When Jesus taught the disciples to pray (Matt. 6:9-15), he gave them a prayer with all the elements that a prayer should have. Even though we do not need to use all of them at the same time in our prayers, we should know what they are and let our prayers manifest those elements according to our needs or someone else’s needs.
9. Prayer manifests in different ways: petition, thanksgiving…
Prayer can and should manifest in different ways. This is what we learn with the Scriptures. Here are some examples: “I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone — 1Timothy 2:1.” and “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. Philippians 4:6.” Here we find, requests, prayers, intercession, and thanksgiving.
The Navigators, an international and interdenominational Christian ministry established in 1933, has many tools to help Christians in their spiritual growth. One of them is the “The Prayer Hand”, the one in the picture above. Its goal is to help people learn, memorize, and improve their prayer life.
They identify five elements of prayer:
Confession: Agreeing with God about my sin (1John 1:9)
Petition: Asking God for my needs (1 Samuel 1:27)
Intercession: Praying for others (Ephesians 6:18-19)
Thanksgiving: Thanking God for what He has done for me (Ephesians 5:20)
Praise: Voicing my wonder about who God is (Psalm 146: 1-2)
And they add: “As the thumb touches all four fingers, so praise should permeate my whole prayer life.”
You can learn more about the Navigators ministry, and find other useful tools in their website: http://www.navigators.org/us/. The first point here is to help you to understand that prayer manifests in many different forms, and each one of them have their importance. The second point is that we do not need to pray all of them in our prayer time. Sometimes we will feel the conviction of the Spirit or the Word about something that we did wrong. When that happens, we should confess. Sometimes, we will have a need, or someone will ask us to pray for something, so at that time we will offer the appropriate prayer for that occasion. And, off course, when we have more time, we will be able to combine those elements, including them in one prayer.
The third point is that, the more you know, the more you grow. The more we learn about prayer, more we pray, and better we pray. This is how we grow in our prayer life. Just knowing will not do it, we must pray. Praying just one kind of prayer will not help us too much. We need to learn how to pray using all the elements. Sometimes, circumstances will dictate which one we will use, but discipline should increase and diversify our prayer life.
So, use your hand to learn about prayer, and to develop your prayer life.
Have a blessed week,