What is Biblical…

hands in prayer

Why pray at all if God is Sovereign and has a predestined plan?

Dr. R.C. Sproul explains…

Streaming video— 
“If God is Sovereign, Why Pray?”
Length: 23 minutes

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…

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.

“…the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words…” —Romans 8:26 NASB

Prayer presupposes a belief in the personality of God, His ability and willingness to communicate with us, His personal control of all things and of all His creatures and all their actions.

Persistent and watchfully alert to specific needs

Rather than being unfocused or vague in our prayers, we are to be on watchful alert for specific needs about which we should pray. The Apostle Paul urged,

Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving…” —Col. 4:2 ESV

The Greek verb proskartereó (προσκαρτερέω) translated “devote” above means to be steadfastly persistent and perseverant. Christ emphasizes persistent prayer in Luke 11:5-10 and Luke 18:1-8.

“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

Prayer is frequently commanded or referred to in Scripture ( Exodus 22:23, 27; 1 Kings 3:5; Psalm 37:4; Isaiah 55:6; Joel 2:32; Ezek. 36:37).

“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

woman praying

Acceptable prayer must be…

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…

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:

Examples of answered prayers in the Bible

Isaiah praying
the prophet Isaiah praying
man praying

We have very many Biblical testimonies that prayers have been answered (Psalm 3:4; 4:1; 6:8; 18:6; 28:6; 30:2; 34:4; 118:5; James 5:16-18, etc.).

Other examples:

Answers to frequently asked questions

Modern stories about prayer

Questions & Answers about God

Article Version: November 26, 2018