Ways of God
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XII. Some of the Ways of God in Prayer

I was really bold once. I asked the Lord to give me a definition of prayer. I had been groping to find a way to express what prayer was, for I was planning on speaking about prayer for a class. What really defines prayer?

That night I had a dream which was unusual. I felt like the Lord was standing by my bed. I was awake, yet not awake. He spoke: "Prayer is a cry from the heart which is couched in relationship with God." Then He was gone.

I began researching that definition! Prayer is a cry from the heart...Yes, prayer doesn't need words. Hannah, Samuel's mother had prayed without words. The heart is definitely involved--because it says that God looks at the heart, 1 Samuel 16:7. Also, without relationship there can be no meaningful prayer--at least not to God! Then there is only one prayer He hears--the prayer asking Him to be our Lord and Savior, the prayer which starts a relationship with Him.

At this time also, I began thinking about how many types of prayers there are. The best teacher--by far the best--is the Holy Spirit, who was promised us so that He might “guide [us] into all truth,” John 16:13. In His goodness, everyone who goes on with God will be taught by Him, in prayer as well as in other areas of their lives. Those lessons are in the Word of God. We can find them and study them!

The following is a discussion of some of the ways of God in prayer. This list is by no means complete, but only meant to reinforce this truth: God can direct prayer. The most effective prayer, I believe, is that which is directed by Him--and that which comes from the heart.



I was praying as I often do--quietly, sometimes with my lips moving but no audible words, sometimes with tears flowing down my face, yet still silently. I knew that I was not alone in praying this way, for Hannah had prayed in a similar fashion when she had prayed for a son, 1 Sam. 1:13 .

Yet the Lord asked me to do something different that night as I was praying for one of the nations. “Speak My Word,” I heard Him say, “Declare it.” Then He gave me of a verse of a Scripture He wanted me to speak out loud. I wondered, then obeyed. I also asked for understanding.

Later I found these verses:

Psalm 33:6, 9: By the word of the Lord the heavens were made,
And all the host of them
by the breath of His mouth…
For He spoke and it was done,
He commanded, and it stood fast.

The Lord explained. He told me that when He had created the universe He spoke it into being. So how was it, He asked me, that I felt I shouldn’t also speak?

There are times when the Lord will give a declaration which is to be spoken out loud. Truth is declared. His Word is spoken. The Creator, the God of the universe, still speaks today with His life-giving, truth-bearing words, and often uses us, His children, to do the speaking.

One example is Moses, whom the Lord instructed to bless the children of Israel:

Numbers 6:22-27 And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, "This is the way you shall bless the children of Israel. Say to them:

'The Lord bless you and keep you;
The Lord make His face shine upon you,
And be gracious to you;
The Lord lift up His countenance upon you,
And give you peace.'

So shall they put My name on the children of Israel, and I will bless them.”

By speaking these words out loud over God's people, Moses was putting God's name on them!

Here is another example:

Mark 11:22-23 So Jesus answered and said to them, "Have faith in God. For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ’Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says."

As Jesus said, speak to the mountain!

Almost always, these spoken words include Scripture the Holy Spirit brings to a person‘s mind as they are praying. For example, when I was very ill, the Lord put this Scripture in my heart and told me to declare it out loud every time I felt my faith slipping:

Psalm 118:17: I shall not die but live,
And declare the works of the Lord.

It took several years to heal from this life-threatening illness. Yet every time I faltered, I declared this verse out loud. Today I am completely well.

Here is another example, told to me by a missionary who worked in Africa for many years. He said the workers felt oppressed by satanic strongholds. Then one day he felt prompted by the Lord to lead the people in this declaration:

1 John 3:8 says, "[Jesus Christ] was manifested that He might destroy the works of the devil. Therefore I declare that every work of the devil against me is destroyed!"

He said it was an amazing thing to see people delivered from all kinds of diseases and torments as they declared this word out loud. Nor did he and his workers feel oppressed anymore!

For encouragement, I often say this:

Phil. 1:6 “He who has begun a good work in [me] will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.”

--And then I thank God for His good work in me. Too many times I could get discouraged otherwise!

Here is a Scripture one of my friends felt prompted to quote one day when in warfare:

Isaiah 54:17 No weapon formed against [me] shall prosper, and
Luke 10:19 nothing by any means shall harm me.

Here is another Scripture which has encouraged me:

1 Cor. 1:30 "[Jesus Christ is [my] wisdom from God, [my] righteousness, [my] sanctification and [my] redemption.”

Can declaration be taken too far? I believe not, not if it is prompted and directed by the Holy Spirit.

There is some consternation among the people of God against “name it and claim it” Christianity. Perhaps they are reacting to the extremists depicted in this Janis Joplin song:

"Mercedes Benz"

Oh Lord, won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz ?
My friends all drive Porsches, I must make amends.
Worked hard all my lifetime, no help from my friends,
So Lord, won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz ?

Certainly such motive for prayer makes us shudder!

Yet those who deride “name it and claim it” Christians should consider this: we serve a "name it" God who speaks things into being.

Romans 4:17 …God…gives life to the dead, and calls those things which do not exist as though they did

God still calls those things which do not exist as though they did--and they come to being. He is still a creating God, and He is well able to use His children to declare His Word, and to make a difference. Look at this verse,

Revelation 12:11 And they overcame him [Satan, v. 9] by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony.

Warfare is not silent. We declare the word of our testimony--that sword of the Spirit which is put into our mouths by the Holy Spirit.

Here are some guidelines for this kind of prayer: follow the Lord. Use Scripture He places in your heart. Above all, do not abuse this kind of prayer by declaring things you’ve decided on your own to claim, with a motive of covetousness or lust, James 4:3. This is presumptuousness, against the will of God, and hence sin. Instead, stay in prayer and search your heart. Be rid of any sin or wrong motives. Then simply ask the Lord how to pray and follow Him.

Visions and Dreams.

The Old Testament prophets were not the only ones who experienced visions and dreams. Jesus’ disciples experienced them as well. Saul had a vision of the Lord Jesus Christ and was saved by that testimony, Acts 9:3-6. Peter went up on a rooftop to pray, and had a vision of a sheet coming down from heaven with all kinds of animals on it, Acts 10:9-16. Paul had a vision of a man in Macedonia who pleaded for Paul and his team to go to that country, Acts 16:9. Similarly, Jesus Christ, “the same yesterday, and today, and forever,” Heb. 13:8 can give visions and dreams today. This is promised:

Acts 2:17 “And it shall come to pass in the last days,” says God,
“That I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh;
Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
Your young men shall see visions,
Your old men shall dream dreams.”

Often the visions God gives are for intercession--they are not necessarily for public consumption! Yet I have found it useful when God gives a vision, for it enables me to pray, either in accordance to that vision, or against that vision if that word is a prophetic warning of impending doom.

For example, many intercessors were told by God of the hurricane that would devastate New Orleans in August 2006. Many knew a year or more in advance and--it turned out--many were praying. Similarly, some of God’s people knew about the 9/11/01 attacks on the United States long before they came to pass.

When given a prophetic word of warning, consider other words of prophetic warning in the Old Testament. Not every warning came to pass as originally declared because the actions of the people changed God’s mind. Wasn’t Nineveh to be overthrown in 40 days, even as Jonah warned, Jonah 3:4? But the people repented, and God spared that city.

Therefore, when given a prophetic word of warning, pray for mercy for that city or that people. Pray for people to be moved by God to repentance. The devastation depicted may still come to pass because of the legal hold of the enemy on that city or nation, Ps. 94:20; Gal. 6:7-8. Pray, nonetheless, for God’s mercy to mitigate that destruction.

Similarly, when given a prophetic vision of promise, pray for God’s people to act in such a way so that the promise may come to pass. In the Old Testament, did every person coming out of Egypt receive the Promised Land? Only two did, Joshua and Caleb. The rest died in the wilderness, we are told in Hebrews 4:2 and 6 because of their disobedience and unbelief. Therefore, when praying for God’s promises to come to pass, pray for the people of God to have a heart to obey the Holy Spirit, and to live in faith.

Some visions can be startling. For example, God can take a person somewhere by vision--and they can experience something so real that it seems as if they are there. The closest analogy is that of a TV camera, which can take its viewers anywhere in the world, while they are very much at home. To avoid misunderstanding, let me warn that these visions are not “out of body” experiences, which are an abomination to the Lord, as they fall into occult activity, Deut. 18:10-13.

These experiences are valid, and can be explained by Scripture. The Holy Spirit is everywhere. In Colossians 1:16 we are told that by Jesus Christ all things were created, and in Colossians 1:17 we are told that in Christ all things consist. Therefore, it is possible for God to show an intercessor something in the Spirit, because the Holy Spirit is already in that place, and can convey that vision to one of God’s children.

Ezekiel experienced this when he was conveyed by God’s Spirit “in visions of God” to Jerusalem, Ezek. 8:3, and also to the captives by the River Chebar, Ezek. 3:14-15. Paul seems to indicate this kind of vision as well, when he tells the church at Colossians, “For though I am absent in the flesh, yet I am with you in the spirit, rejoicing to see your good order and the steadfastness of your faith in Christ,” Colossians 2:5.

Similarly, Paul tells the church at Corinth, “For I indeed, as absent in body but present in spirit, have already judged (as though I were present) him who has so done this deed,” 1 Cor. 5:3. He then goes on to instruct that when the church is together--with his spirit, with the power of the Lord Jesus Christ--to deliver the soul of someone to Satan. An uncomfortable set of verses!

Here rises the question: is it possible to rebuke demons from a distance? We are told in James 4:7 to resist the devil and he will flee from us. But is this also possible to do from a distance? I believe it is, because the Holy Spirit is everywhere, and in His presence, His Word can be directed anywhere.

Didn’t Jesus speak from a distance? Do you remember the story of the centurion? This military man told Jesus that he knew that by His authority He could speak the word and his servant would be healed, Matthew 8:8. That servant had been tormented, indicating demonic activity, but was delivered in that hour, Matthew 8:6, 13.

Again, as with other spiritual experiences, visions and dreams should be tested. They should be consistent with the Word of God, and God’s character. The source behind them should be tested by testing the spirits, 1 John 4:1-3, 1 Cor. 12:3. Once it is ascertained that God is speaking, follow the Lord! As He gives visions or dreams, ask Him how to pray and follow His direction. You will see strongholds fall, Luke 10:19.

Nor is it necessary--or desirable--to share these visions with everyone. Some prophetic words are not meant to be shared with everyone, only those for whom they are profitable--and to whom the Holy Spirit directs. Otherwise one casts pearls before swine, Matthew 7:6.

One more thought: if God is speaking to you, write that word or vision down! I have found that these written visions in my intercessory notes can direct prayer even years later. For example, I am still praying against the nuclear development I saw in a certain nation in the early 90’s. I am still praying for the Christians God showed me who are incarcerated in China. I am also still praying for the mighty move of the Holy Spirit which will one day come to one of the most unlikely places on earth. I saw this in the Spirit, and I believe God, for with these visions also comes faith to pray and believe,

Hab. 2:2-3 Then the Lord answered me and said, “Write the vision ,
And make it plain on tablets,
That he may run who reads it.
For the vision is yet for an appointed time;
But at the end it will speak, and it will not lie.
Though it tarries, wait for it;
Because it will surely come,
It will not tarry.”

Intercession without Words--Groanings, Tears, Silent Reverence

We are told of still a different kind of prayer in this passage:

Romans 8:26-27 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.

Some have interpreted these groanings as tongues. I do not think this interpretation is correct. Both are vocal, but tongues consists of words, whereas these groanings may be cries and tears, as Jesus experienced, Heb. 5:7. They may come with many tears, the “liquid prayer” Charles Spurgeon talked about. They may come with pains in one’s belly, very much like labor pains, referred to in Isaiah 42:14. Again, even though they may not be understood, still they are valid, and very much part of prayer.

Similarly, tears are also a valid part of prayer:

Psalm 126:5-6 Those who sow in tears
Shall reap in joy.
He who continually goes forth weeping,
Bearing seed for sowing,
Shall doubtless come again with rejoicing,
Bringing his sheaves with him.

Often tears accompany prayer for the lost. Tears also accompany repentance, the repentance of the person praying, or in the case of an intercessor, repentance for another person, city or nation. Do not despise tears at the altar! Often they are an indication of deep spiritual change. The outward manifestation, of course, is a changed life.

Another experience in prayer comes at a point where there are no words, only silent reverence, awe and adoration of God. An example is in Revelation 8:1 where it says “there was silence in heaven for about half an hour.” I believe also that this is the highest form of prayer.

In summary, there are many forms that prayer may take. Some may not be well understood at the time. Still the person praying may be confident that if these forms of prayer meet the basic tests as having come from the Lord, they will bear fruit if followed.

Be blessed!

Diana Clancy
Copyright November 2007