It has been a while since I've posted sermon notes. During that time, Rev. Singleton has been teaching us about spiritual warfare, especially focusing on the Armor of God found in Ephesians 6:10-20. This Sunday, she spoke about the piece of the armor that holds all of the rest together, and that is prayer. Ephesians 6:12 reads: "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." Our battlefield is actually in our prayer closet!
I am posting today especially because she gave us so many great scriptures about prayer, so hold onto your hats! I encourage you to look each one up in your Bible, but if you don't have one or it's easier for you, just go to Bible Gateway and you can search for each scripture in whichever version you choose.
At the beginning of the sermon, we heard a series of scriptures, read by different people in the church from different versions of the Bible. I'm going to list them here so that you can look at them as we go along: Mark 11:24, Matthew 6:6, James 5:16, Matthew 26:41, Ephesians 6:18, Matthew 6:9-13, Philippians 4:6, and 2 Chronicles 7:14.
Prayer is our direct line of communication with God. God wants to speak to us corporately and individually. Prayer is such an important aspect of our Christian lives that prayers are mentioned in every book of the Bible! This week, we were introduced to eleven different types of prayer.
1. Prayer of Thanksgiving
This type of prayer is mentioned in Philippians 4:6, Colossians 4:2, Psalm 100, Matthew 15:36 and 26:26-27, Luke 22:19, and 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18: "Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything, give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." If we really believe that everything we have comes from God, we should thank him for it, should we not? God is not an ATM machine. We can't just walk up and punch in our request. ATM machines are a way for us to have access to our own money so that we can spend it. First Corinthians 10:26 says “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it.” When we receive things from God, we receive a gift. For this, we are thankful.
2. Prayer of Supplication
Supplication is asking for something. This type of prayer is asking for something for yourself. Again, we're not thinking ATM machine here, but there are things that we need. God expects us to ask for them. As Christians, we are to be the "hands and feet" of Jesus. We are to do the work of the Lord. We can't do this from a place of lack. One of Jesus' names for the Holy Spirit is "helper" (John 14:26). We can and should ask for help when we need it.
3. Intercessory Prayer
In 1 Timothy 2:1, Paul urges that prayers be made for all men (mankind). With intercessory prayer, we can stand in the gap (intercede) for people who may not be able to pray for themselves, as well as stand alongside those who are able.
4. Imprecatory Prayer
This was a new word for me, and I found it a little hard to understand, partly because it is not used much anymore. This is the type of prayer that King David prayed in some of the psalms when he asked for God to strike down his enemies. This type of prayer is not used much anymore because as Christians, we are under a new covenant, and that covenant is one of love. Jesus tells us in Matthew 5:43-45 that there is a new rule: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous." We live in a time of grace, not revenge. We are to bless and not curse (Romans 12:14).
5. Corporate/Public Prayer
The Christian church was birthed in prayer. We just celebrated Pentecost Sunday, which starts out with Jesus' followers meeting together in prayer (Acts 1:14). When you read the book of Acts, you will see that every time the apostles had to make a decision, they prayed. In Acts 6, they even appointed men to help serve the widows so that they had more time to pray! Remember that prayer is our direct line of communication with God. How can we, as a church, know what God is leading us to do, if we don't take the time to ask him?
6. Invocational Prayer
When we get together for worship, we want God to show up, so we invite him. This type of prayer is usually done at the beginning of a worship service, as a corporate prayer with all of the congregation present. It helps us to focus on what we are there for, and invites God to lead us. We read in Exodus 33:15 that Moses invoked God's presence to go with Israel, saying that if God was not with them, they weren't going anywhere!
7. Private/Closet Prayer
If you've seen the movie "War Room," you know what a prayer closet is. For some of us who don't have an extra closet in our house, a prayer closet can be something a little less literal. Basically, it is a way to spend "alone time" with God. In Matthew 6:5-6, Jesus tells us not to pray in order to impress other people, but to pray privately so that only God can hear us. This is a time to lay down our pride and spend time with our Heavenly Father.
8. Worship Prayer
Worship focuses on who God is. We do this every time we say the Lord's Prayer - "Hallowed be thy name!" In this type of prayer, we are not asking for anything, but just affirming and praising God's holiness.
9. Prayer of Consecration
In the Baptist church, we don't baptize babies or young children, because we believe that they need to make their own decision to follow Jesus when they are old enough. However, we do consecrate, or dedicate them to God. We see an example of this in 1 Samuel 1:24-28, where Hannah dedicates her son Samuel to the Lord. We also see Jesus dedicate, or consecrate, the bread and wine at what we call the "Last Supper" in Matthew 26, Luke 22 and Mark 14. We do this each month as the pastor prays over the communion table.
10. Prayer of Faith
The prayer of faith is best explained in 1 John 5:14: "This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us." When we pray the prayer of faith, we pray knowing that it is within God's will. How can we know this? The best way to know is to read His word. If what we are praying is in line with what He has told us in the Bible, we can rest assured that it is according to His will. When our prayers are answered, we have confirmation, and gain confidence in our faith, our prayers, and our God. God wants to have a relationship with us, and we can strengthen this relationship by going to him in prayer.
11. Closing Prayer
The closing prayer is generally prayed at the end of a church service or meeting. During this prayer, we give thanks for God's continued protection and leading. It is a joyful, unifying prayer that sends us out with the presence of God, as we invoked his presence at the beginning of the service.
I hope that this summary encourages you to spend time in prayer. It really is the best way to get close to God, and to know His will for your life. Since we are at the end of the post, I'm going to leave you with a benediction (good word) or closing prayer that is sometimes prayed at our church services. It comes from the book of Jude, verses 24-25.