7 Beautiful Prayers from the Bible to Guide Your Own Prayer Time
God's people are blessed with the gift, and responsibility, of prayer. One of the most talked about subjects in the Bible, prayer is mentioned in practically every book of the Old and New Testaments. Though He does give us many direct lessons and cautions on prayer, the Lord has also provided wonderful examples of it for us to see.
Looking at prayers in Scripture serves several purposes for us. First, they inspire us with their beauty and power. The language and emotions that pour out of them can stir our spirits. Prayers from the Bible teach us as well: that one submitted heart can move God to work in a situation, and that every believer's unique voice is meant to be heard.
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What Does the Bible Say about Prayer?
Throughout Scripture we can find guiding principles about the practice of prayer. Some pertain to the way we are to approach it:
As a first response, not a last resort
"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" (Ephesians 6:18).
As a necessary part of a vibrant worship life
"Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus" (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).
As a God-centered act
"This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him" (1 John 5:14-15).
Another foundational idea relates to why we are called to pray:
To stay connected with our Heavenly Father
"Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know" (Jeremiah 33:3).
To receive blessing and equipping for our lives
"So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you" (Luke 11:9).
To help minister to others
"Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord" (James 5:13-14).
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7 Wonderful Prayers from Scripture
1. Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane (John 17:15-21)
“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me."
Jesus lifts up this prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane. Earlier that evening, He and His disciples ate in the upper room and sang a hymn together (Matthew 26:26-30). Now, Jesus was awaiting His arrest, and the horrific crucifixion to come. But even as He battled a sense of intense anxiety, Jesus' prayer in this moment turned into an intercession for not only His disciples, but those who were to become followers in the future.
Jesus' generous spirit here inspires me to move beyond lifting up just my own needs in prayer. If I ask God to grow my compassion for others, He'll soften my heart and mold me into a prayer warrior, even for people I don't know.
2. Daniel During Israel's Exile (Daniel 9:4-19)
"Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments, we have sinned and done wrong... Lord, forgive! Lord, hear and act! For your sake, my God, do not delay, because your city and your people bear your Name.”
Daniel was a student of Scripture, and was familiar with the prophesy God spoke through Jeremiah regarding the exile of Israel (Jeremiah 25:11-12). He realized that the period of 70 years decreed by God was coming to an end. So, in Daniel's own words, he "pleaded with him, in prayer and petition, and in sackcloth and ashes," that the people might be allowed to return to their home.
Seeing Daniel's awareness of and willingness to confess sin reminds me how important it is to come before God with humility. When I acknowledge how much I need His goodness, my requests take on a deeper attitude of worship.
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3. Simon in the Temple (Luke 2:29-32)
"Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismiss your servant in peace.”
Simeon, led by the Holy Spirit, met Mary and Joseph in the temple. They had come to observe Jewish custom after the birth of a baby: presenting the new child to the Lord and offering a sacrifice. Because of the revelation Simeon had already received (Luke 2:25-26), he recognized that this baby was the Savior God had promised. Cradling Jesus in his arms, Simeon savored a moment of worship, immensely grateful for the gift of seeing the Messiah with his own eyes.
The expression of thankfulness and contentment that flows out of Simon here is a direct result of his life of prayerful devotion to God. If my prayer time is a priority rather than an option, I'll learn to recognize and rejoice that God is working.
4. The Disciples (Acts 4:24-30)
"...enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. Stretch out your hand to heal and perform signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”
The Apostles Peter and John had been jailed for healing a man and speaking out in public about Jesus, and were later released (Acts 3:1-4:22). When the other disciples learned how their brothers had been treated, they immediately sought God's help - not to hide from potential trouble, but to push on with the Great Commission.
The disciples, as one, display a determined request that shows me how powerful corporate prayer times can be. If I unite with fellow believers in heart and mind to seek God, we will all be renewed in purpose and strength.
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5. Solomon after Becoming King (1 Kings 3:6-9)
"Your servant is here among the people you have chosen, a great people, too numerous to count or number. So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?”
Solomon has just been ordained by his father, King David, to take over the throne. (1 Kings 1:28-40) One night, God appeared to him in a dream, inviting Solomon to ask Him for anything he desired. Instead of asking for power and riches, Solomon acknowledges his youth and inexperience, and prays for wisdom in how to rule the nation.
Solomon's ambition was to be righteous rather than rich, and displays a focus on the things of God. When I ask God to grow me in Christ-likeness before anything else, my prayers become an invitation for God to change and use me.
6. King David in Worship (Psalms 61)
"Hear my cry, O God; listen to my prayer. From the ends of the earth I call to you, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I."
During his reign over Israel, King David faced a rebellion led by his own son Absalom. The threat to him and the people of Jerusalem led David to flee (2 Samuel 15:1-18). He was literally hiding in exile, but knew God's presence was near. David used God's faithfulness in the past as a basis for appealing to Him for his future.
The intimacy and passion David prayed with came out of a lifetime of experiences with his Lord. Recalling answered prayers and touches of God's grace in my own life will help me pray with anticipation.
7. Nehemiah for Israel's Restoration (Nehemiah 1:5-11)
"Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of this your servant and to the prayer of your servants who delight in reviewing your name. Give your servant success today by granting him favor…"
Jerusalem was invaded by Babylon in 586 B.C., leaving the city in ruins and the people in exile (2 Chronicles 36:15-21). Nehemiah, an exile and cupbearer for the Persian King, learned that though some had been returning, Jerusalem's walls were still laying in ruins. Moved to mourn and fast, he fell before God, lifting up a heartfelt confession on behalf of the Israelites, and a plea to be involved with the rebuilding process.
Declarations of God's goodness, quotes from Scripture and showing emotions are all part of Nehemiah's fervent yet respectful prayer. Finding a balance of honesty with God and awe about who He is will make my prayer a more pleasing sacrifice.
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How Should We Pray?
There is no "one way" to pray. In fact, the Bible displays a variety of styles, from simple and direct to more lyrical. We can look to Scripture for insight and guidance for how we should approach God in prayer. However, the most powerful prayers include certain elements, usually in combination of these below:
Example: Daniel's reverence for God formed the very start of his prayer. "Lord, the great and awesome God…" (Daniel 9:4).
Example: Nehemiah started his prayer bowed low to God.
"I confess the sins we Israelites, including myself and my father’s family, have committed against you. We have acted very wickedly toward you" (Nehemiah 1:6-7).
Example: The disciples quoted Psalm 2 to make their case to God.
"’Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth rise up and the rulers band together against the Lord and against his anointed one'" (Acts 4:25-26).
Example: David uses a personal testimony to build his confidence in God's faithfulness.
"For you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the foe" (Psalm 61:3).
Example: Solomon presents God with a thoughtful and humble request.
"So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?” (1 Kings 3:9).
A Sample Prayer
You are the Creator of the universe, all-powerful and awesome. And yet, You know me by name, and have numbered all the hairs on my head!
Father, I know that I have sinned in my thoughts and actions and have grieved You without realizing it today, for we all fall short. But when we confess our sin, You forgive us and wash us clean. Help me come to You more quickly.
I praise You, God, for You promise to work things out for our good in every situation. I don't yet see an answer for the problem I have, but as I wait, let my trust in You grow. Please calm my mind, and cool down my emotions. Open my ears to hear Your leading.
Thank You that You are my Heavenly Father. I want to bring You glory by how I handle myself every day, and especially in challenging times.
I pray this in Jesus' Name, Amen.
If we follow the Apostle Paul's instruction in Philippians 4, then we'll pray "in every situation." In other words, we are to pray about anything that burdens our hearts, whenever we need to. In Scripture, prayers are exclamations of joy, outbursts of anger, and all sorts of things in between. They teach us that when our motivation is to seek Him and we humble our hearts, God is pleased to hear us and respond.
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Heather Adams is an author, speaker, and singer living in Connecticut. Heather’s passion is to equip and encourage believers to seek more of God’s truth and to experience more of His joy each day. Her book, Bow Down: The Heart of a True Worshipper is a practical, 30-day devotional about worship based on the writings of King David. Heather's blog, Worship Walk Ministries, offers weekly Scripture passages and insights to ponder. A native New Englander, Heather is settling into her home in the South, trying out local foods and watching for the alligators that live nearby!