There are several kinds
of prayer all addressed to God, yet each of a
different nature. The most common kind is that of
a petition, wherein we ask God for some favor or
a special blessing. We may pray for guidance, for
protection, for success in an undertaking, for
patience, for a deeper understanding of the
things of God, or for any one of many other
things. All such prayers are prayers of petition,
and are acceptable to God. They are not used
alone, but are generally blended with other
prayers, such as those of thanksgiving, praise
Giving thanks to God for
blessings received or for any other favors is
most appropriate. Too often, we accept blessings
from God as a matter of course and forget to give
thanks for them. Once Christ cleansed ten lepers
and sent them to show themselves to the priests.
Of these, ten only one returned to give thanks to
God. Said Jesus, Were there not ten
cleansed? But where are the nine? There are not
found that returned to give glory to God, save
the stranger. And He said unto him, Arise, go thy
way: thy faith had made thee whole. Luke
17:17-19. Paul exhorts us to give thanks
always for all things unto God and the Father in
the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The pages of Scripture
are embellished with prayers of thanksgiving. The
psalms contain songs and prayers of thanksgiving
to the Lord:
give thanks to the Lord, for He is good;
His steadfast love endures forever!
the redeemed of the Lord say so,
He redeemed from trouble.
them thank the Lord for His steadfast
His wonderful works to the sons of men!
them extol Him in the congregation of the
praise Him in the assembly of the
107: 1,2,31, 32, RSV.
In our prayers, we
generally thank God for His many blessings; but
often the thanksgiving is a routine form without
any deep feeling. Saying grace at meals, thanking
God for daily food, is a commendable practice;
but that also may become a form without any real
spirit of thankfulness. In war concentration
camps many learned to give thanks to God for any
little morsel of food, and when liberated were
perplexed that some seemed to take food for
granted and were not especially thankful for the
bounties set before them.
Glory to God in the
highest, and on earth peace, good will toward
men. Luke 2:14. This is a good example of
prayers of adoration. The angels were not asking
for any special favor; they were simply ascribing
praise to God for His wonderful gift to the
children of men. When the angels sing one to
another, Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of
hosts; and when we on earth join in
worshiping God and giving glory to His holy name,
we are uniting in a prayer of adoration. Isaiah
The angel who is seen
flying in the midst of heaven, saying, Fear
God, and give glory to Him (Revelation
14:7), is calling on men to adore the Most High.
Prayer of adoration is one of the highest forms
of prayer. It is not asking for anything. It is
Gods approved way of having us declare our
love for, and loyalty to, Him.
Intercessory prayer is so
called because in it we are praying for others.
When Moses prayed, Yet now, if Thou wilt
forgive their sin-; and if not, blot me, I pray
Thee, out of Thy book which Thou hast
written, his prayer was one of
intercession. Exodus 32:32. So was Pauls,
when he prayed, I could wish that myself
were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my
kinsmen according to the flesh. Romans 9:3.
Christs prayer on the cross, Father
forgive them; for they know not what they
do (Luke 23:34), was likewise intercessory,
as was also His high-priestly prayer recorded in
We have mentioned these
different kinds of prayers not to show that one
kind is better than another, but rather to point
out that true prayer may consist of any one kind
or of all kinds blended, and still be acceptable
to God. The one who prays will not decide that he
will use a certain kind today and another
tomorrow. He simply opens his heart and expresses
his inmost desires, and then thanks God that He
has heard him. Paul gives good advice and
encouraging counsel to such as feel that they are
not able to express to God all they would like to
or in the way they would like: Likewise the
Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know
not what we should pray for as we ought: but the
Spirit Itself maketh intercession for us with
groanings which cannot be uttered. And He that
searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of
the Spirit, because He maketh intercession for
the saints according to the will of God.
We know not what we
should pray for, or, as the margin has it,
We know not how to pray as we ought.
Both renderings contain truth. We know neither
how to pray or what to pray for, as we ought. But
in this statement of Pauls, God gives the
precious and wonderful promise that the Spirit
will help our infirmities, and that though our
words but poorly express our desires, the Spirit
knows what is in our minds, and will make
intercession for us with groaning that cannot be
uttered. His pleadings are always according
to the will of God.
These two verses quoted,
Romans 8:26,27, contain the secret of effectual
and fervent prayer, prayer that will be heard and
answered. Our words may not express correctly
what we have in mind; in our ignorance of what is
for our good we may ask for that which is not
best and for which we would not pray if we knew
the future; but the Spirit knows what we mean,
and our prayers will come up before God so worded
that they will harmonize with gods will and
we ask for that which is for our good.
Pauls statement of
what the Spirit will do with our prayers is a
precious one. With this in mind, we can come with
all boldness and present our case to God. Our
words may be crude; but the Spirit rewords them,
they ascend as sweet incense before God and reach
the throne of the Most High. We may not have
known what we should seek. We may have asked for
that which would do us definite harm had our
prayers been answered. However, the Spirit knows
the real desire of our heart even if our words do
not rightly convey the meaning. Could we hear our
prayer as changed by the Spirit, we might not
recognize it as our prayer. God and the Spirit
work together and the prayer presented before God
is in harmony with Their will. Therefore, God
will answer the Spirits request, which
expresses our deep need. What we get is
according to the will of God.
In addition, if so, all is well.
I visit a person in the
hospital. In my conversation, I find that he has
a most intense craving for sweets, and so I leave
an order at the desk to have a pound of candy
delivered to the patients room. I do not
know that sweets are strictly forbidden the
patient. I meant to do him a little favor, and I
most certainly had no intention of doing him
harm; but before the order is sent out, the
doctor learns of what I have done, cancels the
order, and uses the money for something that will
do good and not harm. When I hear of what has
happened I thank the doctor and assure him I
appreciate his catching my mistake in time.
This illustration is a
weak one, but it does bring to mind that we may
make a serious mistake even when we mean to do
well. God knows what we have in mind, and He is
too good and too wise to give us that which in
the end will be harmful for us. So in answer to
our prayer, He may give us that for which we
never asked, and we are greatly surprised at what
God sent us when we asked for something else.
This may explain how at times we think God did
not hear our prayers when in fact He did hear and
answer, though we failed to understand that what
God sent was the answer.
Paul had some hard
lessons to learn in this respect. While still in
the full strength of manhood and while planning a
worldwide gospel campaign, he was imprisoned in
Jerusalem, carried from prison to prison, and at
last taken to Rome. We may well believe that both
Paul and the church sent earnest petitions to God
for his release. But God did not answer their
petitions. Year after year, Paul languished in
prison at the time when the church sorely needed
him. Doubtless both he and the church, wondered
why God did not hear their united prayers.
God knew what He was
doing. The church did need Pauls guiding
hand in the difficult period of the destruction
of Jerusalem and the temple. However, God also
knew that Paul needed time to be alone, time for
prayer and reflection, time to prepare the
documents and epistles that the church would use
until the end of time. Had Paul not been
imprisoned, we might never had the precious
documents that are known as the prison
epistles, and the valuable counsel
contained in the book of Hebrews. What the church
lost while Paul was in prison has been the gain
of the church for two millenniums. God knew that
Paul wanted above all things to serve where he
could do the most good. That place was in prison.
When this became evident to Paul, he was content.
The ambassador in bonds could write,
Christ shall be magnified in my body,
whether it be by life, or by death. For to me to
live is Christ, and to die is gain.
Philippians 1:20,21. He was ready to be
offered, he said, and the time of my
departure is at hand. 2 Timothy 4:6.
Therefore let all take
heart. God knows what we mean; Hw knows what we
need; and, whatever comes, we know that it will
work together for the good to them that love God.
Let us be of good cheer. God is at the helm!
For I am already
being poured out like a drink offering, and the
time has come for my departure. I have fought the
good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept
the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown
of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous
Judge, will award to me on that day and
not only to me, but also to all who have longed
for his appearing. 2 Timothy 4: 6-8.
is intercessory prayer?
2. What part does
the Holy Spirit do when we pray?