Prayer is often understood as a time we set aside to have a quiet conversation with God and ask him about certain things we want or need. How good and pious this might be. It is a two way conversation with the Father.
According to ‘gotquestions’: “The most basic definition of prayer is “talking to God.” It is the communication of the human soul with the Lord who created the soul. Prayer is the primary way for the believer in Jesus Christ to communicate his emotions and desires with God and to fellowship with God. Prayer can be audible or silent, private or public, formal or informal. We pray to praise God and thank Him and tell Him how much we love Him. We pray to enjoy His presence and tell Him what is going on in our lives. We pray to make requests and seek guidance and ask for wisdom. God loves this exchange with His children, just as we love the exchange we have with our children. Fellowship with God is the heart of prayer. We can thank him for His love for humanity, bring worship to him who has set us free.”
When we pray for ourselves we use our given authority. We may declare over our own body and mind; health, peace, well being: and by doing so we bring our thoughts captive to the knowledge of Christ. “Every lofty idea and argument positioned against God’s knowledge of us, is cast down and exposed as a mere invention of our own imagination” (2 Cor 10:5a, Mirrorword).
When we pray for others, bigger areas, or countries that we don’t have immediate authority over, we use prayers such as supplications, petitions, intercessions and thanksgiving. As St Paul exhorted us in the letter to the Colossians to bring our requests to God. Paul mentioned he will not cease to “pray” (or has desire) for them. He asked that they may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that they may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God (Col 1:9). We can pray for the eyes of people’s understanding to be enlightened (Eph 1:18-21).
But is this what the majority of people believe prayer is?
The prayers offered to God by many people are found to be more of a shopping list prayer, with many underlying thoughts and preconceived ideas of how God should act, react or answer the prayers offered. Are we trying through our prayers to convince God of how good and deserving a certain person is, and therefore trying to convince God how he has to act towards this person. God is not a God who shows partiality or takes a bribe (Deut 10:17). God gives gifts to those who ask Him, friends or total strangers by His goodness. Everyone who asks will receive, and whoever searches will find, and whoever knocks the door will be opened.
Does prayer work?
God desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Tim. 2:4) – your true identity/oneness in God. Another bible verse comes to mind: “You were healed by his stripes” (1 Peter 2:24 b), which as Francois du Toit says in the Mirror: “He bore our sins in his own body upon the tree and thus brought closure to every distorted pattern of sin’s influence upon us; we were made alive unto righteousness, we were healed by the blows he took in his body. He removed us from the deadly influence of every distortion that sin could possibly generate in us! God has given us authority to pray, in this exercised authority we are one with the Father and can call things into being that are not as though they are (Rom. 4:17)”. So if we believe that we are truly reconciled into our godness, having the power and authority of that essence, then we can speak health and wholeness over our domain. “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (James 5:16b), which translates as ‘a prayer given with power and authority by a person understanding their right-standing, will achieve its aims’.
When we are using words like supplication, petition et al, we need to know what we understand by them.
Supplications: A form of prayer in which someone makes a humble petition or an entreaty with God. A desire or a request made known to God by the individual. Phil. 4:6 says: Don’t be anxious for anything but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.
Petitions: Request made known, make an appeal to. Petitions are made to bear more weight when they are made by more than one person.
Intercession: Action of intervening on behalf of another, mediation, standing in the gap. Example Paul praying for others. Christ’s ministry as a whole; healing the individual, forgiveness of sin, restoring unclean people to their communities. Intercession is active.
According to wikipedia: spiritual warfare is the christian concept of fighting against the work of preternatural (beyond what is normal or natural) evil forces. It is based on the biblical belief in evil spirits, or demons, that are said to intervene in human affairs. There are Christians who believe that spiritual warfare is praying against demons and their work. We believe that the works of the devil have been destroyed, in the finished work of The Christ on the cross, as in 1 John 3:8b “For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil” (NKJV). The battle has been won. Mankind was never redeemed from the devil, the thief (devil) never was the owner of humanity (Francois du Toit). But, we do need to constantly fight against the old ways of our thinking, bringing down strongholds and powers contrary to the Truth.
Individual: The battlefield is in our mind, therefore we pray for the eyes of our heart (mind) to be opened. A renewal of our mind (Romans 12:2).