If you ever train to do something, you’ll learn the right way and the wrong way to do it. Sometimes you learn that after you’ve done it wrong for so long. At that point, it almost becomes easier to remember the right way to do it because the pain or discomfort of doing it wrong has been ingrained in you.
This past week in my karate class, as I was helping hold the kicking bag for some new students, our sensei demonstrated the correct ways to ‘throw’ a Mae Geri (front kick) and a Mawashi Geri (roundhouse kick). You see, there’s a correct way and an incorrect way. You find this out the hard way by breaking your foot. The correct way depends on what kind of kick you are throwing. If you’re throwing a front kick, you want to kick with the ball of your foot. The roundhouse kick has you kicking with the top of your foot. If you get these messed up, it’s possible to break your own bones or tear your own tendons. In short, it won’t work.
Sure, it looks like it’s working. You are kicking, but you’re not getting the desired results because, although you’re doing a kick, you’re not doing it right. No matter how much you think you may be doing it right, no matter how many times you do it, or how hard you do it, or how pure your motives are – it’s wrong. So, how does this relate to our Christian walk? Because you know it does.
Just like there is a correct and incorrect way to throw a front kick and a roundhouse kick, there is a correct and incorrect way to pray. If you don’t do it the right way, you’re wrong. No matter how much you think you may be doing it right, no matter how many times you do it, or how hard you do it, or how pure your motives are – it’s wrong. In karate, you figure out how to kick correctly based on what the people say that founded the different style that you practice. For Christians, we find out how to pray based on what the person (God Almighty) said because He founded the whole world. And we find what He said in the Bible.
Just like there are various kicks in karate and different rules for each kick, there are different kinds of prayers and different rules that govern those different kicks. Ephesians 6:18 says, “praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints…” The Amplified version says to pray with “all manner of prayer.” The NIV says to pray with “all kinds of prayer.” There are different kinds of prayer and different rules that govern those prayers. Just like with the kicks, you can’t take one way (or rule) of doing this kick (or prayer) and apply it to this other one; otherwise, you’re not going to get the desired result. And in fact, it may turn out for you even worse than if you hadn’t done it in the first place.
The Bible makes mention of several different types of prayer:
- The Prayer of Faith: the prayer of petition, (Matt. 21:22; Mark 11:24). This prayer is always, always, based on the Word of God and never contains the words “if it be thy will” or any variation of it.
- The Prayer of Consecration: praying to consecrate and dedicate our lives for God’s use – to go anywhere and do anything He wants us to do. This is the prayer where we pray, “If it be Thy will” (Luke 22:42).
- The Prayer of Commitment: (1 Peter 5:7).
- The Prayer of Worship (Luke 24:52,53; Acts 13:1-4).
- The Prayer of Agreement (Matt. 18:18-20).
- Prayer in the Spirit: (1 Cor. 14:14,15).
- United Prayer (Acts 4:23-31).
- The Prayer of Supplication (Eph 6:18; 1 Tim 2:1-2; Matt. 9:37-38; Col. 1:9).
- Intercessory Prayer (Gen 18:16-33; Ez 22:30-31; Psa 106:23).
The problem some have had throughout history is that they try to take the rules for one type of prayer and apply them to a different kind of prayer (or all prayer), and it doesn’t work. By “it doesn’t work,” I mean they don’t get the desired result. Their prayers don’t get answered. They prayed how they thought it should be done, how they thought was right, time after time, prayed really hard, were well meaning, had pure motives – yet nothing happened.
But instead of getting a broken foot or a torn tendon, they got a crushed faith. They were attacked and fell for the lie that God doesn’t love them because their prayers didn’t get answered. They started to believe that God doesn’t exist or that He doesn’t care. No. They just did it wrong. And instead of taking the time and energy to learn how to do it right, they just said it doesn’t work. Well, it works if you do it right. There’s a big difference between a kick from a white belt and a kick from a black belt. One knows what they are doing and they do it right. The other just heard someone tell them how to do it, and they’re trying as much as they can. One has studied long enough to find out how to do it, what works right, what the master of the art says, and it works.
When we start applying the right techniques to the right prayers, we’re going to get our prayers answered. Just like our kicks will be effective, so will our prayers.