Your Father in heaven is a loving Father who wants to hear your prayers. 1 John 5:14 “Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.” There are few limitations on your prayers. One limitation is that you ask according to His will. Asking for your own pleasures is not according to His will. James 4:2b-3 “Yet you do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.”
There are all kinds of prayer that you can make. The apostle Paul taught Timothy in 1 Timothy 2:1-4 “Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”
There are four types of prayer listed in 1 Timothy 2:1. The first is supplication. This is a humble request, perhaps for mercy or assistance in time of need. It could include confession of your sins and request for forgiveness from God. Remember the story that Jesus told about the two men that went up to the temple to pray in Luke 18:9-14. The tax collector said “God, be merciful to me a sinner!” Such a prayer of confession, repentance and request for mercy when you have sinned would be a prayer of supplication. It is also a prayer that God wants to hear and has promised to forgive you. 1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” But in addition to a prayer requesting forgiveness, a prayer of supplication might be when you are experiencing tribulation and you plead with God for mercy or help in your time of trial.
The second type of prayer is simply “prayers”. These would be requests for obtaining the good things, spiritual and temporal, which you need. In the “Lord’s Prayer”, Jesus prayed in Matthew 6:11-13 “Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.” These requests are examples of “prayers”. Another example is a request for wisdom. James 1:5 “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” There are many requests you can make of God for your spiritual and temporal needs.
The third type of prayer is “intercessions”. These are prayers on behalf of other people. It is common to pray for others that are sick. James 5:14-16 “Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” But “intercessions” should not be limited to sickness. You can pray for those going through tribulations. You can pray for evangelists that proclaim the gospel. Ephesians 6:19-20 “And (pray) for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.” You can pray for someone who is lost that their heart might be opened to the truth. There are many intercessions you can make for others.
Finally, there is “giving of thanks”. It is recorded multiple times in the Gospels that Jesus gave thanks for food. Many people want to pray for blessings on the food. The example we have from Jesus is that he gave thanks for the food. But don’t limit your giving of thanks to just food. 1 Corinthians 15:57 “But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 2 Corinthians 9:15 “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!” God has given you so many physical and spiritual blessings. You should always give thanks and praise God for all that He has done for you.
The apostle Paul tells Timothy in 1 Timothy 2:1 that all these kinds of prayers should be made for all men. Your prayers should not be limited to yourself, to family, and to those in the church. He goes on in verse 2 to give an example of praying for “kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life.” This extension of prayer to others besides yourself and your friends is made because you should be interested in other people. Paul continues in verses 3 and 4 “For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” Since God wants all men to be saved, you should also want good things to happen to them and that they might be saved.
My encouragement to you is to have a full prayer life. Ephesians 6:18 “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints.” You should pray always; in other words, pray on all occasions. You should pray with “all prayer”; this means pray all kinds of prayers as we have just studied (supplication, prayers, intercession, and giving of thanks).