As Christians, we have the gift of communing with our sovereign heavenly Father through prayer. Today, Derek Thomas explores different types of prayer and how they appear in the Bible.
NATHAN W. BINGHAM: We’re recording live at Ligonier’s 2022 Birmingham conference, and I’m here with Ligonier Teaching Fellow Dr. Derek Thomas. Dr. Thomas, what is prayer?
DR. DEREK THOMAS: Prayer is an expression on our part of our finitude. It is an expression of our helplessness, that we need someone who is bigger and greater than us. And in a Christian sense, we need God in His sovereignty and omnipotence to act on our behalf and to do things that we cannot do, and to help us and sustain us. Prayer is an offering up.
There are different types of prayer, and there are different aspects of prayer. ACTS is one of the mnemonics that we use: adoration, confession, thanksgiving, supplication. Adoration. If you take the Psalms, for example, Calvin regarded the Psalms as prayers. Each one is a prayer. Many of the Psalms, the majority of the Psalms, contain adoration, adoring God in all of His beauty and grandeur and greatness. Confession of sin is also an aspect of prayer—coming before God and exclaiming that we are poor and needy and in need of His forgiveness and grace. Thanksgiving for everything that God has done for us. For our salvation, but also for acts of common grace. For food and breath and life and health and everything else. And then finally, supplication. Things that we desire, that are in accord with His will as revealed in Scripture. Things that we would like to see changed. Things that we would like to see fulfilled. It is very important for us to see that prayer is something that is part of the human condition. And it’s interesting to see just how often the Gospels refer to Jesus praying in His incarnate state, in His lowly state, coming before His heavenly Father and making His wants and wishes known to God, that God’s will would be done on earth even as it is in heaven.
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