Prayer is our way of directly communicating with God Himself and contrary to traditional beliefs, God is a God of order and according to the Biblical text, there are specific rules of engagement in approaching Him. There are basically six forms or types of prayer. They all have specific ways they address needs, which means contrary to popular belief, God has set rules or if that word offends ones sensibilities, let’s say, guidelines to communicating with Him, ways of making these prayers function more effectively.
First, let us consider a few words associated with prayer that obscure these guidelines.
Meditate. In Hebrew this word is “Siyach”, meaning an utterance, babbling, communication, complaint, talk, prayer, converse with oneself aloud.
Using this definition, which predates any Greek or New Testament translation, to pray is to“SPEAK” not “THINK” to oneself. If you are praying, you have to open your mouth and speak. You must move the air with your voice, no matter how slight. You cannot think a prayer, there is no scripture to support thinking or simply writing a prayer to communicate with God. As traditional and widely done as thinking prayer is, it is simply not biblical.
When God created the Heavens, man, the world and all therein, He did not think any of it into existence, He spoke it. “and God said” (Genesis 1:2-29).
When the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray, Jesus did not say, when you pray “think” or “write” He said when you pray “say” (Luke 11:2). When Jesus prayed Himself, He spoke aloud..
“These words spake Jesus and lifted up His eyes to Heaven, and said” John 17:1-26
When Jesus prayed to the Father to raise Lazarus from the dead, He spoke, “Jesus lifted up His eyes and said, Father I thank thee that hast heard me” John 11:41-44
In John 17, Jesus has one of the most lengthy prayers recorded in the Gospels. In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus prays and speaks aloud (Matthew 26:36-45).
“And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying,” (v39)
In every occasion, speaking is required in prayer, there are no examples in scripture to support it being done any other way. Praying silently is a religious tradition and nothing more.
“Death and life are in the power of the tongue” Proverbs 18:21 (NOT THE THOUGHTS.)
A final general note, these subjects are much broader then a single article can express, but in general this is an effort to answer the whole question. All the individual guidelines as outlined apply to each type of prayer. This means whatever type of prayer you're participating in, all six guidelines apply globally because you're still taking to God in each instance.
1. Faith or Petition Prayer - when your asking God for something
“Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.” Mark 11:24
This is the most common type of prayer, asking God for stuff. The most common misconception is that the people praying to God actually believe that God exists.
Most people believe in the concept of God, they subscribe to the notion that if you are a good person you will go to Heaven. This good person belief is based on an individual’s concept of right and wrong, good and evil.
Keys to this prayer
The key is “WHEN YOU PRAY”. When asking God for anything, you should first be sure that He can hear you by cleaning the slate. Repent of any sins you have committed, ask for what you want, but be very specific. Be certain that what you are asking for is in God’s will. Not something outside of His will, like winning the lottery, killing your enemies, covering up a lie for you or asking for someone else’s wife or husband, stuff like that.
Whatever it is that you are asking for, you have to believe for it in the moment that you are praying to God. Not before or after. It is to say that when you pray you believe that in that moment you are literally in the presence of God Himself with your request. If you don't believe that God is hearing you when you talk to Him, then your prayer is dead on arrival. Once you have prayed for whatever you are asking of God, you cannot ask for it again. Religious teaching suggests that you should ask God over and over again as though God is hard of hearing.
“But when you pray, use not vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they shall be heard for the much speaking. Be not ye therefore like unto them, for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of before ye ask him” Matthew 6:7-8
“Ask in faith, nothing wavering” James 1:5-8
God is not hard of hearing and He is omniscient, meaning He knows everything. As Jesus points out, He knows even before you ask. So to ask over and over is not to ask in faith, but in doubt. As a practical matter repeating a request is wavering.
Jesus offered two parables with respect this. “because of his importunity” Luke 11:5-13
Here Jesus makes the spiritual contrast that God is not like a man, that because you wear Him down he will respond to you. He is saying instead, “ask and it shall be given, seek and you shall find, knock and it shall be opened to you. For everyone that asks receiveth”(Matthew 7:7-8, 21:21-22; John 16:23-24).
The unjust judge is a contrast as well. God is a just judge and if this earthly judge would avenge this woman, how much more would God do for His children (Luke 18:1-8).
Once you pray for something, the next thing to do is to pray a prayer of thanksgiving to the Lord and believe you receive your answered prayer. Example, “Father I thank you and praise you that I believe I receive my sandwich in Jesus name”.
This is all you say. You don’t ask for the sandwich again. If you pray believing that God has heard you, then to pray for it again is to say you don’t believe that God heard you.
This is a prayer of faith, asking again kills your prayer. God is a God of order, we can’t ignore these details, God does not. We can thank God all day long and as often as we want, God even likes that. You can praise the Lord for what He is doing on your behalf, but to ask amiss is to get into the repetition (James 4:3).
The final key is to never accept substitutes as answered prayer.
In the accounts of Matthew and Luke, Jesus is saying that God will do more for us than a heathen would do for his own.
“If a son asked bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? If you then being evil know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your heavenly father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him?” (Matthew 7:9-11; Luke 11:11-13)
2. Prayer of Thanksgiving - (Revelation 7:12; Philippians 4:6)
This form of prayer is also called praise and worship. This is all about thanking God for all He has done. Every form of prayer should offer some form of thanksgiving to God in it. However, this prayer is purely about thanking God for who He is and what He has done, both for you and the world at large. This in and of itself, is a form of worship.
Keys to this prayer
As an individual prayer, this form of prayer stands on its own. You are not connecting this prayer to any petition. It is purely worship or thanks to God, the more you do this the more you get Gods attention overall, believe it or not.
3. The Prayer of Agreement - (Matthew 6:14-15; 18:19; Mark 11:25-26)
This is probably the most misunderstood prayer. It is also one of the most powerful, yet unfulfilled prayers. The reason it is powerful is because you’re adding the faith of two or more people.
This makes the prayer exponential in a sense. It’s the most unfulfilled form of prayer, because people don’t do it correctly.
“Again I say unto you, that if two of you shall agree on earth as touching anything they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in Heaven” (Matthew 18:19)
A prayer of agreement has two or more people involved in the prayer.
The first challenge in this form of prayer, is that the more people you have involved in your prayer, the more chance that prayer will not work. The reason is that prayers of agreement are heard as “one” voice by God.
So if one of you has un-forgiveness in their heart, un-confessed sin, and is not on the same page in the specifics of the prayer, that prayer cannot be answered (Matt. 6:14-15; Mark 11:25-26).
When you go before God as a group, you are received as one voice, which is why agreement prayers are so powerful. If one person goes before the authority, whether that authority is a King, a President, Congress, Judge or whatever form the authority takes, you get very little movement.
But if the people show up by the thousands or millions, all demanding the same thing, the authority listens to the people and governs accordingly.
This is to say that agreement prayer is of the same import with God. The more that are together on an issue, the louder your singular voice. The difference however, is that when people show up in mass to earthly authority, the authority does not question the individual integrity of each person that is part of the group. They respond because of the sheer numbers and outrage of the people. God is different in this regard. He looks at each person in the group and judges the whole group as either being righteous or not.
“Again I say unto you, that if two of you shall agree on earth as touching anything they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in Heaven” Matthew 18:19
For this reason you must be mindful who you ask to pray with you and for you. If you ask a person to make an introduction, whose character is dubious at best, you are not going to be viewed very highly.
Asking someone to agree with you in prayer without knowing their walk with the Lord or relationship and standing with the Lord, may put your prayer in the “heard but not responded to category”.
Keys to this prayer
The first and most important thing is to make sure you are praying with people who are in right standing with God. The easiest way to do this is to pray together and repent of any sins you may have committed together. Be certain to have a frank conversation about forgiveness. If one of you has some pent up unresolved issues that involve un-forgiveness, you either have to bail on the prayer, or resolve it by asking the Lord to forgive you for not having forgiven the person or persons, and forgive them on the spot. If you don’t forgive others their sins against you, the Lord will not forgive you yours, and everything you say to God, until you forgive, is dead on arrival (Matthew 6:14-15; Mark 11:25-26).
The next thing is to be specific. Details are the best to make sure you are on the same page. The final thing is to make sure there are at least two of you in agreement. There can be more, but the larger the group, the better chance the prayer can be spoiled with individual drama you are not aware of. Less is more.
4. Intercession (Romans 8: 26-27)
The most powerful form of prayer, both personally and corporately is intercession. Intercession is when you pray on someone else’s behalf.
The word intercession in the Greek is Huperentugchano meaning to make intercession for. This is a larger subject, but here we will review the basics.
Keys to this prayer
When praying on someone’s behalf, direct your prayer from the outset by the subject at hand specifically. It is important to note, that many instances of intercession, is to put yourself in front of the bullet.
To intercede is to ask the Lord to allow you to stand in for the person you are praying for. It is to say, I will take their place. This aspect of intercession is what makes it the most dangerous of prayers, above and beyond everything else.
Before interceding on anyone’s behalf, you should be certain that you have heard from the Lord that you should actually intercede on the person’s behalf so that spiritually, you are not on your own.
To intercede without being led by the Spirit to do so is to invite spiritual attacks on yourself that manifest in trouble with your finances, health, relationships, and strife in general in your life s you will be attacked spiritually and not understand where it is all coming from. This is not to be taken lightly.
5. Consecration and Dedication (Luke 22:41-42)
This form of prayer is used when you don’t know God’s will for you in a particular matter or situation. This form of prayer is never to be used in a petition prayer, or prayer of faith where people often use the phrase “if it be thy will”.
To consecrate yourself is to dedicate yourself to the service of God, typically in the form of a life in service, but in this context it is to say that you are setting your “will” aside in a matter, to whatever God has called you to do in a given situation beyond your own interest and
To dedicate yourself, in this context, is to say that whatever God tells you to do, you commit to doing it. You commit to follow through to the end of the service of the Lord, whatever it may be.
Abraham was willing to sacrifice Isaac, beyond his desire for his son to live, because he believed no matter what happened, God was able to do exceedingly and abundantly beyond what Abraham was able to do for himself. He believed that God’s will for him was perfect, and at the very least, God could raise his boy from the dead if need be (Genesis 22:2-12). The same was true for Jesus. He did not want to experience separation from God, but He was willing to do it, beyond His own interest.
“nevertheless, not my will, but thine be done” Luke 22:42
6. Binding and loosing (Matthew 18:18; Mark 16:17-18)
This type of prayer is used in binding the works of the Devil and specific acts that are spiritually influenced.
Not acts that we have done to ourselves or the consequences from self-inflicted drama, but real demonic influence.
Loosing is to release the power of the Holy Spirit that has been given to you, to fight the works of the Devil. This power is manifest in two ways:
1. Through the gifts of the Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:4-11). The word of wisdom, involves foreknowledge of the way something is to be dealt with. Word of knowledge involves knowledge that you cannot normally have, about an individual’s past and present acts.
The gift of Faith, is the ability to believe God to bring significant things to pass.
The gifts of healing, working of miracles, prophesy, are all part of the arsenal to be used in the Spirit. The discerning of Spirits is the ability to identify the work of a particular Demon and their presence. Having Divers kinds of tongues is the ability to speak many Heavenly languages, which is the language of Angels themselves, and the interpretation of tongues is the ability to provide interpretation of these Heavenly languages.
2. There is a distinction and difference from a person having the Holy Spirit in them at the time they accept Christ, which denotes the conviction and reproving guidance of the Holy Spirit in your life, and the gifts of the Holy Spirit, which is the power of the Holy Spirit (Mark 16:17-18; Luke 10:19; Acts 1:8). The gifts of the Holy Spirit are both tools to help the body of Christ and also a weapon to fight within spiritual warfare (Ephesians 6:12).
Keys to this prayer
To be prepared to enter into a spiritual encounter, where binding the enemy takes place in the physical proximity of you, requires a lifestyle of preparation, namely the wearing of the Armor of God (Ephesians 6:11-18), which is really about being in right standing with God and knowing how to use the authority He has given you to be effective. A lifestyle of preparation refers to the subtlety in the physical and spiritual implications of spiritual warfare.
If you can receive it, these guidelines will help your prayers become more effective, the good news is that if you apply these guidelines you will see an immediate difference in your life that is not subjective or imaginary. If God is God, He will honor His word.