Christian prayer is an essential part of the life of a Christian. Prayer is how they communicate with God. They are able to pray to Him and listen to what God is speaking back to them.
What is Christian prayer? Christian prayer is praying to God. Examples of Christian prayer are in the Bible, from how to pray to answered prayers. There are eight main kinds of prayer that can be taken from the Bible as well: private, corporate, thanksgiving, confession, intercession, listening, and child’s prayer.
Before we dive into prayers in the Bible, let’s look a little more at what the definition of prayer is.
Prayer is simply talking to God and it’s one way we communicate with Him. Prayer is how we are able to repent and ask for forgiveness as well as give him praise. We often pray for people who are sick and ask God to heal them.
Matthew 21:22 says, “If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.”
We are to pray to believing that God will work and move in our lives and the people around us! It takes faith to pray believing.
The Bible also says, “Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:12-13
We know God listens to us when we pray. We are not praying off into the distance and wishing he will hear: His word tells us he is listening. We must seek him with our whole heart.
Examples of pray are prevalent throughout the Bible. We can see how people prayed and God answered their prayers. Seeing prayers answered in the Bible can encourage us that God is always listening to us and our prayers. Psalm 116:2 says,
“Because he bends down to listen, I will pray as long as I have breath!”
Hannah Prays for a Son
The story of Hannah praying for a son is found in 1 Samuel. Hannah was married to Elkanah for many years, but she had not yet had any children. She was so distraught over not having a child she would go without eating and cry.
One day, she prays outside the Temple and cries out to the Lord. 1 Samuel 1:10-11 says, “Hannah was in deep anguish, crying bitterly as she prayed to the Lord. And she made this vow: “O Lord of Heaven’s Armies, if you will look upon my sorrow and answer my prayer and give me a son, then I will give him back to you. He will be yours for his entire lifetime, and as a sign that he has been dedicated to the Lord, his hair will never be cut.”
The Priest Eli believes she is drunk because of how her lips were moving with no sound coming out. He tells her, “Must you come here drunk?” She goes on to say she has been crying out to God for a child, “For I have been praying out of great anguish and sorrow.”
Eli tells her, “Go in peace! May the God of Israel grant the request you have asked of him.” Hannah became pregnant and gave birth to a son named Samuel.
After Samuel is weaned, she brings him to the Tabernacle and tells Eli, “I asked the Lord to give me this boy, and he has granted my request. Now I am giving him to the Lord, and he will belong to the Lord his whole life.”
God was faithful to Hannah and blessed her with a son and Hannah was faithful with her promise to dedicate her son to God.
Hezekiah Prays About his Illness
In 2 Kings chapter 20, Hezekiah becomes deathly ill. Verses 1-6 say, “The prophet Isaiah son of Amoz went to him and said, “This is what the Lord says: Put your house in order, because you are going to die; you will not recover.”
Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the Lord, “Remember, Lord, how I have walked before you faithfully and with wholehearted devotion and have done what is good in your eyes.” And Hezekiah wept bitterly.
Before Isaiah had left the middle court, the word of the Lord came to him: “Go back and tell Hezekiah, the ruler of my people, ‘This is what the Lord, the God of your father David, says: I have heard your prayer and seen your tears; I will heal you. On the third day from now you will go up to the temple of the Lord.
I will add fifteen years to your life. And I will deliver you and this city from the hand of the king of Assyria. I will defend this city for my sake and for the sake of my servant David.”
God heard the cries of Hezekiah and gave him victory over illness and defeated enemies who were against him.
The Lord’s Prayer
Both in the gospel of Luke and Matthew we see Jesus tell his disciples how to pray. In Luke 11:1-3 says,
“One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.’ He said to them, “When you pray, say: Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread.”
The longer version was given during the Sermon the Mount, Jesus tells his disciples,
“This, then, is how you should pray:
‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.” Matthew 6:9-13
The Lord’s prayer is an example of how Christians should pray.
Jesus’ Prayer in the Garden
After the Last Supper, Jesus takes his disciples to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray. He tells them, “Sit here, while I go over there and pray.” And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled.
Then he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.” And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.”
And he came to the disciples and found them sleeping. And he said to Peter, “So, could you not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
Again, for the second time, he went away and prayed, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.” Matthew 26:36-45
While Jesus is praying in the garden, he sweats blood. Luke is the only gospel to mention this, “His sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground” Luke 22:44.
The medical term for sweating drops of blood is Hematohidrosis. This condition is caused by intense agony, it is extremely rare. It also causes your skin to become more fragile due to the loss of blood, this means Jesus’ crucifixion would be even more painful.
Jesus knew his death was coming and was preparing for it. Although he knew he must die, he still cried out to God and asked if “this cup” could pass, but in the end he wanted His will to be done.
Jesus’ Death on the Cross
After Jesus had been beaten and given a crown of thorns. He was nailed to a cross and his inscription above him read, “For the King of the Jews.” While he was hanging on the cross he said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.’ And they cast lots to divide his garments.” Luke 23:34
Jesus had been flogged by these Roman soldiers. Being “flogged” is a form of torture. It is a whip that has pieces of bone, leather straps, and lead balls and is designed to lacerate the skin. People who were flogged often died during the beating.
These soldiers mocked him by placing a crown of thorns of his head and mocked him saying, “Hail the King of the Jews!”
Yet, Jesus asks God to forgive them even after the beating and mockings. He does not curse them, he asks that they would be forgiven because “they know not what they do.” This is one of the most moving passages of Scripture on the topic of prayer because Jesus shows us that we are to pray for our enemies and those who persecute us.
The story of Peter’s imprisonment takes place in Acts 12. At this time, King Herod was persecuting Christians, he had already killed James. He proceeded to arrest Peter and put him in jail.
“So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him. The night before Herod was to bring him to trial, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries stood guard at the entrance. Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him up. “Quick, get up!” he said, and the chains fell off Peter’s wrists.” Acts 12:5-7
Peter followed the angel and walked out of prison. He walked past the guards and to the iron gate of the city and the gate opened by itself. He thought he was having a vision, but he was not. He walked along the street and out of the blue, the angel left.
Peter had been freed from prison. God had heard the prayers of the people in the churches who were praying for him.
20 Scriptures about Prayer
As shown in the stories above, the Bible talks about many times. 375 times to be exact. Here are 15 different Scriptures that focus on the topic of prayer:
“Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving.” Colossians 4:2-3
“Pray without ceasing. In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” Thessalonians 5:17-18
“And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” Mark 11:25-26
“For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives.” Colossians 1:9
“Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him. On reaching the place, he said to them, “Pray that you will not fall into temptation.”
“As for other matters, brothers and sisters, pray for us that the message of the Lord may spread rapidly and be honored, just as it was with you. And pray that we may be delivered from wicked and evil people, for not everyone has faith.” Thessalonians 3:1-2
“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.” 1 John 5:14
“One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God.” Luke 6:12
“And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” Matthew 6:7-8
“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.”
“Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” Mark 1:35
“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” James 5:16
“Do not deprive each other of sexual relations, unless you both agree to refrain from sexual intimacy for a limited time so you can give yourselves more completely to prayer. Afterward, you should come together again so that Satan won’t be able to tempt you because of your lack of self-control.” 1 Corinthians 7:5
“The LORD detests the sacrifice of the wicked, but the prayer of the upright pleases him.” Proverbs 15:8
“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” Romans 12:12
“Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise.” James 5:13
“May my prayer be set before you like incense; may the lifting up of my hands be like the evening sacrifice.” Psalm 141:2
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Phillippians 4:6
“Answer me when I call to you, my righteous God. Give me relief from my distress; have mercy on me and hear my prayer.” Psalm 4:1
“He will respond to the prayer of the destitute; he will not despise their plea.”
How to Pray:
Prayer is how a Christian connects with God. It is an essential part of a Christian’s life. Yet, many people are unsure of how they should pray. How long? By myself? When?
All of these questions can be answered by looking at the different types of prayer: private, corporate, thanksgiving, confession, intercession, listening, and child’s prayer.
Keep in mind there is no formula to “praying’ but each of these seven types of prayer will help know how to start and the importance of praying.
A day without prayer is a day without blessing, and a life without prayer is a life without power.Edwin Harvey
Private prayer is when you pray by yourself. This is how many people pray across the world. During private prayer time, people usually incorporate thanksgiving, confession, and adoration into their prayers.
One way to start your private prayer time you be to pray the first line of the Lord’s prayer, “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.” This opens the pray with glorifying God.
As you become more confident in praying, it should spill into other parts of your life, while working, running errands, or at a restaurant. Your private prayer time should be a preparation for creating a life of prayer and communication to God.
To be a Christian without prayer is no more possible than to be alive without breathing.Martin Luther
Corporate prayer is powerful. Matthew 18:19 says, “Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”
We see in Matthew that God is with us when we pray in a corporate setting. Here are a few examples of how to incorporate corporate prayer:
- Join a church prayer group
- Have prayer time with a friend (in-person or over the phone).
- Pray with a family member
Corporate prayer is another essential part of having a prayer life. When we come alongside our brothers and sisters in Christ, we are able to focus on God and ask Him to help us and honor Him with our words and time.
Prayer is the nearest approach to God.William Law
A thanksgiving prayer is simply giving thanks to God. The Bible gives us many examples of prayers of thanksgiving.
In Psalm 95:1-3 it says, “O Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord; Let us shout joyfully to the rock of our salvation. Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise! For the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods.”
Prayers of thanksgiving can be brought into private or corporate prayer times. Another example of a thanksgiving prayer is found in Psalms 7:17, “I will give to the Lord the thanks due to his righteousness, and I will sing praise to the name of the Lord, the Most High.”
The Psalms are filled with prayers of thanksgiving. Praying a Psalm or your own words of thanksgiving to God is an excellent way to begin your prayer time.
Prayer should not be regarded as a duty which must be performed, but rather as a privilege to be enjoyed, a rare delight that is always revealing some new beauty.E.M. Bounds
A confession prayer is when a person prays their sins and seeks forgiveness. Why confess during prayer?
1 John 1:8-9 explains, “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
The Bible tells us confessing our sins is how we will receive forgiveness. A Biblical example of this is found in Psalm 51:1-4. David had an affair with Bathsheba and was confessing his sins before God.
It reads, “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions.
Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight;”
David asks to be cleansed from his sin. Confession prayer is vital because it humbles us to admit where we have sinned and ask God to come and forgive us in our weakness.
Prayer does not change God, but it changes him who prays.Soren Kierkegaard
Intercession prayer is when you pray on another person’s behalf. This is often done in a group setting but can also be done during private prayer.
People may be praying for an unsaved family member, a friend with cancer, or for an unreached people group in the world. These are not all the reasons people intercede but it helps to give us an idea of why people intercede during prayer.
Intercession will take time to learn how to focus your mind on God for a long period of time and cry out to Him on behalf of another person.
True prayer is neither a mere mental exercise nor a vocal performance. It is far deeper than that – it is a spiritual transaction with the Creator of Heaven and Earth.Charles Spurgeon
Listening prayer is when you silence your mind and listen to God (some call it meditation prayer). You put away all the distractions of the world and listen to Him.
People often forget that prayer is a two-way connection. We often ramble on and on without stopping to hear what God is saying to us! Listening prayer allows us to pause and calm our minds and hearts.
1 Samuel 3:9 says, “Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening.” During listening pray, you want to open your heart to God and wait for his voice and presence to speak to you. You can bring this type of prayer into your daily prayers and make it a habit to spend time quite before God.
God speaks in the silence of the heart. Listening is the beginning of prayer.Mother Teresa
A child’s prayer is a simple pray that a child can say. “Dear Father God, Help me to hear from you today. To hear your joy in the bird’s songs. To hear your heart in the chattery voices To hear your voice in the quiet Help me to hear you today. Amen.” -Unknown
The Bible tells us the importance of having a child-like faith in Matthew 18:2-4,
“He [Jesus] called a little child to him and placed the child among them. And he said: ‘Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”
Prayers for children, don’t just have to pray by children. We can pray these too as we are supposed to have faith like a child. This does not mean that we only pray simple prayers but that we are intentional about having an open heart and mind to God while praying as a child would.
Prayer is an essential part of a Christian’s life. Examples of how to pray and answered prayers are shown in the Bible. Jesus taught us how to pray when he told us the Lord’s prayer. We see that when people pray and have faith, God hears them. Christian prayer can be done in private or by yourself. Either way, the purpose of prayer is to speak and listen to God.
Prayer is not asking. Prayer is putting oneself in the hands of God, at His disposition, and listening to His voice in the depth of our hearts.Mother Teresa