Different Modes of Prayer
When things gets out of hand, we often hear Pray! What is prayer? Does it work? Today I would like to invite you to look into different modes of prayer.
Let’s begin with what prayer is. Prayer can be defined as communicating with God. Through prayer, we submit our requests, petitions, needs, desires, express thanks and hear from God. Does God listen to prayer?
Jesus during his earthly ministry, we read that he prayed a lot. In some places we read Jesus praying all night, praying early in the morning and he often wandered away from the crowd to pray. He even teaches his disciples how to pray. This￼ is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.” 1 John 5:14-15 NIV. Many verses support that God hears and answers the cries of our Today, I want to bring your attention to few modes of prayers.
1. Simple prayer which means fairly straightforward. You ask and God grants your request. Many of us have had this privilege of enjoying the prayer being answered without delay. The Bible contains many instances of such prayers. Prayer of Jabez is a perfect example for this. He’s only mentioned in two verses and it says God granted his request. His prayer is as follows: “Jabez was more honorable than his brothers. His mother had named him Jabez, saying, “I gave birth to him in pain.” Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, “Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.” And God granted his request.”
1 Chronicles 4:9-10 NIV
We see the answer when God made Jabez so great, that a city was named after him and wise men and scholars of those days lived in the city of Jabez.
“The following clans of experts in writing and copying documents lived in the town of Jabez: the Tirathites, Shimeathites, and Sucathites. They were Kenites who had intermarried with the Rechabites.”
1 Chronicles 2:55 GNB
Likewise, when Nehemiah heard that Jerusalem was still in ruins, his heart hurt and he became sorrowful. When he went to work in the palace, the king noticed his sad face and asked what troubled him. There we read that he prayed to God and then answered the king. Clearly he did not have two or five minutes to pray before answering the king, but just a couple of seconds where he must have said “Help me God.” Clearly, God heard and made the king to have compassion on him and sent him to rebuild the city of Jerusalem. Likewise, we see many prayers asked and answered in this way.
The following mode of prayer I want to call as 2.Impossible prayers. What I mean by impossible is something that is not normal, and supernatural intervention is necessary to work on it. The best example of this is the prayer of Elijah at Mount Carmel. He brought all the people and king Ahab to the top of the mountain, and said, Let us offer to the LORD and to Baal two oxen. The true God will respond through the fire of heaven and consume the offering. And the prophets of Baal sacrificed their bullock, and they prayed from morning until noon. Elijah offered his bull as sacrifice on the altar. Then he arranged firewoods on top of the sacrifice, then he does something very interesting! He makes a large trench round the altar. He then poured 4 buckets of water over the firewood, three times over the sacrifice and the altar. The water ran down and filled the large trench. If it was me who’s challenging and offering like this, instead of water I would have poured some gasoline or any type of fuel to help ignite the fire! But here, Elijah poured water and made sure that there was no way a fire could light up! Then he prayed and upon his prayer, God instantly sent fire from the sky and consumed the sacrifice, the altar and the fire even vaporized the water from the large trench! This was clearly a miracle not possible.
We see similar story when Jehoshaphat goes to war against Moab with the king of Israel and the king of Edom. After a week’s travel through the desert, they are exhausted and their water supply has run out. And Jehoshaphat cried, saying, Behold, God brought forth the three kings and their soldiers to die in the wilderness: and one of them spoke of Elisha the prophet that dwelt by them. He meets him and requests water supplies where he prays and answers to dig many gutters in the valley. There will be neither rain nor dew, but God will fill the holes with water and so God will give Moabites into their hands! And they obeyed, and in the midst of the desert they dug numerous holes. There was neither rain nor dew, but when they awoke the next morning, they saw the valley full of water! The Moabites thought they saw blood looking at the water because there was no water before and early in the morning the sunlight on the water made it look like blood! They thought the three kings fought and killed one another and came running to get their valuables. Soon enough, they ran right into the hands of 3 kings and their armies that took them and killed them and won the battle!
During Hezekiah’s time, the king of Assyria attacked Judea, he cried out to God and God send his angel and killed 1,85,000 soldiers of Assyria giving a big victory over Assyria! Later, when he was sick, he prayed and instead of dying, he was healed and fifteen years were added to his life. There are numerous other instances of impossible prayers in the Bible.
The next mode of prayer, I wish to address as the 3.Unanswered prayers. This is a common issue for those who seek God. We see many of our prayers answered while few of them remain unanswered. It makes people very sad and depressed because of it. While there are several explanations to why prayers are unanswered – unbelief, not God’s will, not following God earnestly, God is testing, the request is not really needed and many others – there are several prayer requests where we are really helpless and need God to answer. When we see that these prayers do not answer, we become very frustrated and many people even leave the faith. Is God a cruel God, not to respond to your heartfelt cry? Oh no, absolutely not!
One day while I was playing with my youngest two year old niece, she saw a bottle of glue on the table. Being a two year old she started to cry to get the glue, instead I moved her attention away by giving her toy and she stopped crying and played with her toy. I didn’t give her the glue because I didn’t want her to get hurt, but obviously she doesn’t understand that. However, when I found her toy and gave it to her, she became pleased and satisfied. At that very moment the Bible verse- “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” Matthew 7:9-11 NIV. A similar verse is also seen in Luke. “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” Luke 11:11-13 NIV -stuck me all of a sudden! I wasn’t praying or I wasn’t reading the scriptures when it happened, but I was concerned about my future. And suddenly Holyspirit reminded me of this verse that I read and heard so much about. All those times I understood it as if you ask for bread, God is a good God and He will give you bread not stone, fish not snake, egg not scorpion and so forth, but in that instance, I was told several things we see as bread, fish or egg are not really bread, fish or egg but they are stones, snakes and scorpions which can harm us. As the way I moved the child’s attention from glue to the toy so is several things we ask God for! Several job interviews, promotions and wishes they appear as bread, fish, and eggs to us, but hidden behind them will be many troubles that can hurt or even kill us like the stone, snake and scorpions. And God stops us by not answering our prayers for a bad future! Most of our prayers go unanswered because, we appear to see things as bread, fish and eggs, whereas in reality it will be a stone or a snake or a scorpion which can harm and kill us! (More of this could be seen under the topic, why God does not answer my prayer article.)
Now I want to talk about the next mode 4.The extra mile prayers! In 1 Samuel 1 we see a woman, Hannah desirous and praying for a child and remains childless and depressed. Then one day she goes to the temple, there she makes a decision and prays that if God gives her a little boy, She devotes him to the service of God. As we read those portions, we see that it was a time when people were distancing themselves from God and the voice of God was very seldom heard. But when she took such an audacious decision God honored her prayer and gave her a little boy named Samuel! According to her decision after the little boy grew up, she consecrated him to the service of God. As Samuel grew, God spoke to him and used him powerfully. He became known from Dan to Beersheba -from north to south of the whole of Israel- while he was a young lad! He became the last judge of Israel and God used him to anoint the two earliest kings of Israel. People feared and worshipped him when they saw how God was using him! The prayer and devotion of a mother led to a spiritual revival to the whole nation. God honored her and gave her many sons and daughters after Samuel! One extra mile decision before God, God honored the decision and answered her prayer.
Solomon was the wisest man in the whole of humankind. How did he turn out to be the wisest? He went the extra mile by offering 1000 sacrifices to God! God only asked for one sacrifice, but when Solomon became king, he wanted to honor God and he just didn’t honor by giving one or five or ten or a hundred sacrifices, but he went above and beyond and offered 1000 sacrifices to God! God honors his worship and asks him for his desire to which he answers, wisdom and God filled him with the abundance of knowledge and wisdom! He also honored him with wealth, honor, strength, peace, and placed his kingdom, Israel above other kingdoms during his reign!
Mary Magdalene, she broke a large jar of perfume at the feet of Jesus, worth 300 coins, the equivalent of a year’s pay. They all said it was extravagant and that she should have given the money to the poor. But knowing her and knowing her former life, Jesus forgave her sins and transformed her into one of the strong pillars of the New Testament church!
Daniel was a slave when he was taken to Babylon, but he and his friends decided to honor God by not defiling them with the king’s food and wine! He was a slave and was not able to demand his wish. But when he had such desire, God made the necessary arrangements. At the end of 3 years, when all the captives were brought before the king, there was no one as wise, skilled and best in appearance as Daniel and his friends. He was blessed with the talent to interpret visions and dreams! God spoke to him about the coming days and his prophecies are still to be fulfilled after 2600 years! In his interpretation of King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, he reveals about the Babylonian empire and other future empires, he speaks of the Greek empire. Later Alexander the Great rose in power from Greek empire and came to attack Israel. Certain scholars from Jerusalem met Alexander and showed him, Daniel’s prophecy concerning the Greek empire. When Alexander saw that instead of attacking Jerusalem, he chose to pray and pat respect at the temple of Jerusalem and moved onward with his quest! One man’s decision to not defile himself with the king’s food or wine lead to saving a nation from war after 200-300 years of his death. In today’s world, we look forward to the end of days through the books of Daniel and Revelation!
If we decide to go the extra mile for God, God will honor those decisions and will act mightily for us!
On reading, you might think God will listen only if we do something special. That’s certainly not what I meant. God loves you and knows what is needed far before you ask. Remember the previous verse where it is said that if an earthly father supplies the best for his children, how much more father in heaven will bless those who follow him! Then my beloved, don’t be upset about anything, God knows what is best for you and me. He will only give the very best for those who follow him and wait upon an answer from him!
“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”
Ephesians 3:20-21 NIV
1 John 5:14-15
1 Peter 3:12
1 chro 4:9,10
1 Chro 2:29
1 kings 18:30-39
2 kings: 20:3, 8-11
Why God does not answer prayers
1 Samuel: 1:11