Download (direct link):
• Prayer is asking to know God’s will for us and for the strength and courage to carry it out.
• Prayer is asking God for help and then being open to letting God help us.
• Prayer is acknowledging our needs and then asking God to meet those needs in whatever way God thinks is best.
• Prayer is asking our higher power to heal us and then being willing to be part of that healing.
• Prayer is a recognition of our helplessness and of God’s power.
• Prayer is loving attentiveness to the higher power.
• Prayer is making ourselves teachable so that we can learn God’s will for us.
Traditional religions have identified five types of prayer according to the purpose of the prayer. A single prayer can fulfill one or more of these purposes:
44 NO REGRETS
1. Petition: Prayers of petition contain a request for ourselves and are the most common type of prayer. They come quite naturally to most of us and include requests for healing, safety, and other assistance of whatever kind. The simplest form of petition is, “God, help me.”
2. Intercession: In prayers of intercession, we intercede or speak on behalf of others, asking that something be done for their benefit. Such prayers are often said for family, friends, coworkers, and others who are important to us, but they may also be said for acquaintances, strangers, those whom we have hurt, those who have hurt us, and those whom we dislike or hate. A simple form of intercession would be, “Please protect my baby.”
3. Confession: This prayer is an admission of having done something wrong. It generally includes an expression of sorrow, a request for the strength and courage to make the amends we need to make, an appeal for forgiveness, and the power to avoid repeating the behavior. A simple confession would be, “Please forgive me for what I’ve done. Grant me the strength and courage to make amends, and help me to do the right thing in the future.”
4. Thanksgiving: This prayer expresses gratitude for God’s presence in our lives, for the blessings we have received, the spiritual and material gifts we have been given, and the protection God has afforded us. Prayers of thanksgiving support our humility because they acknowledge our debt to God for all that we have. A simple prayer of thanksgiving would be, “Thank you for all my blessings, especially for my loving family, my good health, and the food I eat.”
5. Adoration: The most difficult to describe of the five types of prayer, adoration is an appreciation of the power, love, majesty, and wonder of God. Sunrises and sunsets, music, paintings, and other works of art sometimes elicit a sense of adoration as we marvel at the beauty and the exquisiteness of life and nature. Adoration is an experience of the awesome power of God and is a natural expression of our gratitude and wonder at the power of the divine. Prayers of adoration are more often felt than said.
USING SPIRITUAL AND PSYCHOLOGICAL TOOLS 45
In saying a prayer with all five components, we would acknowledge our sense of the power, wonder, and love of God; confess our mistakes and ask forgiveness; pray for others; petition God to meet our own needs; and thank God for all the blessings we have received. But not every prayer is so complete, nor does it have to be. We may, for example, pray spontaneously in response to events that confront us. We might ask God to help us in a difficult situation, thank God for saving us from harm in a close call, rejoice at the unexpected beauty around us, or pray urgently for the health of a friend.
To pray when we are in trouble or in need is to go to God in a state of helplessness, talk about our pain and distress, and ask for God’s assistance. To pray is not to beg for help, however, but merely to ask for it. To pray is also to go to God in times ofjoy. The logic of prayer is irrefutable when we feel helpless, cornered, and desperate. We speak the words, “God, help me” almost without thinking. Yet we resist prayer when our pain is less intense. In doing so, we miss an opportunity to seek God’s assistance with our daily difficulties when a greater wisdom than our own is needed. Daily prayer establishes regular communication with God, which makes prayer easier in both the good and the bad times, bringing us spiritual gifts we would not otherwise have received.
We naturally associate prayer with people of faith, but what if we have little faith and still want to pray? What do we do then? We pray. What ifwe have no faith and still want to pray? We pray. That is the beauty of prayer. Our willingness to pray is a form of faith. “God, help me,” the pained cry of the hurting heart, is an act of faith that always brings a response. That response may or may not be the one we wanted or expected, and it may not be within the time frame we demanded. But whatever the response, it will be the best possible answer to our need at precisely the time we need it. And it will come.
Kevin was an alcoholic with two DUIs. After he ran over and killed a neighbor’s dog, Kevin asked God to help him stop drinking. He expected the answer immediately and without effort, as if by magic. His prayer was answered but in the form of Alcoholics Anonymous, which required him to work hard to change himself. Yet AA brought so many benefits that he