There are many types of prayer which can be classified into categories:
- prayers of thanksgiving – thanking God in prayer,
- confession – asking God for forgiveness
- affirmation – agreeing with God, willingness to do his will
- petition – personal requests
- renewal – seeking God to work in us and through us during times of difficulty
- adoration – worship and praise
- for a Christ-like character – to mold us into godly people, lights for the world
- for wisdom and guidance – for direction and understanding
- for intercession – prayers for the needs of others
- prayers of surrender – giving up our fears, worries, problems, and/or lives into God’s control
During one of Jesus’ most documented sermons, known as the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught on how we should pray. Consider this section of the Sermon on the Mount….
“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
“This, then, is how you should pray:
“‘Our Father in heaven, [prayer of affirmation]
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come, [prayer of affirmation]
your will be done, [prayer of surrender]
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread. [prayer of petition]
[“us” makes it also a prayer of intercession]
And forgive us our debts, [prayer of confession]
as we also have forgiven our debtors. [prayers for Christ-like character]
And lead us not into temptation, [prayer for wisdom and guidance]
but deliver us from the evil one.” [prayer of renewal]
A good book I recommend is Prayers for Today, a Yearlong Journey of Contemplative Prayer, by Kurt Bjorklund. There are 260 days of prayer that follow a cycle of these ten types of prayers. Kurt starts each page off with a prayer of God’s scripture back to him. Here is an example that I think is meaningful as we come near to the New Year.
Day 138, Prayers for Wisdom and Guidance
Lord, You give wisdom; from Your mouth come knowledge and understanding.
You store up sound wisdom for the upright; You are a shield to those who walk in integrity,
guarding the paths of thee just and protecting the way of Your saints.
Then I will understand righteousness and justice and honesty–every good path, for wisdom will enter my heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to my soul.
Discretion will protect me and understanding will guard me. Proverbs 2:6-11 (pg 156)
As we move forward into a new year, I hope you will seriously consider a refreshed and more dedicated prayer life. Make a commitment to meet God in prayer at a certain time of the day, and then make the effort to keep your date with God. God will honor your commitment, even if you miss a few dates. The fact that you care enough to embark on this commitment with a sincere heart, is a first step to a deeper prayer life, and more guidance from God. He can only speak when we get close enough to listen. Start drawing closer now.
God bless you and yours.