core studies : prayer
Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 2 Tim 2:15
Prayer is personal communication between a person and God. There are basically four different types of prayer: 1) Solicitation 2) Praise and Thanksgiving 3) Repentance and 4) Intercession. These prayers can be explained as follows:
1) Solicitation prayers are prayers in which we ask God for something or to do something (Ephesians 6:18, Philippians 4:6). In these petitions, we might use the words "Lord, I need" or "Lord, I would like."
2) Prayers of praise and thanksgiving are prayers expressing adoration and thankfulness to God (Colossians 3:17, Luke 2:36-38, Romans 16:3-4, Acts 27:34-35). These prayers might begin with “Lord, I thank you for…,” or the prayer might use words of praise like “Hallelujah,” which means “praise the Lord.”
3) Repentance prayers involve very specific confessions of our sins as we seek forgiveness (Psalms 51:1-19, Luke 21:36, 1 Kings 8:28-40, Nehemiah 1:4-11). In these prayers, we may say, “Lord, please forgive me for …”
4) In prayers of intercession, we seek God on behalf of others (Jeremiah 42:1-4, 1 Thessalonians 5:25, 2 Thessalonians 3:1-2, Hebrews 13:18-19). The people for whom we pray do not have to ask for prayer to receive benefit from these prayers (Acts 12:5, Romans 10:1-3). These prayers might begin with “Lord, please bless my friend …”
When the disciples asked Jesus Christ how to pray, he responded with words we now refer to as “The Lord’s Prayer” (Matthew 6:9-13). All four types of prayer are represented within the Lord's Prayer.
Though God knows the thoughts and intents of our hearts before we pray (Hebrews 4:12-16), He still desires us to communicate to Him (Matthew 11:28-30). Our attitude when we come to God in prayer is also important. King David prayed that the Lord would accept the meditation of his heart (Psalms 19:14). As God's children, we pray to Him to have the weight of sin lifted from us (Hebrews 12:1-29, Psalms 32:1-6, Romans 14:11-12). We must be completely honest with God in order to reveal our heart to Him and to receive his direction. After baptism (the initial cleansing from sin), we must continually confess our sins in order to have them forgiven (1 John 1:9-10). When a person neglects to pray, he starts to loose the desire to pray. The longer a person avoids prayer, the more distant he feels from God. Since it is through prayer that we receive forgiveness of our sins (1 John 1:9), if we neglect to pray, we will eventually cease to regard our sin and will therefore begin to allow more and more sin into our life. However, the more we pray, the more we see the need to pray and the closer we draw to God. It is important to note that it is by prayer that God's judgments are revealed to us. If we stop approaching the "light" of God's judgment, then we will then abide in darkness (John 3:19-21).
To fast is to deny ourselves of something that our body needs. In the truest form, fasting involves denying the body of food and drink. Voluntary and willful fasting is of great spiritual value when we pray. Fasting without prayer is nothing more than a diet. But if we pray as we fast, then every hunger pain compels us to draw closer to God through our prayers. Jesus demonstrated that God desires us to fast (Matthew 6:16-18). In the Book of Isaiah, God describes the purpose of fasting (Isaiah 58:3-6). Jesus also teaches us that we should feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, take in the stranger, cloth the naked, and visit the sick and imprisoned (Matthew 25:31-46). Therefore, in order to accomplish this, we must maintain a life of service to Christ (Romans 12:1-2). There are other kinds of sacrifice and means of self-denial which are discussed more in the Living Sacrifice Bible study.