4 Types of Prayer
1 Timothy 2:1-2 NASB
First of all, then, I urge that ENTREATIES and PRAYERS, PETITIONS and THANKSGIVINGS, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. (emphasis mine, ADL)
1 Timothy 2:1-2 (KJV)
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; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. (emphasis mine, ADL)
While this scripture is especially appropriate now in the USA, I have already discussed the election and how one should view it through the lens of scripture, here. Today, I want to consider the four words I highlighted in 1 Timothy 2:1-2: Entreaties/Supplications, Prayers, Petitions/Intercessions and Thanksgiving.
In To Be a Handmaid of the Lord, Lesson 11 is called “Prayer and a Thankful Attitude“. In it, we study how to pray along with what makes an acceptable prayer, who can pray, and when to pray. I was struck though with Paul making the point of four different types of prayer. There was not room to cover those in detail in the book, so I am beginning to explore them now for a more focused study on prayer.
Prayers and Thanksgiving
These two words are fairly easy to deal with and to understand.
Prayers in this verse, and the 36 other times this Greek word is used in the New Testament, just means “prayer”. This is simply a prayer to God in its most generic meaning. Any communication directed toward God, that recognizes Him as God, is a prayer. It can be in a formal worship service (1 Cor. 14:15) or it can be in a closet (Matt. 6:6).
Thanksgiving is pretty straightforward as well. These are expressions of gratitude that we make towards God.
So, we are to offer up communication to God, recognizing that He is God Almighty (Matt. 6:9) and we are to express our gratitude to Him for the things He has done for our benefit. Many of the Psalms of praise or thanksgiving would fit in these categories.
The next two interest me because of the distinction they make.
The Greek word that is translated as “entreaties” or “supplications” means “need, indigence, a seeking, asking, entreating”. This is asking something of God. These are the communications that accomplish the command in Matt. 7:7. “Ask” means “to beg”. Supplications to God is how you bring your deep needs to Him and beg for His attention and provision for those needs.
This word indicates specific conversation with the Lord that indicates that we each know our own needs, the needs of others, and we express those needs to Him. It requires humility because we are willing and able to “beg” of Him for these things. We are able to say that without Him our needs will not be met.
“Petitions” and “intercessions” are the English renderings for the Greek word that means “a falling in with, meeting with, an interview, a coming together, to visit, converse”. This gives a different picture or aspect to the communication we are having with God! One of the aspects of our prayers is approaching God the Father as we would an important meeting to discuss plans. We bring something to the table that needs to be dealt with and we expect a captive audience Who will, in turn, address the issue that is brought to them. This is not remote, far away, disconnected access. This is access to the Father, one on one.
This makes me think of Acts 17:27, “that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us”. Don’t you love the reminders that God is not far away?
So, what do we do with that information?
It helps me to break the verses down into parts, go back to 1 Timothy 2:1-2 –
First of all, then, I urge that
- entreaties – prayers that bring the needs of all men, kings, and all who are in authority to the feet of the Lord
- prayers – acknowledgement that God is God Almighty, hallowed be His name, and that He is in control of these things
- petitions – the plans and desires be brought before the Lord so that we are working together with Him and through Him
- thanksgivings – we be grateful for His love and the blessings He provides in every aspect of our lives and all those of all men
be made so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.
I believe that it is important that Paul did not just tell Timothy to pray – to converse with God. He told Timothy to
- acknowledge God’s authority
- be thankful for God’s hand in the life of all men
- be aware of the needs of others – including on a political/global scope
- bring all of the aspects of living out our days, plans, wants, desires, goals, etc to the Lord.
- keep his focus on being able to live a quiet life spent serving God
Well – that leaves a LOT of room for study. It also leaves room to consider how well we actually DO those things. When we pray, are we praying that deeply? Do we get beyond our own hurts and ask that the Lord protect those He has put in authority over us? Are we thinking of all men as souls God wants in His household, they just need to see the Way? Are we approaching Him in prayer as our superior Creator but also as our partner? Do we truly see Him as working with us and for us to accomplish the life that we live? Hmm – like I said, much to study and much to think about.
Lord willing, we will explore this more together going through the year. I hope to share with you my studies as I prepare the print version of the study on prayer. Mondays will be the days I share those thoughts, so look for them then.
Do you have a prayer life full of all four types of prayer? Are you one who likes to write them out? Do you track them in some way? Share your insights if this is an area where you are strong so that others might learn from you.
PS – If you would like to get updates on new content, including these studies on prayer, you can sign up by following THIS link. That will add you to our email list AND give you access to a FREE copy of A Diligent Woman’s Prayer journal.
PSS – I am excited! I am working on a silent auction donation for the WOW (Women of Worthiness) Conference in Grapevine, TX next month. Whoever wins our donation will get an EARLY copy of the NEW Bible Study Guide version of “To Be a Handmaid of the Lord” that will go on sale April 1st!
The theme is “Women in Combat”. They still have openings, if you are in the area and would like to attend. Get your registration in ASAP.