Various Forms of Prayer

Devote yourselves to prayer; stay alert in it with thanksgiving.—Colossians 4:2

Today we ask ourselves: what does it mean to “pray always with all prayer and supplication”? The phrase “praying always” presents no difficulty; quite clearly, this means praying as often as possible, regularly and constantly. But what does it mean to pray “with all prayer and supplication”? Paul means, I believe, that we should pray with all forms or kinds of prayer.

You see, there are many different forms of prayer that are available to us. First, there is verbal prayer when we present our prayer to God in carefully chosen words and phrases. Second, there is silent prayer, when no words cross our lips, but prayer flows directly from our hearts. Third, there is ejaculatory prayer, when we express sounds rather than words, as when we sigh or groan in prayer. Then there is public prayer, common prayer, or “praying together”—or, as some prefer to call it, “praying in concert.” So praying with “all prayer” means using every form of prayer available to us, praying in every way and manner we can. We are to be at it always and in endless ways.

But there is a certain form of prayer to which the apostle refers which deserves our closer examination—the prayer of “supplication” or “petition”—when we pray with regard to special requests and needs. We must not overlook this, for it is so easy to be caught up in adoration and praise that we neglect to focus our prayers on the various needs that arise from time to time, not only in our own lives, but also in the lives of others. This, too, is a necessary kind of prayer.

Prayer

Father, help me to see the senselessness of trying to muddle through life in my own strength when You have made Your power and resources available to me through prayer. Help me grow in prayer. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Further Study

Mt 7:1-12; Ac 1:14; 4:24; 12:12; 21:5

What is evident about the early church?

How does Jesus relate fatherhood to prayer?

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