What is Biblical…
Why pray at all if God is Sovereign and has a predestined plan?
Dr. R.C. Sproul explains…
What is Biblical prayer?
Prayer is conversation with God; the intercourse of the soul with God, not in contemplation or meditation, but in direct address to him. Prayer may be oral or mental, occasional or constant, ejaculatory or formal. It is…
- “beseeching the Lord” (Exodus 32:11)
- “pouring out the soul before the Lord” (1 Samuel 1:15)
- “praying and crying to heaven” (2 Chronicles 32:20)
- “seeking unto God and making supplication” (Job 8:5)
- “drawing near to God” (Psalm 73:28)
- “bowing the knees” (Ephesians 3:14)
We do not need to be well-spoken to talk to God. In fact, He hears what is in your heart, even if you can’t express it well or even talk. And the Holy Spirit promises to express to the Father what you cannot.
Persistent and watchfully alert to specific needs
“Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving…” —Col. 4:2 ESV
“With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints…” —Eph. 6:18 NASB
“…devoted to prayer…” —Romans 12:12b NASB
“…continually devoting themselves to prayer…” —Acts 1:14 NASB
“pray without ceasing” —1 Thessalonians 5:17 NASB
Prayer is not optional for God’s people
“If…My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” —2 Chronicles 7:13-14 NASB
“Prayer is like the dove that Noah sent forth, which blessed him not only when it returned with an olive-leaf in its mouth, but when it never returned at all.” —Thomas Robinson, Homiletical Commentary on the Book of Job
“We have to pray with our eyes on God, not on the difficulties.” —Oswald Chambers
“We look upon prayer as a means of getting things for ourselves; the Bible idea of prayer is that we may get to know God Himself.” —Oswald Chambers
“We must move from asking God to take care of the things that are breaking our hearts, to praying about the things that are breaking His heart.” —Margaret Gibb
Acceptable prayer must be…
- sincere (Hebrews 10:22)
- offered with reverence and godly fear
- with a humble sense of our own insignificance as His creation
- and of our own unworthiness as sinners
- with unhesitating submission to God’s sovereign will
- Prayer must also be offered in faith that God exists, and is the hearer and answerer of prayer, and that He will fulfil His word.
- and, generally, in the name of Jesus Christ ( 16:23-24; 15:16; Ephesians 2:18; 5:20; Col. 3:17; 1 Peter 2:5)
No rules are laid down anywhere in Scripture for the physical posture to be assumed by the suppliant (hands folded, hands held up, kneeling, stretched out with face on the ground, etc.). However, there is mention made of…
- kneeling in prayer (1 Kings 8:54; 2 Chronicles 6:13; Psalm 95:6; Isaiah 45:23; Luke 22:41; Acts 7:60; 9:40; Ephesians 3:14, etc.)
- bowing and falling prostrate (Genesis 24:26, 52; Exodus 4:31; 12:27; Matthew 26:39; Mark 14:35, etc.)
- spreading out the hands (1 Kings 8:22, 38, 54; Psalm 28:2; 63:4; 88:9; 1 Timothy 2:8, etc.)
- standing (1 Samuel 1:26; 1 Kings 8:14, 55; 2 Chronicles 20:9; Mark 11:25; Luke 18:11, 13).
Except for the “Lord’s Prayer” (Matthew 6:9-13), which is, however, rather a model or pattern of prayer than a set prayer to be offered up, we have no special form of prayer for general use given us in Scripture.
Types of prayer
There are different kinds of prayer:
- Thanksgiving (prayers of gratitude)
- Confession and repentance
- Secret prayers (Matthew 6:6)
- Social prayers (as in family prayers and social worship)
- Public prayers, in the service of the sanctuary
- Worship and true worshippers
- Intercessory prayers (praying on behalf of others) is commanded.
“Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:
‘May they prosper who love you.’” —Psalm 122:6 NASB
“On your walls, O Jerusalem, I have appointed watchmen;
All day and all night they will never keep silent.
You who remind the Lord, take no rest for yourselves…” —Isaiah 62:6 NASB
“…My servant Job will pray for you. For I will accept him so that I may not do with you according to your folly…” —Job 42:8 NASB
“…I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.” —1 Tim. 2:1-2 NASB
Praying for those in authority includes: our nation’s leaders, our local government leaders, our church leaders (pastor, elders, ministry leaders, deacons and deaconeses), etc.
“…Thus you shall bless the sons of Israel. …” —Numbers 6:23 NASB
- Praying for God’s guidance
“O Lord, I know that the path of [life of] a man is not in himself; It is not within [the limited ability of] man [even one at his best] to choose and direct his steps [in life].” —Jeremiah 10:23 Amplified Amplified Bible
“Direct my steps by Your word,
And let no iniquity have dominion over me.” —Psalm 119:133 NKJV
“I am the Lord your God,
who teaches you to profit,
who leads you in the way you should go.” —Isaiah 48:17 NASB, ESV
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct [Or make smooth or straight] your paths.” —Proverbs 3:5-6 NKJV
- Prayers of blessing
- Prayers for punishment—calling for God’s righteous judgment on enemies of God and persecutors of His people / It is acceptable for God’s righteous people to do this where warranted (Psalm 109:14-15).
Examples of answered prayers in the Bible
- Abraham (Genesis 17:18, 20; 18:23-32; 20:7, 17-18)
- Moses for…
- Samuel (1 Samuel 7:5-12)
- Solomon (1 Kings 8; 2 Chronicles 6)
- Elijah (1 Kings 17:20-23)
- Elisha (2 Kings 4:33-36)
- Isaiah (2 Kings 19)
- Jeremiah (Jeremiah 42:2-10)
- Peter (Acts 9:40)
- The church (12:5-12)
- Paul’s prayer for the father of Publius (28:8)
Discover the good news that Jesus Christ offers
Answers to frequently asked questions
- Why aren’t my prayers answered? Answer
- What is The Disciples’s Prayer, aka The Lord’s Prayer (taught to the disciples)
- Prayer TIPS for new and growing Christians
- What is AMEN?
- What is Prayerwalking?
- What is the INTERCESSION OF THE SPIRIT? Answer
- What is the Holy Spirit? aka Holy Ghost
- What is the INTERCESSION OF CHRIST? Answer
- WHY PRAY?—What’s the Point of Praying?
- What is effectual prayer?
- What is faith?
- What is the fear of the Lord?
- What is humility, and why is it very important?
- What is repentance?
- What is confession of sins?
- What is forgiveness of sin?
- TEACHING THANKFULNESS—Besides saying grace at meals, how can I teach my child to be thankful? Answer
- MISSIONARIES—How can I pray for my missionary? Answer
- PERSECUTED—Why should we pray and act for the suffering church? Answer
- What is the holiness?
- What is righteousness?
- What is goodness?
- What is godliness?
- What is the means of grace?
- What is the goodness of God?
- FEAR, ANXIETY AND WORRY—What does the Bible say? Answer
- DEPRESSION—What should a Christian do if overwhelmed with depression? Answer
- SEXUAL ADDICTIONS—pornography, cybersex, phone sex, fornication, adultery, masturbation, etc.
- STUDENTS—What should you do when your teacher is an Evolutionist, and you believe in Creation? Answer
- RELIGIOUS FREEDOM—What is legally permissible for students in America's public schools? Answer
- MUSLIMS—How can followers of Christ best pray for Muslims? Answer
- TERRORISM—Suggestions on how to pray about terrorist attacks and the war on terrorism
- HOLLYWOOD—What is being done to change the values of Hollywood? Answer
Modern stories about prayer
Questions & Answers about God
- GOD—How can we know there’s a God? Answer
- What if the cosmos is all that there is? Answer
- If God made everything, who made God? Answer
- Is Jesus Christ God? Answer
- ACCURACY—How do we know the Bible is true? Answer
- INERRANCY—When we say that the Bible is the Word of God, does that imply that it is completely accurate, or does it contain insignificant inaccuracies in details of history and science? Answer
- INFALLIBILITY—How can the Bible be infallible if it is written by fallible humans? Answer
- SUFFERING—What about the issue of suffering? Doesn’t this prove that there is no God and that we are on our own? Answer
- Why does God allow innocent people to suffer? Answer