1. Ejaculatory, by which the mind is directed to God on any emergency.
It is derived from the word ejaculor, or dart or shoot out suddenly, and is therefore appropriate to describe this kind of prayer, which is made up of short sentences spontaneously springing from the mind.
The Scriptures afford us many instances of ejaculatory prayer, Exodus 14:15. 1 Samuel 1:1-28; 1 Samuel 2:1-36; 1 Samuel 3:1-21; 1 Samuel 4:1-22; 1 Samuel 5:1-12; 1 Samuel 6:1-21; 1 Samuel 7:1-17; 1 Samuel 8:1-22; 1 Samuel 9:1-27; 1 Samuel 10:1-27; 1 Samuel 11:1-15; 1 Samuel 12:1-25; 1 Samuel 13:1-23; 1 Samuel 14:1-52; 1 Samuel 15:1-35; 1 Samuel 16:1-23; 1 Samuel 17:1-58; 1 Samuel 18:1-30; 1 Samuel 19:1-24; 1 Samuel 20:1-42; 1 Samuel 21:1-15; 1 Samuel 22:1-23; 1 Samuel 23:1-29; 1 Samuel 24:1-22; 1 Samuel 25:1-44; 1 Samuel 26:1-25; 1 Samuel 27:1-12; 1 Samuel 28:1-13. Romans 7:24-25. Genesis 43:29. Judges 16:28; Luke 23:42-43.
It is one of the principal excellencies of this kind of prayer, that it can be practiced at all times, and in all places; in the public ordinances of religion; in all our ordinary and extraordinary undertakings; in times of affliction, temptation, and danger; in seasons of social intercourse, in worldly business, in travelling, in sickness, and pain.
In fact, every thing around us, and every event that transpires, may afford us matter for ejaculation. It is worthy, therefore, of our practice, especially when we consider that it is a species of devotion that can receive no impediment from any external circumstances; that it has a tendency to support the mind, and keep it in a happy frame; fortifies us against the temptations of the world; elevates our affections to God; directs the minds into a spiritual channel; and has a tendency to excite trust and dependence on Divine Providence.
2. Secret or closet prayer is another kind of prayer to which we should attend.
It has its name from the manner in which Christ recommended it, Matthew 6:6. He himself set us an example of it, Luke 6:12; and it has been the practice of the saints in every age, Genesis 28:1-22: Daniel 6:10. Acts 10:9.
There are some particular occasions when this duty may be practiced to advantage, as when we are entering into any important situation; undertaking any thing of consequence; before we go into the world; when calamities surround us, Isaiah 26:20; or when ease and prosperity attend us. As closet prayer is calculated to inspire us with peace, defend us from our spiritual enemies, excite us to obedience, and promote our real happiness, we should be watchful lest the stupidity of our frame, the intrusion of company, the cares of the world, the insinuations of Satan, or the indulgence of sensual objects, prevent us from the constant exercise of this necessary and important duty.
3. Family prayer is also another part not to be neglected.
It is true there is no absolute command for this in God’s word; yet from hints, allusions, and examples, we may learn that it was the practice of our forefathers: Abraham, Genesis 18:19 . David, 2 Samuel 6:20 . Solomon, Proverbs 22:6 . Job 1:4-5 . Joshua 24:15 .
Family prayer, indeed, may not be essential to the character of a true Christian, but it is surely no honor to heads of families to have it said that they have no religion in their houses. If we consider what a blessing it is likely to prove to our children and our domestics; what comfort it must afford to ourselves; what utility it may prove to the community at large; how it sanctifies domestic comforts and crosses; and what a tendency it has to promote order, decency, sobriety, and religion in general, we must at once see the propriety of attending to it.
The objection often made to family prayer is, want of time; but this is a very frivolous excuse, since the time allotted for this purpose need be but short, and may easily be redeemed from sleep or business. Others say, they have no gifts: where this is the case, a form may soon be procured and used, but it should be remembered that gifts increase by exercise, and no man can properly decide, unless he make repeated trials.
Others are deterred through shame, or the fear of man; in answer to such we shall refer them to the declarations of our Lord, Matthew 10:37-38 . Mark 8:38 . As to the season for family prayer, every family must determine for itself; but before breakfast every morning, and before supper at night, seems most proper: perhaps a quarter of an hour or twenty minutes may be sufficient as to the time.
4. Social prayer is another kind Christians are called upon to attend to.
It is denominated social, because it is offered by a society of Christians in their collective capacity, convened for that particular purpose, either on some peculiar and extraordinary occasions, or at stated and regular seasons.
Special prayer- meetings are such as are held at the meeting and parting of intimate friends, especially churches and ministers; when the church is in a state of unusual deadness and barrenness; when ministers are sick, or taken away by death; in times of public calamity and distress, etc.
Stated meetings for social prayer are such as are held weekly in some places which have a special regard to the state of the nation and churches; missionary prayer-meetings for the spread of the Gospel; weekly meetings held in most of the congregations which have a more particular reference to their own churches, ministers, the sick, feeble, and weak of the flock.
Christians are greatly encouraged to this kind of prayer from the consideration of the promise, Matthew 18:20; the benefit of mutual supplications; from the example of the most eminent primitive saints, Malachi 3:16 . Acts 12:12; the answers given to prayer, Acts 12:1-12, Joshua 10:1-43; Isaiah 37:1-38, etc. and the signal blessing they are to the churches, Philippians 1:19, 2 Corinthians 1:11.