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Prayer's Elaborate Context: Types of Prayer in the Bible

We have finally arrived at the last segment in the study of prayer. The previous articles (Prayer Defined and Prayer's Foundation) touched on what prayer is, who can pray, why we are to pray, and what should be included in prayer. This article will elaborate on the hindrances to prayer, types of prayer in the Bible, how one should pray, and on the popular subject of the authenticity of speaking in tongues and whether or not it is biblical in this modern age.

Extraordinary Hindrances

Often people will say that God answers all prayers. While this is true, sometimes the person saying it doesn't realize there are hindrances to prayer that will cause God to not listen to the prayer. So, even though God may hear the prayer, He will refuse to listen and answer if there are strongholds in the way and will instead address those before answering the prayer. Below are scriptural mentions of common hindrances to prayer.

  • Unconfessed Sin

This is probably the most common reason for a hindered prayer. The mouth usually speaks what is in the heart and praying is no different for this tells God what is more valued. See Psalm 32:3-5 and1 John 1:9.

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  • Having an unforgiving spirit

We are all spiritual in nature. What I mean by this is every human has a soul, but not every person has a spirit. In Genesis, God stated that if Adam and Eve would eat of the tree of good and evil they would die. Although this meant a physical death eventually, what God was referring to was the spiritual death. For a person to have a spirit, they must be born again, converted into the family of Christ.

Demons were always spirits, once heavenly angels that fell with Lucifer. Their nature will never be "redeemable" as their nature is to be evil perfectly as they are in the spiritual form. Likewise, if a person has an unforgivable spirit and is a born again Christian, it is likely that this person has a stronghold that is demonically inspired because the fruits of the spirit do not mention unforgiveness. See Mark 11:25, Matthew 6:11-12, Galatians 5:22-23.

  • Lack of concern for your spouse

I see this particular hindrance in marriages where roles are not biblically founded and there are two people competing for control instead of complimenting each other as the Bible calls. I see this in both men and women, but more notably in women. During the fall of mankind in Genesis 3, God issues out punishment that is gender specific. For the man, his manhood would be shaped by vigorous trial and the land would toil beneath his feet. For the woman, child birth would be painful and she would desire to overthrow her husband.

This is very much alive today. Look at how many headlines on the news that declare it. Spouses kill each other over money, fame, disagreement. The divorce rate has tripled over the last few centuries. I even hear women in the church that declare themselves Christian that degrade their husbands openly (men can do this as well to their wives, but I see this most often in women) or put themselves higher than men. This is perhaps one of the major lies behind the gender-neutral movement of today: that one gender is more important than the other or one is of lesser value, when this actually contradicts God's definition. Both genders are vitally important but uniquely different.

"What was the consequence of their disobedience? Sin. The trust, love, peace, and security they enjoyed were shattered. Their lives were instantly infested with sin. Their punishments were sex-specific, making it harder for them to function according to God's design. Sin messed up Eve's womanhood. Sin messed up Adam's manhood. At that moment, the battle of the sexes was born. Perfect harmony was gone forever. Fast forward to today, and we're still reaping the consequences of Adam and Eve's sin. It's the reason we push against God-defined gender roles. It's why gender has become so convoluted. It's what causes us, as Christian women, to struggle to embrace God's design. Instead of men and women living together in perfect harmony, we're now pitted against each other." Baird, Bethany, and Clark, Kristen. "Girl Defined: God's Radical Design for Beauty, Femininity, and Identity,"Baker Books, Baker Publishing Group; Grand Rapids, MI, 2016. Pg.75. Print. For more from Bethany Baird and Kristen Clark: visit their website and ministry at
  • Impure motives

Impure motives do not bring retribution against your enemy. it instead will bring it on yourself. God is a just God and if we pray for destruction, we are asking for destruction. Now, some of the readers will say: "didn't king David pray for destruction upon his enemies?" The answer is yes, he did. However, most people seem to only read those verses and not the ones that follow.

The motive behind the prayer is vitally important. I'll give an example. About two years ago, my husband was stationed with a unit that crossed several boundaries. They were allowing relationships to occur between higher and lower ranks in the same company, hazing was never accurately handled, mockery and ridicule were great on Christians, and sin was covered up. Instead of praying for deliverance and their salvation and for God's will, I prayed for my will. For their destruction. Do you see the difference? My motives weren't pure. After being shown this, I had to humble myself and repent before God would choose to work on bringing us out of this situation as a couple. See James 4:3 for further detail.

  • Not asking for what is desired

Let's be clear here. Asking for anything that goes against God's word or nature will not be given. When God states to ask so that your joy may be filled, He is saying to ask in His name and in His will. This ties into impure motives. If what we desire lines up with God's word and will, He will give. If it does not, He will deny it. See John 16:24 and James 4:2.

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How to Pray: Types of Prayer in the Bible Cont.

Now that the hindrances to prayer have been covered, let's dive into how to pray. I'll also touch on the superstition of praying in tongues in the next heading.

  • Pray Corporately

  • Pray Individually

  • Pray Thoughtfully

  • Pray Persistently

  • Pray Expectantly

  • Pray with Fasting

The Age Old Superstition: Praying in Tongues

Praying in tongues is based loosely on the sign gifts of speaking in tongues. Speaking in tongues was a gift bestowed upon only the apostles on Pentecost. See Acts 2:11 and 1 Corinthians 14. Pay particular attention to 1 Corinthians 14:6-9, 18-25.

"But now, brethren, if I come to you speaking with tongues, what shall I profit you unless I speak to you either by revelation, by knowledge, by prophesying, or by teaching? Even things without life, whether flute or harp, when they make a sound, unless they make a distinction in the sounds, how will it be known what is piped or played? For if the trumpet makes an uncertain sound, who will prepare for battle? So likewise you, unless you utter by the tongue words easy to understand, how will it be known what is spoken? For you will be speaking into the air” (1 Corinthians 14:6-9, NKJV).

“I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you. But in the church I would rather speak five intelligible words to instruct others than ten thousand words in a tongue. Brothers and sisters, stop thinking like children. In regard to evil be infants, but in your thinking be adults. In the Law it is written:

“With other tongues and through the lips of foreigners I will speak to this people, but even then they will not listen to me, says the Lord.”

“Tongues, then, are a sign, not for believers but for unbelievers; prophecy, however, is not for unbelievers but for believers. So if the whole church comes together and everyone speaks in tongues, and inquirers or unbelievers come in, will they not say that you are out of your mind? But if an unbeliever or an inquirer comes in while everyone is prophesying, they are convicted of sin and are brought under judgment by all, as the secrets of their hearts are laid bare. So they will fall down and worship God, exclaiming, “God is really among you!” (1 Corinthians 14:18-25, NIV).

Every time someone claims to speak in a tongue, there MUST be an interpreter. Praying in tongues is not needed today. Why? God chose the apostles specifically to hold this sign gift as a declaration of the work of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost so they may go out and boldly proclaim the truth. This gift is not as broadcasted today and is not as much needed. This is not to say God will not use this gift, but do not be deceived. One who proclaims to speak in tongues must be able to say they understand it. It is utter witchcraft to try to use this gift when it is not in God's will. For how does one know if they claim to use it that they are speaking in the tongue of demons? They can't because it is like Paul mentions: "for you will be speaking into the air," proclaiming to know something that you do not.

Read the sermon by Pastor John MacArthur entitled "Speaking in Tongues." The audio file will be included for those that choose to listen rather than read.

"Speaking in Tongues" sermon file by Pastor John MacArther, from the Grace to You Ministry

Closing Thoughts

This article brings to a close the study on prayer. We have covered the definition of prayer, who can pray, why we are to pray, the foundation of prayer, hindrances to prayer, and how to pray. Do not be easily deceived for many will come in the name of Christ and are wolves in sheep's clothing.

Similar articles:

  • Enduring Faith

  • The Account of the Exodus

  • Fleshly Indebtedness

  • The Attributes of God: Loving Father

  • Sunday Call

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