By Pastor Mitch Horton | May 2002 | Posted in • Archives | (0) Comments
“Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all saints” (Ephesians 6:18).
As I continue the theme of prayer from the previous few months, this month I’d like to discuss the varying rules that apply to the different kinds of prayer.
Goodspeed’s translation of Ephesians 6:18 reads: “Use every kind of prayer and entreaty, and at every opportunity pray in the spirit.”
Just as there are different rules that apply to the various kinds of sports, so there are different rules that apply to the different kinds of prayer. Too many times we think that all prayer is the same and that we should pray the same way about everything in life. But that way of thinking leads to ineffectiveness in prayer! It would be foolish to try to play baseball with basketball rules, or football with soccer rules. However, we often do that with our prayer life and then we wonder why we have limited results.
The different kinds of prayer include the prayer of petition or prayer of faith (prayer for your own needs); the prayer of intercession (always for others); the prayer of binding and loosing (Matthew 18:18); the prayer of consecration (to do the will of God); the prayer of agreement (with another believer concerning a need); the prayer of worship; united praying (with a group of believers); and praying in the Spirit (or praying with other tongues).
God has promised to answer our prayers! “And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive” (Matthew 21:22). “Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them” (Mark 11:24). “So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened” (Luke 11:9-10). “If you abide in Me, and my words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done unto you” (John 15:7). “And in that day you will ask Me nothing. Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you. Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full” (John 16:23-24). “And what ever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight” (I John 3:22). “Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him” (1 John 5:14-15).
For our prayers to be answered we must meet some simple conditions. We must remain in fellowship with God, allowing no unconfessed sin to stay in our lives (See Psalm 66:18; 1 John 1:9; John 9:31). And then just pray according to the rules!
The rule that applies to the prayer of petition or faith is that we must believe that we receive the answer the moment we pray, even though there is no physical evidence of the answer (See Mark 11:24 above). We must act as though the answer has already been manifest before we actually see it. The prayer of faith is a prayer that we pray primarily for ourselves and our own needs. We can’t always pray the prayer of faith for others (because their will is involved and they may not want the same things that we want for them from the Lord), but we can always pray it for ourselves. The phrase “if it be thy will” is never used in the prayer of faith. We can pray this prayer only when we know the will of God in a certain area of life. And we know the will of God in any area of life by finding out what He said in His Word about it. Praying according to the Word is really praying according to the will of God. In the “gray” areas of life, that is, the areas that I can’t find a particular scripture that concerns them, I find that I spend more time waiting on the Lord to see which way I need to pray than I do in actually praying the prayer of faith!
Now the prayer of consecration is different. The prayer of consecration is a prayer that we pray to find the will of God in our lives or in an area of life. And in this prayer, we do pray, “if it be thy will.” Jesus prayed this prayer in the garden of Gethsemane, just before He went to the cross (see Matthew 26:36-46). He had to consecrate Himself to go on with the task of the redemption of the human race by way of the cross. His humanness recoiled at the thought of crucifixion, and He asked the Father if there was another way to redeem us from sin.
We likewise pray the prayer of consecration when we are seeking the will of God for our lives. This is a pray that we should pray over and over again. Unlike the prayer of faith that really only needs to be prayed once, this prayer of consecration should be prayed on a regular basis throughout our entire lives and it always contains “if it be thy will!”
We’ll continue this theme of prayer rules in the next issue. And remember to “steadfastly maintain the habit of prayer” (Romans 12:11) – Phillips Trans-lation.
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