There are many ways we communicate with the world around us. When we feed animals and take care of them we are expressing our love and companionship. When we talk with people, we are acknowledging their value and dignity as image bearers of God with the capacity to love, create and worship. Although we can express ourselves on a physical level through body language and speech, there is a dimension to communication that is transcendent because it is spiritual in nature.
WHAT IS PRAYER?
Prayer is by nature a spiritual activity because it transcends the physical word. Our “metaphysical heart” reaches out to God through prayer. This ability to commune on a spiritual level with God, allows us to express our love and share our heart with the one who created it.
Prayer is voicing our heart to God, it can be verbal or silent but it is an expression of the soul. The soul is made up of our mind, will and emotions. Our mind manages our thoughts, our will dictates what we believe and our emotions share unedited feelings. Altogether, we use our heart and soul to share our thoughts, our will and our emotions with him who created them all.
FIVE TYPES OF PRAYER
There are five types of prayer that can serve as a starting point to transcend physical communication and speak directly with God. These five types of prayer are not in rank order of importance.
#1 Thanksgiving: Prayers of thanksgiving flow from a heart of gratitude and humility. When we say “thank you” to God, we are acknowledging our dependance on someone else and expressing an attitude that says, “I cannot do life on my own, and I appreciate what you did for me”. Thanksgiving can help re-align our attitude toward dependance on God’s power to live each day and breathe each breath.
for ‘In him we live and move and have our being’; as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are indeed his offspring.’ Acts 17:28 ESV
The LORD is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him. Psalm 28:7 ESV
Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. Colossians 4:2 ESV
#2 Confession: Prayers of confession come from a contrite heart that is repentant, acknowledging that our ways are imperfect in the sight of a holy God. When we pray to God, “I am sorry for what I have done”, our desire is to sin no more and we know that if we believe in the Jesus Christ the Son of God by faith, he has and will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from our unrighteousness.
Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. Wash me throughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin! Psalm 51:1-2 ESV
#3 Requests / Supplication: Prayers of supplication reach out to God from the depths of our heart to say, “help me, for this is what I desire, nevertheless, not my will but yours be done”.
do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. Philippians 4:6 ESV
#4 Intercession: Prayers of intercession are on behalf of others. We pray to Jesus that he would act according to his good will for the benefit of another. Intercessory prayer can be for believers or non-believers.
In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak. Ephesians 6:16-20 ESV
#5 Praise / Worship: Prayers of praise and worship are thoughtful and emotional. When we praise God for his steadfast love and worship him for his faithfulness, we are extolling the greatness of his character and nature. Prayers of worship celebrate who God is, in contrast to prayers of thanksgiving which celebrate what he has done.
The LORD is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; he knows those who take refuge in him. Nahum 1:7 ESV
O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens. Psalm 8:1 ESV
ANCHORING OUR PRAYER IN THE WORD OF GOD
One way to help ground our prayers in the truth is to hook our prayer to a Bible verse or passage of Scripture. When we associate a prayer of praise with Psalm 8:1, for example, we can worship God through his word as we pray it back to him. For a challenge, take one of the above mentioned categories on prayer and choose a Bible verse to memorize with SonicBiblia. Once you’ve finished the lesson, continue for a few minutes to recite the verse on your own and then begin to pray within the theme you’ve chosen of thanksgiving, confession, supplication, intercession or worship.
For more insight into how you can remember God's word, read the article: "How to Memorize Scripture: a Definitive Guide".
Now, the next time you write an email or text message, take a moment to praise God that he hears the spiritual prayers of your heart and answers them! May God be with your spirit. Soli deo gloria.