Identify four basic types of prayer and explain the nature and purpose of each.
Explain the importance of the use of the Bible in prayer and using a Bible passage write a prayer which might be used in a public worship service using all four types of prayer.
Take part in a discussion of the danger of meaningless repetition in prayer and suggest ways in which it can be avoided.
Identify two areas where preparation for public prayer is needed and give examples of how this can be done.
Lord, teach us to pray…. – Luke 11:1
Pam Kidd was knee-deep in the bleakest January she had ever known. They had just spent their first Christmas without her brother David. His divorce had divided our extended family, and he thought it kinder to stay away. Her widowed mother was terribly hurt by the family crisis and was inconsolable. And Keri, our fifteen-year-old daughter, was protesting the death from a brain tumor of her favorite young cousin Justin by turning on God, friends and family.
Trying to recover from this shattering time, Pam was dusting her husband David’s study when a book fell from the bookcase. Catching it before it hit the floor, I found its title daring me: Prayer Can Change Your Life. Could this be a sign? After this emotionally draining time, I longed for a time of strength and serenity.
What emerged was “prayer therapy,” specific prayer techniques that could be used by individuals or small groups with astounding success. The book came with this promise: Follow the book’s direction and make every prayer you pray a practice in honesty, and your life will change for the better; if you also learn to relinquish control of all your troubles and trust them to God.
Lord, teach me to pray.
While hiking deep in the woods, a man suddenly notices that he is
being followed by a large grizzly bear. He starts to run away but
the bear begins to chase him. Realizing the bear is quickly
closing in, the man offers up an emergency prayer: “Oh God, I
know you have influenced animals in the Bible like Balaam’s
donkey, if there is any way that this bear can become more like
a Christian, I would really appreciate it.”
As the final “amen” is said, the bear pounces on the man and pins
him to the ground. But suddenly, the expression on the bear’s
face changes from that of anger to contentment, and the bear
looks heavenward and places his paws reverently together, and
starts to speak audibly just like Balaam’s donkey, saying, “For
this food we are about to receive, we give thanks.”
Requests or petitions as we shall call them, are without any doubt the most common kind of prayer. This is true of public as well as private prayers. We always have things we wish to ask God to grant us. But remember, we have tried to emphasize that all of our asking must be according to God’s will. As you well know, that is not always easy!
One way is to match our prayers to Bible verses. As example:
Matthew 6:11: “Lord, you know I don’t have a job. Help me to find work so I will be able to provide food for my family.”
James 5:14: “O God, I ask that you heal this dear sister of her sickness.”
Matthew: 19-20: “Lord, you know how badly my friend needs help. Give me an opportunity to witness to him so that he will accept you and come into your kingdom.”
1 Timothy 2:2 “Lord, bless the President and help him to rightly govern the country so that we may enjoy peace.
Explain how we can know that some requests are within the will of God.
It is not just a good idea to ask God for the things which He has shown us in the Word are His will. It is also our responsibility to do so. For instance, the Word of God clearly tells us that we are to ask for:
The of those who are sick.
the extension of the .
The who .
What is a prayer of petition?
We are not going to spend any time studying the prayer of confession now because we have already considered it in detail.
Read Psalm 95:1-7 and keep your Bible open to this passage. This psalm calls to us, saying:
In verse 1: “Come, let us to the Lord.”
In verse 2: “let us come before His presence with
In verse 6; “Come, let us bow down in .”
Not only does Psalm 95 call us to worship the Lord, but it also gives us some of the reasons why we should worship Him.
Verse 3: He is a God.
Verse 5: He made the and the
Verse 6: He the world and now it.
Verse 6 of Psalm 95 uses the term “maker”. It means the same as creator.
The sixth verse states that God made us. This is another reason to worship Him. He deserves our worship first of all because He is great, and also because He is our creator.
Verse 7 says that God is God.
That same verse says we are His and His .
Now read Psalm 103:1-5. At first glance this looks like another example of worship, but it is not! According to the psalm we have just studied, Psalm 95, worship is based upon God’s Nature and His relationship to us.
So then, we worship God because he is and because He is
Let’s look more closely at Psalm 103:1-5.
In verse 2, the writer speaks to himself, saying: “Praise the Lord, O my soul, And forget not all his
Verse 3 states that God is the one who: “all your sins; and all your diseases.”
The fourth (4th) verse states that God is the one who: “your life from the pit and you with love and compassion.”
In verse 5, the writer says that God is the one who: “your desires with good things.”
In Psalm 103:1-5, the author is speaking instead about what God has for him.
Saying “Thank you” to God for his blessings and everything He has done is called “Thanksgiving.”
Psalm 47:6-7, and Psalm 145:3 reflect Worship and Psalm 68:19 along with Psalm 116:6-7 deal with thanksgiving.
What is a prayer of thanksgiving?
Write a short prayer of thanksgiving based upon John 3:16.
All of our prayer ought to be based upon the Bible. In this way we can be certain that we are praying according to the will of God.
Our prayer life ought to be patterned after these things we have learned from the Word of God. We can take our studies in the Sermon on the Mount as an example. The following prayers are based upon the verses in the Statutes of Happiness and show how they can be used to guide us in offering each of the four kinds of prayer to God.
Read Matthew 5:3, one of the Statutes of Happiness, and write in the space below the name given to each of the prayers based upon this verse. (Worship, Petition, Confession, Thanksgiving)
“Lord, I know that many times I have not recognized my spiritual need, as I have this morning when….
Blessed be your name, O God, because all true happiness comes from you and your kingdom belongs to those who know that they have spiritual need.
Lord, let me always be able to recognize that there is nothing good in me; that I am poor in spirit, but that I have all I need in you.
Dear Heavenly Father, thank you because you know my weaknesses and you accept me just as I am.
Read Matthew 5:13-16. Do you know some one in your congregation who is like that salt? Someone who is not afraid to speak the truth with love when things are not as they ought to be? How easy it is to give thanks for that brother in the Lord! Isn’t that right? In the space below write a prayer of thanksgiving for such a “salty” brother or sister in the Lord.
The Statutes of Responsibility don’t just say that we are to be salt of the earth, but also that we are to be the light of the world. We know, of course, that Jesus Himself is the light of the world. Write a prayer of worship which is based upon this truth.
Have you ever given thanks to God for the people who were the light in your darkness; those who were used by God to bring you to Jesus Christ? God may have used almost anyone: your parents, neighbors, a radio announcer, gospel singers, a pastor, the man who wrote a tract – almost anyone! Writ a prayer of thanksgiving to the Lord for the person who brought you the light of Jesus Christ.
The third group of statutes in the Sermon on the Mount are the Statutes of which are found in Matthew 5:to.
We ought to give praise to the Lord for His wisdom and righteousness in making such laws as these. However, it is even more important for us to thank Jesus for having come to fulfill them for us here on earth. Both prayers of Worship and of Thanksgiving can be based upon this group of statutes. Some parts of the Statutes of Authority can also be used as a basis for Confession and Petition. Complete the following prayers based upon Matthew 5:21-22.
Lord, I confess that
Lord, I ask you
Matthew 5:19-20 is also a part of the Statutes of Authority. In the space below, write a prayer based upon these two verses.
Often the same prayer will contain more than one of these kinds of prayer and could even contain them all. For instance, a prayer can begin with worship and end with petition. Read the following prayer based upon Matthew 5:11-12. “I thank you Lord, because you have suffered me and I ask you to strengthen your servants who are now suffering at the hands of your enemies. Amen.” This prayer contains both Petition and Thanksgiving.
The statutes which are at the end of Matthew 6 have been given the title, The Statutes of because they talk about the perfect provision God has made for the members of His Kingdom. Write a prayer of worship based upon Matthew 6:26.
It is important for you to learn how to take the truths you discover in the Word of God and turn them into prayers back to Him. It will help us to be sure that we are asking according to God’s will. It will give us a prayer life which is always different, fruitful, and abundant.
Do we have the right to ask God to supply our material needs and then deliberately turn down a job offer?
Can we ask God to heal the sick without giving whatever help we can give to them?
Can we pray that God will extend His kingdom and then refuse to witness to unbelievers?
Can we ask God to give wisdom to our government and then not bother to keep the laws of the country?
What is the relationship between prayer and action?
Prayer in the Worship Service
Praying together in the worship service of the church is very important. We have learned how to pray in our time alone with God. We are going to study this matter of praying together as a church. You are following in the footsteps of Jesus and all the men of God who have had a powerful prayer life. What must you do to make use of the things we have learned about prayer?
Read Matthew 6:7
This verse speaks of a danger in prayer that we must avoid at all costs. What is this danger? “Do not use meaningless repetitions. This is done in a mechanical way and is done without thinking. As examples of this: “O God” said over and over again every few words when praying; “Amen” or “Hallelujah” said several times during prayer without paying any attention to what is being said; The Lord’s Prayer repeated as quickly as possible so the guest speaker can have some extra time.
A prayer that does not come from a sincere heart is a waste of time because it will not be answered. When we pray, we must be sincere.
Because the Lord’s Prayer begins with the words “OUR Father” we can say that this prayer is especially good for public prayer: When there are several believers together, and in the public service.
Read Matthew 19:19-20
Who has promised to be with even the smallest group believers?
What promise is found here for believers, who agree on what to ask God for when they pray?
This promise can be applied to:
The Christian Family worship hour
A large public service
A small group meeting in a home for prayer
A mother praying with her child at bed time.
Four Christian students praying together between classes.
A group of Christian men praying for a fellow worker.
We have discovered a new truth concerning prayer. There is a special blessing for people who pray together.
Who will be with them?
What will happen if they agree to pray about something?
Several examples of possible meaningless repetition in public prayer:
The same person always leads in prayer.
The prayers do not have a biblical base
There is a desire to impress others in the congregation with how spiritual we are.
There has been no preparation for leading in prayer.
For now, we are going to look at just one of these courses of meaningless repetition, the lack of preparation. The only way to make certain that we do not fall into the trap of using meaningless repetition is to be sure that our prayer is motivated by the Holy Spirit and based upon the Word of God. In other words, we must prepare ourselves to lead in public prayer.
After Jesus was baptized in the river Jordan by John, He began His public ministry with the same two spiritual weapons which we must use to prepare ourselves to lead in public prayer.
We must also take the time to prepare our Prayer. As example:
By writing down the names of those who have special prayer requests.
By deciding what kind of prayer we are going to pray (or have been asked to pray).
By finding an appropriate Bible verse to use as a basis for your prayer.
By asking for the help of the Holy Spirit.
We also must prepare ourselves to lead the congregation in prayer is to ask the help of the so that we are able to pray with sincerity and avoid the danger of using only .
The first step in the preparation of a prayer for the church service is to decide what kind of prayer we are going to pray. In some cases we may be asked to pray a specific kind of prayer, say, for the healing of the sick.
Examples of Kinds of Prayers
Thanksgiving – Giving praise to God for the blessings He has given to the whole congregation.
All Four Kinds – A prayer offered for the whole congregation which includes their needs as well as praise and thanks to God.
Petition – A special time of prayer for the healing of someone who is sick.
Worship – Giving praise for who God is.
Confession – Leading the congregation in a prayer which tells God of their failures.
The pastoral prayer below contains all four kinds of prayer which we have studied. Read the prayer over several times and then copy in to appropriate spaces.
“Our Heavenly Father, the Creator of this world and everything which it contains, we praise you. You have saved us through Jesus Christ’s sacrifice of Himself and through your Holy Spirit you create in us a new and clean heart. You have loved us and blessed us with many spiritual blessings so we offer you our praise and our thanks. We are a needy people, wor we have often abandoned your ways in favor of our selfish desires. We know that we have not always tried to do your will and that we have sinned. Forgive our sin, O Lord, heal those among us who are sick, and help us to understand and do your will. Give us both the wisdom and the boldness to carry your gospel to each of our neighbors and to the ends of the earth. It is in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord that we pray. Amen.”
Now in the space below, write a pastoral prayer of your own?
Some people write out all of their public prayers so they can be sure that they are not using meaningless repetition. Do you think this is a good idea?
You may or may not wish to do this yourself, but remember that no matter whether you write them out or not, you must prepare yourself and the prayer you are going to pray. The most important thing is that your prayer comes from a sincere heart and that it is based on the word of God and prayer with the help of the Holy Spirit.
Exercise: Write down some of the advantages of using written prayers in the church service.
Write down some of the disadvantages and dangers.
Think about the following points as you do the assignment.
Does the kind of prayer you are praying have anything to do with whether you should write it out or not.
What about using prayers which have been written by great Christians of the past. In what way can they be used? How should they not be used.
Up to this point in our study of prayer, we have only talked about those prayers which are spoken in public and private. How ever, there are other forms of prayer too.
Prayers can also be read with sincerity or songs may be sung as prayers.
“Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty” is a worship prayer.
There are some hymns which might be used as a prayer of confession:
“Dear Lord and Father of mankind, forgive our foolish way;” “Thou dost my vileness fully cleanse till spotless all and pure” “Jesus, Thou art the sinner’s friend, as such I look to Thee.”
What kind of prayer might the chorus “Let’s Just Praise the Lord” be used for
Hymns can also be used as prayers of petition and thanksgiving:
“Take my life and let it be…”
“Lord Jesus, I long to be perfectly whole…”
“Now thank we all our God.”
“Let my life be hid in thee…”
The last form of prayer which we are going to consider is the prayer which is read.
Do you remember that we said all of our prayers ought to be biblically based? Well, the Bible, itself has many written prayers which may be used in our own prayer as well, both public and private. We have seen that the Bible may be used in making prayers of confession. This is true of public prayers of confession as well as personal ones. Now we will look at some of the other kinds of prayers in the Bible.
Actually, many of the prayers in the Bible are songs which were sung to the Lord:
The song of Luke 1:68-79 otherwise known as
The song of Luke 1: 46-55 otherwise know as
The song of Luke 2:29-32 otherwise known as
The first two above are what type of prayer
The third above is what type of prayer
Which book of the Bible is especially good for use in public prayers of worship and praise:
The Psalms are very good for use in our church services because there are so many different kinds of psalms. Some are best used for praise, some for thanksgiving, and still others for the confession of sin. There are also different ways to use the Psalms so that the whole congregation can take part in the reading of the Bible.
The Psalms may be read responsively
they may be read in unison
and they may also be sung.
Reading responsively is done by having the leader of the service read one verse, the congregation read the next verse, then the leader reads the next and so on. Reading in unison means that both the leader of the service and the congregation read the verses together.
When the Psalms were first written the Jewish people sang them. Today many psalms have been put to music and can be sung by the congregation. Perhaps you or some other members of your congregation can write a melody to sing with one of the psalms in your own church.
Read Matthew 26:30. What was the hymn that Jesus and his disciples sang?
Examples: Thanksgiving: Psalm 65, 1 Corinthians 15:55-57, Revelations 4:8-11, Philippians 1:3-7. Confession: Isaiah 6:5, Psalm 6:1-4, Luke 15:18-19, Psalm 139:23-24.
Your congregation may not use all of the different ways we have learned to pray together in their times of worship. However, it would be good to introduce them to all of the forms of prayer. The prayer life of the congregation will be enriched and it will help them avoid the danger of meaningless repetition. If you are not the Pastor; it would be a good idea to talk about public prayer with your pastor before you teach the congregation all of the forms of prayer we have learned.
TES:Testimony of Bryan Moore
While standing in line to register at San Diego State University, I
was approached by several people with surveys and questionnaires. One
of them asked me, not for what they could sell me, but what did I call
myself? I checked the box marked Christian, then realized that I needed
to know more about Jesus. Another student shared the gospel with me in
a way I had not heard with my church background, making me realize that
my responsibility to God was direct and individual, not an automatic
part of being born in the States, or going to church on Sunday. I asked
Jesus to come in and take over, and make me the kind of person He
wanted me to be. Immediately I felt a compassion where I had previously
held a grudge. Forgiveness flowed through me as quickly as I knew I was
forgiven. Patience replaced restlessness.
All was not so easy, however. My mediocre grades became polarized.
My C’s became A’s and Incompletes! I spent long hours helping
computerize our outreach effort involving 180 contributing students in
a dozen specific ministry efforts during 1980. I spent hours memorizing
the Bible, then let some of my studies lapse, while getting A’s in
others. Somehow, I had come to saving faith, but had not found balance.
Some teaching going around made me think it was wrong to be affluent,
for example. Since good grades could be a form of affluence, it was
even said (of those whose weren’t so hot), “Oh well, they’re gonna burn
anyway.” What a wrong attitude!
When my old ’72 Pinto broke down, my boss let me have his Mercedes
450SL for a couple of months, rather than take my time away from work
to fix my car! Things eventually got so rough for our struggling
company that in addition to selling his house, my boss had to sell that
car, too. Eventually, though, in spite of my prayers for God to take
away the company so I could pursue “full time Christian work,” God
prospered our efforts. I remember a telephone prayer request while I
was in New York to friends in San Diego being miraculously answered,
impressing a man who became a very key employee. Eventually our company
merged with a larger company, giving me the equivalent of 25 years
salary in one transaction! The decisions I faced caused me to question
my “gonna burn” attitude. Together with the earlier counsel of some
staff at Campus Crusade for Christ headquarters, they made me realize
that wealth is nothing more and nothing less than another commodity,
another tool which may be used by those ignorant of God, or, if
properly spent, to bring Him glory.
I have found the scripture to be relevant in every area of life, and
have committed myself to the cause of Christian Reconstruction of this
country. I believe that the Gospel regenerates first, man’s heart,
then, anything in which regenerate man is involved. No government,
education, or other institution is a lost cause that is not reached by
the saving power of Christ. He has not called us to abandon our
possessions, but to submit them to the authority of God rather than to
man. Let us look to His word and see what He would have each of us do
with what He has entrusted to us! First, our own souls and lives, then,
our community, our country, and the world!