Last week I posted about Using the Lord’s Prayer as a Pattern in our prayer time. This is the model I use most often in my personal prayer time, but I have been studying various other types of prayer in the past few weeks. I turned to the Bible first and foremost.
Today I want to briefly share five other methods of prayer that I like to use. I hesitate to say “method” in the same sentence as the word “prayer” because I don’t think it’s necessary to have a formula to talk to God. At the same time, I like to search scripture to see how others have connected to God in their prayers throughout church history.
I recognize that this isn’t a complete list. This is just a launching point for me and hopefully will motivate someone to think of prayer in a different way.
I Timothy 2:1: First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions and thanksgivings be made for all people.”
Intercession is defined as the action of intervening on behalf of another.
When we intercede, we stand in the gap for someone who isn’t able to pray for themselves or when God simply calls us to pray for someone with a pressing need. Jesus was the ultimate intercessor when he stood in our place on the cross.
Isaiah 53:12: ….because he poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors.
In my experience with intercession, I will feel a sudden, urgent burden to pray for a certain person or situation. Sometimes it happens during my normal prayer time, but it has also happened in the middle of the night or as I go about my day. I simply can’t shake the feeling and stop what I’m doing to pray until I feel a release from God. Sometimes I don’t even know what to say in this time of prayer, which is in line with Paul’s words in Romans 8:26:
For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.
I have learned from experience that when I feel God is calling me to intercede for someone, it is important to stop and respond to the call. You never know what difference your prayers may make.
I think many Christians overlook this very Biblical form of prayer as not to associate ourselves with many other religions that focus on meditation. In my opinion, we do ourselves a disservice by ignoring the practice of meditation. Meditation is mentioned throughout scripture and is especially prevalent in the book of Psalms. David was called a man after Gods’ own heart and spent much time meditating on the greatness of God. Perhaps we will understand the heart of God more clearly if we too spend time pondering his greatness and beauty.
In my personal experience, meditation is also important because it forces me to close my mouth and listen. What kind of relationship do we have with God if we are the ones doing all of the talking? Psalms 46:10 says… be still and know that I am God. I think there is a level of knowing God that comes only in stillness.
I always have a journal handy during my quiet times of prayer in case I feel God speaking something to my heart. I love to read back through my journal and see how God spoke something through scripture or through the Holy Spirit when I needed it most.
3. Common Prayers
Common prayers are very new to me. As a Pentecostal, common prayers weren’t part of my particular church culture. My step-father told me, however, that in his Apostolic Bible college, they often prayed common prayers. They are basically prayers that can be read together by a group of people.
I find common prayers particularly beautiful and meaningful, knowing that millions of Christians have prayed the same words, based primarily in scripture, for hundreds of years. There are many resources out there for common prayers. I have taken several of them and altered them slightly for my own personal use. If you would like a copy of the morning, midday, evening and night-time prayers I use, please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org or comment below. I will be happy to send you a copy.
Jim Wilson from the Soul Shaping Bible study defines lament as “inviting God into your sorrow and experiencing His presence in the depths of your pain.”
I don’t think God expects us to come into his presence in prayer and ignore or try to hide our pain. God wants transparency and can be with us in even the darkest times. I encourage you to further study the spiritual discipline of lament. It has transformed my prayer life. Studying lament has shown me what my heart already knew…. that the times I have felt closest to God were the times I was suffering the most.
If you want to see examples of lament in the Bible, check out Jesus’ prayer in the garden before his crucifixion, the book of Lamentations, Job or Psalms.
5. Praying Scripture
Hebrews 4:12 tells us The Word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
Some of the most powerful experiences I have in prayer are when I take scripture and use it to pray for myself, others, or specific situations. We can claim promises from scripture, speak blessings, exercise our authority over the enemy, and encourage ourselves when we pray scripture.
Many times when I am praying, I feel led to read a certain passage of scripture. I will then pray about the application of that scripture to my own life, my family, my church or the church body as a whole. There are so many online resources for praying scripture. I will recommend a few:
http://www.kenboa.org/text_resources/free_articles/5399 This is a huge collection of scriptures to pray, divided by category.
http://www.circleofmoms.com/christian-mommies/scriptures-to-pray-over-your-children-259246 From Mom Circle, this is a fantastic list of scriptures to pray over your children.
http://www.memverse.com/ This is a free online tool to help memorize the scriptures of your choice. What better way to pray scripture than to memorize them!
I know this was a long post, but I had a lot of information to share! Do you utilize any of these prayer methods in your prayer time? What other types of prayer do you use? I would love your feedback!