The ignorance, illogic, and intolerance of the illiberal "liberal press" were dramatically demonstrated in yesterday's NY Daily News (NYDN) cover story: "God Isn't Fixing This."
Is NYDN so ignorant of prayer's resources to give people courage and wisdom in action? Are the mainstream media so limited in their logic to think that praying people are not also people of action? Are they so intolerant to intentionally ignore that the greatest expressions of zeal for justice and compassion in history have been fueled in sincere prayers? The ignorance, illogic, and intolerance of the illiberal "liberal media" seem more evident every day.
Lesson #1 for NYDN: Praying is the original multi-tasking.
Praying people pray all the time, with all kinds of prayers. We pray while walking or sitting, while talking with others or being quiet, while reading or writing, while learning or planning for action. Our Biblical activism honors the Lord as we also keep in constant communication with him.
Silent fellowship has a place, and yet there are many ways to pray, many ways to listen and to speak with the Lord, the awesome Creator of all the Universes. And his Word urges us to talk together with him — in order to know him better, to honor and please him further, and to resolve our present social and personal issues more honestly.
There is a stunning command given immediately after details of the Lord's Action Armor for us — the Armor that he has given for us to do well even with our greatest challenges, and then to remain standing! At that moment the Apostle Paul goes deep with a profound verse focused on prayer — using the word "all" four times, in Ephesians 6:18: "With all prayers, pray at all times, with all perseverance, for all God's people."
The NIV wisely interprets Paul's pithy "all prayers" at the beginning of that instruction to mean "all kinds of prayers." That is probably the point. And this NIV phrase should start us thinking, "How many different kinds of prayer are there?" We rapidly found 51! There are probably more.
NYDN, why not actively explore some of these 51 kinds? How many of these many different kinds of prayer have you used, even once?
- Adoration Prayer, as in 1 Samuel 2:112, "There is none besides you…"
- All Night Prayer, as in Luke 6:12, when Jesus prayed all night, just before appointing the Apostles — and in Acts 16:25, with Paul praying with Silas in prison.
- Battle Prayer — "Lord, there is no one besides you to help in the battle between the powerful and those who have no strength; so help us our God, for we trust in you and in your Name…" — 2 Chronicles 14:11
- Blessing Prayers at the beginning and/or end of a meal, as did Jesus [Luke 9:16; 24:30]
- Blessing Prayers at the beginning and/or end of a worship service, as in Numbers 6:22-27
- Blessing children and other people, Mark 10:13-16
- Bold Prayer for "grace and mercy in times of need," as in Hebrews 4:14-16
- Centering Prayers, as in Philippians 1:9-11, giving focus to what is important
- Community Prayers, as in public events, like I Kings 8:23-24
- Concentration Prayer for focus in creativity, study, writing, fun, to fulfill the wisdom of Ecclesiastes 9:10, "Whatever you do, do well with all your strength."
- Concerts of Prayer
- Confession Prayer by an individual, as in Psalm 41:4, "Lord, be merciful to me and heal my soul, for I have sinned against you."
- Confession Prayer for a nation, as in Daniel saying 12 different ways, "We have sinned" in Daniel 9
- Conversational Prayer — with many praying, adding phrase by phrase, before someone closes the prayer after several minutes.
- Courage Prayer — seeking God's empowerment and courage to do what should be done, as in II Timothy 1:7
- Crisis Prayer, as in Mark 4:38, "Teacher, don't you care if we all drown?!!"
- Deliverance Prayer — "We don't know what to do, so we're looking to you," I Chronicles 20:12
- Dialogical Prayer — Alternatingly, listening to God and speaking with God
- Evening Prayers, as in Psalm 4:8, "I will lie down and sleep in peace. Lord, you alone keep me safe."
- Faith-building Prayer, seeking more faith, as in Mark 9:24, "Lord I believe, help my unbelief"
- Fear-Dispelling Prayer, as in Joshua 1:5-9, Psalm 23:4-4 ("I fear no evil for you are with me…") and Isaiah 48:1-2.
- Fervent Prayer, as in James 5:16, "Effectual fervent prayers accomplish much."
- Forgiveness Prayer, as in Stephen's "Lord, do not hold this sin against them," in Acts 7:60
- Focus Prayer, as in "Dear Lord, please help me do my best — including protecting my family, my country, and myself."
- Gratitude — as with Jonah rescued by a large fish, "I cried for help from the depth of Sheol; you heard my voice." — Jonah 2:1-9
- Groaning — Romans 8:23; 2 Corinthians 5:2-4
- Hallelujah Prayer — Intense praise to God, as in Psalm 150
- Healing Prayer — "Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean of Leprosy," Matthew 8:2
- Imprecatory Prayer — expressing to God anger and/or hurt, as in Psalms 22, 58, and 94
- Intercessory Prayer, praying for other people and their needs, as in Acts 12:12-17
- Interrupted Prayer, continuing prayer after your attention is diverted to ministry or to something else that is important
- Intervention Prayer, as in Acts 8:24 where Simon the Sorcerer says to Peter: "Pray to the Lord for me that these punishments not occur."
- Invocation Prayer at the beginning of a meeting
- Listening Prayer, totally silent before God, Habakkuk 2:20
- Memorized Prayer, as with the frequent use of Lord's Prayer, Matthew 6:9-13
- Mercy Prayer, as with the tax collector, "God, be merciful to me a sinner," in Luke 18:13, and "In wrath, remember mercy," in Habakkuk 3:2
- Morning Prayer, as in Psalm 5:3, "In the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly."
- Peace Prayer, expressing the passion for the strength to achieve and sustain peace, as in Psalm 29:11
- Personal Needs Prayer, as in Philippians 4:6
- Personal Success Prayer, as in Jabez Prayer, I Chronicles 4:9-10
- Presence Prayer, affirming God's presence, especially in times of great challenge, as in Deuteronomy 31:8, Joshua 1:5; Matthew 28:20
- Quick thanks: "Thank you, Jesus!"
- Relinquishment Prayer: "Giving up" to God, in the middle of spiritual struggle, as in Psalm 46:10
- Relishing God's Presence in prayer, as in Psalms 90:1-2 and 91:1-4
- Singing Prayer — as in Psalm 19:14, "Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable to you, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer."
- Soldier's Prayer, seeking Godly courage and skill — as in Psalm 91
- Strength Prayer, seeking Divine strength in all hostile and helpful circumstances, as in Isaiah 41:10 and Philippians 4:13
- Submission prayer, when we submit to God, as in, "To you I lift up my soul," Psalm 25:1, and Jesus in ""Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done," in Luke 22:42
- Urgent: 911 Prayer = "Lord, help me!", as with the Syro-Phoenecian woman in Matthew 15:25
- Wisdom Prayer, requesting needed wisdom, as in Solomon saying "Give your servant an understanding mind to govern your people, that I may discern between good and evil…" — 1 Kings 3:9, and as taught in James 1:5
- Wrestling Prayer, as in Genesis 32:22-32, Jacob's all night prayer, wrestling with the Lord
Perhaps it is easy to get stuck in a habit of simply two or three kinds of prayer, but the illiberal "liberal media" would do well to try any prayer. As there are many kinds of human communication among ourselves, our communications with the Lord can and should be quite varied and creative, too.
Besides these 51 different kinds of prayer, there are at least 15 different postures of prayer, such as:
- Driving a car or bike, praying with your eyes fully open
- Flat on your back
- Hands folded
- Hands together – palm to palm, fingers to fingers
- Holding hands
- Jogging or running
- Leaning against a tree
- On your hands and knees
… and #15: You can even pray and chew gum at the same time! The "liberal media" should at least try that!
So you see, there are at least 15 x 51 = 765 ways to pray!!! There certainly are even more than 765 ways to connect with the Lord of Biblical activism to keep justice and compassion service to him vital, faithful and real. The editors of NYDN could explore a different way to pray each day for more than two years! God only know knows all the different ways NYDN's journalism might then improve in the process.
And for the rest of us: With these great options and our grace-filled freedom, we can easily add more adventure and variety to our prayer lives, starting today. In faithful freshness, we can eagerly receive the Lord's personal vibrant counsel, encouragement, and empowerment in prayer always.