There are many different types of prayers found in the Bible; some given by name and others by example. There is also variation in how people categorize various prayers in the Bible. Here is a good list to get you started in studying the different types of prayers in the Bible for yourself. I trust these descriptions will help you in your study and that they will encourage you to look for these prayers for many years to come as you study God’s Word.
Prayer of Thanksgiving
Philippians 4:6 and Colossians 4:2 tell us to pray with thanksgiving. Psalm 95 and 100 tell us to enter into the presence of God with thanksgiving. When Christ prayed He often gave thanks (Matthew 15:36; 26:26, 27; Luke 22:19). Praying with thanksgiving should be a regular part of our prayer life.
Paul tells us in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 that praying with thanksgiving should be a regular course of communication with God. It is the will of God for us to pray with thanksgiving. This is not something that should be reserved for one special time of year, but we should always have an attitude of thankfulness.
Along with being thankful, Paul tells us in Philippians 4:6 that we should pray with supplication. The idea of supplication is that of asking. It isn’t just asking God for something on behalf of others (which is an intercessory prayer), but supplication is more a prayer for oneself. We see this prayer often in the Psalms where David is asking God for help in a particular area of his own life.
If you do a search for the word supplication in the Bible you will find almost 60 instances of the word. In almost every case it is talking about the person asking God for something on their own behalf. It occasionally mentions praying in supplication on behalf of others. The point being that it is not arrogant to pray for your own needs. God welcomes you with open arms when you take your genuine requests for help to Him.
Interceding is typically thought of as praying on behalf of others. It means to intervene between two people, to speak on behalf of someone to another person. Another word that is found in the Bible that is used in this way is the word intreat. It means to beg or implore. Many times in the Bible it is used in the same way as the word intercede.
Paul tells Timothy in 1 Timothy 2:1 that intercessory prayer (along with several other types of prayer) should be given on behalf of all men.
You won’t find this word in the Bible, but it is a type of prayer that is associated with King David. To imprecate means to curse or speak evil toward someone. When David used this type of praying it wasn’t as a form of exacting revenge. Rather, David used it as a way to show agreement with God’s judgment and sovereignty over evil. A few examples of this type of prayer are Psalms 7, 35, 55, 58 and 59.
David’s prayers (and the imprecatory prayers of others in the Bible) were not hateful or vengeful. We are told by the Lord to pray for our enemies in Matthew 5 and Luke 6. The context for both of those passages is loving our enemies and praying for their good. As we pray for our enemies God often works in our own hearts to love them more even though they are undeserving of our love.
Corporate or Public Prayer
The book of Acts teaches much about corporate prayer. The disciples and the early church were involved in public prayer. In the first couple chapters of Acts it seems that the church services were mainly made up of prayer. Decisions in the early church were accompanied by prayer. This is seen in the choosing of the first deacons (Acts 6:1-6) and when they sent out the first missionaries (Acts 13:1-3).
Closet or Private Prayer
In Matthew 6:5, 6 the Lord tells His disciples to pray privately. Certainly there is nothing wrong with public prayer, but we should not pray to be seen of men. The example that Christ uses is the hypocrites who pray out loud—and loudly—so that they can be seen by others. Private prayer is a time of personal relationship with the Lord. We get our term closet prayer from this passage in Matthew.
A prayer of worship and a prayer of thanksgiving both focus on God. However, while the prayer of thanksgiving focuses on what God has done, the prayer of worship focuses on who God is. We see this in Jesus’ model prayer for the disciples. He says to pray in worship and honor to who God is (Matthew 6:9-13 and Luke 11:2-4).
Prayer of Consecration
This is a type of prayer that the Lord used as a confirmation and dedication to the will of the Father in Matthew 26, Luke 22 and Mark 14. We see another example of this in Hannah’s prayer dedicating Samuel to the Lord (1 Samuel 1:24-28).
Prayer of Faith
James says the prayer of faith will heal the sick (James 5:15). This is a prayer that is offered in confidence knowing that the Lord will answer. Of course, we are taught in 1 John 5:14 how that we can know God hears us and will answer; by praying in His will. When our prayers are in line with His will, then we can have that confidence of the prayer of faith.
Prayer is Communicating with God
God wants to have a relationship with us. We are given several different types of prayer in the Bible. You may lump some of these prayers together as one type and you may also find other types of prayer than what I have listed. That is fine. What is important is that we have the relationship with the Lord through prayer in the way He desires. Spend time studying God’s Word and the many examples of communicating with Him.
Philippians 4:6 is a great verse to help you get started in your study of prayer: “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.”
Take a look at this related article: What Does the Bible Say About Prayer?
Resource – Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, King James Version
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ToolsVerse page’>Acts 1:14
These all with one mind were continually devoting themselves to prayer, along with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers.
ToolsVerse page’>Acts 2:42
They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.
ToolsVerse page’>Acts 4:23-31
When they had been released, they went to their own companions and reported all that the chief priests and the elders had said to them. And when they heard this, they lifted their voices to God with one accord and said, “O Lord, it is You who MADE THE HEAVEN AND THE EARTH AND THE SEA, AND ALL THAT IS IN THEM, who by the Holy Spirit, through the mouth of our father David Your servant, said, ‘WHY DID THE GENTILES RAGE, AND THE PEOPLES DEVISE FUTILE THINGS? read more.
‘THE KINGS OF THE EARTH TOOK THEIR STAND, AND THE RULERS WERE GATHERED TOGETHER AGAINST THE LORD AND AGAINST HIS CHRIST.’ “For truly in this city there were gathered together against Your holy servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose predestined to occur. “And now, Lord, take note of their threats, and grant that Your bond-servants may speak Your word with all confidence, while You extend Your hand to heal, and signs and wonders take place through the name of Your holy servant Jesus.” And when they had prayed, the place where they had gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God with boldness.
ToolsVerse page’>Acts 12:12
And when he realized this, he went to the house of Mary, the mother of John who was also called Mark, where many were gathered together and were praying.
ToolsVerse page’>Acts 20:36
When he had said these things, he knelt down and prayed with them all.
ToolsVerse page’>Acts 21:5
When our days there were ended, we left and started on our journey, while they all, with wives and children, escorted us until we were out of the city After kneeling down on the beach and praying, we said farewell to one another.
ToolsVerse page’>Acts 13:2-3
While they were ministering to the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” Then, when they had fasted and prayed and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.
ToolsVerse page’>Acts 1:24-25
And they prayed and said, “You, Lord, who know the hearts of all men, show which one of these two You have chosen to occupy this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.”
ToolsVerse page’>Acts 6:6
And these they brought before the apostles; and after praying, they laid their hands on them.
ToolsVerse page’>Acts 14:23
When they had appointed elders for them in every church, having prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord in whom they had believed.
ToolsVerse page’>Acts 12:5
So Peter was kept in the prison, but prayer for him was being made fervently by the church to God.
ToolsVerse page’>Acts 7:59-60
They went on stoning Stephen as he called on the Lord and said, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!” Then falling on his knees, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them!” Having said this, he fell asleep.
ToolsVerse page’>Acts 16:22-25
The crowd rose up together against them, and the chief magistrates tore their robes off them and proceeded to order them to be beaten with rods. When they had struck them with many blows, they threw them into prison, commanding the jailer to guard them securely; and he, having received such a command, threw them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks. read more.
But about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God, and the prisoners were listening to them;
ToolsVerse page’>Acts 9:40
But Peter sent them all out and knelt down and prayed, and turning to the body, he said, “Tabitha, arise.” And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter, she sat up.
ToolsVerse page’>Acts 28:7-8
Now in the neighborhood of that place were lands belonging to the leading man of the island, named Publius, who welcomed us and entertained us courteously three days. And it happened that the father of Publius was lying in bed afflicted with recurrent fever and dysentery; and Paul went in to see him and after he had prayed, he laid his hands on him and healed him.
ToolsVerse page’>Colossians 4:2
Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving;
ToolsVerse page’>Romans 12:12
rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer,
ToolsVerse page’>Ephesians 6:18
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,
ToolsVerse page’>1 Timothy 2:1
First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men,
ToolsVerse page’>1 Peter 4:7
The end of all things is near; therefore, be of sound judgment and sober spirit for the purpose of prayer.
ToolsVerse page’>Colossians 4:3-4
praying at the same time for us as well, that God will open up to us a door for the word, so that we may speak forth the mystery of Christ, for which I have also been imprisoned; that I may make it clear in the way I ought to speak.
ToolsVerse page’>Ephesians 6:19-20
and pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in proclaiming it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.
ToolsVerse page’>2 Thessalonians 3:1
Finally, brethren, pray for us that the word of the Lord will spread rapidly and be glorified, just as it did also with you;
ToolsVerse page’>James 5:14
Is anyone among you sick? Then he must call for the elders of the church and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord;
ToolsVerse page’>1 John 5:16-17
If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask and God will for him give life to those who commit sin not leading to death There is a sin leading to death; I do not say that he should make request for this. All unrighteousness is sin, and there is a sin not leading to death.
ToolsVerse page’>James 5:16
Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.
ToolsVerse page’>Romans 15:30
Now I urge you, brethren, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to strive together with me in your prayers to God for me,
ToolsVerse page’>2 Corinthians 1:11
you also joining in helping us through your prayers, so that thanks may be given by many persons on our behalf for the favor bestowed on us through the prayers of many.
ToolsVerse page’>1 Corinthians 11:4-5
Every man who has something on his head while praying or prophesying disgraces his head. But every woman who has her head uncovered while praying or prophesying disgraces her head, for she is one and the same as the woman whose head is shaved.
ToolsVerse page’>1 Corinthians 11:13-15
Judge for yourselves: is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered? Does not even nature itself teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a dishonor to him, but if a woman has long hair, it is a glory to her? For her hair is given to her for a covering.
ToolsVerse page’>Acts 6:3-4
“Therefore, brethren, select from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may put in charge of this task. “But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.”
ToolsVerse page’>Colossians 1:9-10
For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God;
ToolsVerse page’>Ephesians 1:16-21
do not cease giving thanks for you, while making mention of you in my prayers; that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, read more.
and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.
ToolsVerse page’>Ephesians 3:16-19
that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, read more.
and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.
ToolsVerse page’>Philippians 1:9-11
And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ; having been filled with the fruit of righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.
ToolsVerse page’>Colossians 1:3
We give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you,
ToolsVerse page’>1 Thessalonians 1:2
We give thanks to God always for all of you, making mention of you in our prayers;
ToolsVerse page’>2 Thessalonians 1:11-12
To this end also we pray for you always, that our God will count you worthy of your calling, and fulfill every desire for goodness and the work of faith with power, so that the name of our Lord Jesus will be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Prayer is both marvelous and mysterious. The idea of communicating with the Creator of the universe seems almost ludicrous. And certainly presumptuous. Not to mention intimidating.
Why would God want to talk with us? Is there a right and wrong way to pray? Why does God answer some prayers but not others? Does it matter that we only have a little faith?
Thankfully, the Bible gives us insight into the hows and whys of prayer. Since God invites us to talk with him, it’s no surprise he gives us guidelines. I’ve compiled a list of what I consider the ten most important verses on prayer:
1. >Luke 18:13-14: “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
These verses, from the well-known story of the Pharisee and the tax collector praying in the temple, reveals the prayer that allows us to enter into a relationship with God: “God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” The tax collector was honest with God about his sin. He humbled himself, repented, and acknowledged his need of God’s mercy. God answered his prayer and saved him.
SEE ALSO: 10 Scriptures to Pray When You are Frustrated
Bottom line—the first step in developing a prayer life is calling upon God for salvation.
2. Psalm 66:18: “If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.”
This verse from David’s psalm shows us a major hindrance to God’s willingness to hear our prayers—unconfessed sin. Some might ask, “If sin prevents God from hearing our prayers, then none of us have a chance, because we all sin, even after we’re saved.”
A careful reading of Psalm 66:18, however, draws our attention to the word “cherished.” “If I had cherished sin…” To cherish sin means to embrace it. To love it, hold on to it, and refuse to give it up. This is vastly different from committing a sin that we regret, confess, and forsake as soon as the Holy Spirit brings it to our attention. God doesn’t expect us to be sinless, but he does call us to deal with our sin as soon as possible (1 John 1:9).
SEE ALSO: 2 Overlooked Truths about Prayer that Will Change How You Pray
Bottom line—we can’t live a consistently sinful lifestyle and expect God to hear our prayers.
3. Psalm 34:15: “The eyes of the LORD are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their cry.”
If we have a right relationship with God and are earnestly seeking to follow and honor him with our lives, we never have to wonder if he’s listening to our prayers. On the contrary, this verse assures us that he is carefully attuned to our lives and eager to hear every prayer that comes from our lips.
Bottom line—God hears the prayers of those who put their trust in him.
SEE ALSO: What Does It Mean to Pray with Faith?
4. Daniel 9:18: “We do not make requests of you because we are righteous, but because of your great mercy.”
This beautiful excerpt from Daniel’s prayer on behalf of the Jews exiled in Babylon shows us a profound truth about prayer—that God answers our prayers because of his mercy, not our good works. Many believers think their good works obligate or persuade God to act on their behalf. And while God does call us to live holy lives, it is not our obedience that moves God to answer our prayers, it is his great mercy toward us.
Bottom line—God’s mercy, not our goodness, is the basis for answered prayers.
5. Psalm 5:3: “In the morning, O LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation.”
The psalmist who penned Psalm 5:3 models the attitude we should have when we pray—that of eager expectation. We should believe God will answer our prayers and diligently watch for his hand at work. The psalmist also shows us that when we pray early in the day, we have the rest of the day to anticipate God’s answer.
Bottom line—when we pray, we can wait in eager anticipation for God to work on our behalf.
6. 1 John 5:14: “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.”
God delights in answering prayers that align with his will. But how do we know what God’s will is? The most reliable way to know is by reading his Word. As we seek God through Bible reading and prayer, we get to know his heart and gain wisdom and spiritual insight. This gives us a greater understanding of how to pray according to his will, and a greater chance of having our prayers answered.
Bottom line—God answers every prayer that aligns with his will.
7. James 4:3: “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.”
This verse from the book of James tells us why God says “No” to many of our prayers—they are selfish, self-centered, and sometimes downright bad for us. Because God is wise and loving, like any good parent, he will not give things that will harm us or others.
Bottom line—God will say no to our prayers if we ask for something for the wrong reason or for the wrong purpose.
8. Matthew 26:42: “He (Jesus) went away a second time and prayed, ‘My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.’”
Jesus set the supreme example of surrender and submission to the Father’s will when he prayed for God to spare him from dying on the cross. Because he was fully human, he was fearful and reluctant to experience the agony of the crucifixion. Because he was fully God, he could have refused to die, but instead, in humble trust and submission, he prayed, “may your will be done.”
On the surface, death by crucifixion seemed to end Christ’s ministry. In reality, his death on the cross paved the way for countless believers to receive eternal life by believing in his death and resurrection.
Bottom line—we can surrender our will to God’s in complete confidence that he knows what’s best.
9. Mark 9:24: “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”
This honest confession comes from a man whose son was demon-possessed. He wasn’t fully convinced Jesus had the power to deliver his son, but he asked anyway.
This passage debunks two of the greatest misconceptions about prayer—that if we have enough faith, God will answer our prayers, and if we don’t, he won’t. Scripture doesn’t support the idea that great faith produces great miracles and small faith prevents them. Instead, God tells us to ask in faith, believing that he can and will answer our prayers in the way he knows is best. Even frightened, tiny, mustard-seed faith like this father had can and does move the hand of God.
Bottom line—it’s not how much faith we have that matters, but who we have faith in.
10. James 5:16: “The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.”
What a beautiful affirmation James, the half-brother of Jesus, gives in this short verse. When we wonder if prayer accomplishes anything, he encourages us—not only is prayer powerful, but it’s effective. “You’re not wasting your time,” he seems to call to us. “Keep praying! God is using your prayers to accomplish his will.”
Bottom line: The prayers of godly Christians work.
I don’t know why God uses the prayers of his people to accomplish his work in the world, but I’m glad he does. I’m humbled to think we can talk to him at any time of the day or night. I’m grateful that he’s never too busy to hear our prayers and act on our behalf.
My prayer for us all is that we will never take for granted the privilege and the power of prayer.
Lori Hatcher is a blogger, inspirational speaker, and author of the Christian Small Publisher’s 2016 Book of the Year, Hungry for God … Starving for Time, Five-Minute Devotions for Busy Women. A Toastmasters International contest-winning speaker, Lori’s goal is to help busy women connect with God in the craziness of everyday life. She especially loves small children, soft animals, and chocolate. You’ll find her pondering the marvelous and the mundane on her blog, Hungry for God. . . Starving for Time. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter (@lorihatcher2) or Pinterest (Hungry for God).
Publication date: August 8, 2016
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