15 Examples of Prayer in the Bible
Prayer is the primary way we maintain our relationship with God. It’s our method of communication, and He miraculously hears every word that comes from our hearts.
But prayer also remains a bit mysterious and abstract. So if you’re looking for ways to incorporate prayer into your daily routine, or if you’re looking for something to enrich your prayer life, what better place to look than Scripture!
We can find examples of numerous kinds of prayers, said by different types of people in many varying situations. There are also a few methods we can adapt into our own prayer lives. We’ll look at:
- 15 examples of prayers in the Bible
- Two prayer models in the Bible you can apply
- Resources to help you have a vibrant prayer life
Let’s begin by looking at the many ways people prayed throughout Scripture.
15 Examples of prayers in the Bible
The prayers we’ll look at come from people of varying ranks, personalities, outlooks, and emotional states. We’ll read prayers from kings and prophets, and from ordinary people. And also those of Jesus Christ while He lived a human life among us.
1. Hannah’s prayer of thanksgiving (1 Samuel 2:1–10)
Hannah had remained childless for many years. And with the superstitions people had in those days, that caused her to endure frequent ridicule.
Then we have a record of her deeply sincere and emotional prayer in 1 Samuel 1:9-18. She earnestly asked God for a baby, and God gave her a son.
It’s in her gratefulness that she bursts into a prayer of thanksgiving, praising God for coming through for her.
We also experience miracles in our lives. They may not all be big breakthroughs like Hannah’s, but the little miracles we can look for each day can be just as meaningful.
And these can be our opportunity to express our appreciation to God in prayer.
2. Abraham’s petition for Lot (Genesis 18:22-33)
Because of the awful and dangerous things happening in the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, Abraham learned that God was planning to destroy them. But his nephew Lot lived in Sodom.
So he begins to negotiate in Lot’s favor, pleading with God to spare these wicked cities in case there were still righteous people in them.
Eventually, his petition to the Lord pays off, and Lot is given the opportunity to escape with his family before the disaster strikes.
It might seem like a strange thought to “negotiate” with God. But the idea here is intercession. We can pray for the safety and salvation of others, even if they aren’t praying for those things themselves. God can do many wonderful things because of our intercessory prayers (as long as what we’re asking God to do doesn’t violate a person’s freedom of choice.)
3. Jesus’ intercession for Peter (Luke 22:31-34)
We too can pray for those around us who need wisdom to navigate life. And we’re encouraged to pray for those we’re responsible for, such as our children, our employees, or anyone that might come into our care.
4. Jehoshaphat’s prayer for deliverance from enemies (2 Chronicles 20:1-29)
When three enemy nations planned to attack Judah, king Jehoshaphat gathered his people and prayed for help. In response, God dealt with his enemies and they didn’t even have to fight the battle.
You too can pray to God when you feel trapped and like you’re facing the world all alone. God will fight for you (Romans 8:31).
5. Jonah’s prayer in distress (Jonah 2:1-10)
Jonah decided to run away from God’s calling and ended up at sea on his way to Tarshish. But then a huge storm came upon his ship and ultimately, he was thrown overboard. And a huge fish swallowed him.
What a strange, desperate situation! Yet inside the belly of the fish, he prayed fervently to God, and God heard him. The fish spit him out on the shore.
We too can call upon God in our difficult times. Even if we’re in trouble due to our own poor choices, like Jonah was. Our almighty God is also merciful, helpful, and loving. He can deliver us in dire situations and give us another chance to live for Him.
“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end” (Lamentations 3:22, ESV).
6. David’s prayer of repentance (Psalm 51:1-11; 32:1-5)
King David had just slept with someone else’s wife and successfully plotted to kill her husband. Then God sent him a prophet to bring him to grips with these despicable actions.
Overcome with realization and conviction, he quickly repented. He begged God for mercy, recognizing the full weight of his sins.
He pleads with God, saying “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence, and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me” (Psalm 51:10-11, NKJV).
Though he had blown it, he was also confident that God would forgive Him. And as one who experienced God’s forgiveness, he ends up saying:
“For You Lord are good, and ready to forgive, and abundant in mercy to all those who call upon You” (Psalm 86:5, NKJV).
You too can come to God in prayer with your burden of guilt and shame, however large. You can pray to Him for forgiveness and for the restoration of your soul.
7. Peter and John’s prayer for boldness (Acts 4:23-31)
After Jesus’ death and resurrection, the apostles were commissioned to spread the gospel to all the world. And in doing so, they were also met with significant persecution from oppressive governments or religious leaders that opposed Jesus.
But that didn’t slow them down. Peter, John, and the other apostles took every chance they got to pray for the strength they needed, and they always thanked God as He would come through for them.
Peter and John glorify God with beautiful, powerful words, and after they prayed with their fellow believers, “the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and the spoke the word of God with boldness” (Acts 4:31, NKJV).
It can be so inspiring to read this prayer when you’re feeling lonely, discouraged, or helpless. It reminds us that God is on our side, and that we’re also encouraged to invite the Holy Spirit within us.
8. Ezra’s prayer for protection (Ezra 8:21-22)
The Israelites had just received permission and resources to go back to Jerusalem at the end of the Babylonian captivity. And they needed to be safe as they traveled through foreign territories while carrying a lot of wealth with them.
So Ezra led them to fast and pray for protection for their journey, and God granted them a safe trip.
From this, we see that those prayers we always make before or while traveling are important. It’s always a good idea to pray for safety—for ourselves, our friends, our families, and those we encounter along the way.
9. Nehemiah and Esther’s prayers for good favor and assistance (Nehemiah 2:1-4; Esther 4:1-17)
Nehemiah needed permission and resources to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem that had been destroyed. And Esther needed to reverse a deadly decree to massacre all her family and tribe in Persia.
But to get all these, they needed help from Persian kings. And these kings were unpredictable—any small mistake in front of the king could have fatal consequences.
So they prayed. They prayed for favor from these unpredictable kings…and God answered their prayers.
10. Daniel’s prayer to understand spiritual truth (Daniel 10:1-21)
Daniel needed to understand prophecies that had been given to him about his people and the end times. So he fasted and prayed for 21 days, and God sent him an angel to provide him with information to help him understand.
So if there is any part of Scripture that you don’t understand, you ask God about it. He has promised that His Holy Spirit will “guide you into all truth” (John 16:13, NKJV).
The answers may not always come through an angel like in Daniel’s case, but the possibilities are endless. You might be led to more wisdom through a friend, a sermon in church, additional research, or even a realization that comes to you at a seemingly random time.
11. Jesus’ prayer in Gethsemane for strength and submission (Matthew 26:36-46)
When Jesus was about to be crucified, He dreaded the path that was before Him. The weight of sin that He was to bear for the whole human race, and the pain and shame that He’d have to endure.
So He prayed for strength to go through it if it was the will of His Father, and the only way to secure our salvation.
And we read that God sent Him an angel to strengthen Him.
As we pray in the name of Jesus, we can be confident that He understands us because He’s walked this road before us. Jesus went through every kind of human experience we’ve been through (Hebrews 4:15).
Being God’s own son, Jesus prayed to His Father when He felt the weight of the world crushing Him, and God made sure He was strengthened for His mission.
We too can pray for the power of the Holy Spirit to overcome temptation, and the strength to persevere when we find ourselves in the toughest of situations.
12. Elijah’s prayer in time of discouragement (1 Kings 19:4-10)
Elijah had just had a spectacular showdown with idol worshippers in Israel.
Then queen Jezebel threatened to kill him because he defeated all her prophets of Baal.
So he ran away for his life, and a great depression fell on him. He felt alone and discouraged. And in his frustration, he prayed. He even told God he wanted to die.
But God tenderly took care of Him, provided his meals, and revealed Himself to Elijah, until he was finally encouraged to go on.
In the same way, God can provide peace, comfort, and encouragement that we can’t get from anywhere else (Psalm 23:4; Philippians 4:7). He can help you find courage even when you feel like your reserves are depleted (Psalm 56:3, 4; John 14:17).
13. A bedridden King Hezekiah’s prayer for healing (2 Kings 20:1-11)
King Hezekiah was very sick, and even got word that he was going to die soon.
But he didn’t want to die, so he prayed for healing.
In answer to his prayer, God healed him and gave him 15 more years to live.
You too can pray for healing of your body, mind, and soul. We can’t always know how many years we’ll have to live, but we can trust in a God that can heal our souls in ways we might not even expect.
14. Solomon’s prayer of adoration (1 Kings 8:22-24)
After Solomon had built the temple and it was time to dedicate it, He remembered God’s faithfulness and adored Him.
He points out how He’d kept His promises to both him and his father David, and praises God for His unending love.
It can be a great faith-booster to take note of your life’s victories and answered prayers. You too can declare your admiration and acknowledgment of God’s goodness to you.
Pour out everything you have in your heart, thanking God for all the wonderful things He does. Like David’s words, “let all that I am bless Your holy name!” (Psalm 103:1, NKJV).
15. Jeremiah uses prayer to “vent” to God during a tough time (Lamentations 1-5)
After the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians, and after many of his countrymen were taken captive, Jeremiah prayed to God expressing His frustration. It’s recorded as a whole book in the Bible, the book of Lamentations.
He told God all about the disgrace, homeless situation, and even despair of his people. He expressed his doubts, fears, and anger, and looked for God’s comfort and hoped for future restoration.
In the same way, we too can run to God when confronted with the worst calamities. If we’re frustrated with the circumstances we’re in, or even if we’re angry and wishing God would answer our prayers in a different way, He welcomes this honesty and expression. It allows us to grow and learn. And that always begins with sincerity.
Then, in Him, we can find comfort, hope, and strength to keep moving forward.
And while we can pray each of these types of prayers separately in different situations, many times these different types come together in a single prayer to make one.
Even the prayer that Jesus taught His disciples was one prayer, composed of many of these prayer types.
Next, we’ll look at prayer models found in the Bible that can help you pray that kind of “complete” prayer.
The 2 prayer models in the Bible
There are two prayer models in the Bible that you can adopt:
- The Lord’s prayer
- The ACTS model
Let’s look at each of them.
1. The Lord’s prayer
This model was taught by Jesus Himself to His disciples. Once when they saw Him praying, “one of the disciples said unto Him, Lord, teach us to pray” (Luke 11:1, NKJV).
So, Jesus taught them the Lord’s prayer to be used as a model.
It’s not just meant to be rehearsed, but to reveal the components of a complete prayer.
In response to the disciples’ request, Jesus said…
“In this manner, therefore, 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 this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
As we forgive our debtors.
And do not lead us into temptation,
But deliver us from the evil one.
For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.
Amen” (Matthew 6:9-13, NKJV).
Let’s break it down and look at each part of this prayer:
Address God as “Father”
That endearing title, “our Father,” means that we recognize God as the one who brought us into existence. Additionally, it means that we are aware we’re members of God’s royal family above. We are the children of the most High God and He delights in providing for us.
Our Father in heaven is the only true God; all the other gods are idols. He alone is the creator of the universe (Jeremiah 10:10,11).
He also has the resources of the universe at His disposal. We can confidently ask Him, confess to Him, and wholly depend on Him as a child trusts its earthly father.
Recognize that God is highly exalted
He is our loving Father but He’s also “in heaven” (Matthew 6:9, NKJV). He is far more exalted than our earthly fathers. It means that you don’t regard God as a common being since “God is in heaven, and you are upon the earth” (Ecclesiastes 5:2, NKJV).
Show reverence to His holy name
By saying “hallowed be Your name,” it means that we revere Him and we should “not take the name of the LORD [our] God in vain.” We should not treat His titles lightly for “holy and reverend is His name” (Matthew 6:9; Exodus 20:7; Psalms 111:9, NKJV). We should “stand in awe of Him” (Psalms 33:8, NKJV).
It also means that we recognize that the name of the Lord represents His character.
“The name of the Lord is merciful and gracious, long suffering and abundant in goodness and truth, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin” (Exodus 34:5-7, NKJV).
Express your longing for His coming kingdom
To pray “Your Kingdom come” is to acknowledge that we want God’s kingdom to grow and flourish (Matthew 6:9, NKJV). And that we want His influence to be spread throughout the earth.
It shows that you are in harmony with heaven, looking forward to eternal life with God at the end of this worldly kingdom.
And that you want God’s help in your daily life to live out the principles of His Kingdom even while we are still on earth. Principles revealed in His law of love and servant leadership.
Choosing to submit to God’s will
Jesus continued to say, “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10, NKJV).
This means we submit to the will of God through obedience to His will. Then, like the Psalmist, we will say, “I delight to do Your will, O my God: yea, Your law is within my heart” (Psalms 40:8, NKJV).
This law of God has its origin in heaven. In heaven, “angels do His commandments” (Psalms 103:20, NKJV).
And God gave us these same commandments through Moses at Mt. Sinai. He wrote it on stone tablets and kept it in the ark of the covenant (Exodus 40:20).
In a vision, John saw the temple of God opened in heaven and “there was seen… the ark of the covenant” (Revelation 11:19, NKJV).
So, when we pray that the will of God be done on earth as it is in heaven, we are saying that we are ready to obey God’s commandments.
We show that we hate sin and we want to live righteous lives and help others live the same way too by sharing the gospel with them. By this, we promote the establishment of the kingdom of righteousness.
Present your daily needs
Then we can ask God to “give us this day our daily bread” (Matthew 6:11, NKJV).
Jesus taught the disciples to keep God first before their needs. The first half of the prayer is focused on God as our Father, His name, kingdom, and will. When you give God the priority in your life, you may then confidently ask Him for your personal needs.
He taught them saying, “Seek you first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33, NKJV).
And by saying that we pray for “our daily bread” instead of “my daily bread,” it means that we need to pray for other people’s needs also, not just our own. And that when we are blessed, we need to extend our blessings to bless others too.
Also, He asks us to focus on our daily needs. It’s best to pay attention to what’s right in front of us, not stressing about things that are farther in the future. The current day is our task at hand, and we make sure to ask God for His guidance in that.
God knows that worldly stresses and anxieties can overwhelm us. So He asks us to pray often and touch base with Him even in our most basic daily needs. And doing this helps to guard our minds from things that cause us stress.
Pray for your spiritual needs (confession/repentance)
By asking God to “forgive us our debts” (Matthew 6:12, NKJV), He means the debt of our sins. We know we aren’t perfect, and we know we need forgiveness. And God offers us that forgiveness and helps us deal with our struggles.
And just as we pray for His loving forgiveness, He shows that we should be forgiving to others as well—“as we forgive our debtors” (Matthew 6:12, NKJV).
This principle is so crucial that Jesus warned us saying, “if you forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matthew 6:15, NKJV).
Ask for God’s guidance and power to overcome temptation
We need to ask God to help us from being overcome by the temptations that come our way (Matthew 6:13).
Having presented to God both your physical and spiritual needs, He gives you permission to ask Him to “keep you from falling” (Jude 24, NKJV). It’s ok to ask God for help with anything!
Temptation is not sin but the Devil’s enticement to lead us into sin (James 1:13; Matthew 4:1).
The good news is that “God is faithful who will not allow you to be tempted above that you are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape” (1 Corinthians 10:13, NKJV).
If you ask Him for guidance, you will hear His voice saying, “this is the way, walk you in it” (Isaiah 30:21, NKJV).
Ask for deliverance
When we do find ourselves tempted, we can pray, “deliver us from evil” (Matthew 6:13, NKJV).
No matter how strong or how long Satan has held you in any kind of sin, Jesus is a mighty deliverer. Isaiah says that “even the captives of the mighty shall be taken away, and the prey of the terrible shall be delivered” (Isaiah 49:24, NKJV).
Our Lord has all the “power… in heaven and in earth,” and if you call unto Him, He “will answer, and show you great and mighty things” (Matthew 28:18; Jeremiah 3:33, NKJV).
Acknowledge God’s greatness, power, and authority
Finally, we should acknowledge His greatness. By this, we show that we believe He is not limited by anything in heaven and on earth, and that we are sure He will answer our prayers (Matthew 6:13).
2. The ACTS prayer model
This model is not directly quoted in the Bible but it follows the Lord’s prayer model in a way that might be easier for us to understand. A.C.T.S is an acronym for:
Let’s look at each of these aspects in detail.
As in the Lord’s prayer model, the ACTS prayer model begins with taking time to intentionally contemplate the greatness of God. To adore someone or something is to look at it with fondness, and to appreciate all the good qualities. It’s to worship something or someone out of love and deep respect.
As we start our prayers, we express our love to the God who lovingly made each one of us. This is our daily chance to “ascribe to the Lord the glory due to His name” (Psalms 29:2, NKJV).
God is our creator, our redeemer, our provider, and our sustainer. Again, this shows that we know whom we are worshiping.
All of us “have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” And “if we say we have no sin we deceive ourselves” (Romans 3:21; 1 John 1:8, NKJV).
We all have challenges we face each day, and God is the perfect Person to help us with them. And to be able to overcome something, we first have to acknowledge it.
When we recognize that we struggle with a certain weakness we have, or a trigger, or if we’re upset or angry or hurt, we can let that all out. That lets God in and allows Him to guide us through even the most trying of situations.
We have the beautiful promise that God “is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9, NKJV).
Once we have confessed our sins, we can joyfully thank God for answered prayers in the past. Thank Him for His steadfast love, His daily care, and provision for you.
Cultivating a thankful spirit is not only appropriate given who God is, but it helps us grow as well. And the more time we spend thinking about the blessings we’ve been given from God, it can improve our general attitude as well.
Therefore, “let us come before His presence with thanksgiving” (Psalms 95:2, NKJV).
Supplicating means humbly presenting our needs before our heavenly Father. No matter how big or urgent your need is—just express it to God.
Paul tells us that “in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God, and the peace of God which passes all human understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7, NKJV).
Following these models gives us a sense of structure while praying and provides a compass as you start your journey toward a more robust prayer life.
Resources to help you have a vibrant prayer life
Prayer makes it possible for us to connect with our all-powerful, benevolent God.
You might want to start by just having morning prayer. Then you might add evening prayer to go over how everything went that you prayed about in the morning.
To learn more about prayer in general, check out Prayer—What is it and why is it important?
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