In my own house—the one I live in, I mean—I go into different rooms to do different things, according to the different needs of our household. I go into the kitchen to prepare food, and the dining room to eat it. I spend time with family and friends in the living room. I sleep in the bedroom. I wash clothes in the laundry room, etc.
It’s the same with prayer. The “rooms” in our house of prayer are the kinds of prayers we pray. We have different objectives at various times, and we can employ different kinds of prayer according to those needs. We can move in and out of and between all the “rooms” just like we do the rooms in our own house, according to the need of the moment.
On a daily basis, we come to God in prayer for a variety of reasons—to worship Him, to confess our sins and ask for forgiveness, to thank Him for His blessings, to ask for things for ourselves, and/or to pray for the needs of others—to name a few! Some different kinds of prayer (rooms in our house of prayer) might include:
- Liturgy/scripted prayers. These can be formal, traditional prayers, such as the Lord’s Prayer or like the prayers found in The Book of Common Prayer. They can be as simple as, “Now I lay me down to sleep.” There can be beauty and value in these prayers and they are often the starting point for many people, so we shouldn’t minimize them. Neither should we stop here, however. They are only the beginning …
- Supplication/”asking prayers”. The Hebrew and Greek words most often translated “supplication” in the Bible mean literally “a request or petition,” so a prayer of supplication is asking God for something. The Bible includes many prayers of supplication. When Jesus’ disciples asked Him to teach them to pray (Luke 11), He not only taught them the Lord’s prayer, but also went on portray God as a loving Father and Friend to whom they could take their concerns and needs, and expect that He would hear and respond.
- Intercession. In his description of the armor of God, Paul exhorted us to remain alert and to pray in the Spirit, “making supplication for all the saints” (Eph. 6:18). Clearly, prayers of supplication on behalf of others are part of the spiritual battle all Christians are engaged in. When we are making supplication for someone/something else, we call that “intercession.”
- Prayers of thanksgiving. When we are anxious, we can combine prayers of thanksgiving with our supplication. Philippians 4:6-7 tells us this is the key for ensuring that “the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
- Spiritual transaction prayers (e.g., salvation, repentance, forgiveness). When we do what we are responsible for on our end, God fulfills a promise on His end. If we don’t make the transaction, it doesn’t happen. For example, it’s important to not just share the gospel, but to also help a person actually pray that prayer, because the Bible tells us, “If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved” (Rom. 10:9). When I walk into my bank to make a withdrawal, if I don’t actually sign the check and slide it across the counter, I don’t get my money! If we just talk around it, but don’t actually make the transaction, it doesn’t happen.
- Declaration. “Death and life are in the power of the tongue” (Prov. 10:18). Our words are powerful and authoritative. Words of declaration carry weight in the heavenlies, with powerful results.
- Prayers of agreement. Jesus said, “If two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them” (Matt. 18:19-20). It is a Kingdom principle that prayers in agreement with others are particularly powerful. Agreement works hand in hand with other kinds of prayer like intercession, spiritual warfare, and declaration. It’s like a booster pack!
- Spiritual warfare. Over and over again we see in Scripture that the Kingdom of God is a battle zone. Paul told believers in Eph. 6:11 to “put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” In Matt. 4:10, we see Jesus telling Satan directly, “Be gone from Me.” Paul did something similar in Acts 16:18. Sometimes we just need to take up our armor and flat out tell the devil and his demons to get lost!
- Prayer ministry (e.g., freedom prayer, prophetic prayer). We see in 1 Cor. 14:3 that the “prophetic” gift (listening to the Holy Spirit on behalf of others) is for the purpose of bringing “comfort, strength, and encouragement.” If you have been on the receiving and/or giving end of this kind of prayer, you know the freedom and blessing that comes through it. It can “tear down strongholds and every lofty thing raised up against the truth of God” (2 Cor. 10:3-5), and set people free from all kinds of burdens and bondages. It’s powerful.
- Prayer language. The spiritual gift of tongues goes hand in hand with the gift of interpretation and they are supposed to be exercised together (1 Cor. 14:27). But just as with other gifts, there is a common expression of the gift that can be experienced by all believers, apart from being particularly and singularly “gifted” with it. For example, I may not have the spiritual gift of mercy (in particular), but I can still be, and should be, merciful (in general). I may not have the gift of hospitality (in particular), but I should still be hospitable (in general). We may not have the spiritual gift of tongues, but we can still have the Holy Spirit-empowered experience of praying in a prayer language. The purpose of a prayer language is to build up our spirit. The apostle Paul said, “He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself “(1 Cor. 12:4). The word “edifies” is from the Greek oikodomeo which means, “building layer upon layer,” and is the same word we get “edifice” from in English. Paul’s implication seems to be that “speaking in a tongue” builds our spirit, layer upon layer, as an edifice or building is built. This may be what Jude was talking about when he said, “ But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit…” (Jude 20).
The bottom line is: there are many rooms in our house of prayer! We shouldn’t be camping out in one or two all the time, anymore than we would want to live in the kitchen and living room of our own home and never explore and use all the other rooms!
What rooms in your own house of prayer would you like to explore today?
By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures. (Prov. 24:3-4, NIV)
(c) 2017 Arlyn Lawrence. All Rights Reserved.