Tuesday, November 27, 2007
"Are there different levels of prayer?"
LEVELS OF PRAYER
There are three levels of intensity in prayer: Asking, seeking, and knocking:
Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:
For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth, and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. (Matthew 7:7-8)
Asking is the first level of prayer. It is simply presenting a request to God and receiving an immediate answer. In order to receive, the condition is to ask:
...ye have not, because ye ask not. (James 4:2)
Seeking is a deeper level of prayer. This is the level of prayer where answers are not as immediate as at the asking level. The 120 gathered in the upper room where they "continued" in prayer is an example of seeking. These men and women sought fulfillment of the promise of the Holy Spirit and continued "seeking" until the answer came (Acts 1-2).
Knocking is a deeper level. It is prayer that is persistent when answers are longer in coming. It is illustrated by the parable Jesus told in Luke 11:5-10. It is also illustrated by the persistence of Daniel who continued to "knock" despite the fact he saw no visible results because Satan hindered the answer from God (Daniel 10).
TYPES OF PRAYER
Paul calls for believers to pray always with "all prayer" (Ephesians 6:18). Another translation of the Bible reads "praying with every kind of prayer" (Goodspeed Translation). This refers to the various types of prayer which include:
1. WORSHIP AND PRAISE:
You enter into God's presence with worship and praise:
Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise; be thankful unto Him, and bless His Name. (Psalms 100:4)
Worship is the giving of honor and devotion. Praise is thanksgiving and an expression of gratitude not only for what God has done but for who He is. You are to worship God in spirit and in truth:
But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in Spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship Him.
God is a Spirit and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth. (John 4:23-24)
Worshiping God in truth means that you worship Him on the basis of what is revealed in the Word of God. To worship Him in Spirit is to do so sincerely in the power of the Holy Spirit, from your innermost being, putting Him first above all others. When you worship in Spirit, you allow the Holy Spirit to direct your worship. You do not use man-made formulas or rituals of worship. You do not just repeat chants or prayers with your mind somewhere else.
Instead, you open up the innermost recesses of your heart and mind, and lift praise and adoration to Him in your own words. Sometimes, the Holy Spirit will take over completely and you will begin to worship in the "other tongues" of your prayer language.
Praise and worship can be with:
Singing: Psalms 9:2,11; 40:3; Mark 14:26
Audible praise: Psalms 103:1
Shouting: Psalms 47:1
Lifting up of the hands: Psalms 63:4; 134:2; I Timothy 2:8
Clapping: Psalms 47:1
Musical instruments: Psalms 150:3-5
Standing: II Chronicles 20:19
Bowing: Psalms 95:6
Dancing: Psalms 149:3
Kneeling: Psalms 95:6
Lying down: Psalms 149:5
This is prayer committing your life and will to God. It includes prayers of consecration and dedication to God, His work, and His purposes.
Prayers of petition are requests. Requests must be made according to the will of God as revealed in His written Word. Petitions may be at the levels of asking, seeking, or knocking. Supplication is another word for this type of prayer. The word supplication means "beseeching God or strongly appealing to Him in behalf of a need.
4. CONFESSION AND REPENTANCE:
A prayer of confession is repenting and asking forgiveness for sin:
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (I John 1:9)
Intercession is prayer for others. An intercessor is one who takes the place of another or pleads another's case. It is upon this type of prayer that the remainder of this manual focuses.
THE BIBLICAL BASIS OF INTERCESSION
The Biblical basis for the New Testament believer's ministry of intercessory prayer is our calling as priests unto God. The Word of God declares that we are a holy priesthood (I Peter 2:5), a royal priesthood (I Peter 2:9), and a kingdom of priests (Revelation 1:5).
The background for understanding this calling to priestly intercession is found in the Old Testament example of the Levitical priesthood. The priest's responsibility was to stand before and between. He stood before God to minister to Him with sacrifices and offerings. The priests also stood between a righteous God and sinful man bringing them together at the place of the blood sacrifice.
Hebrews 7:11-19 explains the difference between the Old and New Testament ministries of the priest. The Old Testament Levitical priesthood was passed on from generation to generation through the descendants of the tribe of Levi. "The Melchizedek priesthood" spoken of in this passage, is the "new order" of spiritual priests of whom the Lord Jesus is the High Priest. It is passed on to us through His blood and our spiritual birth as new creatures in Christ.
THE MODEL INTERCESSOR
The Bible records that God's purpose in sending Jesus was for Him to serve as an intercessor:
And He saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessor: therefore His arm brought salvation unto Him, and His righteousness, it sustained Him. (Isaiah 59:16)
Jesus stands before God and between Him and sinful man, just as the Old Testament priests did:
For there is one God, and one mediator (intercessor) between God and men, the man Christ Jesus. (I Timothy 2:5)
...It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. (Romans 8:34)
Wherefore He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them. (Hebrews 7:25)
Jesus brings sinful man and a righteous God together at the place of the blood sacrifice for sin. No longer is the blood of animals necessary as it was in the Old Testament. We can now approach God on the basis of the blood of Jesus which was shed on the cross of Calvary for the remission of sins. Because of the blood of Jesus, you can approach God boldly without timidity (Hebrews 4:14-16).
Jesus was an intercessor while He was here on earth. He prayed for those who were sick and possessed by demons. He prayed for His disciples. He even prayed for you when He interceded for all those who would believe on Him. Jesus continued His ministry of intercession after His death and resurrection when He returned to Heaven. He now serves as our intercessor in Heaven.
HOW TO INTERCEDE
As intercessors following the Old Testament priestly function and the New Testament pattern of Jesus, we stand before God and between a righteous God and sinful man. In order to be effective standing "between" we must first stand "before" God to develop the intimacy necessary to fulfill this role.
Numbers 14 is one of the greatest accounts of intercessory prayer recorded in the Bible. Moses was able to stand between God and sinful man because he had stood "before" Him and had developed intimacy of communication. God spoke with Moses as friend to friend and not through visions and dreams as He did with other prophets.
As New Testament believers we no longer sacrifice animals as in Old Testament times. We stand before the Lord to offer up spiritual sacrifices of praise (Hebrews 13:5) and the sacrifice of our own lives (Romans 12:1). It is on the basis of this intimate relationship with God that we can then stand "between" Him and others, serving as an advocate and intercessor in their behalf.
Peter uses two words to describe this priestly ministry: "Holy" and "royal." Holiness is required to stand before the Lord (Hebrews 12:14). We are able to do it only on the basis of the righteousness of Christ not our own righteousness. Royalty is descriptive of the kingly authority which is delegated to us as members of the "royal family," so to speak, with legitimate access to the throne room of God.
Sometimes this priestly intercession is done with understanding. This occurs when you intercede for others in your own native language and you understand what you are saying:
I exhort therefore, that first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men.
For kings, and for all that are in authority... (I Timothy 2:1-2)
At other times, intercession is made by the Holy Spirit. It may be with groanings resulting from a heavy spiritual burden. It may also be in an unknown tongue. When this happens, the Holy Spirit speaks through you praying directly to God according to the will of God: