Thursday, August 18, 2011

Kinds of Prayer

It seems there are so many people standing in the need of prayer this week. Last night our Associate Pastor preached from Acts 12. Something he pointed out was the meaning of Rhoda's name, which is Rose. Several thoughts came to mind when he told us that. One thought, was that we pray to the Rose of Sharon. Another thought is that our prayers are as a sweet smelling savor to the Lord.
I started thinking about prayer and the importance of it. Too often we say we'll pray about something and then life gets in the way and we forget or we just don't take the time to pray as we should. Or maybe we have thing in our lives that stand in the way of our prayers being heard.
There are many stipulations to prayer. And as I went over them I thought it would make a good Bible study, which would also make a good blog series.
Prayer is a request to God. There are four types of prayer I can think of:
1. Secret prayer
2. Family prayer
3. Group prayer
4. Public prayer
There is the secret prayer mentioned in Matthew 6:6 "But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly." When I was little I thought this meant we actually had to get in the closet. Since I was little and afraid of the dark, I didn't do much secret praying. But the truth of the matter is, we just need a quiet place. A place with no distraction. A place where we are totally alone, just us and God.
I thought it was interesting that in the verse above, it does not say "...and thy Father which 'heareth' in secret..." but rather "...and our Father which 'seeth' in secret..." God not only hears us in our secret place, but He is right there with us. Listening and watching His children as they lay their burdens and petitions at His feet. Isn't that a sweet image of the Father? That He takes time, not only to listen to us, but to visit with us too.
Family prayer is important also. Acts 10:2-30 tells the story of Cornelius. Verse 2 says that he was "A devout man, and one that feared God with ALL HIS HOUSE, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God alway." In this story, it is obvious that his whole family loved and served God. I would imagine they were much in prayer about matters. And after several days of praying, the Lord heard and answered. I know that for our own family, we need more family time together in prayer. Sadly, I am sure there are many Christian families that don't have the family prayer time they need together. And maybe we would see the Lord answer more prayers for us if we would take the time and pray together as a family unit.
Matthew 18:20 "For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them." I love that verse. As a family unit or as fellow believers draw together in prayer, it is a sweet thing to know that Christ is right there in the middle of it all. That every word spoken is heard clearly and that He is working on each little detail of each prayer.
And last, but not least, is the public prayer. Matthew 6:5 says, "But when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, they have their reward." I'm sure we have all been somewhere at sometime or another and heard flowery prayers. Praying with adoration and thanking God for His goodness, is not flowery. But when we stand there reaching for big words, and praying for things that will impress those we are praying in front of, God is not impressed. Whether we pray in our closet or pray in public, God desires to hear the things on our hearts. Ironically, our prayers reveal to Him exactly what is in our hearts.
I wonder.... do my prayers stink? Or are they a sweet smelling savor to Him?