Three Essential Elements Of Prayer
All prayer grows up through, and ever continues in three stages:
The first form of prayer is communion. This is simply being on good terms with God. It involves the blood of the Cross as the basis of our getting and being on good terms. It involves my coming to God through Jesus. Communion is fellowship with God. Not request for some particular thing; no asking, but simply enjoying Himself, loving Him, thinking about Him, how beautiful, and intelligent, and strong and loving and lovable He is. That is the truest worship, thinking how worthy He is of all the best we can possibly bring to Him, and infinitely more. Of necessity it includes confession on my part and forgiveness on Godís part, for only so can we come into the relation of fellowship. Adoration, worship belong to this first phase of prayer. Communion is the basis of all prayer. It is the essential breath of the true Christian life.
The second form of prayer is petition. And I am using that word now in the narrower meaning of asking something for oneís self. Petition is definite request of God for something I need. A manís whole life is utterly dependent upon the giving hand of God. Everything we need comes from Him. Our friendships, health, strength in temptation, and in sorrow, guidance in difficult circumstances, and in all of lifeís movements; help of all sorts, financial, bodily, mental, spiritual Ė all come from God, and necessitate a constant touch with him. There needs to be a constant stream of petition going up, and there will be a constant return stream of answer and supply coming down. The whole life hinges upon this continual intercourse with our wondrous God.
The third form of prayer is intercession. True prayer never stops with petition for oneís self. It reaches out for others. The very word intercession implies a reaching out for someone else. It is standing as a go-between, a mutual friend, between God and someone who is either out of touch with Him, or is needing special help. Intercession is the climax of prayer. Communion and petition store the life with the power of God; intercession lets it out on behalf of others. Intercession is the form of prayer that helps God in His great love-plan for winning a planet back to its true sphere....
God ever thinks of a man doubly; first for his own self, and then for his possible use in reaching others. Communion and petition fix and continue oneís relation to God, and so prepare for the great outreaching form of prayer Ė intercession. All true rounded prayer will ever have all three elements in it. There must be the touch with God. Oneís constant needs make constant petition. But the heart of the true follower has caught the warm contagion of the heart of God and reaches out hungrily for the world.
Taken from Quiet Talks On Prayer by S. D. Gordon.