• Riley Brown

Types of Prayer

Prayer is the main focus in life with God. We are all working toward weaving prayer into the fabric of our morning routines, our daily triumphs and troubles, and every mundane moment in between. Prayer is how we interact with God and how we take part in his work of bringing Heaven to earth. There are many different ways we can approach prayer. This list gives a few examples of some ways in which we can engage in an intimate conversation with God the Father. As we move toward becoming people of prayer, having knowledge of some different ways we can speak to, and hear from, God helps us stay encouraged and flexible as we seek his presence consistently throughout our day and seasons of life. In one moment, you might find Intercessory prayer as the most helpful type of communication, while in other times, Contemplative or Listening prayer might be the best way to stay connected and in tune with the heart of God. Our hope is that through familiarizing yourself with the practice of prayer through many forms, you will feel enriched by the discipline and encouraged to continue to press into experiencing and enjoying the presence of God.


 


Listening Prayer

Prayer is, more than anything else, about being in an active relationship with the Person of God. When we come to understand this we can begin to realize that in the same way we use many forms of communication to see ourselves and others better known and understood in relationships, the more we began to apply this same truth to our relationship with God. Sometimes, this looks like talking, sharing our feelings and experiences, challenges, and hardships with the other in the relationship. Other times, many other times, this looks like listening. Imagine a marriage where only one person talks and the other is never given the chance to speak into situations, to share feelings, wisdom, hurt, etc. We would venture to say this isn’t a relationship at all. In our relationship with God, it is so important to make our requests known, to share our lives with The Father but is just as important for us to listen, to quiet our minds, and to tune our ears to hear and recognize the very voice of God in our lives. This is what we call Listening prayer, the practice of finding a place to quiet our own thoughts, our own agendas and desires as well as our own wills to better know and understand those of The Father. Listening prayer can feel a lot like doing nothing. It can be a hard practice because it leads us to be still, to wait on God to speak. We love to be busy, to feel as if we accomplished something, but being still feels a whole lot like doing nothing at all. In reality, being still in the presence of God and intentionally seeking his mind is an active state. Listening prayer causes us to surrender ourselves over to hear from God and to know His mind on things.


 

Intercessory Prayer

Intercession is a word that often gets lost in translation. Most think it’s merely about giving our desires, wishes, or sympathies to God. In reality, though, it is so much more. This form of prayer finds its home in our desperation and desire to see God radically move – to change both lives and circumstances around us. Simply put, intercession is the place where we join with Jesus in praying for God’s will to be done in the lives and circumstances of those we love “on earth as it is in heaven.” In this prayer practice you are bringing people, including yourself, and circumstances before God, and then waiting. Yes, waiting. We wait on the Holy Spirit to show us how to pray in order that we would be able to pray God’s will. We ask the Spirit to quiet our perspective and desires, since they are much smaller than God’s, and we allow Jesus to shape the reality into which we pray. It’s in this space that we boldly pray, “Your will be done” (Matt. 6v10) This Practice isn’t easy because it requires faith, persistence, and boldness. It will demand that we pray from a place of confidence in God and his ability to not only patch things up but to completely redeem them. But, it’s through this type of prayer that we see miracles happen, freedom given, and lives rescued and changed forever.Intercessory Prayer: Intercession is a word that often gets lost in translation. Most think it’s merely about giving our desires, wishes, or sympathies to God. In reality, though, it is so much more. This form of prayer finds its home in our desperation and desire to see God radically move – to change both lives and circumstances around us. Simply put, intercession is the place where we join with Jesus in praying for God’s will to be done in the lives and circumstances of those we love “on earth as it is in heaven.” In this prayer practice you are bringing people, including yourself, and circumstances before God, and then waiting. Yes, waiting. We wait on the Holy Spirit to show us how to pray in order that we would be able to pray God’s will. We ask the Spirit to quiet our perspective and desires, since they are much smaller than God’s, and we allow Jesus to shape the reality into which we pray. It’s in this space that we boldly pray, “Your will be done” (Matt. 6v10) This Practice isn’t easy because it requires faith, persistence, and boldness. It will demand that we pray from a place of confidence in God and his ability to not only patch things up but to completely redeem them. But, it’s through this type of prayer that we see miracles happen, freedom given, and lives rescued and changed forever.


 

Lamenting Prayer

When we are in seasons of celebration and joy, we cry out to God with prayers of thanksgiving and gratitude. So, what are we to do when we are in seasons of the opposite? When we experience suffering and pain, there is a special type of prayer that helps us not only express our sadness and grief to The Father but invite him into the very midst of our pain. Here is the question we ask ourselves: How do we live in the space of faith and doubt, hope and despair, expectation and frustration? One way we approach this is an ancient form of prayer called Lament. In the middle of the Bible is a prayer book called The Psalms. It’s there to teach us how to pray. And over two-thirds of the psalms are prayers of lament - venting anger and rage and disillusionment and confusion and questions and frustrated longing to God, in a posture not of whining, but of worship. We engage in lamenting prayer because it enables us to petition for God to deliver us from distress, suffering, and pain. We see also within the practice of lament through scripture, that the sufferer is committed to ending their lament by reminding themselves of God’s faithfulness and goodness. This is such a vital part of lamenting because it encourages and reminds us of God’s character and mercy on his people. Below we have shared a practice from practicingtheway.org that we find helpful in learning and practicing lamenting prayer.


Praying the lament psalms

Pick out a lament psalm, and use it as a “liturgy” to give voice to your prayers. Here are some great examples: Psalm 10, 13, 60, 79, or 80. Don’t just read/pray it and move on. Sit in the discomfort and let God comfort you. Don’t be scared to feel, even to feel deeply, and to meet God in that emotional pain."

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