness, and for strength against temptation (Matthew 6:9–13). He also told them that anything they asked for in His name, for God’s glory, would be done for them (John 14:13–14), and He assured them that God knows how to give good gifts to His children (Matthew 7:11). All of these passages emphasize God’s goodness and concern for us, but none of them guarantee physical healing. We ask for God’s will, we plead for what we desire, and we pray in His name, but sometimes physical healing is not His plan for us.

How many Christians have prayed for someone, only to see their prayers go unanswered? How many have prayed and perhaps have “given up” because either they have become discouraged through a weakness of faith or have come to the conclusion that whatever they have been praying for isn’t God’s will? Nevertheless, how we deal with unanswered prayer is not just for our own benefit but for the benefit of others as well. When we pray, we are engaging in the most precious and God-given act of communication with the One to whom we are accountable in all our affairs. We have been truly bought at a steep price—the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ—and therefore we belong to God.

Our privilege of prayer is from God, and it is as much ours now as when it was given to Israel (Deuteronomy 4:7). Yet, when we pray or speak to the One in Heaven, there are times when He seems not to answer. There can be many reasons for this, and the Scriptures suggest why and how our prayers are being dealt with by the One who is so tender and loving, who Himself loves our communing with God the Father, for He, Himself, is our representative (Hebrews 4:15).

A primary reason why prayer is unanswered is sin. God cannot be mocked or deceived, and He who sits enthroned above knows us intimately, down to our every thought (Psalm 139:1-4). If we are not walking in the Way or we harbor enmity in our hearts toward our brother or we ask for things with the wrong motives (such as from selfish desires), then we can expect God not to answer our prayer because He does not hear (2 Chronicles 7:14; Deuteronomy 28:23; Psalm 66:18; James 4:3). Sin is the “stopper” to all the potential blessings that we would receive from the infinite “bottle” of God’s mercy! Indeed, there are times when our prayers are heinous in the Lord’s sight, most notably when we clearly do not belong to the Lord either because of unbelief (Proverbs 15:8) or because we are practicing hypocrisy (Mark 12:40).

Another reason why prayer seems to go unanswered is that the Lord is drawing out of our faith a deeper reliance and trust in Him, which should bring out of us a deeper sense of gratitude, love and humility. In turn, this causes us to benefit spiritually, for He gives grace to the humble (James 4:6; Proverbs 3:34). Oh, how one feels for that poor Canaanite woman, who cried out incessantly to our Lord for mercy when He was visiting the region of Tyre and Sidon (Matthew 15:21-28)! She was hardly the person a Jewish rabbi would pay attention to. She was not a Jew and she was a woman, two reasons that Jews ignored her. The Lord doesn’t seem to answer her petitions, but He knew all about her situation. He may not have answered her stated needs immediately, but still He heard and granted her request.

God may often seem silent to us, but He never sends us away empty-handed. Even if prayer has not been answered, we must rely upon God to do so in His own time. Even the exercise of prayer is a blessing to us; it is because of our faith that we are stirred to persist in prayer. It is faith that pleases God (Hebrews 11:6), and if our prayer life is wanting, does that not reflect our spiritual standing also? God hears our impoverished cries for mercy, and His silence inflames us with a sense of persistence in prayer. He loves us to reason with Him. Let us hunger for the things that are after God’s heart and let us walk in His ways and not our own. If we are faithful to pray without ceasing, then we are living in the will of God, and that can never be wrong (1 Thessalonians 5:17-18).

Countless stories could be cited of diseases cured, exams passed, repentance and forgiveness granted, relationships restored, hungry children fed, bills paid and lives and souls saved through the efficacy of prayer. So, yes, there is plenty of evidence that God answers prayer. Most of the evidence is anecdotal and personal, however, and that bothers many who think of “evidence” only as that which is observable, measureable, and reproducible.

Scripture clearly teaches that prayers are answered. James 5:16 states that “the prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” Jesus taught His disciples that “if you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you” (John 15:7). First John 3:22 echoes this truth, saying that we “receive from him anything we ask, because we keep his commands and do what pleases him.”

Scripture, moreover, is replete with stories of answered prayer. Elijah’s prayer for fire from heaven (2 Kings 1:12), Hezekiah’s prayer for deliverance (2 Kings 19:19), and the apostles’ prayer for boldness (Acts 4:29) are just three examples. Since these accounts were written by eyewitnesses to the events, they constitute clear evidence of answered prayer. One might, of course, counter that Scripture does not present observable evidence in the “scientific” sense. However, no statement of Scripture has ever been conclusively disproved, so there is no reason to doubt its testimony. In fact, labeling some kinds of evidence as “scientific” and other kinds as “non-scientific” is a fuzzy and artificial distinction at best. Such a distinction can only be made a priori, i.e., prior to the evaluation of the data. In other words, the choice to evaluate the efficacy of prayer only in light of observable evidence is not a choice motivated by the data but by prior philosophical commitments. When this arbitrary restriction is relaxed, the biblical data speaks clearly for itself.

Occasionally, a group of researchers will conduct a scientific study on the efficacy of prayer. Their findings are usually that prayer has no effect (or possibly even a negative effect) on, for instance, the average recovery time of people in medical care. How are we to understand the results of studies such as these? Are there any biblical reasons for unanswered prayer?

Psalm 66:18 says, “If I regard wickedness in my heart, the Lord will not hear” (NASB). Likewise, 1 John 5:15 qualifies our receiving “anything we ask” with our obedience to God’s commands. James notes that “when you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives” (4:3). So, a couple reasons for unanswered prayer are unconfessed sin and wrong motivations.

Another reason for unanswered prayer is lack of faith: “When you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord” (James 1:6-7). Hebrews 11:6 also identifies faith as a necessary condition for a relationship with God, something always mediated by prayer in the name of Christ: “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” Faith, then, is necessary for answered prayer.

Finally, some critics of Christianity make the case that, since Jesus instructs His disciples to “ask whatever you wish,” all prayers should be answered. However, such criticisms completely ignore the conditions to the promise in the first part of the verse: “If you remain in me and my words remain in you.” This is clearly a prescription for praying within the will of God; in other words, genuine prayer which God always answers is, in fact, that sort which requests, explicitly or implicitly, that God’s will be accomplished. The will of the petitioner is secondary. Jesus Himself prayed this way in Gethsemane (Luke 22:42). The humble prayer of faith allows that the prayer may be answered with a “no”; anyone not offering such a prayer—anyone who demands to be answered—has no right to expect an answer.

Another reason why so many studies report the inefficacy of prayer is that it is impossible to eliminate the variables associated with the spiritual condition of those praying (is the petitioner even a believer?), the motivation for which they offer the prayer (is it to provide evidence or because the Holy Spirit has moved them to pray?), the way in which they offer their prayer (are they praying a formulaic expression or intentionally bringing requests to God?), and so on.

Even if all such lurking variables could be eliminated, one overarching problem would remain: if prayer could be tested empirically and forced to yield conclusive results, it would obviate the need for faith. We cannot “discover” God through empirical observations; we come to Him by faith. God is not so clumsy that He should reveal Himself in ways He did not intend. “He who comes to God must believe that He is” (that is, that He exists). Faith is the prerequisite and the priority.

Does God answer prayer? Ask any believer, and you will know the answer. Every changed life of every believer is proof positive that God answers prayer.

We come to God in prayer for a variety of reasons—to worship Him, to confess our sins and ask for forgiveness, to thank Him for His blessings, to ask for things for ourselves, and/or to pray for the needs of others. The Hebrew and Greek words most often translated “supplication” in the Bible mean literally “a request or petition,” so a prayer of supplication is asking God for something. Unlike the prayer of petition, which is praying on behalf of others, the prayer of supplication is generally a request for the person praying.

The Bible includes many prayers of supplication. Numerous examples are found in the Psalms. David’s psalms are filled with supplication for mercy in Psalm 4:1, for leading in Psalm 5:8, for deliverance in Psalm 6:4, for salvation from persecution in Psalm 7:1, and so on. When Daniel learned that King Darius had issued an edict prohibiting prayer to any god but the king, Daniel continued to pray to God with prayers of thanksgiving as well as prayers of supplication for His help in this dire situation.

In the New Testament, Jesus tells us to ask for our daily bread in Matthew 6:11, which falls into the category of a prayer of supplication. In addition, in Luke 18:1-8, Jesus teaches us not to give up praying for what we need. James says that: on the one hand we don’t receive because we don’t ask (James 4:2). On the other hand, we ask and don’t receive because we are thinking only of our fleshly desires (James 4:3). Perhaps the best way to approach supplications is to ask God in all honesty as children talking to their kind-hearted Father, but ending with “Your will be done” (Matthew 26:39), in full surrender to His will.

After describing the need to take up the “full armor of God” (Ephesians 6:13-17), the apostle Paul exhorted the Ephesians (and us) to remain alert and to pray in the Spirit, “making supplication for all the saints” (Ephesians 6:18). Clearly, prayers of supplication are part of the spiritual battle all Christians are engaged in. Paul further exhorts the Philippian church to relieve their anxieties by remaining faithful in prayer, especially prayers of thanksgiving and supplication. This, he concludes, is the formula for ensuring that “the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).

Here we see another crucial aspect of the prayer of supplication—the necessity of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Those who belong to Christ also have the indwelling Holy Spirit who intercedes on our behalf. Because we often don’t know what or how to pray when we approach God, the Spirit intercedes and prays for us, interpreting our supplications so that, when we are overwhelmed by trials and the cares of life, He comes alongside to lend assistance with our prayers of supplication as He sustains us before the throne of grace (Romans 8:26).