What does the Bible teach us about prayer? We are taught to pray humbly to God the Father for whatever our need may be, in faith believing that He loves us like a father loves his child, and He will answer according to His will, according to what is best for us.
How did Jesus teach us to pray?
“…one of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray just as John also taught his disciples.” 2 And He said to them, “When you pray, say…. (Luke 11: verses 1-2)
Matthew 6:verses 9-13: (same as in Luke 11)
9 “Pray, then, in this way:
‘Our Father who is in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
10 ‘Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.
11 ‘Give us this day [e]our daily bread.
12 ‘And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 ‘And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from [f]evil.
[g][For Yours is the kingdom
and the power
and the glory forever. Amen.’]
– Matthew 6:verses 9-13 [See also: Luke 11: verses 1b-4]
The prayer of King David teaches us how to pray. King David prayed:
You are God, and
Your words are truth, and
You have promised
this good thing
to Your servant.
29 Now therefore,
may it please You to
– 2 Samuel 7:28-29
Other passages that teach about prayer:
19 Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a [h – true]sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; – Hebrews 10:19-23
What we learn about prayer – from Jesus, from King David’s prayers, and throughout the Bible…
How To Pray
“Draw near to God – and He will draw near to you.
Cleanse your hands, you sinners;
and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” – James 4:8
- Direct our words to God the Father. “Our Father who is in heaven“. “You are God“
- Acknowledge God as holy and above all. “hallowed be Your name”
- Come to God in humbleness. “Our Father”. “Your servant“
- Enter confidently into His Courts with praise and thanksgiving. “we have confidence to enter the holy place”
- Express your desire that His will be done. ‘Your kingdom come. Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven’
- Confess your sins, your sinfulness. “forgive us our debts”
- Ask for power to be free from sin. ‘And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. ‘
- Recall the Lord’s promises. “Your kingdom come”. “Your words are truth”
- Pray according to what God has promised. “You have promised this good thing ” (2 Samuel 7:28)
- Pray for whatever your heart feels, whatever your need is. ‘Give us this day [e our bread for tomorrow] our daily bread.’
- Submit to God’s sovereignty. “may it please You to bless“
Biblical Instructions About How To Pray…
Talk confidently to God in your own sincere words
a. Pray because God has asked us to pray. Or, do you think you don’t need to pray, because… why? Prayer is obedience. To not pray is to say to God: “No. I think I don’t need to do what You say to do.” What’s your perspective about you praying? Do you agree with God, or not?
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. – Philippians 4:6
We are not instructed to pray to the Holy Spirit nor to Jesus, but since God is triune, three in One, the Trinity – I am sure God answers such prayers directed to Him. The Bible does not present some magic formula for prayer. It does however give much advice about how and why and …what makes prayer effective.
b. Know that God is omniscient (“knows all things”) and thus “your Father knows what you need before you ask Him” (Matthew 6:8). God is not surprised by your needs nor by your request. Ask. Share. Open your heart… to our loving Father. He cares. (John 1:48)
c. Examine your motives as to why you are praying this specific request.
“my prayer is pure.” – Job 16:17
“…Hear a just cause, O Lord, give heed to my cry; Give ear to my prayer, which is not from deceitful lips.” – Psalm 17:1
d. We cannot just ask for everything we want – and expect God to give it to us! We must ask in faith, believing without doubting, and pray within God’s will. This verse is often misquoted, as if we are given carte blanch to ask away to our hearts content. Not so!
20 Seeing this, the disciples were amazed and asked, “How did the fig tree wither all at once?” 21 And Jesus answered and said to them, “Truly I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ it will happen. 22 And all things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.” – Matthew 21:verses 20-22
The other verse clarifying this “all things…” verse, is:
12 Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father. 13 Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it. – John 14:12-14
The principle in Scripture is that we are God’s ambassadors here on earth. We live and move and speak for Him, on His behalf, as Jesus said, “I do nothing on My own initiative”:
“When you lift up the Son of Man,
then you will know that I am He,
and I do nothing on My own initiative,
but I speak these things
as the Father taught Me.
– John 8:28
9 …what man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he? 11 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him! Matthew 7:9-11
f. Don’t use “meaningless repetition“. Don’t continually repeat and repeat and repeat phrases, like a mantra (like the Buddists and Hindus) – thinking God may be impressed or finally hear you! There is no power in continuously repeated phrases. That is not biblical. Yes, (See next point below and Matthew 7:verses 7-8.) do come back to God repeatedly in prayer for the same thing, showing Him your sincerity and deep need or longing… but don’t use “meaningless repetition“.
7 “And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words. 8 So do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him. – Matthew 6:verses 7-8
g. God answers the persistent! Keep on asking, keep on seeking, and keep on knocking on heavens door! In His timing – He will answer. His answer may be yes, or no, or wait. But our confidence is in Him and His love for us.
7 “[c keep on asking]Ask, and it will be given to you; [d keep on seeking]seek, and you will find; [e keep on knocking]knock, and it will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. – Matthew 7:verses 7-8
“1 Now He was telling them a parable to show that at all times they ought to pray and not to lose heart. …will not God bring about justice for His elect who cry to Him day and night, and will He delay long over them? 8 I tell you that He will bring about justice for them quickly. – Luke 18:1-8
42 He went away again a second time and prayed, saying, “My Father, if this cannot pass away unless I drink it, Your will be done.” 43 Again He came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. 44 And He left them again, and went away and prayed a third time, saying the same thing once more. – Matthew 26:39-44
h. Know that God cares about you – more than you know! Why worry – when Creator God Himself watches out for you!
6 Are not five sparrows sold for two cents? Yet not one of them is forgotten before God. 7 Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows. – Luke 12:6-7
6 Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, 7 casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you. – 1 Peter 5:6-7
i. Don’t be vain and pray to impress others! Don’t be a hypocrite.
“…when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.” – Matthew 6:verse 6 (see 5-6)
j. Sin affects answers to prayer.
18 If I regard wickedness in my heart, The Lord will not hear; – Psalm 66:18
But the prayer of the upright is His delight. – Proverbs 15:8
But He hears the prayer of the righteous. – Proverbs 15:29
Even his prayer is an abomination. – Proverbs 28:9
Why should any living mortal, or any man,
Offer complaint in view of his sins?
40 Let us examine and probe our ways,
And let us return to the Lord.
41 We lift up our heart and hands
Toward God in heaven; – Lamentations 3:39-41
Also: Lamentations 3:8;
What God Wants When You Pray
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise. – Psalm 51:17
2. Righteous living – obeying the Word of the Lord.
3. Sincerity; heartfelt request. “I have seen your tears”
4. Trust in Him. “He answered their prayers because they trusted in Him“
16 Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. – Hebrews 4:16
19 Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a [h]sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful – Hebrews 10:19-23
Examples of Prayers in the Bible
Epaphras, who is one of your number, a bondslave of Jesus Christ, sends you his greetings, always laboring earnestly for you in his prayers, that you may stand perfect and fully assured in all the will of God.